When I watch the televangelists on TV I get the impression that there is a lot of selling going on. I see those same things in politics, and it makes me uncomfortable there too. Unfortunately, the product appears to be the televangelists themselves and not the things that will bring life to the listeners. Certain names spring to mind immediately.
In some cases with churches it is similar. Everybody is schooled, but it seems sometimes that nobody has learned anything. The product is not the lesson (if there is one) or in the lesson, but it is the teacher or the program. There may be no application. It reminds me of what Paul wrote to Timothy in his last letter that certain folks were ever learning and never coming to a knowledge of the truth. Although the critics and commentators have argued for hundreds of years about whether or not Paul was addressing Christians inside or outsiders – I couldn’t care less. As my Mom used to say, “If the shoe fits, wear it.”
Then again, following Paul’s thoughts, we could bring a good case that some of both the teachers and the very well studied folks aren’t interested at all in the gospel, are clueless to the truth, or to what needs to be told to everyone in order to be saved. Because it’s about them and not about God. The audience may even nod their heads when something is mentioned; they heard it, but they have not assimilated the information or they have not bothered to find out if it is right, or means a thing. If they had, they would probably leave the building. For most it never got behind the eyebrows or in between the ears in the first place. And false teaching does more damage than good anyway. Chances are more than some of these folks just don’t care enough to bother to even read the scriptures. There are souls headed in the wrong direction.
In other better places there are bundles of studies also going on endlessly, and just a few folks (the evangelist, maybe a teacher, perhaps a member or two – there is always a core) doing anything to practice what they have been studying. There are souls needing care there too; and opportunities abound.
For the greater percentage, the rest may not know what to do or how to get it done, never having been tasked with taking the Word of God out of its covers and actually putting it to work by instructing others. Some may fear the failure that will result and don’t want to subject themselves to that sort of intimidation and humiliation. More than a few simply do nothing, as that is the easiest thing done. When there is no expectation, there will be no results. I was at a get together where folks chose to go through a neighborhood and talk to whoever might listen and drop off tracts where they could. After discussing it for awhile, they couldn’t decide on where to start. The visiting preacher finally asked, “Has anyone ever gone to the house next door?” You can figure out the answer to that one. Again, opportunities seem to lie all around.
I too have accomplished little when I assess my activities, but then it is not for want of trying. It seems when I look back that most of the activities and attempts didn’t seem to do much. But then it ain’t about me – as my wife reminds me from time to time. If you have learned the truth of the Word and have worked to get the details right, then you should know that you have the answer in how to obtain life. The question then is this: have you ever put what you have learned to work to try to show The Way to others? Did you teach your children, your friends, did you offer support to someone who really was delivering the goods, or to someone who is making a good attempt at it? Teaching them to observe whatever I have instructed you.
Have you ever tried stepping into the daylight and putting the goods news out there, to get roundly rejected, or to find some soul that actually might listen? The point is that we can get the study part just right, and memorize scripture by the book full; and if we never open our mouths we haven’t accomplished a thing. We can miss opportunity after opportunity.
Try something. Talk to someone. Practice what you preach. Make a point of leaving a card, tract or note somewhere. You might say that’s a waste of time; and it will just get swept out with the trash. And you may be right. But then I know people who picked up one of those tracts, read the lesson, called the preacher, and now they are the preacher. What there is no value in doing is in doing nothing. And doing nothing will accomplish the same result as will be had by the folks who teach it wrong, or who simply don’t care.
You can discuss the plan of salvation and the salvation offered in Christ with friends or strangers, and one day, perhaps to your surprise and joy someone might actually listen. Then you have done part of your duty and put your studies to the test. So what if no one listens most of the time, we’re tasked with the delivery, not the acceptance. And think how well versed on the gospel you will be after awhile. But, if a person does respond you’ll know you got it right and perhaps you may have helped to save a soul from death. And it will feel good too. Some teacher somewhere will have accomplished his or her duty also, though they may never learn about it.
The only thing we’re sure to run out of here is time. And nobody is getting out of here alive; so we need to get busy. We’re not likely to run out of words or opportunities before then. So make your calling and election sure, and be ready to give answer for the hope that is in you. Prepare to do something with the truth; the results may well surprise you in the end. And God will be pleased.
But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. From such people turn away. For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
(2 Timothy 3:1-5)
I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me.
(John 14: 6)
For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink in My name, because you belong to Christ, assuredly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward. And whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea. And if your hand makes you sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, than having two hands, to go to Hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched where `their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.
And if your foot makes you sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame, than having two feet, to be cast into Hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.
And if your eye makes you sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes, to be cast into Hell fire where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.
For everyone will be seasoned with fire; and every sacrifice will be seasoned with salt. Salt is good, but if the salt loses its flavor, how will you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and have peace with one another.
(Mark 9: 41 – 50)