THE ACID TEST
Bible-believing churches with Bible-believing men behind the pulpit make no efforts to conceal their positions on anything. They know what the Book says, and simply stand with the Book. Though there may be differences between them on some levels, one of the things all real Bible-believing churches have in common is that they hold the truth of the word of God above all else – especially man’s opinions or man’s feelings about anything (Psa. 138.2). That’s the banner we fly, and I don’t mean that metaphorically; many of our churches actually have banners that state as much (“If God said it, that settles it...whether you believe it or not!”). There is little excuse for a Christian who attends one of our churches not to know what to expect along these lines. Therefore, when a Christian in one of our churches gets offended or has his feelings hurt because of the truth, how he handles the situation becomes the “acid test” for his true beliefs and loyalties. He already “signed on the dotted line” that his opinions and feelings don’t matter when he joined the church...what’s he doing getting upset that his feelings weren’t considered, or his opinion wasn’t consulted? Isn’t that a strange thing? It is – until you remember that “everybody lies” (Rom. 3:4).
The primary, basic reason Christians should attend a Bible-believing church is because they are zealous for the truth (1 Pet. 2:1-2). People who love the truth want it preached and taught to them in no uncertain terms. It was belief in the TRUTH that saved them, it is the pursuit of TRUTH that will direct them into the perfect will of God for their lives, and finding His will and doing it is how they will glorify God and find true happiness (Rev. 4:11). This is the subconscious logic and motivation for most Christians whose hearts are right, and they would testify to something of that nature if they were put on the spot to explain themselves.
The Christian whose heart is right automatically admits some things by his choice in attending a Bible-believing church:
“I don’t have the good sense to run my own life or my family without having somebody tell me how to do it from the Bible.”
“There are sinful things in my life, in my home, and in my thinking that I don’t have the brains to see without someone else exposing them to me.”
“Once these sinful, wicked, filthy, vile, offensive, disgusting, repulsive things out of my black heart, that nailed Jesus Christ to a cross and are damning or harming me and my family, have been exposed, I don’t have the brains to correct them without somebody telling me how.”
Now, that’s what any Christian whose heart is right will readily admit (I Pet. 5:5). He won’t have to hang his head and gather up some extra humility when he admits it, either. You can read that list to him and ask him what he thinks of it. If he’s right with the Lord, he can stand flat-footed, look you square in the face, and unflinchingly say “That’s absolutely right. That’s why I need to be in church, and by God’s grace, that’s why I always will be in church.”
The reason I call this an “acid test” is because, amazingly, some Christians who attend Bible-believing churches and claim to agree with those three points will get offended and leave (or maybe just hang around for the express purpose of causing trouble) when they are held accountable to them. You see, when put to the test, they don’t believe what they say they believe.
Imagine confessing that you’re ignorant and need wisdom that you don’t have in order to run your life, and then getting mad at the preacher or some other Christian...for trying to give you some wisdom to help you run your life! “Mind your own business!” you scream. “Who are you to tell me what I need!” “Stop judging me!” “You have no charity.” “You don’t know my relationship with the Lord!” “Why can’t anyone feel sorry for me, and make exceptions and excuses for me when they see I’m having a bad day?” “Why can’t you just ‘love me’?!”
Whoa, whoa, whoa! Something doesn’t compute. If by coming to church you’re admitting you need help, why would you balk at it when somebody tries to help you?
Perhaps a translation of the above responses will help in our understanding:
“Stop judging me” [“I’m going to continue doing as I ****-well please].
“You don’t know about my relationship with the Lord!” [“I have no interest in what you or anybody else has to say – including the Lord – but I don’t have the guts to admit it.”]
“Christians should have charity.” [“Christians should have charity with me, and I will continue to show none with them.”]
“You should pity me and feel sorry for me; I’m having a bad day.” [“I’m going to pitch a fit and sling mud at my pastor/fellow-Christians in order to evade the truth.”]
“Can’t you just love me?” [I’m going to be a jerk to everybody and then expect them to love me ‘the way I am’ without my exerting one ounce of effort to change.”]
You see, responses can’t be controlled. They always reveal the truth, eventually. The results of the acid test show that the Christian in this case-study didn’t really want THAT kind of help. They wanted the kind of “help” where they didn’t have to admit to being wrong about anything, or make any changes in how they run their life. This type of Christian is always generalizing his sins and using the word “we” as though he’s part of an “AA” [Alcoholics Anonymous] group. He says things like, “Well, none of us are perfect (without citing one mistake he ever made); we all have our sins (without confessing any of them), but the important thing is we’re doing the best we can (without doing a blasted thing).” It’s astounding how some folks can talk as much as they talk without ever really saying what they mean about anything.
(Isn’t it strange how a Christian can testify that he’s nothing but a “dirty dog” and “ought to be in hell,” and then when somebody tells him, “I think you’re a dirty dog,” he wants to fight? Isn’t that peculiar? It’s almost like some people don’t really mean what they say, isn’t it?)
