Read your New Testament again and you will agree that mediocrity in the Christian life is not the highest that Jesus offers. Certainly, God is not honored by our arrested spiritual development—our permanent halfway spiritual condition. We all know that the Bible tells us that we honor God by going on to full maturity in Christ! Why, then, do we settle for those little pleasures that tickle the saintlets and charm the fancy of the carnal? It is because we once heard a call to take up the cross; but instead of following toward the heights, we bargained with the Lord like a street huckster! We felt an urge to be spent for Christ, but instead of going on, we started asking questions. We began to bicker and bargain with God about His standards for spiritual attainment. This is plain truth, not about unbelieving “liberals” but about those who have been born again and who dare to ask, “Lord, what will it cost me?”
God will speak to us if we read and study and obey the Word of God! But when He does speak, we should speak back to Him in prayer and devotion. Otherwise, we are among the Christians who are mired down right where we are. Many in our congregations have grown older and yet are not one inch farther up the mountain than on that day when the sun first arose on them in conversion. In fact, some are not even as far advanced along the way with God as they were a few years ago. If these things are true, I can only conclude that there are “common” Christians—men and women who no longer hear the Lord speaking to them, as they should. Can they really think that this halfway Christian life is the best that we can know? In the face of what Christ offers us, how can we settle for so little? It is a tragedy of our time that so many are settling for less than the Lord is willing to give!
The writer to the Hebrews gives us good New Testament counsel: “Let us run the race with patience.” The Holy Spirit here describes Christian believers as runners on the track, participants in the race, which is the Christian life. He provides both strong warning and loving encouragement, for there is always the danger of losing the race. But there is also the victor’s reward awaiting those who run with patience and endurance. So there are important things each of us should know and understand about our struggles as the faithful people of God. For instance, it is a fact that the Christian race is a contest. But in no sense is it a competition between believers or between churches! As we live the life of faith, we Christians are never to be in competition with other Christians. The Bible makes this very plain! Christian churches are never told to carry on their proclamation of the Savior in a spirit of competition with other Jesus churches. The Holy Spirit tells us to keep our eyes on Jesus not on others who are also running the race!
Many of the great evangelists who have touched the world for God, including such men as Jonathan Edwards and Charles Finney, have declared that those who insist on Christianity being made “too easy” are betraying the Church. Jesus laid down the terms of Christian discipleship, and there are some among us who criticize, “Those words of Jesus sound harsh and cruel.” This is where we stand: receiving Jesus Christ into your life means that you have made an attachment to the Person of Christ that is revolutionary in that it reverses the life and transforms it completely! It is complete in that it leaves no part of the life unaffected. It exempts no area of the life of the total man. By faith and through grace, you have now formed an exclusive relationship with your Savior, Jesus Christ. All of your other relationships are now conditioned and determined by your one relationship to your Savior. To receive Jesus Christ, then, is to attach ourselves in faith to His holy person, to live or die, forever! He must be first and last and all!
Some of you will object to my saying this, but it is my opinion that in Christianity we have over-emphasized the psychology of the lost sinner’s condition. We spend time describing the sinner’s woes and the great burden he carries until we almost forget the principal fact that the sinner is actually a rebel against properly constituted authority! That is what makes sin SIN! We are rebels; we are sons of disobedience. Sin is the breaking of the Law, and we are fugitives from the just laws of God while we are sinners. We are fugitives from divine judgment. But thankfully, the plan of salvation reverses that and restores the original relationship so that the first thing the returning sinner does is confess, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in Thy sight, and I am no more worthy to be called Thy son. Make me as one of Thy hired servants!” Thus, in repentance, we reverse that relationship and we fully submit to the Word of God and the will of God as obedient children!