I know, I know, I know.... this verse is so cliche! Everyone knows it and it has become part of our Christianese! Listen to a Christian speak long enough and you'll be sure to hear the "all things work together for the good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose". A little while ago, I was doing one of those BibleGateway reading plans, and although I don't remember the theme of the plan, I do know that Romans 8 was one of the required readings. So, as I began reading, the all too familiar verses were ringing true and honestly, I began glazing over it. After all, I know these verses already. Right?
Years ago, when we first moved to California to start the Lighthouse, my husband and I were diligent in our efforts to grow the church. Carrying three under the age of 5, we would spend our weekends walking through dozens of neighborhoods- inviting people to church. The sun would beat down on us; our feet would be sore; and our kids were extremely fussy. Still, we were faithful in the work of God. Several times a week, we would spend countless hours walking and inviting. It seemed like the more we worked, the harder it was to take that no one was accepting our invitation.
One warm summer evening, as my husband was in prayer, he decided to ask God a question: why we weren’t being successful in our efforts? After all, we’d been working so hard. We were doing everything that we knew to do. As though audibly, God spoke to my husband saying, “I will build My church”. God promised that he would build his church. The burden of building his church wasn’t on us. We were required to work in it, but the building would be left to God. He would do it so well, that the very gates of Hell could do nothing stop its growth. That message was not just to our church, here in the small town of San Jacinto, CA. This was a message to God’s international church.
In the past few years, I’ve been seeing article headlines boasting of the decline in Christianity and the Christian church. Honestly, I didn’t pay too much attention to them-besides the sensory glance. Still, I can’t say that I wasn’t bothered by the charge. “God would build his church”, I reminded myself. Yet, months would go by and I would see a similar article, as though it was single-handedly challenging my God. Then one day, I came across an article. A study was conducted and its findings were interesting to say the least. Although not exhaustive, a five-year study, following thousands of congregants, showed the churches in decline, were churches that took a liberal stance on the Bible; believing its concepts, but not taking it literally. This study showed that conservative churches are continuing to grow and remain strong and stable in the communities in which they thrive. This study is just a little reminder of what the Bible says; and what God put on my husband’s heart so many years ago. God said that He would build his church and there is nothing that can be done to prevent God from prevailing in the end.
What Does the Bible Say about Obedience?
Faith is necessary to please God (Hebrews 11:6), and if our faith is genuine and true, we will live a lifestyle characterized by righteousness, modeling the example set for us by Jesus Christ. We obey His commands, not because we have to, but because we want to, because we love Him. We are enabled to obey because, once we believe in Christ and are saved, we are remade. We are not the same people we once were. As Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
When we obey the Lord, we can live a life of joy, without shame, rooted deeply in the Lord and confident in our eternal hope. Our obedience is actually part of our assurance that we truly know God (1 John 2:3).