Editor’s Note: This article was reprinted with permission from Warren Vanhetloo’s newsletter “Cogitation.”
“What would Jesus do?” That question is often asked as a means of judging the rightness or wrongness, or preference perhaps, of some contemplated action. Used in such fashion, it is and can be very helpful. If some action is right, it is what Jesus would do, for He always did that which was right, particularly in the realm of morals but in social decisions as well. Making such a right decision is often an easy thing to do.
The Bible is the only infallible source of that which is right or wrong in the moral sphere. It is the only trustworthy source of information about how Jesus lived and what He taught. What does the Bible say? Is thus the same as asking, “What would Jesus do?” Cultural patterns of the various peoples of the world, which are passed on generation to generation, include standards generally treated as unquestionable and unchangeable. An important decision for every new convert in seeking to set aside the old and adjust to the ways of Christ is to determine if what he has always been taught is really what the Bible teaches.
This new mind and new walk in Christ is not achieved overnight. The work is begun at conversion, gradually expands day after day, and grows into a solid lifestyle. In this life, we never stop growing spiritually. The goal is that true believers will not remain unstable, unusable infants in the faith. Many avenues of faith growth are needed during creeping or walking years. Two deserve supreme emphasis.
One is personal reading and study of the Word of God. A physical infant is fed by others for a while, but self-feeding should normally follow. Personal Bible reading, self study of the Bible, deliberate attempts to come to know the truth are a few of the recommended methods. Lack of any of these will result in serious spiritual deficiency. Feeding on the Word and exercise in doing that which the Word teaches are essentials to proper growth.
A second is reaping the benefits of the example and advice of others. A beginning baseball enthusiast wants to learn the secrets of the major league star. Articles and stories can be of great encouragement, but the personal, regular contact with great examples of the faith is far better. In a practical sense, this means regular participation in the life of a local congregation. Each believer grows with the mutual encouragement and living example of mature saints. Many who in the past have learned the hard way can now instruct and guide in the right ways.
What would Jesus do? He knew the Old Testament so thoroughly at twelve years of age that He astounded the learned scholars at Jerusalem. God’s Word is simple enough for any child to understand. Getting to know it and putting into personal practice what it teaches are the keys. Jesus also learned from the lives of faithful generations who preceded Him. He learned from godly parents and relatives and neighbors. He learned from observing life and judging life by the biblical outlook. He was a great student, and He was a great teacher.
Many children grow up wanting to amount to something in this world, to be somebody, to be respected and honored. Newborn children of God should have the same sort of yearning, to want to grow up to be a worthy giant of the faith, to be qualified to contribute genuinely to the needs of others. New believers ought to read of the lives of great Christians of the past and outstanding believers of the present. Each young person should set high goals and realize the task necessary to achieve such goals.
Looking into your mirror, where do you fit in? Are you young and growing in the faith? Are you adjusting to fitting in properly with your peers, maturing steadily in your faith? Are you having an influence on newborn babes in Christ, such that you need special wisdom concerning each act and word lest they be misshapen in the faith? Are you among the leaders who have stood strong year after year, such that any misstep on your part could wrongly influence many? Your life in God’s service is far more important than you might ordinarily think.
|Warren Vanhetloo has A.B., B.D., Th.M., Th.D., and D.D. degrees. He served three pastorates in Michigan, taught 20 years at Central Baptist Theological Seminary (Plymouth, MN), taught 23 years at Calvary Baptist Theological Seminary (Lansdale, PA), and is listed as adjunct faculty at Calvary. Retired, he lives in Holland, Michigan. At the urging of fellow faculty and former students, he sends an email newsletter called “Cogitations” to those who request it. You may send e-mail to him at email@example.com.