People of God — Lesson 12

A Study by Robert F. Turner

Truth Is a Mountain

Our study of the people of God as revealed in the Scriptures has led us through a consideration of God’s search for a special “people” even among the chosen of Israel. We have read the self-sacrificing requirements for becoming a Christian, and how God examines the hearts of those who undertake to travel this narrow path. And we have seen how He expects the Christian to live all aspects of his life “as to the Lord.” Occasionally the preacher of such stringent requirements will hear some one say, “It is too much — God is expecting too much of me.”

Maybe the preacher, in his zeal to convince listeners of their sinful condition, has not placed sufficient emphasis upon the grace and mercy that is the basis for God’s remedy. God has sacrificed His Son in order that man may have forgiveness of sins. The Creator is not insensitive, or non-caring about His creatures. He is “longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

But there is another explanation that man, in his pride, is reluctant to consider. We are faced with the disparity of man trying to judge divine standards with human and sin-stained limitations. The water of eternal life flows from a source far above man. Genuine Christianity is not the outgrowth or fruit of human morals, but the acceptance of standards that came from the heavenly Father — from a level of perfection beyond man. Man cannot therefore be a judge of the law (James 4:11); he is judged by the law (James 2:10–12).

Believing in God, he must believe God knows best; and that God’s way is the perfect guide for the best life man can have on earth, and the only life he can have in heaven. True people of God are dedicated to idealistic principles (they freely admit it), for they realize these come from a source superior to man at his best. Man’s effort to obey will be determined by the extent of his faith, and genuine faith is not what one “feels” subjectively, but an objective acceptance of the word of God.

Many treat the Bible somewhat as a “holy” icon, perhaps reading a verse or two before retiring, to satisfy emotional feelings. They have little understanding of context, and no inclination to truly study a subject throughout. If what they read does not accord with their concepts, they feel free to adjust or flavor it to suit their taste. They love Jesus — Oh, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus! — with little or no grasp of what this entails in application to their lives. Read to such a person, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word” (John 14:23), and you will get a blank stare or be accused of impertinence.

There are those in arrogant rebellion against Bible teaching. Identify and try to correct their error and you are unloving, or “know it all.” Usually this kind have no time to “search the Scriptures, whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11). If they cannot win in a confrontation, they are “too holy” to argue with you, so they simply walk away.

The tradition-bound have inherited their religion from their parents or kin folk, and feel no need to “check it out.” What was good enough for Uncle Jack is good enough for them. And some are just weak — in many ways. They want someone else to work out a system for them to accept. Leave it up to their preacher! Some come to the preacher and ask, “What do we believe about” this or that. It never seems to occur to them that this rejects “faith — by hearing — the word” (Romans 10:17), and even shows they have little knowledge of the “faith” they pretend to accept. And some, like Pilate, even deny there is such a thing as absolute “truth” (John 18:38).

Truth Is a Mountain

Please pamper this old man’s inclusion of something he wrote years ago.

Truth is a mountain, towering high. Majestic and awesome, it beckons the climber. Great and wonderful, clothed in mysteries, it threatens and promises. Benevolently reaching to the world, it summons all; yet sternly holds aloft its crown to challenge each who comes.

Below, in railed and graded trails, move masses. Camera-clicking tourists, worn by travel, scarcely grasp their guide’s trained words, and far less understand the magic scene. The way grows steep, and many faint. They wander aimlessly — adrift in parks and glades of theory, with their creeds. Content to pay lip service to the fountainhead above; they sip its waters, grimace, and add sweets or bitters to their taste. ‘Now, it’s wonderful,’ they say. ‘We must organize a party and bring others to this way.’ So they sip and talk; they praise, with shallow phrase; then pause to rest, and resting, sleep.

Still TRUTH — glorious, wondrous, whole truth, wreathes its head with hoary clouds and calls with voice of thunder: Onward! Upward! Excelsior!

Error shouts derision, stops the ear. With arrogance he hides his wounds and walks another way. Tradition, richly garbed and stiff with age, dares not attempt the rugged path. And weaklings, fearing to look heavenward, support a course that others plan, and wish themselves in better clime.

But Faith responds, and in the earnest seeker whets desire. He dares look up. Toiling, sweating, step by step, he climbs. Struggling across downed timbers on the slope, he pushes upward. Higher and higher, his lungs afire, he climbs with foot and hand; with heart and soul. For TRUTH he lives; if needs be, dies. He asks no quarter, hears no scorn. His hope is fastened on this goal, whose misty drapery sometimes part and to his raptures eyes reveal its sun-swept crest. He needs no other prize than this, for here men bravely find themselves; and here — men humbly walk with God.

Yes, their faith causes people of God to “look up” to God, and strive to “measure up” to the standards He has set for them. To this materialistic and skeptical age that may mean these people are “superstitious,” “gullible,” or even “ignorant” — which bothers them little, for they have an inner strength that is not easily affected by name calling. Mind you, we refer to true believers — the “church” only in the universal sense of “the saved.” The world may accept “religion” as “having a place” in reducing crime or improving the mores of society; and the faithful do improve the world as they pass through. But their motivation is faith in God — their ultimate aim is heaven.

The truly faithful take no joy in the weakness of others; rather, they sorrow at their plight, and are anxious to assist them. People of God are moved with compassion for all mankind, and are humbled by recalling their own weaknesses. “But for the grace of God there go I.” Jesus pictured the proper attitude in the parable of the Pharisee and publican’s prayers. One prayed, “I thank You, that I am not like other men — extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector [publican — KJV] . . .” But the publican “would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner.’ This man was justified rather than the other” (Luke 18:9–14).

The climber of God’s mountain is neither self-centered nor arrogant. He is well aware of his weakness, and of the demands of the slope before him. But his faith in God keeps him struggling with a determination that will, through God, ultimately win.

Study Questions

1. Answer the complaint that God is too strict.

2. Why is it impossible for man to judge God?

3. Distinguish “faith” from “subjective” feelings.

4. Is Christianity the fruit of man’s moral development?

5. What are some inadequate uses of the Bible?

6. What is the proper attitude toward those in error?

7. Name some key points in “Truth Is a Mountain.”

The Words of Eternal Life (February 2)

The Words of Eternal Life (February 2)

What we lost in sin was not just biological life, but the life we would have had as “sons of God.” Jesus taught that this “eternal” kind of life can be given back to us — and His teaching is the only path to that life. We should pay attention!

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