A Knife Edge Fence

“Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” Acts 7:56

The history of mankind is a history of rejection of God. As with everything in regard to mankind’s fallen nature it began in the Garden of Eden. Adam rejected God’s word regarding “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:9); Cain murdered Abel because he rejected God’s word (Genesis 4:7) and the antediluvian population rejected the word of God that came through Noah.

In Acts seven Stephen recounts Israel’s rejection of the word of God that came through Moses. Rejection of God’s word leads to rejection of the messenger because the word of God convicts the heart (Acts 7:54). Unless a person receives the word of God and acts accordingly that person will endeavour to silence the messenger in order to try and quench the conviction of sin. Israel chose to leave Moses on the mountain and asked Aaron to make them other gods to take them back to Egypt (Acts 7:39, 40). In reality, in their hearts they had never left Egypt.

The Christian church in Australia today is much like Israel was on that day. The outward appearance and testimony may be that it is not part of this world but in reality it has never left the world and longs for the things that pertain to this fallen sinful world. The Lord will not allow His church to sit on the fence for long. He has made it a knife edge fence so that we will either go one way or the other or be destroyed resisting the Holy Spirit (v 51).

The professing church has been steadily blacking out parts of the Bible, deleting verses, tearing out pages and discrediting the God breathed record until they have nothing but faith in the gods of their own imagination. Those gods are forever changing with the whims and fancies of the minds of men. They are part of the ongoing efforts of people to ease the conviction of sin. Instead of the cross of Jesus they look for another god to deliver them from conviction but not from the sin they love.

Unlike the gods created in the minds of men the living God does not change (Malachi 3:6) and He is able to deliver on His promises. Jesus said, “The one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out … everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:37, 40).

Saul at first rejected Jesus and that resulted in him consenting to the murder of Stephen (Acts 8:1). However, as a result of the conviction of the Holy Spirit (9:5) Saul chose to receive God’s word and the Lord Jesus. His life was transformed from that time. Instead of rejecting God’s word he became a channel for God’s word through his letters recorded in the New Testament.

God’s love moves each of us to receive God’s word and Jesus Christ and be a blessing to the world. The default position is rejection. On which side of the fence are you?

Relational Faith

“In what way have we despised Your Name?” (Malachi 1:6)

An enduring plague of humanity is our failure to recognise our true condition and this applies to Christians as well. The verse quoted above has been thought or said by multitudes through history when challenged regarding their walk with the Lord. It spills over our lips because we are in the dark regarding the holy ways of our Lord and our own fallen state.

Israel was going through all the outward evidences of a true relationship with God but their heart was not in it. Their heart was not in their worship of the Lord and this led to lying to and robbing the Lord. They thought He would not notice that they were robbing Him of true worship. Counterfeit worship does not measure up or please the Lord.

They were despising the name of the Lord by giving Him less than the best. The animal sacrifices that were supposed to picture the sinless Christ were blind, lame or sick (1:8). The corruption of the image revealed that their worship was also corrupt and unacceptable. If we spend time with the Lord or give time to ministry to others only if we have spare time and there is nothing else to do, and we only give money if there is anything left over after we have spent on ourselves, are we not also despising His name?

Among other revelations of Israel’s falling short in Malachi is that they did not trust the Lord to provide for them (3:8-10). In order to ensure sufficient for their future Israel did not give the tithe to the Lord and short changed Him in their offerings and sacrifices. God says they were robbing Him (v 8) but also robbing themselves (v 10).

The matter of giving of time and money is closely related to faith and trust in the Lord. Giving is not a legalistic requirement, it is relational. Paul records that some believers had given “according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing … but they first gave themselves to the Lord” (2 Corinthians 8:3, 5). They did this because of the relationship they had with Jesus Christ not because of some religious requirement. They trusted their tomorrow in His hands.

When we withhold giving in the various ways we have opportunity we are in effect saying that the Lord is untrustworthy and unreliable. Clearly there is a relational problem that needs attention. If we do not trust Him to provide for our brief earthly future how can we honestly declare that we trust Him for salvation and eternity? Our children and the world will see through that hypocrisy in a moment.

No believer sets out to despise the name of the Lord or to rob Him but we may easily fall into the trap of doing so. Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). Jesus is our treasure. Everything else is fleeting, just for a moment.