Exclusive: Greg Laurie points out, ‘We don’t edit the Bible according to how we want to live’
During the California gold rush of the mid-1800s, people came from around the world because they expected to find gold simply lying around. But any readily available gold was soon gone, and people needed to mine the gold to hopefully find the mother lode.
In the same way, when we explore the Bible and discover all that God has done for us, we will discover the mother lode of God’s promises that are a part of salvation through Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Philippi, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12–13 NKJV).
However, this isn’t implying that we should worry about losing our salvation when we put our faith in Christ. God has promised that “the Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Romans 8:16 NKJV).
The Bible also assures us, “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life. I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life” (1 John 5:12–13 NKJV). We can know it as a fact, because God has done this for us.
Sometimes, though, we see people who make an initial profession of faith, and it looks as though God has really changed their lives. But then a few weeks or months later, they walk away from it all. So we wonder, “Were those people saved and are no longer saved?” I think the better question is whether they were really saved to begin with.
I’m reminded of what Jesus said in what we call the parable of the sower. He talked about seed that was scattered and landed in shallow, rocky soil, so it was not able to take root. It shot up and withered quickly.
Then Jesus explained it, saying, “The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word” (Mark 4:16–17 NLT).
Becoming a Christian is not just having an emotional experience. We have to live it out. We need to continue in the commitment that we make for Christ. There’s a litmus test we can apply in our lives to determine whether Jesus Christ really lives inside us.
First, we will confess Jesus Christ as Lord. Jesus said, “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32 NKJV). And the Bible also tells us, “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God” (1 John 4:15 NKJV). If you believe in Jesus, then you need to let someone know. Look for an opportunity to tell someone about your faith in Christ. If you’re a real believer, then you will confess Jesus Christ as Lord.
Second, we will obey God’s commands. This is a problem for some. They obey the commands they like and ignore the ones they don’t like. Yet Jesus said, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings” (John 8:31 NLT). And John wrote, “Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3 NLT).
Someone once asked me what they should do when they come across a passage in Scripture they don’t agree with. I said, “Well, change your opinion, because you’re wrong and the Bible is right.” We don’t edit the Bible according to how we want to live. We should edit how we live according to what the Bible says. It isn’t a burden to obey God’s commands when we understand they were put in Scripture for our own protection.
Third, we will be unhappy and miserable when we have sinned. The Bible says, “Those who have been born into God’s family do not make a practice of sinning, because God’s life is in them. So they can’t keep on sinning, because they are children of God” (1 John 3:9 NLT).
But notice this verse doesn’t say that if you are a child of God, you will not sin. Everyone sins all the time. But there’s a difference between sinning, knowing it, and being sorry for it and habitually sinning. The Bible is saying that if you’re a child of God, then you won’t habitually sin. And you won’t be happy when you do sin. You’ll want to get right with God.
If you want to be an unhappy person, then have unconfessed sin in your life. Happiness does not come from sin. But misery, guilt and repercussions come from sin. That is why the Bible says, “Oh, what joy for those whose disobedience is forgiven, whose sin is put out of sight!” (Psalm 32:1 NLT).
After David sinned against God, he wrote, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you” (Psalm 51:12 NLT).
Fourth, we will keep ourselves from the evil one. The Bible says, “We know that God’s children do not make a practice of sinning, for God’s Son holds them securely, and the evil one cannot touch them” (1 John 5:18 NLT). This means staying as far away from evil as we possibly can. It means avoiding relationships, environments and situations in which we’re vulnerable to sin.
Fifth, we will love other Christians. The Bible says that “everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God. And everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too” (1 John 5:1 NLT). I’ve heard people say, “Well, I love Jesus, but I just don’t like Christians.” I know that Christians aren’t perfect. We’re far from it. But we are the family of God, and if we really love God, then we will love to be around his people.
So let’s “work out [our] own salvation”; let’s live it out, because our world today is dark. People are scared. People are desperate. And as Christians, we need to shine the light of Jesus Christ and let them know there is a God in Heaven who loves them.
Greg Laurie is the senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship, with campuses in California and Hawaii. Greg hosts the nationally syndicated radio program “A New Beginning,” and he is also the founder and featured speaker for Harvest Crusades and Harvest America. Over 600,000 people have made professions of faith through these outreaches. Greg has been married to his wife, Cathe, for more than 40 years, and they have two sons, Christopher and Jonathan. Greg and Cathe also have five grandchildren. Greg also speaks at a special Sunday morning online service every Sunday called “Harvest At Home.” You can see it and other resources from Greg Laurie at www.harvest.org.
Editor’s note: Yes, Greg Laurie was portrayed in the recent Jesus Revolution movie running here locally.