The Bible deals in many absolutes. This is one of the reasons that Christianity is maligned by some as intolerant or exclusivist. We live in an age where tolerance or forced acceptance of all beliefs as equal is the desired norm that we are encouraged to swallow. All points are considered to be equal and valid unless of course they are politically incorrect (somehow Christianity always seems to fall into this bucket). This is nothing new but it is a very strong attempt to discourage us from preaching standards of morality; it is another rejection by modern man of the truth and law of God.
Modern man frequently chooses to reject standards and absolutes because without standards and absolutes we are not guilty, we have not sinned and therefore we are in no need of salvation. If we accept the truth and validity of the law of God; that His holy standards are universal we must then accept the fact that we are all guilty, we are all sinners and therefore we are all in need of salvation.
Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are. (Romans 3:19-20)
As people we really like to stratify and classify people. We break ourselves down into various demographic groupings so that we can bring identity to ourselves. This happens in the church and it happens in the rest of the world as well. We search for common denominators that both unite and divide us as people.
Here is a sample of common factors that are used to separate us into groups that can be cataloged, defined and marketed to.
|Income||Marital Status||Political Party||Education|
|Sexual Preference||Religion||Brand Preference||
In the Christian church we have our own dividing factors that we use to both divide and unite us:
|Denomination||Worship Style||Baptism Style||Timing of Rapture|
|Doctrine||Full Gospel||Seeker Sensitivity||Leadership Structure|
There are extremely important issues of doctrine and faith that can be raised in each these cells listed above. Principles and truths must never be compromised – preferences on the other hand can be. Problems arise when our need to clarify, classify and stratify eclipses God’s desire to unify.
God sets forth three unifying universal absolutes (among others):
- All have sinned and come short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23)
- All may be redeemed if they will believe (Romans 10:13)
- All are condemned if they choose not to believe (John 3:18)
These are truths that set Christianity apart from every other religion, philosophy and doctrine in the world today. It is upon these unifying factors that all of our classification, stratification and demographics as Christians must be established. There are only three people groups in this world:
- Born Again Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ whose lives demonstrate their faith
- Those who claim to believe but provide no evidence for their faith
Our mission and goal as believers is to get as many people into the first group as possible.
We need to tear down some of our prejudices and even some of our traditions in order to do so. There are truths that as Christians we must accept. Most of these should be obvious:
- God loves everyone – even the people we wish He wouldn’t
- Truth is truth – when it comforts us and when it afflicts us
- Salvation and repentance are available to all – even the really bad people
- There is only one way to heaven – His name is Jesus
- The Bible is correct in every situation – there are no exceptions or weekend passes
- Sin is sin – regardless of who commits it
- Great intentions, good living and good deeds can never replace or be substituted for faith in the Lord Jesus Christ
- Praying the sinner’s prayer is the beginning of our conversion – not the entirety of our conversion
Standards are not ideals that we strive to live up to; they are that which we refuse to live below. As a Christian we are covered by mercy and empowered by grace to live as Jesus did. Our holiness is His command (1 Peter 1:16). The standard of perfection was established for us by the Lord Jesus Christ and anything that falls short of that standard is outside of where we should be living.
Holiness and grace are not enemies of one another. We will never live up to the standard of Christ’s perfection while here on the earth. We are however pursuing Him. We are being changed. We constantly repent. We consciously recognize and confess the areas of sin in our lives so that we may surrender them to Jesus (1 John 1:9). The standard of the Lord is established.
Our faith must not be mean spirited, religious and dogmatic, legalistically forcing people to fulfill the word of the Lord. Man cannot fulfill the law of the Lord without the Holy Spirit. Our focus must be on first receiving His grace and being filled with the Holy Spirit so that we may lead others into the same relationship with God. During our Christian pilgrimage we must exhort one another, encourage one another and yes, correct one another to follow after the Lord.
There cannot be two standards or multiple standards. The Bible cannot only apply in certain situations or to certain people. The truth of scripture must be universal.
False weights and unequal measures— the Lord detests double standards of every kind. (Proverbs 20:10)
The Apostle James exhorted believers in the same manner:
My dear brothers and sisters, how can you claim to have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ if you favor some people over others? For example, suppose someone comes into your meeting dressed in fancy clothes and expensive jewelry, and another comes in who is poor and dressed in dirty clothes. If you give special attention and a good seat to the rich person, but you say to the poor one, “You can stand over there, or else sit on the floor”—well, doesn’t this discrimination show that your judgments are guided by evil motives? (James 2:1-4)
- Sin is sin – regardless of our income, sex, race, station in life, age, church leadership role or marital status. (Ezekiel 18:20)
- God loves people – regardless of their income, sex, race, station in life, age, church leadership role or marital status. (Romans 5:8)
- The tithe equals 10% of your income if you live at or near the poverty level, are middle class or are independently wealthy. God is not looking at your bank balance – but at your heart (Luke 21:1-4)
These are just some of the things that we as Christians frequently apply different standards to. We rationalize situations, motives, culture, experience, etc. We profile and judge by appearance and the impact of dealing in the truth will have on our churches and our lives when we should be concerned with the person that God loves.
Judging and operating according to varying standards is evil because it allows us to excuse ourselves from sharing the truth of God in love to a person for whom Christ died to save.
Right is right, even if everyone is against it; and wrong is wrong, even if everyone is for it. (William Penn)
Many preachers have said that the ground is level at the cross of Christ. It is the one place where we are equal.
I could cite tons of examples that the church frequently uses varying standards when dealing with but I do not believe it would be productive, nor would it accomplish what I hope to through this message.
Here are my points in dealing with this subject:
- The Gospel is universal and must be applied universally
- There is no place or people group on the planet that it does not apply to
- The style and method of ministry may vary but the message and call of God remains the same
- The Bible’s call to holiness and purity is universal to all
- There are no exempted people
- It is the same Holy Spirit who is transforming each of us into the image of Jesus Christ
- God’s truth is universal and absolute or it is not truth at all
- If it applied to Christians in the first century – than it applies to me today.
- If it applies to Christians in one part of the world than it applies to Christians everywhere
- What God expects of other Christians He also expects of you and me; and vice-versa
Let’s tear down strongholds in our mind and open ourselves to the Word of the Lord. Let’s eliminate bias, favoritism, situational ethics and relativism from our faith. We will all be judged by the same standard (the Bible). We are all called to follow the same Lord (Jesus Christ). We are all filled with the same Spirit. We are all children of the same Father. We are all members of the same body; the same church.
The Christian standard is the Lord Jesus Christ as revealed in the Holy Bible (Old and New Testaments). This is supreme and final authority of my life and I pray your life as well. May we love each other and provoke one another to follow Jesus Christ with all of our hearts.
For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all. (Ephesians 4:4-6)