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Truth Searchers

By Larry R. Lasiter

2001

The sermon is over, and hundreds or even thousands begin to make their way toward the podium. They are responding to an altar call from the speaker. And as they come down the aisles they hear a song being sung in their behalf. The words "just as I am" resonate in their ears.

It is a very emotional moment for many. They have been afflicted with various problems and are even weary of living in some cases. But tonight they have hope, hope that this experience will change their lives, that it will be the answer to their problems.

Sadly, after this emotional experience, most will fall right back into the same state they had hoped to get out of. Why? Because emotional experiences don't last. They may motivate you temporarily to make some hard changes in your life, but when the energy wears off so does the desire to truly want God to transform you into the holiness of His likeness. It would mean letting go and letting God. Letting go of your own will and submitting to His.

It's easy to get in the "employment line" to go to work "serving God," but it's difficult to let God go to work at changing the specifics of our lives.

It's easy and even exciting to share the gospel with others in personal evangelism, handing out tracts etc., but it can be uncomfortable to our natural man when God begins asking us to leave behind what we think we must hold onto.

Though God always gives much, much more, still He always asks of things from those whom He calls into a relationship with Him.

He asked Adam and Eve not to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, even though He had placed it in the center of the Garden of Eden. He asked Abraham to leave Ur, possibly the greatest city ever, to wander in the desert, then later asked him to offer his only son in sacrifice.

He asked Moses to leave his safety in Midian and face off with the Pharaoh of Egypt. He asked a poor widow to give her last meal to Elijah, one of His prophets. Jesus asked a young Jewish ruler who was rich, to sell it all, give it to the poor and follow Him as a disciple though He often had no place to lay His head.

He asked faithful Daniel to endure captivity and enslavement to the Babylonians. He asked him later to be faithful even as he was being thrown into a den of hungry lions. He asked Daniel's three friends to remain faithful even when being threatened to be thrown into a fiery furnace. Jesus asked that eleven of His twelve disciples be martyred for the cause of the gospel, and the twelfth, John, was asked to endure rejection by the vast majority of the church and be imprisoned on an island called Patmos. As Hebrews Chapter 11 tells us, the faithful have always suffered. Some were martyred, others imprisoned and the prophet Isaiah was even sawn in two.

And He asks all who want salvation from their sins and from being thrown into a Lake of Fire to repent from practicing sin as a way of life.

To repent means to change, not just to be sorry.

Without this change there can be no forgiveness.

Often, when someone who is living outside the will of their Creator hears the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ, they feel a sense of remorse. This remorse can lead to powerful enough emotions to cause them to rush to the altar, which is symbolic for the place before the Mercy Seat of God. There they cry out, expressing their regret for past sins and pleading for God's mercy and forgiveness.

But without real repentance there will be no lasting change and no entrance into the grace of salvation. Notice,- "For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain terrifying expectation of judgment, and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay." And again, "The Lord will judge His people." It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God." (Hebrews 10:26-31)

The vast majority of those who make their way to the altar following an emotional plead are feeling temporary remorse not true repentance. Please don't think that I am speaking out against emotions because they are a creation of God and a gift to man. It is not wrong to be emotional in your approach to God, our heavenly Father and Jesus are emotional toward us, it is just wrong to be emotional without having a repentant heart. It's like saying "I'm really sorry for committing sin, but I'm going to continue to do it." Or, "Please forgive me of this sin, I know it puts distance between you and me, but I would rather hold it near than to have You near."

When people fall back into the same rut they had hoped to get out of, their last state is often worse than the first. They may feel that they have let God down so badly that He could not possibly forgive them. Some soon find themselves full of guilt and without hope. They feel unworthy to come before God in prayer and soon lose interest in attending worship services. After a time they find themselves in the very place their enemy, Satan wants them to be, alone and isolated from faithful Christian friends.

The truth is, God is both willing and able to forgive anyone who turns to Him with a repentant heart.

It is real repentance that "jump-starts" God's promise to give us a life of victory and a crown tomorrow. The lie is that you have betrayed God past the point of forgiveness. This is a lie straight from the Devil designed to engender fear and hopelessness so that you will not approach the Throne of Grace for forgiveness.

