By Jeffery Kingry
Much of what we write, preach, and teach falls short of any practical help to the Christian on a day to day basis. It is a good man who can translate words on paper or words taken from the air into profitable godly living. Ultimately, all scripture must find practical application in the life of the Christian. “All scripture is given …that the man of God might be complete, throughly furnished unto every good work.” It is not enough just to “know” the word of God the way we know the multiplication tables or American history. Scripture is “profitable” for debating, for teaching, for rebuking sin, but God’s word is first for us to change our lives and personalities into the image of Christ’s.
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom.12:2). “When ye received the word of God …ye received it …as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh in you that believe” (1 Thess. 2:13). “I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ . . . that he would grant you . . . strength with might by his spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith . . . and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:14-19).
We can see the practicalities of our Lord’s teaching time and again. Matthew 5, often called the Sermon On The Mount, deals in practical application of God’s word. Even the beatitudes, which to many merely seem to be pious sayings, begin with the word “blessed” or “happy.” Jesus is proclaiming that only the poor in spirit, the meek, the merciful, the pure in heart can ever be truly happy. Only those who hunger and thirst after what is right will ever receive any fulfillment and lasting peace of soul. In a world (and a church) torn with hatred, misery, and depression, these words of our Lord must find practical meaning (5:1-16).
Jesus took the truth and brought it into the living of those he taught. “It is .not good enough to be just as good as the Scribes and the Pharisees,” Jesus intimated. “You have to be complete and balanced in truth as God is perfect or you have no part in the Kingdom.” It is not enough to be free from the charge of premeditated murder. There is no merit before God for never having killed a man. Godliness is to be free from the hatred, evil and hurtful intent, and the contempt that gives seed to the fruit of murder. The man who hates in his heart is a murderer in the eyes of God (5:17-22).
One may feel justified before God because of his faithful and religious attendance to duty. But, if the relationship of the Christian and his brother is severed because of sin, and no effort is put forth towards reconciliation, our real duty goes wanting. Man’s relationship with God is predicated in part on man’s relationship with his fellow man (Matt. 5:23-26; Jas. 3:9-18).
The ship of faith, from “stem to stern,” gives us answers in how to live, how to think, how to respond to a hostile world. A man may have unlimited talents, intellectual attainments and accomplishments, comeliness and grace before men, power and influence, but if he is lacking in the fundamental ability to make a God-like response to each problem, trial, and temptation-his life is vanity (1 Cor.13). This is basically what is wrong with the man who is a scholar before he is a disciple. Scholarship is only a means to an end. With the “knowing” must come the ability to relate the knowledge to living. As Solomon put it, “let thine heart retain my words: keep my commandments and live. Get wisdom. Get understanding: forget it not” (Prov.4:4,5).
Take a look at your life. Are you miserable as a Christian? Something is wrong that needs to and can be corrected. Do you feel like you are in constant competition with your brethren? Something needs to change. Are you always depressed, hemmed in by hurt, suspicious and resentful of others, or the victim of an “unconquerable” sin? The Lord has the answer for you, if you have the trust in him to take it.
Truth Magazine XXI: 19, pp. 299-300
May 12, 1977