By Norman E. Fultz
Faithful Christians do well to occasionally have their grand estate in Christ reaffirmed. Not only does it strengthen one’s own faith, it better prepares him to show the alien his condition out of Christ and compare it with what he could enjoy in Christ.
One of the difficulties with which we have to contend today, it appears to me, is showing folk that the “hereafter,” not just the “here and now,” is worthy of one’s attention. Particularly do young people have trouble becoming really concerned with eternal matters in a society where the getting of “things” consumes the greater part of man’s attention. Christianity often seems to be translated by them as applicable only to something which seems to them to be far removed and with which they are not presently concerned. But that it is applicable to the “here and now” we shall see.
Christianity is practical. But to properly appreciate the proposition, let us look at the terms. By Christianity, this article means the religion of Christ, true religion as revealed in the New Testament-not some watered-down version of it as seen in denominationalism and among many who claim to be “of Christ.” We shall be using “Christianity” and “godliness” as interchangeables. By practical, we mean that it is useful, workable, capable of being turned into use or account as opposed to that which is only theoretical or speculative. The religion of Christ is a taught religion-“teach . . . baptize . . . teach them” (Mat. 28:19-20); “the thing that thou hast heard . . . commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others” (2 Tim. 2:2j) “they shall be all taught of God” (Jn. 6:45)-but it is a system of teaching that is practical or useful because it meets definite needs.
1 Timothy 4:6-11
Please read this passage carefully. Space will not permit a lengthy exegesis, but note that Paul advises Timothy to “refuse profane and old wives’ fables.” This is in contrast to his being “nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine” which will enable him to “exercise thyself . . . unto godliness.” “Bodily excercise is profitable for a little; but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is (the here and now), and of that which is to come (the hereafter).” The “all things” in which godliness is said to profit is to be understood as meaning the life that now is and that is to come.
Christianity Is Practical Because It Meets The Needs of This Life
“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19). “For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly” (Psa. 84:11). The needs of man are many and they are as varied as they are many, but all man’s needs-whatever is really necessary-will be supplied. There is not a worthwhile interest of man that godliness will not promote.
Godliness will promote the health of the body. Abstinence from evil which harms is expected (1 Thes. 5:22). Moderation and temperance in all things is advised (Phil. 4:5; 1 Cor. 9:25), and physical excercise is profitable (1 Tim. 4:8).
Godliness is favorable to a clearness and vigor of the intellect as it sets before one the relative value of objects. The value of the soul is set over against the value of the world (Mat. 16:26). The use of the mind is encouraged in study and investigation (2 Tim. 2:15).
Godliness offers a recipe for happiness. For those who “would love life and see good days,” it is not a “do your own thing” philosophy of humanism. It rather involves compassion, loving as brethren, tenderheartedness, humblemindedness, a returning of blessing for evil and reviling, a controlled speech, doing of good, and seeking of peace. (See 1 Pet. 3:8-12.)
Christianity promotes a peace of conscience by leading to a faithful performance of one’s duties in all relationships of life (cf. Acts 24:16; 1 Jno. 3:18-21). There is instruction for the husband-wife relationship (Eph. 5:22-33; Gal. 3:18-19; 1 Pet. 3:1-7; 1 Cor. 7:1-5). The parent-child relationship is dealt with (Eph. 6:1-4; Col. 3:20-21). Under the figure of the servant and master, the employer and employee may learn how to treat each other (Col. 3:22-4:1; Eph. 6:5-9; 1 Pet. 2:18; Tit. 2:9-10). The citizen learns of his relationship to his government and how to fulfill his duty to it (Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Pet. 2:13-17; 1 Tim. 2:1-2). Nor is one left uninformed as to how to live before and treat his fellowman generally (1 Pet. 2:11-12; Mat. 7:12). The relationship of the creature to the Creator is one of obedience and worship (Eccl. 12:13-14; Jn. 4:23-24).
Godliness will produce a good name (Prov. 22:1), because it leads to honesty, industry, and sobriety as a course of life. There are the promises of physical needs being met (Mat. 6:33; Phi. 4:19; Psa. 37:25). And, finally, in meeting the needs of the life that now is, godliness offers comfort in trial (Deut. 33:27; Psa. 46:1), calmness in death (Psa. 24:4), and immortal peace beyond the grave (Rev. 14:13).
Christianity Is Practical Because It Provides For The Life That Is To Come
Infidelity makes no promise of future happiness. The Madelain Murray O’Hairs live only for the “here and now.” A life of sin and lust promises nothing but remorse at death and in death. And though many things (beauty, wealth, fame, power) hold flattering hopes of happiness here, they offer nothing of eternal bliss. Nothing but godliness can so promise. A life without aim is like a ship without a rudder, but godliness offers aim and direction in life (Col. 3:1-2), and its promise of eternal life (1 Jn. 2:25) is a stabilizing force (Heb. 6:13-20). The hope we have in Christ is not in this life only (1 Cor. 15:19). We hope for something far better (2 Cor. 4:16-18).
Truly, Christianity is the only really sensible way for one to live. It enriches this life and promises bliss in that to come. Yet with all its promises, many defer it to the last period or life or reject it altogether. And some who once accepted it return to the weak and beggarly elements.
A Faithful Saying
Paul’s estimate of the promise in 1 Timothy 4:8 is found in verses nine and ten. It may be depended upon as true and it is worthy of being embraced. And that which godliness affords is worth one’s labor and even the suffering of reproach. “These things command and teach.”
Truth Magazine XXIII: 17, pp. 285-286
April 26, 1979