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Double TROUBLE - Help!

You CAN Finish the race!

                              TROUBLE - HELP!


By Calvin Burrell


     What's the difference between ignorance and apathy?" someone
honestly asks. "I don't know, and I don't care," comes the
mocking reply. In this acidic answer, rumbles of ruination roll
toward the Church we love and any other where such perspectives
prevail. Historic, bona fide Christianity thrives in soils where
knowledge, not ignorance, sprouts and flourishes; in climates
where concern, not apathy, prevails. Without knowledge and
without caring, as we shall see, we face the certain wreck of our
faith.

Called to Know

     Christians are called to know, not remain ignorant. How do
we know this? Consider that the first five books of our Scripture
are otherwise known as Torah, or Instruction. Another section of
the Hebrew Bible is known simply as Wisdom. Jesus Christ, beyond
His role known as Teacher (i.e., Rabbi, Master). We are His
disciples, called to learn and follow His example and teachings.
     Likewise, the New Testament Epistles are crowded with
spiritual and practical propositions, waiting for us to
comprehend and apply them.
     Not all of Christ's disciples will become scholars, to be
sure, but most of us can learn the basics of our faith. Let's
study and prepare ourselves with confident, accurate answers to
questions like these:

* Who is Jesus?
* How do we explain and defend His humanity and deity? 
* What are the core elements of our Lord's teaching?
* What is the gospel for which He died and rose again?
* How do we identify and support the church He purchased?
* How do Christians achieve victory in the battle against sin?

     Ignorance on the part of God's people can be deadly. In a
text often quoted by an earlier generation but not much heard in
today's church, the prophet writes, "My people are destroyed for
lack of knowledge" (Hosea 4:6). The same verse goes on to warn
that since we have rejected knowledge and forgotten God's law, He
will reject us as His representatives and forget our children.
     According to Ephesians 6:10-18, knowledge of the Word is the
sword of the Spirit - the church's chief offensive weapon against
an enemy bent on our destruction.
     To assess your Bible knowledge quotient, grab a piece of
paper and list the Ten Commandments. OK, we'll settle for just
the first and tenth, if you know Jesus' reply to those who asked
Him about the greatest commandment in the law.
     Or have we, like those in Hosea's day, forgotten God's law -
His Word? Without it, the gospel of God's forgiving grace has
little meaning and even less power to shape our lives.

Ignorance Abroad

     It is worth noting that ignorance outside the church also
threatens our evangelistic mission. The average guy on the street
says he avoids churches because they aren't much like Jesus. And
why not? Because, says he, Jesus would never criticize anyone or
say that certain human behaviors are sinful and wrong.
     Those who make such statements reinvent Jesus to an image of
their own liking, rather than knowing the real Jesus reported in
the Bible. Ignorance for sure!
     What can the church do about widespread biblical ignorance
in this society? Not that much, perhaps. But consider: Advancing
the Bible as a viable and valid source of knowledge for an
educated citizenry, not just for those who affirm Jesus Christ as
Savior and Lord, is a legitimate and defensible position for the
church in the public square.

Called to Care

     As knowledge is a core value in our faith, so is concerned
caring. Believers are called to care and not be apathetic. How do
we know that a proper kind of care is so important to our faith?
Because care is another word for love, for compassion. According
to the Bible's best-loved chapter (1 Corinthians 13), care is the
one thing without which all other gifts - knowledge included -
are devoid of value.
     Without a caring love for people, other ministries reduce
the gifted one to a mass of noisy nothings. It's worth saying
again that most people don't really care how much we know until
they know how much we care. Knowing without caring is hard, cold
intellectualism, repugnant to those who are subjected to it. On
the other hand, caring without knowledge can be ineffectual
drivel, sop without substance. When mature knowing and caring are
combined in the man or woman of God, an irresistible force for
good is released.

Raising the Quotient

     Quick test on your Christian caring quotient: At the heart
level, how do you respond when you see or hear someone in the
public eye who represents all that you despise in our culture?
     How do you react to the fall or failure of one who has often
been your adversary? Are you often more interested in being right
than in being a real friend?
     Just as we Christians can increase our biblical knowledge
and wisdom through listening, reading, studying, writing, and
other disciplines, so we can raise our caring quotient by a
variety of means and methods:

* cultivating more meaningful relationships, with Christians and
non-believers, than we now enjoy. Deeper knowing produces more
caring.

* reading, meditating, and praying through Bible passages that
call us to love and care as Jesus did. Try Matthew 5-7;
Luke 6, 7, 15, 18; John 14-17; Romans 12-15; Ephesians 4-6; and
Colossians 3 for starters.

* confessing the sin of coldness and unconcern. Ask God to
replace our apathy with His passionate care for those in need.

Victory through Caring, Knowing

     Caring, in fact, may be more central to our Christian
identity than knowing (John 13:35) and not so easily abused 
(1 Corinthians 8:1, 2). When our positive caring borders on
something burdensome like worry and anxiety, remember this:
"Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you (1 Peter
5:7).

     Ignorance and apathy are twin giants that mightily oppose
the church of Jesus Christ in twenty-first century America and
around the world. What will you do about them? Do you know? Do
you care?
     Victory over these giants and freedom from their corrosive
grip come to those who know enough to care and care enough to
keep learning. The Bible puts it this way: "But grow in the grace
and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter
3:18). 

     Come on - let's grow!

                              ...............


Taken from "The Bible Advocate" September 2008, a publication of
The Church of God, Seventh Day, CO. USA

......

NOTE:

If you stop wanting to grow in grace and knowledge, if you stop
hungering and thirsting for truth, if you stop loving the Lord
with all your heart, mind, and life, if you stop caring about
others, if you take your eyes off desiring to do what you can in
spreading the Gospel of Christ near and far, THEN INDEED you will
loose your first love, and you will be ripe pickings for the
world, and the cares of the world, and Satan the Devil to pluck
you from the Lord, and put you right back in the dug-out, from
whence you started.

You need to keep close to God by loving His word, praying always,
and loving in all good ways, those who are still blinded by the
deceptions of all that is false and unrighteous. 

Do the above as expounded in the before article, and you will
remain faithful, to hear one day, "Well done good and faithful
servant, enter the joy of thy Lord."

Keith Hunt

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