Where does faith come from? The Bible and the Bible only.
All of us have heard the phrase, “stubborn as a mule.” This term was probably coined by frustrated farmers after they observed how difficult it was to get their donkeys to pull their assigned loads in the field…although a case could be made that the phrase was thought up as an observation made by frustrated spouses about their significant others. (I say that because I know what my wife’s answer to the above question would be!) Regardless, I think there’s a lesson we can learn about our relationship with Christ when we examine exactly why a mule is stubborn.
The reason a mule balks at pulling a load is not because he doesn’t hear the command “giddy up.” Rather, he would simply not hear it. He has more than enough strength and ability to pull that load, but he would rather graze in the green grass of the pasture or bask in the noonday sun than work for his owner. Our human minds are several levels above that of a mule, but we sometimes manifest the same characteristics. How many times have we heard a clear command from God as revealed in his Word, but we, like the mule, try to evade obedience because the biblical command does not coincide with our mind’s individual prejudices and desires?
When I was a child, I was reluctant to hear my mother’s call because I knew that if I listened and obeyed her it would result in some unpleasant chore that would encroach upon my playtime. That’s why I chose not to see my dirty hands and ignore her command to wash them, because I would have rather been eating. This kind of evasive thinking is found in the minds of mules and children, but it should never be found in the thinking of mature, responsible adults (1 Cor. 13:11).
Yet, while the eternal destiny of souls are at stake, there are professed Christians who exhibit indifference and intolerance toward the true teachings of God as revealed in the totality of the Bible. They do so because such teachings are contrary to their personal desires or disrupt their convenient, worldly way of life. Jesus talked about such people when he quoted Isaiah by saying, “Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says, ‘You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them’” (Matt. 13:14-15).
What a pity it is for people who could (and should) know God’s truth which is his Word (John 17:17), but reject it because it does not suit their evil lifestyles or tastes. For example, God commanded that men have faith (John 3:16; Rom. 10:9-10), repent of their sins (Luke 13:3; Acts 2:38; 3:19), and be baptized – literally in the Greek, immersed – in water in order to obtain salvation and forgiveness of sins (Mark 16:16; 1 Pet. 3:21; Acts 2:38), and to be put into Christ and his body, the church of Christ, by the Holy Spirit through baptism (1 Cor. 12:13; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27; cf. Eph. 1:22-23). How sad it is for such commands to be rejected simply because it violates the wishes of family (Matt. 10:34-37) or the traditions and doctrine of religious groups (Matt. 15:1-9) who are seeking after the god of convenience rather than the God which demands obedience (1 Sam. 15:22; Acts 5:29; Heb. 5:8-9).
Other examples could be given. The news media continually both reports and in many cases sadly supports those in our country and elsewhere who selfishly and stubbornly promote the sinful cause of homosexual “marriage” and the murder of innocent children through abortion, despite what God wishes (1 Cor. 6:9-10; Prov. 6:16-19). Spring Break is here and summer is not far away, and many people are choosing to stubbornly flaunt their bodies through immodest apparel and actions, fornication, and the partaking of alcohol and other hallucinogens regardless of the will of their Creator in such matters (1 Tim. 2:9-10; Gal. 5:19-21; 1 Thess. 5:6-8).
Closer to home, let’s examine ourselves and our own attitudes (2 Cor. 13:5). Does our stubbornness keep us from treating others as we would be treated (Matt. 7:12)? Husbands and wives, are we so determined to have our own way that we end up treating our spouses in ways contrary to the will of the One who united us in marriage (Eph. 5:22- 33; 1 Cor. 7:1-5; 1 Pet. 3:1-7; cf. Matt. 19:1-9)? Children, you know as well as I that the primary reason you disobey your parents and thus disobey God is due to stubbornness (Eph. 6:1-3). Parents, is your adamant refusal to put the spiritual raising of your children before unneeded work, TV time, your golf game and favorite book due to stubbornness (Eph. 6:4; Deut. 6:6-9)? Brother and sister in Christ, does your constant criticism and backbiting against the bishops of your local congregation come from being stubbornly adamant to have your own way above all (Heb. 13:17)?
