Understanding Your Actions

It\’s strange how that\’s all twisted around, no? As if our actions are not governed by our beliefs.  But why should we be surprised?  Have our churches not authoritatively taught us from the word of God that we\’re \”just sinners saved by grace?\”  

Have these same people never read

Do not eat the bread of a selfish man, or desire his delicacies; for as he thinks within himself, so he is.  He says to you, “Eat and drink!”  But his heart is not with you. You will vomit up the morsel you have eaten, and waste your compliments. (Prov. 23:6-8)

Maybe that\’s just too deep for the average pastoral teacher; for perhaps when Jesus said,

Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.  Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops (Luke 12:1-3) …

such people didn\’t make the bread and leaven connection?  Do they not understand that it is not God waiting for the right opportunity to expose our sin, but it is our actions driven by our belief systems that will be heard in the light and proclaimed on the housetops?

A belief may indeed be reflective of a reasonably valid conviction and perhaps even truth, but a belief or conviction that does not govern your behavior is one of the purest examples of hypocrisy: it is a fantasy only to be trotted out when necessary to persuade others of a moral fortitude. 

If you want to understand your belief systems, if you want to know what is at the core of your being, then look at your behaviors, and look at your thought patterns, look at the private sins you confess that no one knows about, look at the disparaging remarks you make of others whom you disagree with – especially those done in jest.  Delve into those things and you will find the lies you confer as truth (John 8:34-38).

In other words, if your actions smell of evil, its because your belief systems do too.

Convincing Your Friends Otherwise

I\’ve tried. I\’ve talked. I\’ve prayed. I\’ve debated. I\’ve used carefully constructed logical arguments, all based on scripture. But to no avail.

Some of my friends are still Cessationists, Dispensationalists, non-believers or what-evers. So what gives? How do you convince someone of an alternative understanding – one you\’ve worked through and are certain is the truth?

You don\’t. And I would suggest that you take that to heart. If not for any other reason, because Paul didn\’t win souls or change hearts through a debate.  And if that\’s not enough, then you\’ve got to accept the fact that God has got this one. He\’s a big boy and can handle the situation.

I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God. (1 Cor. 2:3-5)

Remember that faith comes from hearing, and hearing from the word of God (Rom. 10:17).  And before you go down the wrong path, don\’t even begin to think that going to church and hearing a sermon, or even better – reading scripture – is hearing the word of God: because it\’s not.

Faith – Yielding and Experience

The next problem you have to tackle is that faith rests upon two things: yielding, and experience.  Ya, it does.  When it rests upon these things, it becomes the foundation of a testimony: faith is the evidence of things not seen (Heb. 11:1).  Evidence is derived from an experience, and only from an experience can a testimony be given.

Any serious scriptural study of faith will reveal that faith is founded upon the confluence of two things: belief and trust.  Belief is reasoned, and trust is gained through interaction or experience.  I may easily believe that you can mow my lawn because you have a lawnmower and you\’ve said you\’ll do the job.  But I may not trust that you will mow my lawn because you never have done so when you\’ve said you would in the past.

Contrarywise, I may trust your word about mowing my lawn because you have always been trustworthy in the past, but I will doubt your ability to do so because you do not own a lawnmower.  In both instances, I lack faith in your ability to follow through and actually mow my lawn.  This is an example of what I call \”natural faith.\”

Hence, one has an experience with God, reasons through the word God has given, and because of those two things working together, one can yield to God in faith when the next mountain presents itself.  Catch that bit about yielding: faith is not conjured up, it is not an intellectual effort, it is a heart effort:

But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; but whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. (2 Cor. 3:16)

 The word \”turns\” means to revert back, to return – to yield.

And the Point?

The point is this: we must learn to function in society as Jesus functioned in His society.  People need an experience with God, they need a spoken word (logos, an idea) that prunes their heart:

... every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.  You are already clean {pruned} because of the word which I have spoken to you …  If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. (John 15:2-8)

Just as Moses experienced the burning bush and turned (Exo. 3:3) and then God spoke, so people need an experience with God, a spoken word from Jesus that prunes them.  Paul described this same truth to the Corinthians in the idea around prophecy:

But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all; the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you. (1 Cor. 14:24-25)

So then: when one has actually heard in their heart the spoken word of God (Rom. 10:17) one is pruned, or cleansed (John 15:2-8).  Thus prophecy (1 Cor. 14:24-25) is a medium that enables one to hear God\’s word in their heart resulting in cleansing (pruning).

Therefore, in the end, we need to learn how to walk in this truth:

These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover. (Mark 16:17-18)

The point is not to logically convince anyone of the truth – because none of us have the whole truth (amazingly, God is cool with that).  Your job is to bring people into relationship with God, with the Son Jesus.  And for those who already have a relationship, your job is to plant seed or to water the seed already there, because it is God who causes the growth (1 Cor. 3:7)  Who here knows that in order to make vines grow well and produce fruit, they must be pruned?

A Better Way

If Paul refused apologetics as a viable tool to win souls, then perhaps we should too.  Once a person has received a personal touch from God, they then must deal with that experience.  They either must reject the experience – and reject God too – or accept what has happened to them and yield to Jesus.