God is well aware of our sins and weaknesses, yet He loved us even while we were practicing sinners. God the Father loves us with a love so great that He gave His only Son, not only to die, but to endure a horrible beating and the shame of being nailed alive to a wooden cross. Jesus, the Savior of all who will receive Him as Lord of their lives, loved us to the point of willingly laying down His sinless life so that we might live.

If your conscience can still be pierced you have not become hardened of heart. It is very important though, to not put God off when He is working to make changes in your life,- He will not wait indefinitely.

Notice this parable of Jesus,- "A Certain man had a fig tree which had been planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it, and did not find any. And he said to the vineyard-keeper, "Behold, for THREE YEARS I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree without finding any, Cut it down! Why does it even use up the ground?" And he answered and said to him, "Let it alone, sir, for this year too, until I dig around it and put in fertilizer; and if it bears fruit next year fine; but if not, cut it down." (Luke 13:6-9)

The "certain man" is analogous of God the Father and the "vineyard-keeper" analogous of Jesus. The "fig tree" is of course analogous of a Christian, one whom God has planted and is expecting to grow and produce useful spiritual fruits. Notice that there is a period of time which the tree is given to bear fruit. A tree which never bears fruit proves itself to be useless to the one who planted it, therefore it is cut down and removed so that another may be planted in its place. This of course is not what the owner of the vineyard nor the vineyard-keeper wants, it is the last resort after all attempts to stimulate growth has been exhausted.

Like the vineyard-keeper who digs around and fertilizes the plant, Jesus too works hard in us to stimulate spiritual growth which will produce wonderful fruits in our lives. Sometimes He lifts a spiritual mirror to our faces that we might see the real condition of our spiritual lives. This can be extremely painful, we do not like what we see,- it shakes up and rearranges our view of ourselves. It disturbs our comfort zone. He may convict us to give up something we know we should but don't really want to.

He may reveal a deadly hidden sin in us such as vanity or pride which we were not completely aware of before. Occasionally Jesus gives us a good hard reality slap to shake loose the shackles of delusion that we may see the light of truth.

It has often been said that truth is the first casualty of war. I believe this to be true, but I also believe that truth is the first casualty in any conflict, even in those which take place in the family, workplace and among friends. Jesus said of Himself, "I am the truth,"- he who receives Jesus receives truth. And he who leaves truth leaves Jesus.

Throughout our Christian walk Jesus reveals truth to us that lets us know where we have been in error that we might change.

We may find that we have been less than honest in business or with a friend and need to ask forgiveness. We may find that something we have been doing is wrong which calls for a change. We may even find that we have tried to worship God in a way in which He does not accept, then we must change.

It can be difficult to be a truth searcher in an age where there is no acceptance of absolute truth, but Jesus said that God is seeking those who will worship Him in spirit and truth. Notice,- "But an hour is coming and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit; and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." (John 4:23-24) Without truth there is only delusion.

A Christian's condition is often very different from his position. His position is one of purity and righteousness before God. He is clothed with the righteousness of Jesus.

The Apostle John says that sin is not even imputed to a Christian because he lives a repentant life.(1 John 3:9) He can boldly approach the Throne of God knowing that he has been purchased with the blood of Jesus and is forgiven of all moments of weakness past, present and future. Paul said that with his mind he agreed with the commandments of God, but that he found that his natural body and its desires constantly waged war against his spirit. But he concluded that though sin was present with him at all times, it did not belong to him for there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ. (Romans 7&8)

While our position is one of righteousness our condition is anything but. It is our condition which needs the transformation from being motivated and driven by the flesh to being motivated and guided by the spirit of God.

The old chains of disobedience, stubbornness and rebellion need to be broken that we might find the liberty of serving God and His glorious Son with a whole and devoted heart. That we may become a vessel worthy of receiving the blessings of God poured out on our lives and in our families.

Let us allow God to make us into His image and likeness instead of allowing Satan to deceive us into making God into our likeness.

The Bible says that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8) God says "I change not!" (Malachi 3:6) So, if there is any changing to do, and there is, it is we who must do the changing.

A Christian's belief system must be based squarely on the teachings of the Bible. He must be a truth searcher. 

Jesus said If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:31-32) Jesus is not only the truth, but He is also the Word, abiding in Him through the Word sets us free from our enslavement to sin, it breaks the bonds of deception and delusion. Notice verse 34,- "Truly, truly, I say to you, every one who commits sin is the slave of sin."The Bible brings light where before there was only darkness. It reveals to us the things which God requires of His faithful children and also the things which He despises and forbids.

