Part one review and reflections has a summary and beginning credits.
"Sanctioned by Satan, the nominal Christian possessed all too many resources to deceive themselves about their true spiritual state, whether biblical knowledge, fear of judgment, religiously minded happiness, or other things. It is likely that these are the kinds of attributes many of the nominal Christians in our churches possess. They fear the Lord, and go to church, and do religious things, believing on some level that their involvement procures forgiveness and salvation. In their encounter with true Christianity, these people taste something of the sweetness of religious devotion and biblical truth, though they do no more than sample these good things. They are not so convicted by judgment as to repent of their sin, and they are not so gripped by the glory of divine grace that they embrace Christ. They may know biblical doctrine, even to the point of being able to make a case for a certain scriptural teaching, but this truth has not transformed them. What needs to bore into their heart sits lightly on the conscience, skimming the surface but never penetrating to the soul." page 69.
There is an illness which has affected people in western nations. It's called the happiness virus.
I've been asked by well-meaning people, including family: "don't you want to be happy?"
A heart of gratitude, yes.
Happiness is fleeting, temporary. After happiness is achieved another fix is sought.
Maybe spending money will bring happiness.
Maybe drinking another Tuaca or Fuzzy Navel will bring happiness.
Maybe a new house, or a new car, will bring happiness.
Maybe loosing weight and buying a new wardrobe of clothes will bring happiness.
Maybe Botox or a nip and tuck will bring happiness.
Maybe sex will bring happiness.
Maybe a new spouse will bring happiness.
Or, maybe the heart is still empty and craves more.
True Christianity is Jonathan Edwards writings on "nominal Christians." He addresses those who in his day "became more focused on themselves than on the mission of the church." They were interested in how they looked and how they looked to others.
There are churches in other nations where people must meet in secret. They cannot continue to meet in the same place, but must change the meeting place often in order to not cause government interference. A loud contemporary worship service is not an option.
There are churches where a western nations idea of a brick building is not possible; these Christians meet in a thatched roof house, or they meet under the shade of a tree.
In each case these precious people are meeting with one focus, to read and study God's Word together and to support each other in the kingdoms work.
In America, we're arguing over what kind of worship service we'll have, will it be traditional or contemporary.
In America we're more interested in how we look and how other people perceive us.
In America, a country where so many have given their life for our freedom; instead, is a land of disenchantment.
Are we enjoying the "trappings of our faith more than its substance."
Are we focused on making ourselves happy and have forgotten our mission?
When our focus is on self and happiness, we are not focused in Jesus Christ and in His kingdom work.
The happy boat is drifting dangerously close to the rocky coastline; however, we refuse to acknowledge a problem and party-on.
In order to avoid "trappings" we must examine self.
"Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test
yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves that Jesus
Christ is in you?-unless indeed you fail to meet the test! 2 Corinthians
It is at this first stage where many people give up, because in order to examine self we must acknowledge we made a wrong choice. Further, we don't want people to tell us we're in the wrong. We call it being judgmental. This is a no-no, it's not nice, it's not politically correct. What people don't realize is their choice judges them.
"They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work." Titus 1:16. ESV.
"Whoever says 'I know him' but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him; whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked."
1 John 2:4-5. ESV.
Jonathan Edwards was a prolific pastor, teacher, author. His writings transcend time, because people inherently do not change. There is "nothing new under the sun," King Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 1:9. ESV. The same problem which affected Edwards era, affects our own: minimal Christianity.
Anorexic, pale-faced, "fickle," Bible deficient, blow away with the first storm--Christian.
"You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people
some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the
time." Abraham Lincoln.
But. You cannot fool God.