As a teenager, J. Stephen Conn sensed God calling him to be a preacher. But he felt a certain disadvantage. Because he had been saved when he was 7 years old, he would never be able to hold an audience spellbound with stories of a wicked past. So he asked God for permission to backslide just long enough to get some experience in a life of sin to enhance his preaching later on. Deep within he knew that God would not answer such a request, so he decided just to preach the Bible without a dramatic testimony. Some time later Conn wrote, For the past 11 years I’ve been pastoring a church. I realize now what a great testimony I really have. God not only has the power to deliver from sin, He has the even greater power to keep from sin. God not only saved my soul He saved my entire life! 1 J. Stephen Conn asked for permission to backslide. Some are backsliding without permission. We need to beware of the signs so that we can help encourage and warn others at the same time.
Galatians 1:6-9 (NKJV) 6 I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.
Paul’s Take on Abandoning Jesus
- Let’s define some terms which Paul uses in this passage to help us understand the depth of what is taking place in Galatia.
- By understanding what was happening in Galatia, we can upload that principle to the 21st century and benefit from it in our everyday lives.
- Paul says, ‘I marvel’ that you have turned away from Him to a different gospel.
- The Greek word ‘marvel’ used here in the New King James means to be amazed, astonished, wonder at or as BDAG has it to be extraordinarily impressed or disturbed by something. 2
- Paul was literally flabbergasted over the conduct of the Galatians.
- Do you marvel when you see people you know and have gone to church with for many years no longer walking with the Lord?
- Are you passionate enough about relationship with God that you are amazed, astonished, extraordinarily disturbed by those who have made the decision to doubt God’s Word and way?
- Or is it ‘no big deal to you’?
- Everything is a big deal to people who are passionate.
‘I Marvel’ Means I’m Passionate
John 4:31-34 (NKJV) 31 In the meantime His disciples urged Him, saying, Rabbi, eat. 32 But He said to them, I have food to eat of which you do not know. 33 Therefore the disciples said to one another, Has anyone brought Him anything to eat? 34 Jesus said to them, My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.
- Just like Jesus was, your way should be a way of passion.
- You should be passionate about what you are doing.
- Passion sustains you.
- It was Jesus meat.
- It’s what sustained Him.
- It should be what sustains you.
- How do you know you are passionate about Jesus?
- What are the signs?
- Passion is…
- Passion is a burning commitment which brings your whole life into play enabling you to tap inner strength, abilities, and resources.
- It’s when your blood boils.
- It’s when you are on fire.
- It’s when you eat, sleep, and drink a thing.
- It’s when Jesus is all you think about.
Galatians 4:18 (NKJV) 18 But it is good to be zealous in a good thing always, and not only when I am present with you.
- Jesus was passionate for God.
- He used a whip and overturned the tables of the money changers in Matthew twenty-one.
- Passionate people do things that other people who are not passionate seem to think are excessive.
- Many years ago I came across this Passion Litmus Test one day in my studies.
- Take it and see how you do.
Passion Litmus Test
- Do you wake up feeling enthusiastic about your day?
- Is the first day of the week your favorite day?
- How long has it been since you’ve gotten so excited, you could not sleep?
- Do your mind and your mouth switch to automatic pilot during worship?
- Do you read your Bible and pray because you have to or because you want to?
- Do happy Christians get on your nerves?
- Has it been a long time since you have been moved spiritually?
- Are your desires so strong that they affect your thought life?
- It is said that a one unenthusiastic young man approached the Greek philosopher Socrates and casually stated, “Oh great Socrates I come to you for knowledge.” The philosopher took the young man down to the sea, waded in with him, and then dunked him under the water for 30 seconds. When he let that young man up for air, Socrates asked him to repeat what he wanted. “Knowledge O great one.” He sputtered. Socrates put him under the water again, only this time a little longer. After repeated dunking’s and responses, the philosopher asked, “What do you want?” The young man finally grasp, “Air. I want air!” Good, answered Socrates. “Now, when you want knowledge as much as you want air, you will have it.”
Call to Action:
There are enough questions in this litmus test to make up the Call to Action. Take the test and make the adjustments. If your passion gauge is low, talk to the Lord about it. Ask Him to turn the fire up in you. And then be ready. After He answers your prayer and turns up the heat in you, you may be hard to deal with for a few days 🙂
Question: Describe your own personal ‘turning over the money changers tables’ experience which you had where you marveled about someone turning away from the Lord.