Tom: We’re going through Dave Hunt’s book, An Urgent Call to a Serious Faith, as a basic outline of biblical content we want to address, and also because of its thrust in exhorting believers to search the Scriptures in order to grow in the faith once and for all delivered unto the saints.
Dave, in chapter 12, which you title, “Humility, Accountability, and Awe,” you begin by considering your own life in view of the “staggering reality of eternity,” which will encompass you. Now you began your book with a challenge to all who haven’t been reconciled to God through Christ regarding where they’ll spend eternity. But in this chapter you seem to be challenging those who claim to have salvation in Christ. What’s your concern here for those who are eternally secure?
Dave: If you took a poll, and there are many polls that have been taken, say, of college students at Christian universities, it’s shocking that their lives are just about the same as ungodly people at secular universities. Many Christians have the same standards, live for the same ambitions for this world, that the ungodly all around them do, and that does not seem realistic if we really believe that this life is very short, eternity is forever, and it looms ahead of us. That we are accountable to God, we want to please Him, not men, and yet very often it seems that we’re performing in order to please others. Not that we should be disagreeable people—we should get along with everyone, you know: “Live peaceably with all men as much as within you makes that possible,” the scripture says.
But somehow, I think there’s an eternal perspective that is lacking in many of our lives. I see that myself, and I continually remind myself of that and continually talk to the Lord about it: “God, help me to realize the reality of this universe, of who You are, and why You have created me. And, Lord,” over and over and over I say, “Father, all I want is Your will. What do you want from my life? Please protect me from my own folly.” We’re such small creatures, and we have such small minds (I’m speaking of myself now). One day when we see the Lord, I’m sure it’s going to be a bit of a shock to realize how ignorant we were of His Word and of the real joy and the real purpose that we could have had—and how often we have missed the best that God has for us by our own small-mindedness and a perspective that is turned to this earth rather than to eternity. That’s what concerns me a bit, for myself and for others.
Tom: Dave, I’m sure many Bible believers know the verse, 2 Corinthians:5:10, “We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ that everyone may receive the things done in His body according to that He hath done, whether it be good or bad.” So, we will stand before the Lord—not for salvation, not with regard to salvation, but with regard to rewards and with regard to the things we’ve done, which, you know, many people say, “Oh yeah, I want to please the Lord,” but I don’t know how seriously we take this verse.
Dave: When I think of rewards, of course, it’s not that we want to accumulate some . . . I don’t know what it would be—crowns for ourselves. We want to please the Lord, we want to glorify Him, we want Him to be pleased with our lives because we love Him, because He first loved us. And yet, God writes in the Old Testament through His prophets, He says, “My people have forgotten me days without number.” I wonder how many of us go through our lives—we have our plans, our ambitions, and the desires, the hopes, the dreams that we’ve set for ourselves, and we’re interacting with other human beings, and so forth. And I wonder how much time we give to the Lord, and how often we tell Him we love Him, and that we are looking forward to being with Him—longing for that—and that we recognize that we’re in His hands. And this is His universe, this is His world, although Satan is the god of this world now, but God has created us for a purpose, and if we miss the purpose for which He created us, we’ve really missed everything! We’ve missed life as it ought to be. I see it in my own heart; I think there is so much forgetfulness of this. Yes, theoretically we believe, and theoretically we believe in God. How real is He in my life? That’s the challenge.
Tom: Dave, you make a number of . . . or bring about a number of thoughts that are very challenging. One that I alluded to earlier is that we forget that we’re going to spend eternity either with God or without God—but we don’t like to think about that! We seem to be focused—even believers—not with regard to salvation but with regard to just spending our life with Jesus. But our focus seems to be on this temporary life.
Dave: Well, Tom, also it’s not just that, as I’ve been saying and you have just now reiterated, our focus on this temporary life. But after all, if you could know, let’s say, the most famous scientist in the world, the greatest astronaut in the world, or greatest athlete, or whatever, in the world’s eyes, a great personality—some wonderful person who is looked up to by so many others and who has accomplished so much—wouldn’t it be wonderful to be that person’s special friend, and know that they really love you and care for you, are concerned, and want to share their life with you? That’s tremendous! Most people would think so; in fact we have namedroppers. We like to let people know that “I know so-and-so,” and so forth.
And yet, there are not many namedroppers about God. We don’t go through life letting the world know that God is my friend, that I know Him, that Jesus Christ is my dearest companion, the lover of my soul. And so we miss out on, really, the blessings that we could have if Christ were more real to us. He’s come to live in our hearts if we are Christians! We don’t have to “call” God to come into our meetings, you know, as some people do: “Holy Spirit, come now. Jesus Christ, be here.” No, He has come to live in our hearts and He is, in fact, our life. Well, then, let’s live as though that were true! Let’s live by faith: “The just shall live by faith,” and let’s enjoy the wonder and the reality of what life could be with Christ as our friend, our companion, the one who guides and directs our lives, and the one with whom we have constant fellowship and love and joy.
