Need to Know Our Beliefs

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The Christian has a unique opportunity, one that isn't available to non-believers. That is the God-given grace to grow in our knowledge of our faith, and as a result, to come closer and closer to our Lord. A great teacher of this lesson is the Apostle Paul, who describes it in his letters to Timothy. Significantly, Paul begins with a caution, that Jesus' followers were constantly risking persecution. Such warning may seem archaic to many of today's believers, but the truth is that Christians have been targeted in one way or another through the ages. The beloved Apostle gives a succinct statement of the risks and rewards attendant to Christian growth at 2 Timothy 3:12-17.

12Indeed, all who desire to live godly lives in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13while evil men and imposters go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.

14But as for you, continue in the things you have learned and firmly believed, since you know from whom you learned them. 15From infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for instruction, for conviction, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17so that the man of God may be complete, fully equipped for every good work.

Paul calls on us to "continue". The notion of being a Christian implies an ongoing process of growth; a continuing movement upward and onward constantly bringing us closer to the Lord. Whether we begin our walk in childhood or find the blessings of salvation later in life, whatever time we have should be devoted to seeking a stronger understanding and knowledge of God and developing a deeper and better witness. Paul reminds us that the devoted study of scripture and, impliedly, consecrated living and service, will bring wisdom.

One of the most beautiful sights on earth is the glowing countenance of a person who is filled with a strong faith. On the other hand, how sad and heartbreaking it is to realize that one has gone cold, missed many blessings and is barely able to cling to a weak and dim kind of faith. On this account, Christians need to constantly remind themselves, or be reminded by caring brothers or sisters, or by the ultimate source of our faith, God Almighty, that salvation and our relationship with Jesus Christ are, by far, the most important elements of one's life.

Let's pause a moment, to address a misconception; that concerns the many who feel that family, occupations, or preoccupations should be held in high regard, perhaps, unfortunately, exceeding one's devotion to God. Simply itemized, the following priorities seem fit for most of us: God first, then immediate family, then church, then work, then everything else. This probably lowers the significance of jobs, friend, hobbies, sporting interests, social relationships and countless other potential distractions from one's living for the Lord. Well, we have to make choices and we all probably know people who have rearranged the priorities in their lives by moving God down or even completely off the list. We should not govern or spiritual relationships and priorities on the basis of the errant choices of others.

Back to Paul's guidance, the blessing of wisdom and diligent scriptural intake and understanding brings spiritual completeness and readies us for useful service. Following Jesus' example, the apostles and other giants of the faith down through the centuries have exhibited unimaginable effort, strength, wisdom and purpose as they served God often facing overwhelming opposition and ridicule; frequently even death on account of their faithful devotion and obedience. Their legacy is rich, powerful, and frequently even beyond the limits of our comprehension. Fortunately, our opinions and judgments of these, our spiritual ancestors, were of no concern to them during their walk on earth. Today's often wayward Christians risk being coddled, distracted, and ignorant of the labors and accomplishments of these heroes of the faith. We probably cannot fathom their motivations, strengths of purpose and complete devotion to the Lord. I fear that we will be held accountable for our ignorance and failure to function as the kind of Christians God expects us to be.

 

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