Stop Calling Yourself a Christian

Stop Calling Yourself a Christian

The longer I serve as a pastor the more apparent it is to me that many people claim to be a Christian, when in reality they’re something else.  That sobering fact could not be any more obvious than it is in the Bible-belt South.  In many cases, people equate Christianity with American citizenship or church membership.  Sometimes people are delivered an improper definition of Christianity through poor preaching or unbiblical evangelistic methods.  No matter how a person ends up in a state of false Christianity, the errors are revealed by their perpetual lack of genuine fruit.

The title “Christian” was first used as a derisive term for the followers of Jesus (Acts 11:26).  Over time, the term has been turned into a badge of honor and taken with great respect by those who follow Jesus.  Just as the term itself has undergone a great change, so has the definition itself.  Today, almost anyone is classified as a Christian who simply embraces the name and refrains from becoming a practicing axe murderer.  Does anyone notice that a vast number of people who claim the name of Christ are not true Christians?

The Necessity of Fruit

Jesus didn’t leave us without proper knowledge on this subject.  All true Christians produce fruit.  Without fruit, a person reveals their lack of true conversion.  Jesus has made it clear that the will of God is for His children to bear fruit.  In John 15:16, we see these words, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.”  There is no room for fruitless weeds to be counted as fruit bearing trees.

In Luke’s gospel, Jesus says the following:

“For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, [44] for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. [45] The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks (Luke 6:43-45).

According to Romans 7:4, we are to bear fruit for God.  As the workmanship of God (Eph. 2:10), we are chosen in Christ in order that we will bear fruit and this fruit is known as the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23).  If anyone does not bear fruit, they are identified as false disciples and warned of the coming judgment of God (John 15:6).  Abiding in Christ involves the active process of fruit bearing as evidence of real Christianity.  George Whitefield, the famous evangelist from church history, had seen his fair share of false conversions during his ministry.  He once said, “I love now to wait a little, and see if people bring forth fruit; for there are so many blossoms which March winds you know blow away, that I cannot believe they are converts till I see fruit brought back; it will never do a sincere soul any harm.” [1]

The Warning Signs of False Christianity

How many people have bought into the empty and soul-damning lie that praying a prayer and walking down to the front of a church to make a public commitment to Christ is the new birth?  As a result, many people are living in our cities who’ve made such commitments and prayed such prayers, only to cling to them with a great spirit of tenacity as they assure themselves that they’re a real Christian while marching their way to eternal hell.

Perhaps you viewed the statistics put out by Barna Research Group in 2016 that stated 25% of Americans strongly agree that doing good works will result in going to heaven.  Another 30% claimed to “agree somewhat” that good works would earn a person a home in heaven.  In another study published by the Barna Research Group, “about half of Americans agree, either strongly or somewhat, that while he lived on earth, Jesus Christ was human and committed sins like other people (52%). Just less than half disagree, either strongly or somewhat, that Jesus committed sins while on earth (46%), and 2 percent aren’t sure.” [2]

With a perpetually confused view of the gospel and misunderstood view of God in our nation, it should not be a shock that many false Christians enter the church with a passing statement of affirmation by a local pastor and the church.  This only continues the trend of lost church members who can’t figure out why they aren’t producing real evidence of saving faith.

Consider the following signs of false Christianity:

  • Do you have a lack of passion / desire for God?
  • Do you have a distaste for the Bible?
  • Do you find yourself constantly lacking passion for the local church?
  • Do you constantly find yourself angry with the preaching of God’s Word?
  • Do you have a greater passion and desire for your job or other worldly things than you do for God?
  • Do you find yourself entertained and passionate about the things that God hates?
  • Do you have a lack of love for the things that God loves?
  • Is learning the Bible and things about God boring to you?
  • Do you find it easier to spend money on yourself or to buy worldly things rather than investing it in ministry and missions through your local church?
  • Is your mouth full of gossip and does your heart find joy in rumors and other negative stories about others?
  • Do you spend more time criticizing your pastors than you do praying for them?
  • Do you have a rebellious attitude towards pastoral leadership and a resistance to authority?
  • Do you find yourself doubting your salvation at times only to escape such thoughts by reminding yourself that you once prayed “the sinner’s prayer” and stood before a congregation while making a public commitment of your faith?
  • Do you constantly find yourself looking for something more exciting in your worship service that will please you and satisfy you because the preaching and singing of the gospel isn’t enough?
  • Do you perpetually miss the observance of the Lord’s Supper and it doesn’t seem to matter too much to you?
  • Do you have a lack of desire to pray?
  • Do you have a lack of urgency in sharing the gospel with unbelievers?
  • If asked, would you be able to explain the gospel?
  • Do you believe that it’s possible to please God by doing good deeds?

