Summary: What is true faith? There is so much misinformation being offered that we need to know the Truth and then He will set us free.
Can You Pass The Test?
Reverend Bible was a fourth generation preacher. He was his father's son. He was a chip off the old block. While he was growing up he watched his father mount the pulpit week after week at First Church and offer his thoughts to the people. The son of a preacher now thought he would make his move to the pulpit. He had attended the finest of colleges to gain his undergraduate degree. Upon completing his studies he enrolled in a fine, prestigious Seminary known for its textual criticism, unparalleled adherence to the finest in liberal scholarship, and social consciousness. At the seminary young Reverend Bible followed in the footsteps of his father and read the best works of Paul Tillich, Karl Barth, Sigmund Freud, Albert Camus, and James Cone.
When Reverend Bible finally graduated from Seminary he felt good about the well-rounded liberal education that he had gained from four years of study with his professors. He had learned about Process Theology, Liberation Theology, inclusive language, and unmasking the Patriarchal elements of the Bible. He had sat at the feet of professors who possessed Ph.D.'s in dismantling the historical tenets of the faith. They taught him that historic Christianity was passed down to us by unsophisticated, uneducated, but well-meaning men who didn't understand. The early Church didn't understand that biology rules out the Virgin Birth. They were unaware that Adam, Eve, Abraham and Sarah, and many others figures of the Bible were mythological figures. The early believers' emotional needs kept them from believing that the death of Jesus was just that, a death, it held no power other than the fact that it was heroic. The early believers didn't have the advances we have to help them know that "sin" was simply moral defects or a genetic predisposition that could be overcome through technological advances and an advanced education. Reverend Bible bowed his head and thanked his "Higher Power" for all that he had gained from the halls of religious academia.
After graduating from Seminary, Reverend Bible took his first pastorate and began to regurgitate all of the garbage that he had garnered in his graduate studies. Each week, people who had tossed and turned in the turmoil of their troubles took their seat on Sunday. Each week, men and women who were being held captive by the guilt that gnawed at their soul sat quietly hoping for release. Each week, young people came to church looking for hope to hang onto in their struggles to stay unstained from the drugs, sex, and sin that lay waiting for them around every corner. Each week, husbands and wives came looking for ways to reconcile. Each week, precious but broken people came looking for strength to make it through another day since the death of their loved one. And each week, Reverend Bible offered them the same drivel.
Reverend Bible rarely referred to the Bible except to point out how out-dated it had become in the modern world. He spoke of psychology as the Savior of humanity in helping us to deal with our neurosis and psychosis, but he never mentioned "sin." Reverend Bible knew the finer tenets of church growth and with that knowledge he was certain that speaking of "sin" would only alienate potential members.
Reverend Bible focused all of his efforts on starting new classes in helping people obtain happiness. There were classes on "How To Get All You Want From Marriage," "Maximizing Your Earning Power," and "Power Parenting." There were "Singles" classes that provided fun and entertainment for everyone who participated. The Bible was rarely referred to, but boy did everyone have a good time. The only thing missing was a bar and a jukebox.
For Reverend Bible, Jesus was a fine teacher, the Bible was used when it was helpful, God was the God of all religions, and the Church was a great place for people to get together who didn't have access to the Country Club.
Reverend Bible may have passed the test of his professors, he may have passed the test of growing a church, and he may have passed the test of being inclusive and politically correct, but he miserably failed the test of 1 John 4. Passing the tests of men or society is a far cry from passing the test that God places before all of His followers. As a matter of fact, if you pass God's test you will most often be sent to study hall by society in order that you can get your act together and gain the necessary insights you need to fit in with the flock of the spiritually generic and politically correct.
In our Scripture for today we are continuing our study of 1 John. In today's lesson John encourages us to be discerning so that we won't be dragged away by every idea that becomes fashionable. The wonderful thing about our lesson for today is that John not only warns us to "test the spirits," but he tells us how we can be discerning and put the ideas that are so prevalent in our society to the test. Let's take a look at our Scripture for today found in 1 John 4:1-6.