A Special Note to JASA Christians

“Just as soon as I get all my questions answered, I’m going to become a Christian.”

“Just as soon as I get on top of all my problems, I’m starting to church and live for the Lord.”

“Just as soon as we get the boat paid off, we’re going to start tithing.”

“Just as soon as I get the feeling, I’m going down the road and witness to my neighbor.”

“Just as soon as my mama dies, I’m joining that wonderful church we’ve been attending.”

Just as soon as.

But not today, of course. Why not today? Well, I don’t have the feeling, I still have some questions, money is still tight, and mama wouldn’t like it if we joined a church outside of the denomination we were raised in.

“Another man said to Him, ‘Lord, let me first go and bury my father.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead.'” (Matthew 8:21-22)

Either Jesus is our Lord or He isn’t. But He will not stand idly by and watch us pile up obstacles that prevent us from obeying His will.

You can always find them.

As Roseanne Rosannadanna used to say, “It’s always something.”

You will always be able to find an excuse to keep from doing what you ought to be doing. If it’s not the weather, it’s your aches and pains or the financial situation or a bad relationship or what the president and congress are doing or not doing.  It’s always something. It’s your rebellious child, it’s a court hearing, a bankruptcy looming, it’s your advancing age, your ancient car that will need replacing, or your mother-in-law who may be moving in. It’s always something.

James L. Sullivan, for many years an esteemed leader of our denomination, used to tell about a church in Mississippi that decided in the late 19th century to construct a new church building, but only when the economy improved. When the First World War came along, many of their young men were inducted and that would be a poor time to put a financial burden on the congregation.  The 1920s were inflationary, never an opportune climate for building. This was followed by the miseries of the Great Depression and that by the Second World War. Of course, building a new church worship center during such uncertain times would be unwise, so they kept putting it off.  The 1950s were boom years in some places but difficult in others. Then in the 1960s the whole country was unsettled with the Vietnam War and the unrest in society. The 1970s saw a return of inflation.

Dr. Sullivan said, “At last report, they still had not started on their new church building.”

There are no perfect situations, no ideal times, no economies where everyone is prospering and no experts are predicting anything but boom times.

The deacons of our church were discussing a renovation of our worship center, a project to cost nearly $1 million. One man said, “This would not be a good time, preacher. My business is suffering and I know a lot of others that are, too.” As soon as he sat down, Deacon Atwell Andrews, who owned a shoe store downtown, stood and said, “Well, Frank, we can appreciate that. But my business is prospering. May I suggest that we go ahead with this renovation and those who have money can give it, and those who aren’t able will not be asked to give.”

That’s what faith sounds like. The church proceeded with the project and paid for it on time.

Anyone who requires that all his ducks be in a row before he can praise the Lord will never open his mouth in worship. Because it’s always something.

Anyone who demands that all his bills be paid and there be money in the bank before he starts tithing, will be stalling on his death bed.

Anyone who insists that he have all his questions answered before he prays the sinner’s prayer to commit his life to Jesus will spend eternity in deep regret and sorrow.

We can always find an obstacle to faith.

“Just as soon as I get a feeling or the support of my family or all the answers or my personal problems settled, I’m going to obey the Lord.”

The person who says that is in deep rebellion against God.

Try that on your mother. You’re 10 years old and she comes into your bedroom. “Get up from there right now,” she says, “and clean up this pig pen. Now!” And you say, “I will, mom—just as soon as I get the feeling.”

She’ll give you the feeling.

Scripture says, “Today, if you hear His voice, harden not your heart” (Hebrews 4:7).

God has decreed that you will come to Him by faith or not at all.

Anyone would follow Jesus Christ if they could see Him in all His heavenly glory at this moment. But it doesn’t work that way. God wants us to consider the evidence of His earthly life and teachings and then decide by faith–without having all the answers and without having seen Him–that Jesus is Lord and we will serve Him.

Jesus showed His scars to the Apostle Thomas who had serious doubts about His resurrection. He said, “Reach your finger here and look at my hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into my side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”

Thomas dropped to his knees and said, “My Lord and my God!”

Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:26-29)

Through the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk, God said, “The just (righteous person) shall live by faith” (Hab. 2:4). That principle is so critical, so foundational, that it’s quoted twice in the New Testament, in Romans 1:17 and Galatians 3:11.

It’s the only way. Without all your questions answered, you come to Jesus by faith.

Even though no one join you or agree with your decision, you come to Jesus by faith.

Even though the fields be empty, the orchards bare, and the barn deserted, you come to Jesus and praise Him (Habakkuk 3:17-19).

No more of this “just as soon as” business which insults your Lord so severely.

“Just as I am without one plea

But that thy blood was shed for me,

And that thou bidst me come to Thee,

O Lamb of God, I come.”

 

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