If you have a consistent lack of genuine fruit and find yourself aligning with the majority of these questions in this list, it would be wise to stop calling yourself a Christian and examine yourself to see if you’re in the faith.  Whatever you might be, you’re most likely not a Christian.  You might have joined a church or been confirmed as a follower of Christ, but without genuine fruit of the Spirit – you have no right to claim the name of Christ.

What you need is the gospel.  Jesus Christ saves sinners, but unless you’re willing to see yourself as a sinner and unless you’re willing to come to Christ as your only hope — you have no right to claim the treasure of His sacrificial death as yours.  Stop calling yourself a Christian if you’re not.


  1. Jim Ehrhard, The Dangers of the Invitation System, (Parkville, MO: Christian Communications Worldwide, 1999), 11-16.
  2. Barna Research Group: “What Do Americans Believe About Jesus? 5 Popular Beliefs” [accessed 11-12-16]

 

Learning. . . For the Purpose of Godliness

Learning. . . For the Purpose of Godliness

This summer, we are reading Don Whitney’s book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life together. With certain goals for us as individuals, we all desire to grow in grace and personal holiness. The purpose of this study is to help us make necessary adjustments in our spiritual lives that will enable us to achieve such goals by incorporating the use of spiritual disciplines.

In the previous chapters, Don Whitney has outlined the specifics of Bible reading, meditation, prayer, worship, evangelism, serving, stewardship, fasting and other spiritual disciplines of the Christian life. What exactly is taking place when we read the Bible, meditate on Scripture, and pray? Essentially, these disciplines should lead us to godliness and a life that reflects the glory of God.  In this chapter today, we look at the subject of learning.  Much of our worship and service to the Lord is done with our mind.

Learning Characterizes the Wise Person

Don Whitney does an excellent job of pointing to the wisdom literature and reminding us that wisdom is something we must learn.

  • Proverbs 9:9 – Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.
  • Proverbs 10:14 – The wise lay up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool brings ruin near.

Don Whitney writes, “Learning is a lifelong Discipline, a Spiritual Discipline that characterizes the wise person” (274).  Just as it is with anything else in this life, we must put effort into learning wisdom.

Fulfilling the Greatest Commandment

Don Whitney writes, “There is an intellectualism that is wrong, but it is also wrong to be anti-intellectual” (275).  To love the Lord our God with all of our mind is essential to the Christian faith.  To neglect Him with our mind and pursue everything else under the sun would be an unwise pursuit.  Don Whitney quotes R. C. Sproul as stating:

God has made us with a harmony of heart and head, of thought and action. . . . The more we know Him the more we are able to love Him.  The more we love Him the more we seek to know Him.  To be central in our hearts He must be foremost in our minds.  Religious thought is the prerequisite to religious affection and obedient action. [1]

Learning—Essential for Increased Godliness

Don Whitney quotes Martyn Lloyd-Jones as saying, “Let us never forget that the message of the Bible is addressed primarily to the mind, to the understanding” (quoted on 277).  If we are to increase in godliness, we must increase in learning.  We must grow in our knowledge of God, and in order to do that, we must learn some things about God.  To neglect learning God is to neglect the knowledge of God and it will result in a stale Christian life that’s joyless.

Learning is Mostly by Discipline, Not By Accident

Don Whitney writes, “As every dust ball gets bigger the longer it rolls around under the bed, so every mind picks up at least a little knowledge the longer it rolls around on the earth. But we must not assume that we have learned true wisdom just by growing older” (278).  Just as every marathon runner reaches the finish line by the consistent discipline of training and preparation, so it is with the Christian.  We can’t expect to grow in grace if we are not growing in the knowledge of God.  Learning requires discipline – not laziness.

Learning in a Variety of Ways

Don Whitney provides some helpful considerations regarding the different learning methods. Some people read well and others don’t. It helps to know how to learn and each person will be different.  Although some people may learn best through audio and lecture formats, everyone must read.  In fact, we must consider the reality that our God did not send us an .mp3 of the His Word.  He has communicated it to us in written format.  Don Whitney writes, “I’ve always found it true that growing Christians are reading Christians” (281).

