For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge (Rom 10:2)
In September, the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life released the results of their “U.S. Religious Knowledge Survey."
The results were summarized in a FoxNews.com article that stated:
Atheists and agnostics scored highest, with an average of 21 correct answers [out of 32 questions], while Jews and Mormons followed with about 20 accurate responses. Protestants overall averaged 16 correct answers, while Catholics followed with a score of about 15.
Hispanic Catholics were the lowest scoring group with 11.6 questions answered correctly.
Fox News also reported:
The U.S. is one of the most religious countries in the developed world, especially compared to largely secular Western Europe, but faith leaders and educators have long lamented that Americans still know relatively little about religion.
Although many might disagree, the proof in the Pew study is a stark reminder of the lack of interest among most Christians to understand what they claim to believe. This truth was pointedly condensed into 140 characters or less via Twitter:
To most Christians, the Bible is like a software license. Nobody actually reads it. They just scroll to the bottom and click “I agree”.
This is an unfortunate truth. Does this mean that every believer should pursue a PhD in Theology? By no means! It does mean that believers need to understand Scripture better. Through such understanding we can come to know and love our Lord and Savior better. Peter uses the phrase “Lord and Savior” repeatedly in Scripture.
I believe he had it in the proper order: Lord and Savior. Most who would profess belief in the Messiah Yeshua (Christ Jesus) seem to have no problem with Him as their Savior. They are thankful and grateful for being saved from the consequence of their sins. However, this same group has (by all appearances) a major problem with Christ as their Lord. Sadly, this is not a new problem. The apostle Paul dealt with this same issue in the first century as he said:
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? (Romans 6:1)
Here Paul was dealing with believers who thought it was OK to continue sinning. Their thinking appears to be “Hey, why not keep on sinning? After all, we’re were already saved!” Paul squashes such thoughts as unScriptural and unacceptable.
Christ told the man who had been ill for thirty-eight years:
“Behold, you have become well; do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you.” (John 5:14)
He told the woman who was caught in adultery:
“From now on sin no more.” (John 8:11)
Perhaps we should heed the words of our Lord. Believers should become increasingly mature in honoring Messiah not only as their Savior but as their Lord. This maturity is reflected in our actively and intentionally turning away from sin and turning towards the deeds He would have us do.
Paul exhorted the believers in Ephesus.
He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need. Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:28-32)
Paul admonished the believers in Corinth:
Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame. (1 Corinthians 15:34)
Works are never required for us to earn or keep salvation. “Good works” are, however, the spiritual consequence of being saved. Paul tells the Ephesians:
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10, emphasis added)
For each of us, the life we live before and life we live after we are saved should be vastly different. Do you know what G-d expects of you now that He has called you to be part of His kingdom? Turn away from sin. Do what is right in the eyes of G-d. Live a life that reflects your relationship with G-d. He alone is the Savior. He alone is the Lord.
“You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” (2 Peter 3:17-18)