In Barcelona, Dietrich Bonhoeffer gave an address titled, “Jesus Christ and the Essence of Christianity”, in which he said the following;
“We all know that Christ has, in effect, been eliminated from our lives. Of course, we build him a temple, but we live in our own houses. Christ has become a matter of the church or, rather, of the churchiness of a group, not a matter of life. Religion plays for the psyche of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries the role of the so-called Sunday room into which one gladly withdraws for a couple of hours but only to get back to one’s place of work immediately afterwards. However, one thing is clear: we understand Christ only if we commit ourselves to him in stark “Either-Or.” He did not go to the cross to ornament and embellish our life. If we wish to have him, then he demands the right to say something decisive about our entire life. We do not understand him if we arrange for him only a small compartment in our spiritual life. Rather, we understand our spiritual life only if we then orientate it to him alone or give him a flat “No.” However, there are persons who would not even bother to take Christ seriously in the demand that he makes on us by his question: will you follow me wholeheartedly or not at all? Such persons had better not mix their own cause with the Christian one. That separation would only help the Christian cause since they no longer have anything in common with Christ. The religion of Christ is not a tidbit after one’s bread; on the contrary, it is bread or it is nothing. People should at least understand and concede this if they call themselves Christian.”
This address was given in 1928, eighty-five years ago. And as it was then, so it is now. We need not search too diligently to find this mentality in most congregations. The unfortunate thing is we have fewer men behind the pulpit who will stand up and proclaim the truth of the matter. In 1928 it would seem, the incentive to deny Christ lordship over your entire life was coming more from secular influences; the emerging of post modern thought in Philosophy, in Theology, in the Arts, and in cultural reasoning. Whereas today we find the impetus coming also from the pulpits themselves as our society has become so steeped in the lies of satan manifesting through the influence of the humanistic arguments held dear by our post modern society.
We now breed Pastors so-called, that have become infatuated with large congregations, massive “churches”, “gold”-filled coffers, and the praises of men. They are masters of tickling men’s ears with euphemisms and platitudes, encouraging lifestyles and attitudes that undermine the Word of God, that deny Christ’s supremacy, and ultimately send men straight to hell.
The most agonizing truth is as Bonhoeffer stated, “We all know that Christ has, in effect, been eliminated from our lives.” We all know! We tend to sit idly by and watch as foundational truths are cast out of our churches while political correctness and tolerance are proclaimed the new doctrines. The doctrine of living a sanctified life, (a life set apart to the service of God), a life of holiness to God is foreign and generally unknown in our modern churches today.
As Bonhoeffer further elaborated, Christ “did not go to the cross to ornament and embellish our lives.” The offering of the only Son of God on the cross at Golgotha as payment, as propitiation for our sin debt, was not done so that we might have our best life now! The creator of the universe did not lay down His life so that we might profess an allegiance to Christ and yet live our lives as if nothing has changed. There must be an exhibited change in our lives that comes with a relinquishing of our wills to the will of Christ effected by following the Word of God. As was stated in Bonhoeffer’s address, it is an Either-Or proposition, there is no middle ground. As the prophet Elijah demanded on mount Carmel;
“And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.”
Paul further refines the concept in Romans;
Romans 6:16 and 17 Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.
There must be a submission to a master, we will yield ourselves to one or the other. Unto a sinful Christ-rejecting lifestyle which will only lead to death, or an obedient life of righteousness fostered by an indwelling of Christ and a constant feeding upon the word (that form of doctrine), which is life.
Again and again Paul lays it out before us. We cannot profess Christ, profess to yield to His Lordship over our lives and continue to live a life that does not renounce sinful behavior, period.
Verse 18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.
If you are truly in Christ you are made free from sin and will be servants of Righteousness.
Verse 19 I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness.
Plainly speaking, we did live a sinful life due to sin dwelling in us, but now we serve Christ and His righteousness is upon us, so we will be inclined to holiness. Our desire must be for Him, for Christ! Living a life contrary to the Word of God will only grieve His Spirit within us.
If you find that you can live life the way you always have…
If you find you experience no warfare against an inward compelling towards holiness and an outward demand for compromise…
If you can easily conform and practice a tolerance that can and does include all lifestyles and behaviors…
If these statements present an accurate description of your life, and you have at any time professed an allegiance to Christ, than it should be quite clear to you that you are bankrupt, you have become shipwreck to the faith.
Or could it be the realization that you have never known Him to begin with?
The Apostle Peter saw a lack of the effects of the indwelling of the Spirit of God in some that had professed fellowship with Christ and he responded with this affirmation,
But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
And went on to say:
Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
The time has arrived that you, I, we must give diligence, we must be eager to make certain our calling and election. Putting aside all unrighteousness, all ungodliness and allowing the Spirit of God to lead and direct us. We must set aside time for fervent prayer and genuine study of scripture. We must humble ourselves and submit to Christ and afford Him His rightful place as Lord of Lords and King of Kings in our lives.
And then we must stand firm and speak the truth of the eternal Word of God.