That’s the Christian life! It’s not that we’re trying to live up to a certain standard—“Don’t do this,” and “Don’t do that”; ‘you’ve got to do this,” and so forth. Jesus said, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden; I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly of heart, and you will find rest for your soul.” So the Christian life is not supposed to be a struggle and a burden, but it should be a joy! That doesn’t mean we won’t face trials—in fact, we will face trials: “In this world you will have tribulation,” Jesus said, “but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world,” John 17. So I think there’s an awful lot of joy that Christians are missing out on, plus the opportunities that He gives us to be His witnesses. We’re supposed to be His witnesses wherever we go.
Tom: But, Dave, we opt for other things, and this is, as I mentioned, you say a few startling things in this book, and not startling because you’re trying to create controversy but startling in its simplicity because they’re shocking. For example, you talked about maybe having a friend who was somebody who was highly thought of in the world, a president or an athlete or something like that—but because they’re honored, it’s like we want that honor, or we want to share in that honor. Here’s one of the things that you refer to in the book. It has to do with honor. “We want to have honor from God, but we want more to have honor from men. Why can’t we have both?” That’s really the question?
Dave: Mm-hmm. Well, why can’t we . . . oh, you’re asking me? I thought you were getting ready to make a quote here?
Tom: No, it’s real simple, Dave. We love honor! Just like we want to know a person who gets great honor, we want to share in that with them. But why can we not receive honor from men and from God?
Dave: Well, Jesus said it impossible, John 5. In fact, He said to the rabbis, the Pharisees, “How can you believe [what He means is, how can you be men of faith?] you who receive honor one of another and seek not the honor that comes from God alone?” If I want the honor of men and the honor of God, I’m not going to have it. You can’t serve both God and men because he who would please men cannot be the servant of God. In other words, I can’t serve two masters, the scripture says.
Dave: If—well, there are so many things Jesus said about it. He talked about the person who gives into the treasury what they are offering to God. It’s amazing. We haven’t seen anything quite like this, but maybe in some ways it’s true. He has trumpeters going before him as he brings his offering to the temple, so that everyone will know what a great offering he is giving! Well, we have something like that, you know. You get a plaque, you get a room named after you in certain retreat centers.
Well, we have ways of honoring one another, and Jesus says, “They have their reward. They got their reward from men. Don’t expect a reward from God.” Now if I am going to receive honor from God, I have to seek honor from God alone, because He’s not going to just join in with the crowd that’s honoring me. The honor that God gives is something entirely different, and it cannot be contaminated, diluted, perverted, really, with honor that men give us. And that’s very, very difficult for us to comprehend.
Dave: Very difficult, because we’re proud people. That’s . . . our besetting sin is pride—not humility, not low self-esteem and bad self-image. No, we can talk about that as a façade, as a cover, for the real pride within. No, our problem is we want honor from men.
And then, you can look at it another way as well. What about when people tell lies about you? What about when they cast you out of their society, Jesus said? Someone gives the illustration that somebody came up to this man and said, “[Do] you know the horrible things they are telling about you?” And he said, “Why do you want to tell me? You want to see how high I can leap?” Because Jesus said, “Blessed are you when men persecute you and speak all manner of evil against you falsely [make sure it’s falsely] for My sake. Rejoice! Be exceeding glad. Leap for joy!” He says, “for great is your reward in heaven, for so persecuted they the prophets that were before you.” So, you can’t mix the two.
Tom: All right, but, Dave, doesn’t . . . in the Proverbs, don’t we find something about a good name? Aren’t we supposed to live honorably among all men? And is there a difference between the two here? Certainly it’s not a contradiction, but . . .
Dave: Well, Jesus says, “what they say against you falsely.” And Peter, in 1 Peter 4, says, “If you suffer as a Christian, happy are ye; but if you suffer for your faults, that’s no credit to you.” So a good name is rather to be chosen than—boy, I used to know the Proverbs by heart— “It’s better than ointment poured forth,” I know in one place it says this. So, a good name . . . but it doesn’t mean that men will necessarily give you the good name. They may hate you for Christ’s sake, but I think the thought is they cannot righteously criticize you; they can’t truthfully give you a bad name. And the good name that you want is before the Lord, not before men, necessarily.
