An open letter to Christians:

I trust that you have had the time to sit back and reflect on some of the more important situations of the past that have had a lasting impact on your life.

Do you remember something that you saw or that you read? One of these events comes to my mind regularly. In our junior high dchool, on the first floor, in the main hallway, there was a poster. It was a picture of s huge open mouth and all you could see were lips, teeth and tongue. The caption under the poster read, “What you are speaks so loud that I can’t hear what you say.”

There are many other clichés that capture the same thought, but the picture of the open mouth has permanently inscribed the words of the caption in my mind.

One aspect of integrity in the ministry of a preacher of the word of God is to be certain that what is proclaimed is consistent with the teachings of the Bible.

As a preacher of the Gospel, I have no other and certainly no greater source of truth that the Bible.

So, I examined this little cliché that had been etched in my mind and found that 1 John 3:18 expresses the thought this way, “Little Children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.”

While there are many ways to make application for this verse and many rabbit trails on which to wander, let me narrow the thoughts to a few personal choices that I have made. I do ask for your graciousness in allowing me to use personal illustrations.

When I became a Christian, it was very important to understand what it was to be a Christian. I did not have the luxury to compose my own definition or to design a lifestyle to fit who I was. I found verses of scripture that said I was to conform to the likeness of Christ, that there were actions, attitudes, habits, etc. that had to go and new characteristics needed to take their place. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says it very clearly, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.”

As a teenager I very quickly realized that it was not enough to say that I was a Christian, I had to live a life that was consistent with what the Bible said a Christian was.

When it became apparent to me that my life’s vocation was to be a preacher of the Gospel, there was another decision that had to be made.

Would I preach the truth of the word of God, even when it was contrary to popular opinion or not politically correct?

It was an easy decision because I believed the Bible to be true and authoritative.

It is unpopular to preach that we are all born sinners, that not everyone will go to heaven, and that there is a place called hell.

However it is wonderful to preach that there is salvation in the fact that Jesus Christ made a way of salvation.

The challenge to you, if you say you are a Christian, is do you live like one?

If you say you believe the Bible, do you believe all of it?

Richard Haynie is pastor of the Church of the Open Bible in Athens. Email him at [email protected]


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