RECOGNIZE THE DESPERATE NEED FOR TRUTH: Absolute truth is a hill on which to die. In battle, there are key strongholds that must be taken, or kept, at all costs in order to win–these are “hills on which to die.” Today, absolute truth is one such hill.
A weapon of destruction has set its sights on our nation, our homes, and our families. Relativism/postmodernism continue to challenge truth, but to their own destruction. Attacking absolute truth is like waging war on a lighthouse. It cannot be negotiated, bargained with, or debated. When people, groups, denominations, or movements depart from absolute truth, and thus, quench and grieve the Spirit of God, they become mechanical in their approach to Christianity and lose the ability to guide. The Word of God is not “in their hearts like a burning fire,” but relative, powerless, and debatable. This is what we see today; many are not truly worshiping God, as Jesus said, “in spirit and in truth.”
Unfortunately, Christians who are sounding the alarm are often categorized as irrational, judgmental, bigoted, and intolerant. But how can we warn if we won’t confront; correct if we won’t challenge; and contend if we won’t question? We are not called to make truth tolerable, but to make it clear. It is a “hill on which to die.”
RECOGNIZE THE DESPERATE NEED FOR LOVE: Will others know that we are Jesus’ disciples by how well we translate the Greek? or unravel the Hebrew? or by how well we convey pneumatology, eschatology, soteriology, or eschatology? Will they know by how many scriptures we quote, or how often we read the Bible? The answer is a resounding, “No”. Jesus said that love, not knowledge, is the characteristic of a genuine disciple.
It’s possible to be “Bible taught,” but not “Spirit led”—straight as a gun barrel theologically, but just as empty—”the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” This is fertile ground for modern-day Pharisees. Don’t get me wrong, we are to study the scriptures and defend the faith. I enjoy reading systematic theology; it’s essential to Christian living, but how often are we taught to fast and pray for wisdom? How often are we taught the need for brokenness and repentance instead of how to dissect and translate the Greek language—more concerned about a Master’s Degree than a degree from the Master? We must equally balance truth and love.
RECOGNIZE THE DESPERATE NEED FOR DISCIPLESHIP: Your faith must stand trial. When God strengthens our faith, He does so to help us meet the challenges ahead, to prepare us for life, and to mold us in to Christ’s image. Trying times are not intended to break us down, but to build us up. The only way to build into our lives such qualities as love, joy, peace, humility, and patience is to be confronted with situations that require love, joy, peace, humility, and patience. Discipleship in these areas is vitally important.
How do we develop patience if we’re not tested? How do we develop forgiveness if we are never wronged? How do we develop humility if we’re never humbled? How do we develop character if we are never challenged? James 1:2-4 advises us to “count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” “The Lord gets His best soldiers out of the highlands of affliction” (C.H. Spurgeon). Brokenness, true brokenness, is humiliating and painful, but it strengthens faith.
RECOGNIZE THE DESPERATE NEED FOR HOLINESS: Holiness is not a prudish, outdated word. It means being set apart, or separated from anything that causes us to sin, whether mentally (in what we think), or physically (in what we do). Holiness begins in the heart. We should continually strive for holiness in all that we do and say. “The Holy Spirit is first of all a moral flame. It is not an accident of language that He is called the Holy Spirit, for whatever else the word holy may mean it does undoubtedly carry with it the idea of moral purity” (Tozer).
Why walk willingly into the enemy’s camp? Why quench and grieve the Spirit of God? It’s impossible to develop a deep respect and desire for God if we repeatedly fill our mind with things that oppose Him. If we would make it our goal to know Christ more personally, we would preach Christ more powerfully. For example, if a Christian fills their mind with the world all week and expects the Spirit of God to speak boldly through them, they will be gravely mistaken. “The gratification of the flesh and the fullness of the Spirit do not go hand in hand” (R.A. Torrey). “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). What goes in ultimately comes out. It’s time to recognize the desperate need for holiness, beginning within our homes.
RECOGNIZE THE DESPERATE NEED FOR PRAYER: A prayer-less Christian is a powerless Christian. Where are those with uncompromising spiritual power in the church today? Granted, there are some, and I so appreciate them, but as a whole, the church is lacking. The men, and women, who do the most for God are always people of prayer.
Need examples from the past? E.M. Bounds, who was born in 1835, began his three-hour prayer routine at 4am. To him, prayer was not a prelude; it was a priority. Edward Payson, who ministered during the Second Great Awakening, was said to have wore grooves into his hardwood floors as a result of prayer. Adonia Judson attributed his success in Burma as a missionary to a life of prayer, as did J. Hudson Taylor, founder of the China Inland Mission. George Mueller petitioned God for millions of dollars to fund his orphanages in the 1800s. John Fletcher, one of the leaders of the Methodist movement, “stained the walls of his room with the breath of his prayers” until his death in 1785.
RECOGNIZE THE DESPERATE NEED FOR POWER: The Holy Spirit is not some weird, mystical force; He’s part of the triune nature of God. The Bible says that the Spirit intercedes, leads, guides, teaches, and so on. (Check out Romans 8:26; Acts 8:29; John 16:13.) He enables and empowers us to hunger and thirst for righteousness, to boldly live for Christ, and to help others within our sphere of influence. God’s Word becomes living and active in the life of the believer who is continually filled with the Holy Spirit. Charles Spurgeon said it best, “What can a hammer do without the hand that grasps it, and what can we do without the Spirit of God?”
RECOGNIZE THE DESPERATE NEED FOR CHRIST: If current statistics hold true, many will continue to reject Christ, never to return; or, they will embrace a glamorized Christianity, both to the same end. Life is a battleground, not a playground! Who is Jesus? How you answer this question is the difference between right and wrong, light and darkness, heaven and hell. When asked this question, the apostle Peter gave the correct response: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). Jesus Himself confirmed this by saying: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).
Seriously consider who and what you choose to follow. We are sinners who need a Savior. Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost. Hebrews 9:22 says that without the shedding of blood, there is no removal of sin. His blood was shed for our sins; we should be forever thankful. Jesus isn’t an option; He’s the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).