As a child, I remember people saying there are two things you should not discuss: religion and politics. I suppose people thought these were private matters and only led to arguing and disagreement when discussed. But if you truly believe something, shouldn’t you express it to others? Wouldn’t you want everyone to embrace what you believe is the truth?
God doesn’t expect us to keep our religion to ourselves. In fact, He commands us to propagate the truth. In 2 Corinthians 13:8, He tells us that we, “Can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth.” Paul reminds Timothy of this perpetuity of the truth in 2 Timothy 2:2, “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.”
Religion, in order to flourish, is dependent on purity. No one is interested in diluted or polluted truth. In John 6:35, “Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” He likens the truth to the food we eat and the water we drink. No one intentionally would eat contaminated food or drink polluted water. We go to great lengths to ensure purity when it comes to our diet or the air that we breathe. We must likewise be diligent when it comes to the truth we proclaim. This diligence is necessary in three areas. God demands a pure content, a pure communication, and a pure conduit. All three of these are vital if our religion is to remain pure.
God made sure that when He gave us His Word it was in a pure and untainted form. The Apostle Peter reminds us that the Bible is not man’s word, but God’s: “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:20–21). In Psalm 12:6 we read, “The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.”
How sad it is that many modern versions of the Bible are changing the very purity of God’s Word. Often these are published under the guise of making the Bible easier to read or more contemporary, but when investigated carefully, they have allowed impurity to invade the Truth.
While most of us are careful about inspiration and preservation, we must also guard against interpreting the Bible in our own understanding. We must come to the Bible without prejudice. We must not attempt to bend the Bible to our thoughts, but rather bend our will to the truth of Scripture. Reading and studying the Bible is important; but, as we do, we should always let the Bible read and study our lives! For the outflow of our religion to be pure, the source of the truth that constructs our religion must also be pure.
Not only must we demand a pure content but also a pure communication. The message that we have is not our message, but God’s. Likewise the method of communication must be godly. Too often God’s message gets mixed with man’s methods. The content is pure, but the communication is polluted with humanistic philosophy and manipulative methodology. In 1 Thessalonians 2, Paul reminds the local church that his, “Exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile” (verse 3). Paul’s conscience was clear with respect to how he communicated the content.
Paul was fully aware that he would give an account to God one day for his ministry. That account would not merely be about results, but the motive and method in getting those results. He elaborates, “But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts” (1 Thessalonians 2:4). There is no place for manipulation, deceit, or lies in the ministry of perpetuating the truth. Our communication must be as pure as our content.
Suppose I was feeling sluggish and tired all of the time, so I went to the doctor. After an examination, he informs me that I was overweight and need to lose twenty pounds. In asking me some questions about my diet, I confess that I love chocolate chip cookies. Upon hearing this, the doctor tells me that it is his opinion that chocolate causes cancer; and if I continue to consume chocolate chip cookies, I will die of cancer within a year. He knows this is not true, but his motive is to get me to lose weight by lying about chocolate. While his message to me (to lose weight) is pure, his method is completely unethical (impure). We want people to know and obey the truth we preach, but we must not stoop to unscriptural methods to accomplish that purpose. God promises that when His Word is preached in truth, “it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11b).
The third prong to the purity of religion is a pure conduit. God has chosen to get His message to the world through people like us. Propagating God’s message is not only an awesome privilege, but also a sacred responsibility. It is impossible to separate the message from the messenger. The content is God’s Word, and it is pure; but it must flow through human channels or conduits. Have you ever drunk water out of a garden hose? There is nothing wrong with the water that comes from the faucet on the side of your house. It is the same as the water on the inside. But there is something about a garden hose that makes the water foul-tasting. The problem is not with the water but with the hose!
We are God’s conduit. “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ…” (2 Corinthians 5:20). God’s Word is a “preached” Word as Paul commands Timothy to, “Preach the word” (2 Timothy 4:2). It must flow through us to the world. “Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart” (2 Corinthians 3:2–3). How sad it is that the pure Water of life often flows through impure conduits and has little or no impact as a result. The truth is often rejected, not because of the content, but because of the conduit. Pure water carried in an impure container will be rejected every time no matter how thirsty the soul!
God desires a pure religion. The world is only interested in a religion that is pure. But purity involves a three-pronged challenge: a purity of content, a purity of communication, and a purity of the conduit. The Water of life changes lives—let’s take it to the world in the form of a pure religion!
This article was originally published in the Winter 2012 edition of The Baptist Voice.