Picture this scene, and think about your answer. A very nice looking man who has dated you for months proposes to you. The fact he asks you to marry him is of no surprise to you. For the past few weeks you have expected him to ask you to marry him. This is the way he proposes to you:
"I want you to marry me. I want you to be my wife. But I also want to be very honest with you. I do not trust you. I want you to clearly understand that I do not trust you. I doubt I will ever trust you. But I still want you to be my wife."

All you ladies who would turn down a marriage proposal from a man who did not trust you, hold up your hand.

Men, you propose to a beautiful woman. You have been dating her for several months. She is absolutely gorgeous. You ask her to be your wife. This is her response:

"I will marry you. But I want to be very honest with you. I do not trust you. I want you to clearly understand that I do not trust you. I sincerely doubt I will ever trust you. However, I will marry you."

All you men who would retract your proposal if she told you she did not trust you, hold up your hand.

Trust is essential to meaningful relationship. If there is no trust, there can be no relationship. In relationships, the trust factor is enormous.

  1. On the last Sunday in March, I asked you to consider this question: "Is Christianity a good influence?"
    1. In that lesson I called your attention to the fact the we have artificially separated the secular from the spiritual.
    2. To me the ultimate expression of this artificial separation is this: church things are spiritual and everyday life things are secular.
    3. The consequence of this artificial separation is a compartmentalized life.
      1. Why can Christians be very involved in the church and get drunk? or high? or act promiscuously? or have affair? or lie? or steal? or cheat? or hate?
      2. Why? Because in some Christians' understanding, it is okay to do these things if two conditions exist:
        1. You are not involved in church things when you do them.
        2. You are in a secular context when you do them.
      3. To the Christian who does those things, there is no conflict if you maintain a clear distinction between the secular and the spiritual.
      4. To the skeptic who is not a Christian, such behaviors are ridiculous expressions of hypocrisy.

  2. This must be our basic understanding: God has a will, a purpose, an objective in this world.
    1. God's purposes are bigger than me.
      1. God's objectives are bigger than my desires or my ambitions.
      2. While God has a deep personal love for me and is merciful toward me, His love for me does not set aside His will or His purposes.
    2. Let me use Jesus to illustrate my point.
      1. Why did Jesus die? Why was he executed on a cross?
      2. We might give many correct reasons.
        1. "He was God's sacrifice for sin." That is right, but go deeper.
        2. "His blood atoned for the sins of people who accept Jesus Christ." That is right, but go deeper.
        3. "Our sins were placed on his body so we could die to sin." That is right, but go deeper.
        4. "Jesus the man yielded to God's will." That is right, but go deeper.
      3. "David, how much deeper can a person go?"
        1. Jesus the man was ruled by God for years before he came to the cross, and that truth allowed Jesus the man to accept the cross.
        2. For years God defined who Jesus was, shaped Jesus as a person, and determined the kind of person Jesus was each day of his life.
        3. Jesus did not live to do his own will, satisfy his own desires, or live as he pleased, then decide the last night of his life to die on the cross.
        4. All his life God's will determined who he was and what he did.
        5. When Jesus died on the cross it was not the first time he did God's will; he simply did what he always did; let God's purposes decide what happened in his life.
      4. By Jesus' choice, God ruled Jesus--every day in every matter.
    3. But most of the committed followers of God, including many religious leaders who declared God ruled them, could not see God ruling Jesus.
      1. In Matthew 11:7-19 Jesus paid tribute to John saying that no man ever born was greater than John.
        1. But the religious leaders did not declare John to be a great man of God.
        2. They said John fasted too much.
        3. Then Jesus came and the same religious leaders said that he ate too much, drank too much, and associated with the wrong kind of people.
      2. In Matthew 12:22-29 the religious leaders were reacting to the fact that Jesus healed a demon possessed man.
        1. This was their explanation of the healing: Jesus got his power to cast out demons from the prince of demons.
        2. They gave Satan credit for an act of God.
        3. Jesus said that was a ridiculous explanation because it had forces of Satan fighting against the forces of Satan.
      3. In John 11 Jesus resurrected Lazarus from death.
        1. This happened very close to Jerusalem.
        2. As a result, everybody was talking about Jesus' miracle.
        3. Not only was the resurrection astounding, but there were many eye witnesses.
        4. Most of the religious leaders of Israel were deeply upset by the miracle and by all the talk.
        5. John 11:47-50 Therefore the chief priests and the Pharisees convened a council, and were saying, "What are we doing? For this man is performing many signs. If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation." But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, "You know nothing at all, nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish."
        6. They considered Jesus to be such a dangerous influence that they felt justified in killing him--they certainly did not see God ruling his life.
    4. If people agree with us and our religious emphasis, they are spiritual people, but if they do not agree with us and our religious emphasis, they are secular people--that is the way it has always been.
      1. In my late teens one of the prominent members of the Church of Christ was a Texan named Billy Sol Estes.
        1. He was influential in his congregation and influential with the teenagers.
          1. In those days teenagers who were members of the Church of Christ were not under any circumstance to attend a senior prom.
          2. Mr. Estes was a multimillionaire who personally paid for special occasions for teenagers from the Church of Christ to have a senior celebration.
        2. Then in the early 1960s Mr. Estes was revealed to be an extraordinary con-man who made his money by deceitfully taking advantage of government programs.
          1. He was well connected in the highest levels of our federal government.
          2. By his own acknowledgment he had personal information about a number of illegal payoffs and nine murders.
        3. Question: how could a man be such a prominent, influential part of the Church of Christ and, at the same time, be involved in so many ungodly activities?
          1. Easily!
          2. All he had to do was artificially separate the spiritual and the secular.

