Being a Biblical Christian, part 2

This is part 2 of my husband’s sermon on living biblically.

George Barna, who is well-known for his work doing surveys about the church was asked how we can know what another person truly believes?  How can asking questions open up something which can be kept hidden?  In his answer, Dr. Barna said that he does not just ask people what they believe, he also questions them about what they do.  The he said this:

“You do what you believe.  If your behavior doesn’t represent your (stated) beliefs, it’s not really a belief.”

Jesus says the same thing.  At the close of the Sermon on the Mount, he speaks of false prophets and how to tell who they are, saying:

“You will recognize them by their fruit…. every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. “

In other words, if you are believer, you will have a living faith, one which presents itself to the world through deeds.  Let’s continue with Paul’s words in the book of Romans:

For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many parts in one body and all the body’s parts do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually parts of one another.  However, since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to use them properly: if prophecy, in proportion to one’s faith; if service, in the act of serving; or the one who teaches, in the act of teaching; or the one who exhorts, in the work of exhortation; the one who gives, with generosity; the one who is in leadership, with diligence; the one who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.” Romans 12:3-8

Essentially what Paul does here is move everything that is spiritual out to the rest of our lives..There are people whose Christianity is limited pretty much to an hour or so on Sunday;  but our worship isn’t confined to one space, once a week.  Rather, our entire life is worship.

When someone lives a life of faith that is framed by a truly biblical worldview, they will come to understand how it is that God has blessed them in terms of the tasks prepared for them to do which build up His kingdom.  As Carl Olaf Rosenius said:

“Believers are not to use their time and gifts according to their fancy, but these are to be used for the glory of Him who paid such a tremendous price for us.”

Grade Yourself

In a book I read recently ( Two Steps Forward by Sharon Garlough Brown — Book Review )  one of the main characters is a grad student.  On a final paper about her spiritual development, the professor tells the students they should grade their assignment themselves.  This made me think — how would I grade myself on my own spiritual disciplines:  how would I grade my prayer life, my personal evangelism, my study?  In the book, it causes quite a quandary — there is a temptation to “grade oneself” high enough to  obtain a certain mark in the class;  but there is also a desire to appear humble.  Are we able to grade ourselves honestly?

The Bible, as always,, has something to say about this.  In the book of Romans we read:

” By the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”  Romans 12:3

Paul then goes on to say how we are to evaluate ourselves:

” We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. “Romans 12:6

So, have you taken the time to determine what your spiritual gifts are?  Are you using them to build up the body of Christ?

”   love  must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.  Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves”  Romans 12:9-10 

Are you sincere in your love for others, and particularly for others in the church?

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Romans 11-12

Are you regularly practicing the spiritual disciplines of prayer and service, not as a chore, but as a privilege, trusting God to be faithful?

“Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”  Romans 12:12

How generous are you with your material blessings?

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18

How often do you put your own desires aside to maintain peace and harmony with others?  Do you nurture angry thoughts or seek revenge?

You get the idea.  It’s not an easy task to grade yourself.  We all want to believe we’re doing pretty well — maybe even very well.  But think about these things “with sober judgement” — what’s your grade?

For more about growing spiritually see:

Fanning the Flame #16 Personal Spiritual Discipline

Are You a Spiritual Person?

Let Your Spiritual Gifts S–T–R–E–T–C–H You