Catch up in this series:

Opening Article
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11

Questions to Consider:

1. Will you discipline yourself to become an intentional learner?
2. Where will you start?
3. When will you start?

Next Week: Next week, we will turn to chapter 13 and look at the subject of perseverance in the disciplines for the glory of God. Read ahead and think through the content of that chapter, and we will gather here next week to discuss what we’re learning.

Discussion: Post your comments, thoughts, and questions in the comments section. I will engage with you at times, but the purpose is to allow everyone to have a conversation regarding what we are learning and considering through this book. I do hope you will be encouraged.


  1. R. C. Sproul, “Burning Hearts Are Not Nourished by Empty Heads,” Christianity Today, September 3, 1982, 100.

Journaling. . . For the Purpose of Godliness

Journaling. . . For the Purpose of Godliness

This summer, we are reading Don Whitney’s book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life together. With certain goals for us as individuals, we all desire to grow in grace and personal holiness. The purpose of this study is to help us make necessary adjustments in our spiritual lives that will enable us to achieve such goals by incorporating the use of spiritual disciplines.

In the previous chapters, Don Whitney has outlined the specifics of Bible reading, meditation, prayer, worship, evangelism, serving, stewardship, fasting and other spiritual disciplines of the Christian life. What exactly is taking place when we read the Bible, meditate on Scripture, and pray? Essentially, these disciplines should lead us to godliness and a life that reflects the glory of God.  In this chapter today, we look at the subject of journaling.  Consider the importance of handwritten journals that trace a spiritual journey.

Explanation of Journaling

Don Whitney explains, “A journal (a word usually synonymous with diary [1]) is a place (tangible or digital) in which a person records information important to him or her personally for preservation or consideration.  As a Christian, your journal is a place to document the works and ways of God in your life” (249).  It’s essential to note that God never requires His children to keep a journal, so it’s not sinful to refrain from practicing this discipline.  However, when you consider the benefits for the individual Christian as well as the treasure of wealth it will be for future generations, it’s really an easy choice.

Value of Journaling

Consider the value of a well written journal written by your grandparents.  What would you do to have such a book to chart their spiritual journey in the faith?  How important would that be to you and your children?  Don Whitney provides a list of eight specific values for the discipline of journaling.

  1.  Help in Self-Understanding and Evaluation
  2. Help in Meditation
  3. Help in Expressing Thoughts and Feelings to the Lord
  4. Help in Remembering the Lord’s Works
  5. Help in Creating and Preserving a Spiritual Heritage
  6. Help in Clarifying and Articulating Insights
  7. Help in Monitoring Goals and Priorities
  8. Help in Maintaining the Other Spiritual Disciplines

The powerful evangelist of the First Great Awakening, George Whitefield, is not only remembered for his power in the pulpit, but for his faithful and spiritually rich journaling.  It’s quite apparent by his journal why the Lord chose to use him to shake the world with the gospel of Jesus.  Each day, he would record his activities.  He would then evaluate them by the following list:

Have I.

  • Been fervent in prayer?
  • Used stated hours of prayer?
  • Used ejaculatory prayer each hour?
  • After or before every deliberate conversation or action, considered how it might tend to God’s glory?
  • After any pleasure, immediately given thanks?
  • Planned business for the day?
  • Been simple and recollected in everything?
  • Been zealous in undertaking and active in doing what good I could?
  • Been meek, cheerful, affable in everything I said or did?
  • Been proud, vain, unchaste, or enviable of others?
  • Recollected in eating and drinking?  Thankful?  Temperate in sleep?
  • Taken time for giving thanks according to (William) Law’s rules?
  • Been diligent in studies?
  • Thought or spoken unkindly of anyone?
  • Confessed all sins?

Ways of Journaling

Depending on style and preference, there are many different ways to keep a journal.  It can be done in electronic format on a computer, a blog, or some electronic software where it can be archived and accessed.  The value of such electronic journals is centered on the fact that the notes and entries can be searchable.  OneNote is one good resource that can be kept private and organized for later access.

Hand written journals can be done on almost any size and style of notebook.  From leather journals and moleskins, to loose leaf paper (the preference of Don Whitney), a journal can be kept and archived away for future use and access.  This practice enables a person to write by hand and this does a couple of very important things:

  1. Concentration:  Something happens in a unique way in the human brain when a person writes by hand and thinks through the process while writing.  This concentration enables us to remember in ways that are often better than when we type.
  2. Connection to History:  How many daily practices such as reading the newspaper and writing journals by hand will our children overlap with their grandparents and great-grandparents?  This is one way to allow this overlap in a unique and helpful way.
  3. Handwriting Development and Improvement:  In many schools today, the art of handwriting is disappearing.  While cursive has been on the way out for a while now, even the non-cursive standard handwriting is starting to lose out to the computer and electronic device.

