God does not send us WITH a message.
We ARE the message.
“There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John.” (John1:6)
God does not send just words only. He sends people whose lives have been changed by His Word. We cannot preach with words only. They are emptied of their power unless the life embodies and illustrates them. Unless the character is right, the conduct will ultimately be shown to be flawed. If the root is not planted firmly in its relationship to the Lord, the fruit will not only be distasteful, but harmful. There can be no outward righteousness without inward holiness. Psalm 51:6 declares that God desires truth in the inner parts. David asks in Psalm 19 that not only the words of his mouth, but also the meditations of his heart would be pleasing in the sight of the Lord.
We have all known those with whose messages we have wholeheartedly agreed, and whose instruction we appreciated, yet the passage of time has shown their character to be severely flawed. They were not what they appeared to be. Their lives have resulted in the destruction and scattering of the Lord’s people. We are warned about those whose walk does not match the talk. Matthew 7:15 describes them. “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.” Outwardly they appear as sheep. They seem indistinguishable by their words from genuine sheep. If their inward character does not match the outward appearance, their effect is like that of a ferocious wolf. We find a glaring example of this in the book of Numbers. The recorded words of this person were accurate, prophetic, and given to him by God. (We even use some of them as part of the Topical Memory System. Numbers 23:19) Despite the accuracy of his words, his heart was not right. II Peter 2:15 declares that “he loved the wages of wickedness.” Balaam, though speaking the words of the Lord, was the one who advised foreign women to draw the Israelites away from the Lord, so that a plague struck the Lord’s people. (Numbers 31:16)
The person who speaks with words only and not with their life communicates that the transformed life is either unnecessary or unavailable. In the first case, they proclaim that transformation is unnecessary by its absence in their own lives. The effect of this life is to tell others that faith alone, without works, is sufficient for our lives. This, in effect, denies the purpose of the gospel of Christ, and is declared in James Chapter 2 to be the kind of faith that causes demons to believe and tremble. In the second case, although it may be considered necessary, its absence declares that a transformed life is unavailable to those who seek it. They essentially deny the power of the gospel. They are like those referred to in II Timothy 3:6; “having a form of godliness but denying its power.” The denial of the purpose and the power of the gospel permeates the churches of Christ in such a way as to damage the faith of some and cause shipwreck to the lives of others. No wonder, then, that these are referred to as false prophets in Matthew 7. One acquaintance of mine told me although she was active in her faith for a few years in college, she left her belief after a few years due to the lack of change in the lives of some who professed belief in Christ. It is my prayer that lives that have been transformed by the gospel would be used in the future to produce a change in her life.
The people that God sends have a life that is consistent with their message. This is most clearly seen in I Thessalonians 1:5 where Paul states “because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction.” One of the reasons that it came with power is seen in the remainder of verse 5. “You know how we lived among you for your sake. It is also seen in I Thessalonians 2:10. “You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed.” How then are we enabled by His grace to be those he sends, having a life that is consistent with the message He gives? It is by constant appeal and continued application. It is through a constant appeal to His Grace as described in Psalm 139:23-24. “Search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me, and know my thoughts, and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” It is also through continual application of that which we know to be true. “Not that I have already obtained all this or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” (Philippians 3:12) “Only let us live up to what we have already attained.” (Philippians 3:16)
It is my prayer that our lives would be like that of John the Baptist in John 1:6; lived in such a way that the Lord could then say of each one of us, “There came a (man)(woman), sent by God, their name was ______.”