Alright, you’re a Bible-believer attending a Bible-believing church. By that admission, it is to be understood that, although you are a born-again Christian, you believe you are a sinner who has not yet attained “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13). This is a basic doctrine all Bible-believers PROFESS. One Sunday, you come to church and hear a convicting message on the sin of procrastination. You are heard saying “Amen!” loudly, several times throughout the message. When the message is over, you hit the altar and pray over your sins of procrastination. The service ends, and then a horrible thing happens. The pastor pulls you into his office and tells you he’s concerned about a particular sin he thinks you’ve got a problem with, and proceeds to explain his concerns. You are taken aback; you proceed to defend yourself. When the pastor doesn’t agree with your defense, you become indignant. You get upset, and tell him how Bro. Whatchyamacallit is the one with the real problem. The pastor directs the conversation back to your sin. Finally, you tell him he’s wrong, and that if there really is a problem, you’ll deal with it your way, in your time; and you’ll thank him to leave you alone about...your sin of procrastination. You leave offended, and don’t come back Sunday night because of some “hindrance.”
What happened? Didn’t the guy just get right about that very sin? Why, after “getting right with God” about that very sin, would he then deny he had a problem with it? Easy – he wasn’t truly convicted about his sin, and was putting on a show the whole time he was pretending to “get right.” And the amazing thing is, he doesn’t even realize he was putting on a show! It’s called self-deception. Folks are just kidding themselves; they aren’t serious. You know it because of the acid test – how they respond when things “get real.” That’s why the Lord tells us repeatedly in the Book, “Be not deceived,” and “Let no man deceive himself” (I Cor. 6:9; 15:33; Gal. 6:7; I Cor. 3:18).
You say, “People aren’t that ridiculous; they wouldn’t do that after the message was just preached and they went to the altar about it!” It happens over, and over, and over, and over; and it happens exactly like that.
I wonder if someone’s reading this that is guilty of that kind of behaviour. If so, you know what your problem is, buddy? YOUR LIFE’S A SHAM. You’re pretending to be something you’re not – a Bible-believer who has a conviction to attend a Bible-believing church. You don’t believe the Bible where it speaks of your sins, and you don’t want to do what Bible-believers do in their churches; that is, deal with their sins and clean up their act. You don’t come to church to deal with your sins. You, on the other hand, come to put on a show and pretend to be a cross-bearing, King James Bible-believer, when you’re nothing but a grudge-bearing flesh-bag who’s uninterested in growing or changing your selfish life. I say all that with charity, of course.
You didn’t appreciate that last paragraph, did you? Careful now, your responses will tell on you! They are the true revelation of your beliefs, loyalties, and character.
Passing the Acid Test
Everyone “fails” the acid test at one time or another. The reason is, the results take a while to come back. There can be some “false positives” if you examine the results too early. Some test-cases take more time than others to produce results.
Many Christians whose hearts are right will have the wrong response, initially, to being tested. A wrong initial response to testing is not conclusive proof that a Christian is not a real Bible-believer, or that he is a complete fake. Flesh is flesh. The important thing is to move beyond the initial response, and pass the test. Realize you’ve failed the initial part of the test, and make it right. Christians who are right with the Lord will MAKE THINGS RIGHT (Eph. 4:32; Col. 3:13). That’s how you pass the test. Humble yourself (Jam. 4:6, 10; I Pet. 5:5, 6), and obey the Book you say you believe (Eph. 5:21; Heb. 13:17; Ja. 4:7). If things aren’t made right, if hearts don’t get right, if the Book is disregarded where It commands the Christian to make things right, the acid test reveals the truth – SOMEONE WAS LYING WHEN THEY SAID THEY WERE A BIBLE-BELIEVING CHRISTIAN. Jesus Christ said, “Why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things that I say?” And why call ye yourselves “Bible-believers” when you disregard the parts of the Bible you don’t like, disobey Its commands, and refuse to submit to It when you don’t feel like it?
When your response to the truth is to take offense and engage in self-justification, excuses, anger, self-pity, and self-defense, you are failing the acid test. You are proving you love yourself more than you love the truth. The Bible says, “Great peace have they which love thy law: and NOTHING SHALL OFFEND THEM” (Psa. 119:165). When you get offended by something or somebody in church, you’re proving you don’t love God’s Law. You know the Law I mean? That Law that condemned your misbegotten soul for all your dirty, rotten, putrefying sins, and tells you the best things you ever did in life both look and smell like a pile of rags with which somebody mopped up 14 gallons of vomit two weeks ago? You can’t love that Law, and see yourself like THAT, and then believe you have a right to be offended by ANYTHING OR ANYBODY. Not in your wildest imagination. Especially after considering that Jesus Christ loved you and died for you when you were in that condition.
What’s this? You’re a Christian, and you’re offended because somebody said or did what? Are you out of your mind? Who do you think you are? You’re an indentured servant (I Cor. 7:22) who was sold, bought, and paid for by Somebody Else (I Cor. 6:20). You don’t have a right to your own life, you don’t have your own strength, your own intelligence, nor do you have the right to do your own will.
Now, that’s what the Bible says you are, and either you love It, and believe It, or you don’t. But don’t blow smoke my way and pretend you believe it, while at the same time holding a grudge and staying upset with what somebody said or did that hurt your poor little feelings. Go kid somebody else, you ol’ hypocrite, but don’t waste your time trying to kid me.
Response to the truth, folks. That’s what makes or breaks you. That’s the acid test.