Catch up in this series:

Opening Article
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10

Questions to Consider:

  1.  Consider the fact that any level of journaling will be a fruitful experience.
  2. As with all the Disciplines, journaling requires persistence through the dry times.
  3. As with all the Disciplines, you must start journaling before you can experience its value.

Next Week: Next week, we will turn to chapter 12 and look at the subject of learning. Read ahead and think through the content of that chapter, and we will gather here next week to discuss what we’re learning.

Discussion: Post your comments, thoughts, and questions in the comments section. I will engage with you at times, but the purpose is to allow everyone to have a conversation regarding what we are learning and considering through this book. I do hope you will be encouraged.

Fasting . . . For the Purpose of Godliness

Fasting . . . For the Purpose of Godliness

This summer, we are reading Don Whitney’s book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life together. With certain goals for us as individuals, we all desire to grow in grace and personal holiness. The purpose of this study is to help us make necessary adjustments in our spiritual lives that will enable us to achieve such goals by incorporating the use of spiritual disciplines.

In the previous chapters, Don Whitney has outlined the specifics of Bible reading, meditation, prayer, worship, evangelism, and service to the Lord. What exactly is taking place when we read the Bible, meditate on Scripture, and pray? Essentially, these disciplines should lead us to godliness and a life that reflects the glory of God.  In this chapter today, we look at the subject of fasting.  As Don Whitney makes clear, “fasting is the most feared and misunderstood of all the Spiritual Disciplines” (191).

Fasting Explained

Fasting is the voluntary abstinence from food for a specific period of time.  The purpose is always God-centered and has a spiritual foundation and eternal value.  Although it is appropriate to suggest that a person can fast from other activities, hobbies, and interests – the way fasting is addressed in the Bible is clearly related to food.  Don Whitney writes, “So while it’s appropriate to speak of fasting from any legitimate freedom, technically the Bible uses the term only in its primary sense, that is, abstinence from food.  In this chapter, I will limit my remarks to that kind of fasting” (193).  In the Bible, there are several types of fasting mentioned:

  1. Partial Fast
  2. Absolute Fast
  3. Supernatural Fast
  4. Private Fast
  5. Congregational Fast
  6. National Fast
  7. Regular Fast
  8. Occasional Fast

Don Whitney writes, “The most common fast among Christians today would probably fall under the categories of normal (abstaining from food but drinking water), private, and occasional” (195).

Fasting Is Expected

One of the most interesting things about studying the spiritual disciplines is that in most cases – they are expected disciplines.  It may be a shock to some to discover that Jesus expected His followers to fast (Matt. 6:16-17).  Jesus often used the phrase, “when you fast” indicating the fact that they would be fasting.  Jesus didn’t say, “if you fast.”  Don Whitney writes, “It’s interesting that Jesus gave us no command regarding how often or how long we should fast.  Like the other Spiritual Disciplines, fasting should never devolve into an empty, legalistic routine.  God offers to bless us through fasting as often as we desire” (198).

Fasting Is To Be Done For A Purpose

It’s vital to look at fasting through a biblical lens.  Don Whitney writes, “There’s more to a biblical fast than merely abstaining from food.  Without a spiritual purpose for your fast it’s just a weight-loss fast” (198).  We desire more than the loss of weight, and so we must have a God-centered view to our fast that will bring about lasting spiritual growth.  As with any other discipline, if we approach it through the wrong motive it can be used to increase pride or feed a legalistic motive.  We must avoid both of those evils.  Don Whitney reminds us:

Having a biblical purpose for your fast may be the single most important concept to take from this chapter.  In real life, here’s how it works:  As you are fasting and your head aches or your stomach growls and you think, I’m hungry! your next thought is likely to be something like, Oh, right—I’m hungry because I’m fasting today.  Then you next thought should be, and I’m fasting for this purpose” (199).

  When fasting, we should engage in this spiritual discipline for one of the following reasons:

  1. To Strengthen Prayer
  2. To Seek God’s Guidance
  3. To Express Grief
  4. To Seek Deliverance or Protection
  5. To Express Repentance and the Return of God
  6. To Humble Oneself Before God
  7. To Express Concern for the Work of God
  8. To Minister to the Needs of Others
  9. To Overcome Temptation and Dedicate Yourself to God
  10. To Express Love and Worship to God

Catch up in this series:

Opening Article
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8

Questions to Consider:

  1. Will you confess and repent of any fear of fasting?
  2. Will you fast as the Holy Spirit directs?
  3. Will you plan a fast of dedication now as an expression of your willingness to fast from now on?