Having said these things, I should add that it is only by God's grace that any of us have the understanding of His will that we do. None of us have a perfect understanding of His Word, but God is well aware of this. He wants us to continually seek His will and faithfully submit to Him as we receive understanding.

Therefore we must be careful in our judgment of others, realizing that we cannot make the claim that we have never found that we have been wrong. The very evidence that we are growing and producing fruit is that we have discovered areas where we were in error and allowed God to lovingly correct us.

Every religious person on this earth has a set of beliefs, a standard by which he believes that if he is faithful to, he will find favor with God. This includes every religion and way of life that has ever been practiced. In the Old Testament of the Bible we find that one of the sins God had against the children of Israel was idolatry. At various times they burned their children in sacrifices to the pagan god Molech.

Their belief system compelled them to commit such a crime against God and humanity, because their priests taught them that they must offer these sacrifices to ensure blessings from Molech and to appease his anger. But this was a Satanic lie. The Bible forbids human sacrifice and plainly says that there are no gods other than the God who authored the Bible.

With this in mind, what about the countless thousands of innocent children who were burned for this erroneous belief? All who gave up sons and daughters did so believing that it was necessary to ensure blessings and avoid Molech's wrath. No doubt, they agonized and mourned bitterly as they watched their own offspring be slaughtered and burned in the flames. How will these parents feel when they are resurrected and learn that they were misled by their priests and that their children suffered in vain?

Perhaps the opposite of this belief of extreme sacrifice, is the concept so prevalent today, that of nothing really matters. That it really doesn't matter how you worship and serve God. There is an attitude even among Christians today that God will accept their worship and service to Him outside of the way in which He instructs. There are people who are bent on worshiping the God of the Bible according to their ways and desires instead of His.

These same people would never go fishing without checking the regulations and limits of the Lake they were fishing. They may carefully observe the traffic laws when they drive. They make sure their children are in school at the appointed dates, days and times. They make sure their tax return is in the mail by April 15th.

And yet they do little research into the Bible to see if they are conforming to the will of God. God knows we will never get everything just right, but He does want us to try. He does want us to seek His will by prayerfully searching for the truths contained in His Word. After all, the Bible is His Word to us.

The Apostle Peter said that the problems experienced by ancient Israel were recorded for our benefit so that we Christians would not fall into the same examples of disobedience. Let's take a look at one of those lessons found in Exodus chapter 32. Moses was on Mt. Sinai and had been there for weeks. The children of Israel grew impatient and went to Moses' brother Aaron whom Moses had left in charge, and asked him to make them a representation of their God to go before them as they left the wilderness.

The people were concerned that Moses would never return from the mountain. They had seen God as a pillar of fire and also as a pillar of cloud, but they did not know His true likeness. Many of the idols representing the gods of Egypt where they had lived were made in the likeness of animals, so it was not an unusual thing that Aaron made a golden calf to represent God.

Let it not escape our understanding that this calf represented the God of Israel, not a pagan god. In this the children of Israel were trying to honor their God. They donated precious and costly jewelry made of silver, gold and precious stones for the making of this image. Notice verse 4,- "And he took this from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool, and made it into a molten calf; and they said, THIS IS YOUR GOD, O Israel, WHO BROUGHT YOU UP FROM THE LAND OF EGYPT."

Aaron did not say, "Behold the god of Egypt," he said "Behold the God who brought you out of Egypt." In effect he was saying, -You have seen Him as a pillar of fire and a pillar of cloud, now you see Him as a beautiful golden calf. Aaron was not presenting a different god, but a another likeness of the true God. Although, Aaron did not know God's true likeness and form, he believed that God would accept this calf in honor. After all, he had worked diligently to make it very beautiful and God's people had given so sacrificially.

Further notice verses 5-6,- "Now when Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made a proclamation and said, "Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord." So the next day they rose early and offered burnt offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play."

The feast Aaron proclaimed was "for the Lord." It was a festival celebrated in honor of God, a day set apart for offerings and worship. God's people sacrificed the choicest of their animals to God.

