Summary: We need the transforming power of the word in our lives, otherwise we are merely good moral people, and not Christians.
There was a military officer who happened to stop by an island in the South Pacific. The military officer discovered that the island was inhabited by cannibals. Cannibals are humans who eat other humans. One day he came cross an old tribal chief. He saw the chief reading the Bible in the language of the island people. The officer asked him, “What are you reading.? The old chief held up his Bible and said, “I am reading the Book that belongs to God.? “You’re out of date, aren’t you, old man??the officer asked. “In my country, we don’t believe in that Book anymore; it is a book of myths.? The chief thought this over carefully and replied, “You don’t believe this Book in your country.? “This book made me a good man.? “Before this Book came to my island, I ate people like you.? “This Book has changed me.? “Now, white man, you tell me you want me to throw away this Book and eat you?? I wonder if anyone can guess what the officer’s answer was.
The Bible has the ability to change people’s lives. Do you believe that? I know you believe it. I’m sure you have heard of many other stories about how lives have been changed through this book. We believe that there is life changing power in this Book. And we believe that what the Bible says is true. We believe the words of Hebrew 4:12. It says that, “the word of God is living and powerful…” We all believe! But how many of us spend time everyday allowing the power of this book to affect our lives. Billy Sunday was a great evangelist in the 1800’s. I like what he said. He said, “Going to church don’t make anybody a Christian, any more than taking a wheelbarrow into a garage makes it an automobile.? Going to church is good. But just going to church does not make you a Christian. Friends, what is a Christian? Very simply, a Christian is a Christ-like person. Are you Christ-like? Don’t look at the person who’s sitting next to you. It’s easy to think you are Christ-like when you compare yourself with your neighbor. Look at Christ and ask yourself, “Am I Christ-like?? I know I am not Christ-like. How can we become more Christ-like? Can we change ourselves to be more Christlike? What does Jeremiah 13:23 say? “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Then may you also do good who are accustomed to do evil.? Scripture makes it clear. We cannot change ourselves. We can act like good Christians. We can look like sincere Christians. But unless God changes us, we cannot be true genuine Christians. Do you know how God changes us? How did God change the cannibal? It was through the power in the Word. That is how God changes us. What did Jesus say in John 17:17? "Sanctify them through Thy truth; Thy word is truth." Do you want to be sanctified? Do you want to be holy like Jesus? You need to get into the Word. On p. 100 of Christ’s Object Lessons it says, “The Scriptures are the great agency in the transformation of character.? Friends, God uses the power in the word to change us. Do you want a transformed character? Do you want more than just an outward behaviour change? Do you want to be changed from the inside out. A change beginning in the heart?
What happens to the person who goes to church every Sabbath, but does not spend time in the word of God? He goes to church and he learns that people who are saved and going to heaven keep the commandments. So he goes home and he examines his life. He realizes that he has some sins. He confesses his sins, and then changes his behaviour. He goes to church the next Sabbath. He learns more about the law. So again he confesses his sins, and changes his behaviour. And the cycle continues from Sabbath to Sabbath for twenty years. At the end of twenty years, what do we have? We have a person with very good behaviour. We have a person who can keep the ten commandments flawlessly. What we have is a good moral person. Morality is good. There are some benefits to morality. Morality will keep you out of trouble. Morality will keep you out of jail. But is morality Christianity? Morality is not Christianity. Morality has never been Christianity and never will be. The person who goes to church faithfully every Sabbath and is morally good can easily deceive himself into thinking that he is a good Christian. The Pharisees were such good Sabbathkeepers that they hurried back from the cross to be in time for sundown worship. But that did not make them righteous before God. Morality has to do with behaviour. Christianity is about a relationship. It is about growing up in Christ. It is about changing from the inside out. Do you want to be a Christian? Do you want to be Christ-like?