  3. "On, but Mr. Estes is an unusual situation. That kind of separation of the secular and the spiritual is very unusual."
    1. I am afraid that kind of artificial separation of the secular and the spiritual is not unusual at all.
      1. The magnitude of Mr. Estes actions were unusual.
      2. However, the separation he made continues to be very common among Christians.
    2. May I illustrate the artificial separation of the secular and the spiritual.
      1. It is noon Sunday and you are in the car headed home or out to eat.
        1. You are with your family or a friend, and you are talking about the worship.
          1. "I really liked this morning! They sang my kind of songs and David talked about something that is really relevant to my life right now."
          2. "Finally they are focusing on what we need to focus on in worship. It is about time they got it right!"
        2. Then what happens illustrates the artificial separation of the secular and the spiritual.
          1. You turn the radio on and listen to music with some of the ungodliest words, attitudes, and emotions imaginable. But it is okay. You left church and you had a good worship experience.
          2. Or someone says something you do not like, and your anger explodes all over your wife, or your husband, or your kids, and the situation gets horrible and tense. But it is okay. You left church and you had a good worship experience.
          3. Or on your way home you promise yourself that you will get high this afternoon because tomorrow is Monday and you just need some time to veg out. But that is okay. You left church and you had a good worship experience.
          4. Or you made plans last night to join a friend this afternoon and indulge your desires by gratifying some ungodly emotions. But that is okay. You left church and you had a good worship experience.
      2. What is going on? You are artificially disconnecting the spiritual and the secular in your life.
        1. Every Christian has concerns about what happens in worship.
        2. Far fewer Christians are concerned about what happen in his or her daily life.
      3. Being a Christian involves who I am every day of my life.
        1. It involves wanting God to rule everything that happens in my life and my death, just like Jesus did.
        2. It involves how I treat other people, how I treat my family, how I relax, how I have fun, how I work, how I do anything.
        3. Being Christian is who I am all the time; worshipping with other Christians is just a part of it.

Worshipping without faith means nothing. You can keep all the rules and regulations you want to keep, but if you do it without faith it means nothings.

The person who has faith lets God rule his or her life 24 hours a day 7 days a week. There is no substitute for faith. If God rules your life, you must trust Him.

God adds to the church. And the church is God's kingdom. Why? Because God, the king, rules the lives of the people He adds to the church.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 21 April 2002

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