Now before we go on let's recap this story. God's chosen children approached Aaron and asked him to make them a likeness of the Lord. They gave of themselves gold, silver and precious stones as offerings for this project. It pleased Aaron so he built the golden calf and an altar to receive the sacrificial offerings. He then proclaimed a festival to be celebrated the following day to honor and worship the Lord.

This sounds like actions designed to please God. It appears that the hearts of Aaron and the people were properly motivated. But was it pleasing to God?

Notice verse 7,- "Then the Lord spoke to Moses, "Go down at once, for your people whom you brought up from the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves."

Not only did God not accept these sacrifices and method of worship, He was so angry with Israel that He wanted to destroy them and start over again with only the offspring of faithful Moses.

Verse 8 tells us that Israel had corrupted themselves by turning away from the commandment to not make and worship graven images. Obviously, they did not believe that it applied in this case because the image was not a pagan idol but an image made to represent the true God. The festival was not a pagan festival celebrated to honor a pagan god or idol, but a festival celebrating and honoring their divine Deliverer.

There are modern parallels today. All my youth I celebrated Christmas to honor the birth of Jesus. This is what I had been taught by my parents and by the Baptist church we attended. I believed that this observance was somewhere in the pages of the Bible.

I also celebrated Halloween and Valentine's Day though I really didn't think of them as Christian observances. I never thought at all they it might be wrong to participate in these practices. But I never really did any research either. I didn't question. Much like the children of Israel with the "festival to the Lord," and worship of the golden calf , I just accepted them because everybody else seemed to.

Every spring I would get new clothes for Easter, which I believed to be the time of Jesus' resurrection. I did wonder why we elaborately decorated boiled eggs, hid them for a "Easter Egg Hunt" and yet told everybody the "Easter Rabbit" did it. But again, much like the children of Israel, I enjoyed it because it was fun. I never really questioned whether it was right or not, and looking back, I don't think I would have truly cared. I was very comfortable in my state of delusion, thinking these things were honoring God, when I was really just in it for the fun.

But for me things changed in 1974 when I was a young married man 20 years of age. It was at this time that I turned to God for the first time in my life, truly seeking His will. I spent about three weeks alone praying and reading the Bible. Soon, I was forced to question many things I had previously assumed to be correct. As I learned from God's Word I changed, and the changes are still taking place 27 years later.

I learned that God wants His children to be obedient to what He reveals to them, and walk daily in His way of life. I learned that Christmas was an observance predating the birth of Jesus and was known in Rome as the Saturnalia. And that it was a festival to honor pagan gods. I learned that Easter was anciently known as a fertility festival to honor the Egyptian goddess Eostre. Then the "Easter Rabbit" and "Easter Eggs" associated with its observance began to make sense. I learned even more shocking things concerning Valentine's Day and Halloween.

I was very thankful that God had given me not only the truth of these shrouded holidays, but also a heart to despise them. When I stopped observing these holidays it immediately caused problems with my parents and other family members. My wife Treon and I already had a newborn baby girl and I didn't know if God was going to open her eyes or not. I understood clearly that one could only come to God when He specifically calls them, Jesus said,- "No one can come to Me unless the Father calls him." (John 6:44)

Thankfully, God did call Treon into His grace and gave her a heart to seek His will. Since that time we and our five children have been truth searchers and continue to receive God's out-pouring of blessings

Before I close this editorial, I want to make it clear, that by far, the greatest truth God has ever revealed to us is that He loves us so much that He gave His only Son to suffer and die on the cross for our sins. And the greatest gift God has ever given us is our beloved Savior, Jesus.

Making simple changes in religious observances etc, are the easiest of all the changes which God wants to make in our lives.

The real dynamic changes take place deep within producing wonderful character transformations.

He wants us to become like His Son Jesus.

Without neglecting outward changes, we must never lose focus of the truth that the truly significant changes must take place within our minds and hearts. These are the weightier matters of Christianity. Let us move on to perfection in Christ.

I hope that you are like us, in that, we don't want to be known as the "family or church who keeps the Sabbath," or the "family or church who doesn't celebrate certain holidays." But the family, church and ministry who loves the Lord with a whole and devoted heart and is seeking to please Him.A people who seek the Lord as truth searchers because they want to be transformed into the likeness of His holiness. And a people like Joshua who said, "As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."


 


 

 

 

 

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