Bible Order: Jeremiah 29–31
Chronological Order: Habakkuk 1-3
New Testament Only: Romans 9:30–10:21
Are You AWOL?
The publishers of the Bible translation I use put the title “In God I Trust” at the head of Psalm 56 and as you read the Psalm you will see that phrase repeated a couple of times. It reminded me of what we have printed on our money, “In God We Trust”. I found the history of that phrase interesting and if you have a few minutes extra to read about it you can do so at:
This history states that the move toward putting “In God We Trust” on our money started around the time of the civil war. It also insinuates that an “increased religious sentiment” existed at the time and had influence on this development. If this is the case we would be talking about the middle of “The Second Great Awakening”. This is a time period that saw significant growth in the Methodist and Baptist denominations. In fact, the Baptist and Methodist denominations are now 2nd and 3rd respectively in number of adherents in America after Catholicism. The order changes slightly if you separate Southern Baptist from the other Baptist denominations. In that case Methodists are number 2 numerically and Southern Baptists are number 3.
Obviously, immigration played a big role in the ascendency of Catholicism in the U.S. The Second Great Awaking played a big role in the rise of the Methodists and Baptists. Of course many other denominations grew or came to be in this period.
I think we’ve come a long way since our national religious sentiment first placed that inscription, “In God We Trust”, on our currency; and not in a good direction. I wonder today if a majority would still be in favor of maintaining that motto; and if you read the history provided at the U.S. Treasury site mentioned above, you will see that this is indeed, legally, our national motto. Regardless of the answer to that question, I am more concerned with the thought that the motto no longer applies. My take on our American society today is that those that “truly” trust in God are in an overwhelmed minority.
On one hand, I am not surprised by this; on the other I am saddened that we Christians have done such a poor job evangelizing our own nation. To this day we continue to send missionaries to foreign lands, and I know that we continue to do evangelism in our own country as well, yet China is on fire and the U.S. seems to be going the other way. It is hard to comprehend that a nation that sends and funds missionaries abroad to great success seems to have trouble evangelizing its own. Could this be because you and I are not as “on fire” to share the gospel with our friends, neighbors, and co-workers as are the new converts in foreign lands?
There is no secret to the spreading of the Gospel. It has always been spread through the individual efforts of one Christian sharing his faith with a non-Christian. That is happening in nations where Christianity is growing; it is not happening were Christianity is in decline. Now you can point to surveys that indicate that a majority of the U.S. population describes themselves as Christian, but I say to you that were those self-described Christians truly followers of Christ we would live in a vastly different country today. Perhaps our problem is that many who consider themselves Christians do so because their parents once took them to church. Maybe it is because many took Christ on as a cosmic insurance policy; “I’ll accept Christ just in case this Heaven and Hell thing is real.” Maybe it is because our churches were more focused on numbers baptized than number of changed hearts. Maybe our churches have simply not provided sufficient discipleship training or mentoring. Maybe it’s a little of all of the above.
My point is, there are some who call themselves Christians who are clearly not Christians. Now it is true that you and I cannot simply look at a person and visually ascertain the status of their spiritual condition. Of course, even those who have accepted Christ will stumble from time to time; I’m afraid I am too good an example of that truth as was David (granted he wasn’t a Christian per se). Yet, there is one way to separate some chaff from the wheat. If God says something is sin, and you say it is not, you are not a Christian.
Jesus Christ said that He did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17). He also said that not one dot or iota will pass away from the Law until heaven and earth pass away (Matthew 5:18). You cannot claim to be a follower of Christ and yet say that He was wrong. Why would you follow a deity you thought was wrong?
If you claim to be a follower of Christ yet look at the Bible and say it is just a collection of nice sayings, some of which are correct and some of which are wrong, then your faith is built on a fraud. Either Christ is who He says He is, or He is not. If He is not, He either knew He was not or He didn’t. If He knew He was not who He said He was, then He was a liar and not worthy of worship. If He didn’t know He wasn’t who He said He was, then He was crazy; also not worthy of worship. Jesus doesn’t give you a choice. He is God or He isn’t. His Word is true, or it isn’t. You follow Him or you don’t. You don’t get to pick and choose; He didn’t give you that option.
Brother, I don’t know which camp you fall into; was your heart changed or are you faking it? The problem with faking it is you can fool all of humanity, but the only perspective that matters is God’s and He will not be fooled. You may fool yourself, but not Him. If you are feeling a little uncomfortable right about now, you might want to chat with your pastor. Once saved always saved, but walking the aisle and getting dunked isn’t salvation. Salvation comes with a changed heart. Those who have a changed heart know that they know that they know they are saved; there should be no doubt.
Now, we are all human and doubt is part of that equation. It is not my intention to have you doubt your salvation if your heart has been changed, but, frankly, I am really more worried about the one who wrongly thinks he is saved and isn’t. If you are saved and doubt, you are still saved. If you are not saved and don’t doubt, you are dead. Search your heart brothers and make your salvation sure.
If you know you are saved I have to ask you, as I have to ask myself, are you sharing the Gospel? Do you believe or not? You know that Jesus is your Savior but do you know He is your Lord? Let me ask you something. Did you buy Him or did He buy you? Which should be following the others orders? He said go and make disciples. Are you? Your Lord has told you what to do. Your nation needs you to do what your Lord has told you to do. Are you AWOL? Get back in the trenches soldier; you’ve got work to do.
Have a faithful day!
Your brother and servant in Christ,
Dying to self, living to serve!
(Originally posted 6/24/10)