But it is something that we should desire—that we would live uprightly. You know, there are so many scriptures about it: “Walk in purity and holiness toward those who are without, lest you bring a reproach upon Christ.” If I’m a Christian, and people know it, then what I do is going to reflect upon my Lord. So that’s another reason why I don’t want there to be any stain on my character or my conduct that men can point to and then say, “Well, look how this Christian lives!” Now, we don’t want that! On the other hand, we’re not doing what we do to seek honor from men, but to please our Lord.
Tom: Dave, again, the title of this chapter is, “Humility, Accountability, and Awe.” Awe has to do with honoring God and worshiping God. One of the points that you make in this chapter is that even through our church services we tend to do them by rote. We go through little rituals and doing things to, in a sense, honor men, but we lose sight of God.
Dave: Yeah, we do honor men a lot in our church services. I see it all the time. It’s a person’s degrees or what they’ve done. When I’m introduced where I’m speaking somewhere, they want to give a flowery introduction, and I say, “Please, don’t say anything, because we’re here to exalt the Lord.” If the Lord isn’t here, and if this is not His Word, what is the point? I could have 100 degrees or attainments or awards, honors from this world—it means absolutely nothing before God. So, yes we do, we hold . . .
Tom: Dave, let me just interject this. It just hit me—I just remembered. Not too long ago, Robert Schuller has Mikhail Gorbachev in his pulpit. Now, here is an atheist! If this isn’t the epitome of what we’re talking about in terms of dishonoring God by turning to men, I don’t know what is.
Dave: Yeah, so someone who is famous in this world, then we try to ride on their coattails even for God, as though, “Wow, if we could just get this person on God’s side, wouldn’t God have a great team now!” Why you would have Mikhail Gorbachev in a pulpit—a man who is an atheist—I don’t know. But, of course, the pope calls him his “dear friend”; in fact the pope says that Mikhail Gorbachev has “spirituality.” He calls him a . . . , what is the word?
Tom: A Crypto- . . .
Dave: Yes. He calls him a Crypto-Christian. I don’t quite know what that means. And Gorbachev loves the pope—they’re real friends; and Gorbachev says that the wall could not have come down without the pope’s efforts, and so forth.
But we’re talking about awe—you’re moving us on to that topic. Well, I just came back from Germany and Switzerland, and it’s the place where the Reformation began. Christians were burned at the stake for their faith, and so forth. And yet, some of us were talking about this and pointing out a contrast between Catholics in a cathedral, where there is silence, where there seems to be reverence. And some of these dear women are walking on their knees around the remains of so-called saints. It’s not biblical. They’re doing it in order to earn their salvation, and maybe it’s partly because of the stained-glass windows and so forth.
But we were contrasting the sense of reverence in Catholic churches with these Protestants. Lot of talking and chattering, and it almost seems like the God that we believe in, He’s not very awesome.
Tom: He’s our pal . . .
Dave: Yeah. there’s not much respect for Him . . . “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” That doesn’t mean we are terrified by God because we’re afraid He will judge us. It means we stand in His presence, in the presence of the Creator of the universe, who is so awesome, so beyond us, and yet you don’t get much sense of that in many of our churches. We give our testimonies, “God is on my side!” I make a positive confession: “I can get God to do this for me,” and so forth. And it’s kind of a happy-go-lucky, “let’s get with it now, rah, rah, rah!” thing. I don’t think you do that in the presence of God. So, I’m speaking to my own heart. We need a sense of the greatness, the awesomeness, of God as well as His love.
Tom: Dave, we only have about a minute and a half, but this leads us up to worship. In your mind and in your heart, what does true worship consist of? I mean, we’ve talked about the problems that are going on. I know we don’t have much time, maybe we will pick it up next week.
Dave: Well, Tom, you know, I often say, here’s a guy—the worship leader, supposedly—and he’s got the guitar going, “I love to worship you, I love to worship you, I love to worship you,” and I’m sitting there thinking, Why don’t you worship Him? Worship is not words about worship. Worship would involve thoughts of the greatness of God, His love, His power, His mercy, His attributes, and that should be in the songs, the worship songs. And when I sing about the greatness of God, His love, and what He has done in Christ Jesus, then I am worshiping Him and I don’t even have to use the word “worship,” because worship is falling before this great God in awe, in solemn respect and wonder and appreciation of who He is and what He has done.
Tom: Dave, I know that those who are listening to this—I’m sure there is some conviction about this. I know I’m sitting right across the table from you, and there’s some conviction in my heart.
Dave: Well, there is conviction in mine as well.
Tom: Yeah. But this is what we want, and I think when we pick up with this next week we are going to talk more about worship. Some worship is very emotional; some of it is almost mystical—is that wrong, and to what degree? We’re going to get into these things next week.