Are there more Christians who actually believe the Word of God? I know I should rejoice in trials, but I would like to know are there more people who, like you, believe in the Word. Everyone is so "Christian" until you get to a verse of the Scripture that they don't like, then they chuck it out. I am just wondering if there are more people out there or are we the only ones?

The question is a familiar one. Elijah asked much the same thing. He had just dramatically proved that God exists and that Baal and Asheroth were nothing; yet, upon leaving Mount Carmel, his life was threatened. Elijah despaired that he would never convince people of God. He saw himself as a failure. "And there he went into a cave, and spent the night in that place; and behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and He said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" So he said, "I have been very zealous for the LORD God of hosts; for the children of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars, and killed Your prophets with the sword. I alone am left; and they seek to take my life."" (I Kings 19:9-10). Notice that Elijah was convinced that he was the only one left serving God. But God said, "Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him" (I Kings 19:18). Now 7,000 out of a whole country that was bound to have millions of citizens was not much, but Elijah was not alone.

And think about why Elijah was unaware of his fellow believers. He was busy teaching God's truth to the lost, so of course all he saw were non-believers. Part of the problem might be that you are among the wrong crowd to find like-minded Christians. I've notice that college campus tend to draw liberal-minded people and the older the institution, the more noticeable is the distinct drift toward modifying the teachings of the Bible. Among conservative, non-institutional brethren I know a quite a number who are of similar mind as you and I; perhaps not as much as I would like, but still I know a large enough number that I don't feel that I'm the only one.

You are correct that the world is full of people who practice Christianity as a religion of convenience. So long as God meets their personal expectations they are quite happy to follow, but not if it means altering their own views. "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables" (II Timothy 4:3-4). You need to come to grips with the fact that few people are truly interested in following God. "Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it" (Matthew 7:14). Instead, because they have no love for the truth, they will drift further and further away. "And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (II Thessalonians 2:11-12).

So what can we do? We do what we can. "Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will" (II Timothy 2:22-26). It is frustrating not to get immediate results. That is why Paul told Timothy, "I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching" (II Timothy 4:1-2). Take particular note of the word "longsuffering;" that is what preaching is often about, patiently molding lives.


March 15, 2005