Family Bible Study lesson for April 14: Evidences of Genuine Religion
March 21 2002 by James Baldwin , Amos 5:4-7,10-15,21-24

Family Bible Study lesson for April 14: Evidences of Genuine Religion | Friday, March 22, 2002

Friday, March 22, 2002

Family Bible Study lesson for April 14: Evidences of Genuine Religion

By James Baldwin Amos 5:4-7,10-15,21-24

Comedian Carl Hurley tells of a man on his way to attend a Halloween party dressed as the devil. As luck would have it, his car broke down on the way to the party. It began to rain as he walked toward town. The man ran toward a nearby building and stepped inside, only to find himself in a little Baptist church. Upon seeing the demonic figure, most of the members fled through the doors and windows. One elderly deacon, however, got his jacket caught on the pew and could not move. As the devil-clad man approached to help, the deacon stood up and said, "Mr. Devil, I will have you know that I have been a member of this church for 40 years. ... But I have been on your side the whole time."

Amos found a lot of people in "church" who lived as though they were on the devil's side.

Seek God, Not Substitutes (Amos 5:4-7) There was no lack of religious activity in Amos' generation. Bethel, Gilgal and Beersheba were worship centers where the people of Israel came to offer sacrifices and tithes (Amos 4:4-5). The churches were filled with people fulfilling their religious duty, but their religion was not translated into their daily living.

We need to be clear in our words and deeds that church membership is not what makes us Christian. It is possible to be involved in all aspects of church life and still not have a life-changing relationship with Christ.

Seek Good, Not Evil (Amos 5:10-15) Amos repeats some of God's charges against the people of Israel mentioned earlier in his sermons. There was no justice toward the oppressed. There was no compassion toward the poor. There was no desire for truth in matters of everyday life. Only by seeking good rather than evil could the people of Israel know fellowship with God.

The New Testament proclaims this same message again and again. "Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me" (John 14:21). "Anyone who does not do right is not a child of God" (1 John 3:10).

We need to be careful not to confuse these statements as advocating salvation by works. We are saved by grace through faith. But faith that is not reflected in our actions is not genuine faith.

Seek Righteousness, Not Ritual (Amos 5:21-24) God was offended by the religious practices of the Israelites because their worship on the Sabbath did not match their behavior throughout the rest of the week. The burnt offerings were a stench in the nostrils of God, and the music was just noise to His ears.

God desires worship that is more than just empty phrases. True worship will cause us to focus on God and not on ourselves. As we focus on God we become aware of areas in our lives that need to be changed in order for us to be like Him.

Isaiah experienced true worship that led him to cry out, "Woe is me. ... For I am a man of unclean lips" (Is. 6:5).

After several hours of shopping with my wife, I plopped down on a bench in the center of a mall. Soon a woman sat down beside me and asked if I would be interested in buying a magazine from her church. Recognizing the literature in her hand, I informed her that I was a Baptist and we had all the literature we needed.

She responded, "Oh, you are the ones who believe in 'Once saved, always saved.'"

I agreed that most Baptists accept the doctrine of the security of our faith.

"So you really believe that once you are saved you can go and do anything you want?"

I assured her that we believe our salvation should make a difference in how we live, but I left wondering what we have done as Baptists to convey to the world this division between our faith and our actions.

The old saying is true, "I would rather see a sermon than hear one." Especially in our age of skepticism toward religion we have to be careful to walk the walk before we talk the talk.

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3/21/2002 11:00:00 PM by James Baldwin , Amos 5:4-7,10-15,21-24 | with 0 comments
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