Let’s ask ourselves whether we have the mind of a mule or the mind of Christ. Read God’s will below, and think about it…
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.
Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
— Philippians 2:1-8
There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call – one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Ephesians 4:4-6 – Scripture of the Day (January 23, 2014)
Let’s break this down:
“One body” – Defined a few chapters earlier as the church of Christ (Eph. 1:22-23; cf. Col. 1:18), and in the following chapter also (Eph. 5:23). Christ’s body is his church, and there is only one body…hence, only one church as far as God is concerned. So why all these different churches with their different names and different doctrines that all claim to follow Christ? See 2 Timothy 4:3-4. Here’s the important question: Christ is the Savior of this body, this church (Eph. 5:23). Do you want Christ to be your Savior? Be a part of the one body, the one church.
“One Spirit” – the Holy Spirit, who inspired the writers of the Scriptures (2 Pet. 1:19-21), whose writings if followed will produce “the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3).
“One hope that belongs to your call” – We are called by the gospel (2 Thess. 2:14), the good news of the love of God shown in Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:8), through whom we have hope (Rom. 5:2), the hope of eternal life and salvation (Rom. 8:24-25; cf. 2 Cor. 4:16-5:10).
“One Lord” – Jesus Christ, our only Master. Only in him do we find the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). Here’s a thought to ponder, however. It’s easy to call Jesus our Lord, but do our actions back up our words? Study very carefully Matthew 7:21-27, and then examine yourselves.
“One faith” – Want an interesting project to do? Get out the Yellow Pages, turn to “Churches,” examine the numerous different kinds of churches listed there under all those sub-headings, and call each one. Ask to speak to the preacher or some other authority in the church. Ask them to tell you what that church believes and why they believe it. You won’t get to the “D” section in the sub-headings before you see just how many different “faiths” man has come up with. What does God say? There’s only one faith, and it comes from the words of Christ (Rom. 10:17). He wants his followers to all say the same things and be completely united (John 17:20-23; 1 Cor. 1:10-13; Phil. 2:1-2), and the only way that’s going to happen is by sticking only to God’s Word (Prov. 30:6).
“One baptism” – Different churches today baptize in different ways for different reasons. Sprinkling, pouring, immersion, etc. Done as a sign that you’ve already been saved, done for remission of sins, done to save a baby from sins he or she inherited from their parents, etc. What does God say? There’s only one baptism. Every time you read about baptism in the New Testament, you’re reading a transliteration of a Greek word which means to immerse, so that means that the one baptism is immersion. Sprinkling and pouring are out. It’s done for several reasons according to the New Testament. Want to be saved? Read Mark 16:16 and 1 Peter 3:21. Want your sins forgiven? Read Acts 2:38 and Acts 22:16. Want to be in Christ and clothed with him? Read Galatians 3:27. Want to be spiritually circumcised by God? Read Colossians 2:11-12. Want to be spiritually buried and raised from the dead? Read Romans 6:3-4. Want to be a part of that one body of Christ, his church of which he is the Savior? Read 1 Corinthians 12:13. Want to know the requirements for baptism? Read Mark 16:15-16, Acts 2:38, and Acts 8:12, 35-38, and you’ll see that only penitent believers who confess their faith in Christ as the Son of God are candidates for baptism. That rules out babies. Here’s the thing, friends. We hear baptism is something that has nothing to do with salvation. After reading all of these verses from THE BIBLE, do you still believe that?
“One God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” – There is only one God, one Father of us all…and that is the God of the Bible. Think you can hide from him? The writer of Hebrews says it best: “And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Heb. 4:13). Are you ready to give an account to God? (2 Cor. 5:10)