Monday, September 1, 2008

Real Christianity - Pt.1

For the next little while I want to concentrate on a book that I really love, called Real Christianity. The version I’ve read (a couple of times already!) is the revised and updated version by Bob Beltz, but the book was originally written by William Wilberforce. It was published in 1797 under the title A Practical View of the Prevailing Religious System of Professed Christians in the Higher and Middle Classes in This Country, Contrasted with Real Christianity (I don’t know why they didn’t keep that title!)
I find it amazing that what he wrote in 1797 – more than 200 years ago – is absolutely and completely applicable for our lives and culture today. This book is packed with truths about living out our faith as Christians, what it means to have authentic faith, the importance of not watering down concepts like sin and evil, etc, etc.
There are a lot of excerpts I want to share from each chapter, so it might take 2 or 3 days to do a whole chapter (because of the different sections). So I hope you enjoy what you read, and I hope it impacts you as it did me!

Intro from Wilberforce:
Faith is a subject of such importance that we should not ignore it because of the distractions or the hectic pace of our lives. Life as we know it, with all its ups and downs, will soon be over. We all will give an accounting to God of how we have lived. Because of this fact, I’m not going to pull any punches in what I write. I hope you will seriously consider what is contained within these pages.

Chapter 1
Cultural Christianity, What the Bible Says, the Problem of Ignorance

  • Understanding Christianity is not something that comes without effort. Almost every example in the natural world teaches us this principle.
  • The Bible is one of God’s greatest gifts to humanity… How can you measure the value of the good news of Christ? It is spoken of in the Bible as light in the darkness, freedom from slavery and life from death. Look at how much the Early Church valued the message. They received it with great joy and overflowing gratitude. Surely all these things should help us come to terms with the inexpressible value of true faith. The greatest gift of God is often either rejected outright or treated as if it is of little worth. But if we really began to study the Bible, we would be impressed with the proper value of this gift. It seems ludicrous that we have to exhort people to study the Bible.

  • What we believe determines how we live… Almost all people believe they are living good and moral lives. Yet they measure their lives against some subjective criteria without realizing that vice is often the product of ignorance or error. Such people often lack the ability to distinguish right from wrong or truth from error. This is one reason why the diligent study of the Bible is so important. It is here that God has given us the instruction we need to be able to tell right from wrong and truth from error. Without understanding its principles and precepts, we become victims of our own subjectivity. How profitable is subjectivity if our conscience has been seared, our heart hardened, and our mind blinded to all moral distinctions?
    An authentic faith requires an honesty of mind, the consistent use of the means of knowledge and instruction, the humility that fosters a desire to be instructed, and an unprejudiced conclusion about what this iniquity reveals.

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