Next Week: Next week, we will turn to chapter 10 and look at the subject of silence and solitude. Read ahead and think through the content of that chapter, and we will gather here next week to discuss what we’re learning.

Discussion: Post your comments, thoughts, and questions in the comments section. I will engage with you at times, but the purpose is to allow everyone to have a conversation regarding what we are learning and considering through this book. I do hope you will be encouraged.

Stewardship . . . For the Purpose of Godliness

Stewardship . . . For the Purpose of Godliness

This summer, we are reading Don Whitney’s book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life together. With certain goals for us as individuals, we all desire to grow in grace and personal holiness. The purpose of this study is to help us make necessary adjustments in our spiritual lives that will enable us to achieve such goals by incorporating the use of spiritual disciplines.

In the previous chapters, Don Whitney has outlined the specifics of Bible reading, meditation, prayer, worship, evangelism, and service to the Lord. What exactly is taking place when we read the Bible, meditate on Scripture, and pray? Essentially, these disciplines should lead us to godliness and a life that reflects the glory of God.  In this chapter today, we look at the subject of stewardship.  As Don Whitney makes clear, both time and money are to be spent for God’s glory.

The Disciplined Use Of Time

In this section, Don Whitney outlines ten biblical reasons to use time wisely.

  1. Use Time Wisely “Because the Days Are Evil”
  2. Wise Use of Time Is the Preparation for Eternity
  3. Time Is Short
  4. Time Is Passing
  5. Time Remaining Is Uncertain
  6. Time Lost Cannot Be Regained
  7. You Are Accountable to God for Your Time
  8. Time IS So Easily Lost
  9. We Value Time at Death
  10. Time’s Value in Eternity

Don Whitney writes, “Godliness is the result of a biblically disciplined spiritual life.  But at the heart of a disciplined spiritual life is the disciplined use of time” (159).  How often do we waste our time and how soon will we all regret it?  Consider the fact that Jesus prayed in John 17:4 confidently that He had kept the Father’s will and accomplished the work given to Him.  Can we pray with such confidence?  What hinders us from doing the Father’s will and glorifying Him in all of life and worship?

As Don Whitney makes clear, if time were like pebbles beside the road, it wouldn’t be very valuable, but since it’s scarce, it becomes like diamonds or gold and the value greatly increases.  We must remember this as we seek to make better use of our time, for it will soon be gone.  Whitney quotes the famous infidel Voltaire who once said to his doctor, “I will give you half of what I am worth if you will give me six-months life.”  What lessons can we learn from men like Voltaire who was trying so passionately to cling to life?

The Disciplined Use Of Money

Don Whitney writes, “The Bible relates not only the use of time to our spiritual condition, but also our use of money” (169).  In a similar manner, he then outlines ten reasons for the biblical use of money.

  1. God Owns Everything You Own
  2. Giving Is an Act of Worship
  3. Giving Reflects Faith in God’s Provision
  4. Giving Should Be Sacrificial and Generous
  5. Giving Reflects Spiritual Trustworthiness
  6. Giving—Love, Not Legalism
  7. Give Willingly, Thankfully, and Cheerfully
  8. Giving—an Appropriate Response to Real Needs
  9. Giving Should Be Planned and Systematic
  10. Generous Giving Results in Bountiful Blessings

According to Whitney, “A surprisingly large amount of Scripture speaks to the use of wealth and possessions” (169).  He makes it clear that if we are going to grow in godliness, we must learn the biblical principles of giving.  If we are mere managers (stewards) of all that we possess, that should change our perspective on our use of wealth.  We can’t take our wealth, possessions, and land with us when we leave this world.  Someone else will one day own everything we possess in this life.

Therefore, it’s essential for us to look at our possessions through a proper and balanced lens.  Don Whitney writes, “Regardless of your interpretation of these passages, regardless of how much God rewards you here for your giving and how much in heaven, the bottom lie is clear:  God will bless you bountifully if you give generously” (186).

Catch up in this series:

Opening Article
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7

Questions to Consider:

  1. Are you prepared for the end of time?
  2. Are you using your time as God would have you use it?
  3. Are you willing to accept God’s principles for giving?
  4. Are you giving like you mean it?

