Selfish “Christianity” 64

John 6:26 Jesus answered them and said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.

Philippians 2:19 But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, so that I also may be encouraged when I learn of your condition. 20 For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare. 21 For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus.

John 15:24 “If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well.

Romans 5:10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.

And when, in addition to these measures, the general strain of what is said to sinners is adapted to work upon their selfish feelings and animal passions, as most of what I have heard has been, and some of it extremely well adapted to work up those feelings to a high pitch, it would be strange if some affections were not excited which they might readily mistake for true religion. When God is represented as desiring their salvation, without the least qualification, and that his desire for it is infinitely strong, what impenitent sinner, that has the least seriousness of mind, is not prepared to be pleased? If “sinners love those that love them,” as our Lord assures us, they can love such a being as God is represented to be, without any change of heart. A God of all mercy, is just such a God as sinners desire. Will it be said that his justice is also brought into view, and that the terrors of hell are exhibited? True; but in what light are they exhibited? Is it not commonly in a light to which the selfish heart will as readily accord?

WILLIAM R. WEEKS.

If we look at John 6:26 and Philippians 2:19-21 as a paradigm for the selfish heart in religious things, we can see how easy it is for people to be religious (even very religious) and mistake their selfish heart doing religious things for true Christianity. We can think of a zealous “evangelist” who will present nothing but selfish motives to sinners and then count the numbers as true converts. Perhaps what we don’t think of often enough is the motives behind the preaching and teaching of the zealous “evangelist.” Jehu said, “Come with me and see my zeal for the LORD” (II Kings 10:16). However, it later appeared as if his real zeal was for himself and his own glory. It may be that a zealous “evangelist” has nothing but his own bank account and his own glory as his chief motive. This is why he knows of nothing but selfish motives to persuade sinners with.

When even Jesus did miracles and preached the truth from pure motives (love for God and His glory), even He was misunderstood and people sought Him for the things they could get from Him. This is appalling, to say the least, but time has not and cannot change the human heart. In fact, we could even say that things are worse today. Things are worse because it appears that in our nation the pulpits are filled with those preaching with selfish motives. When selfish motives are behind the preaching, we can be quite sure that only selfish motives will be presented to the people. Those are the only motives that the selfish preacher knows by experience and those are the only motives that he can truly be moved by.

Jesus the Christ preached with the purest of motives and perfect motives. He preached out of love for the glory of God. He preached with the purest intent and the purest love possible. However, the selfish hearts of men heard Him and they interpreted Him with selfish motives and selfish ears. Even His disciples did not seem to understand much of the time and they wondered who was the greatest among them and who would have the highest seat in the kingdom. Can there really be any doubt that the human heart is selfishly depraved? Can there be any doubt of the basic selfishness of the human heart when we see how they interpreted the words of Jesus and even how His disciples were selfish? His disciples followed Jesus, yes, but they appeared to have a lot of selfish motives when they did so while He was on earth. This should sober us as the impact of this hits us.

Jesus fed thousands (John 6) with a miracle and the glory of God was put on display before these people. Did these people now seek Him as a prophet sent by God? No, they sought Him because they wanted Him to give them more free food. Now while this is somewhat understandable, after all, who does not want free food, but how blind and how selfish could they be to so blatantly seek food when Christ had put the glory of God on display? One would think that they would lose all their physical appetite and throw themselves on their faces to seek the Lord! Oh no, the glory of His miracle was simply that they received free food and now they sought Him for more.

The same thing is true today. People seek material things in the name of Jesus rather than seeking for Him. In other words, their appetite for physical things is far greater than their spiritual appetite (if they have one at all). This is not mocking them, but it is an effort to point out the great blindness of those who fill the buildings with “church” on the door in our day. They hear promises of riches and material blessings and soothing messages about their souls in the name of Christ while the true Christ is ignored and shut out. Oh the great blindness that selfish heart has. Oh the power that the selfish heart has over the things of religion in our day. How wretchedly awful it is for selfish sinners to give money to the professing churches when their only motive is that it will be good for them or that it will bring them more money. How many building programs are carried on in the name of Christ when the true Christ is forgotten? How many church programs are carried on in the name of Christ and yet the true motive is to get more people and more money for the “ministry” and yet the true Christ is forgotten?

How many ministers (in name) preach and “minister” out of love for Christ? How many long for and desire the glory of God and wish that their own name would perish as long as Christ is exalted? How many would be content to receive a small salary and preach in a small and rather shabby building as long as they could preach the true Christ? Ah, it may be the case that if one wants to preach the truth one must be ready not to have fame and fortune in the right circles. It may be the case that if one wants to be faithful to God that one will have to suffer insults and ridicule rather than popularity. It may also be the case that those who want popularity and big buildings will have to seek those things while denying the true Christ. A selfish heart who reads these things will probably sneer, but for those who have ears to hear they will mourn.

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