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The unbelief of believers prevent unbelievers from believing.
A believer is someone who believes the message of the Bible, and an unbeliever is somebody who doesn’t.
Does God want the believer only to believe the message of the Bible, or to live it? What distinguished the early Christians was their lifestyle. They were followers of the ‘Way’, a lifestyle exemplified by Jesus Christ. They understood the difference between living what they believed, and a religious system. Religion (Collins English Dictionary) is 1) belief in, worship of, or obedience to a supernatural power. 2) The formal expression of one’s belief in a supernatural power (example, attending a church). Church attendance was instituted by Christ (Matt 16:18), but the danger is that a person might think that going to church and listening to a sermon is sufficient. But actually living one’s beliefs is the crux of the matter.
How much did the believers in the first 3 centuries AD live the life of Christ? So much so, that they were persecuted, because they refused to worship the Roman emperors as gods. They worshipped only the God of the Bible, and they would bow to nobody else. The persecutions led to a growth in Christianity. As they said: the blood of the martyrs are the seed of the church’. Diocletian understood the value of the Scriptures (the Bible) in the lives of the Christians, and ordered that these Scriptures be totally destroyed (303 AD). Destroy the Bible, destroy the faith. But he was obviously unsuccessful! (B K Kuiper, The Church in History, Wm B Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1951, p 12)
None of us have seen Jesus Christ, but we know about Him through the Bible. Can a book have such an extraordinary influence that people will change their whole lifestyle? The emperor Julian who tried to revive atheism in the 4th century, wrote about the Christians: ‘Why do we not observe that it is their benevolence to strangers, their care for the graves of the dead, and the apparent holiness of their lives that have done most to increase atheism (for them atheism was Christianity)’. (P. Johnson, The History of Christianity, Simon and Schuster, 1976, p 75).
The message to modern Christians: We live in perilous times. The ways of perverting the faith and the lifestyle of the modern believer has multiplied many times. These include sowing doubt that the Bible is the Word of God; trying to include the Apocryphal books into the Bible; propagating evolution as science; advertising atheism so that man has no standard of morality; making films against Jesus and the Bible, as well as DVD’s extolling the pleasures of life. But God is relying on believers to tell the world that Jesus is a wonderful Saviour by their lifestyles. Words without deeds are worthless. Are we influencing the world, or is the world influencing us? The message of the Bible is clear: belief determines deeds, deeds determine character, and character determines destiny. But character also influences the unbeliever to reconsider his future.
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