Next Week: Next week, we will turn to chapter 9 and look at the subject of fasting. Read ahead and think through the content of that chapter, and we will gather here next week to discuss what we’re learning.

Discussion: Post your comments, thoughts, and questions in the comments section. I will engage with you at times, but the purpose is to allow everyone to have a conversation regarding what we are learning and considering through this book. I do hope you will be encouraged.

Serving . . . For the Purpose of Godliness

Serving . . . For the Purpose of Godliness

This summer, we are reading Don Whitney’s book Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life together. With certain goals for us as individuals, we all desire to grow in grace and personal holiness. The purpose of this study is to help us make necessary adjustments in our spiritual lives that will enable us to achieve such goals by incorporating the use of spiritual disciplines.

In the previous chapters, Don Whitney has outlined the specifics of Bible reading, meditation, prayer, worship, and evangelism. In each chapter, he has demonstrated how these disciplines function to produce godliness in the lives of a child of God.  This week’s focus is on the discipline of serving.  In the opening words of this chapter, Don Whitney writes, “The ministry of serving may be as public as preaching or teaching, but more often it will be as sequestered as nursery duty” (142).

Every Christian Is Expected To Serve

In this section, Don Whitney points out several motivating factors regarding service.

  1. Motivated by Obedience
  2. Motivated by Gratitude
  3. Motivated by Gladness
  4. Motivated by Forgiveness, Not Guilt
  5. Motivated by Humility
  6. Motivated by Love

Beneath each heading, Don Whitney points out how the child of God is expected to serve, but it’s fueled by a specific motivation within the heart.  When it comes to angels, Whitney makes the case that they obey the Lord on the basis of His command alone rather than selfish motivating factors.  If we can’t imagine angels refusing to serve the Lord, how much more should we desire to serve the Lord – the One who has saved us?

Psalm 100:2 reads, “Serve the LORD with gladness (ESV)!  Don Whitney writes, “In the courts of ancient kings, servants were often executed for nothing more than looking sad in the service of the king” (146).  Imagine what a contradiction it must be for children of God who have been saved from eternal wrath by a gracious and sovereign King to have a lack of gladness in their service to God.

Don Whitney points to Isaiah’s vision in Isaiah 6:6-8 and makes the case that Isaiah was motivated to serve the LORD out of forgiveness, not guilt.  How often do we serve God out of guilt?  How often do leaders motivate the church to serve out of guilt?  The guilt factor is not a true motivator in serving the Lord, and it often fizzles out and crashes in the end.

As we examine our hearts, if we don’t see love as a motivation to serve the Lord, we have crossed the line into error (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).  Don Whitney writes, “No fuel for service burns longer and provides more energy than love” (150).

Every Christian Is Gifted To Serve

Just as angels are created to serve the Lord, we as Christians are saved to serve the Lord.  Each child of God is gifted with at least one spiritual gift to use for the glory of God.  Whitney makes an important point regarding spiritual gifts.  He writes, “Regardless of your theology of spiritual gifts, the two most important points about them remain those given in 1 Peter 4:10, namely, (1) if you are a Christian you definitely have at least one spiritual gift, and (2) God gave you that gift for the purpose that you serve with it for His kingdom” (151).

As we consider the fact that God has gifted us for service, what good does such giftedness do if we are segmented off from the local church?  We must note that spiritual gifts are for God’s glory, but they make no sense if separated from the local assembly of believers.  Whitney writes, “I encourage you to discipline yourself to serve in a regular, ongoing ministry in your local church.  You don’t necessarily have to serve in a recognized or elected position.  But find a way to defeat the temptation to serve only when it’s convenient or exciting.  That’s not disciplined service” (152).

Catch up in this series:

Opening Article
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6

Questions to Consider:

  1. Do you have a good grasp of the relationship between worship and serving?  How do they both promote one another?
  2. You are expected to serve and gifted to serve, but are you willing to serve?
  3. The gospel of Christ creates Christlike servants.  Is your heart motivated to serve God by the gospel?
  4. Do you find yourself consistently looking for ways to serve the Lord outside the church?  Why are you not rooted in your local church and seeking to serve the Lord together with the body of Christ?

Next Week: Next week, we will turn to chapter 8 and look at the subject of stewardship. Read ahead and think through the content of that chapter, and we will gather here next week to discuss what we’re learning.

Discussion: Post your comments, thoughts, and questions in the comments section. I will engage with you at times, but the purpose is to allow everyone to have a conversation regarding what we are learning and considering through this book. I do hope you will be encouraged.