A Preference or Power?
By Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.
According to the Apostle John the church and those who profess to be Christians in the days before Risen Lord Jesus comes again will have material prosperity coupled with being spiritually lukewarm (Rev. 3:16, 17). In 2 Timothy 3:1-5, the Apostle Paul prophesied the same: “This know also, that in the last days, perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous... traitors, heady high minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.” Therefore, everyone who associates themselves with Christianity needs to ask: “Do I have a form, a preference of religion only, or do I experience the power and the reality of eternal life?”
Throughout the scripture, even those who have had inconsistent spiritual lives, are admonished: “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (2 Corinthians 13:5) How then can we examine ourselves? How can we prove we are in the faith or not, whether or not we have eternal life?
Life is an experience. How do we identify what species an animal is? Each species is identified by appearance and lifestyle; kittens meow; dogs bark; babies cry; artist paint; lawyers argue; preachers preach. “Eternal life” is not the same as “life after death.” The distinctive of Christ’s disciples is the experience a new kind of life in relationship with God that gives them desire and power to remain in his Word so they will know the truth, discover how to love and serve, and find spiritual freedom with God in the ongoing present which then continues through eternity after death (John 8:31-32). Those who have a mere preference (form) of religion “…walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardening of their heart…” (Ephesians 4:17-18). Those who have a vital spiritual life, love Jesus, know His Word, and seek to practice it (John 14:21, 23).
People are known by their lifestyles. How would you describe ours? By your job, money, and accomplishments? By your continuing relationship with Jesus? By your career, or your spiritual growth? By your amusements, or knowing and acting upon the will of God? By your sex life, or your serving life? By your alliance with those of this world, or you loyal abiding in Christ and bearing much fruit for him? (John 15:8)
“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world; and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” (1 John 5:4) Again which do you have: a form (a preference) of religion, or the power of eternal life, the Risen Christ through the Holy Spirit living within you? To those who take up the distinctive disciple’s cross of denying himself and following Christ, exchanging an old life or an ever-being renewed one (Luke 9:2-15), He gives every assurance (John 6:37).
Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them and they follow me; And I give to them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” (John 10:27.28) The power of eternal life is Christ living in one’s life by faith: “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless, I live; yet not I, but Christ live within me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me? (Galatians 2:20) “And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him (Jesus) which died for them, and rose again.” (2 Corinthians 5:15) Which do you have? The preference or the power?