These are Indispensable
There are some things in this sin-crazed world we can do without. We can do without the violence, disregard for human rights, collapse of moral standards, rebellion against authority, and man’s inhumanity to man.
However, the Christian has certain standards that never change, immutable truths to which young and old alike can cling without fear of being disappointed. As Christians, we not only cling to these things but strive to give them to others in our role as faithful witnesses to the saving power of Jesus Christ. Let us look at a few of the things that God’s Word says are indispensable.
The Blood of Christ
We find in Hebrews 9:22 that, with the exception of certain things that are purged by fire and water, “without the shedding of blood is no remission.” One of the basic desires in the believer’s life is the forgiveness of sins. God says without the shedding of blood this is impossible. From the first mention of sacrifice when God respected Abel’s blood sacrifice we find blood mentioned over 450 times in the Bible, frequently in connection with sacrifice. When the Israelites in Egypt followed God’s instructions to sprinkle the blood of a lamb over the door, He promised to spare the eldest son in the home. “When I see the blood I will pass over you.” (Exodus 12:13). The blood that is so indispensable to the child of God is the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ as it flowed from His precious head, hands, and feet on Calvary. This and this alone is our means of access into the very presence of God, whither Christ is the Forerunner.
In Hebrews 11:6 we find another indispensable. “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” The word “impossible” cannot be diluted here. It means exactly what it says without the slightest equivocation. Faith is difficult to define, but every believer knows what it is. Someone has paraphrased Hebrews 11:1, “Faith is believing exactly what the Bible says about God.” Reading the entire eleventh chapter we find examples of the kind of faith that pleases God. No truth was emphasized oftener in our Lord’s earthly ministry than the need for faith. These are days when the Christian should demonstrate by his conduct his unshakable faith in the eternal, sovereign, living God. Men’s hearts are failing them for fear, but for the man of faith there is comfort of soul and peace of mind to know that there is a way they can please God. Many of the basic scriptural truths cannot be explained by pure reason or feeling alone, but God reveals them to us in clarity and depth which would be unattainable except. through faith.
Just as indispensable in pleasing God is the presence of works in the Christian life. While Jesus did not teach a system of ethics, He did commend many persons for the evidence of their faith as shown by their works. In the Epistle of James we find the emphasis on this principle. In James 2:17, 20 and 26 we find the theme repeated, “Faith without works is dead.” What is more useless than a dead body? If we have faith and don’t display it by works our faith is equally useless. God delights to see our faith in action, doing His will and carrying out His work in practical daily walking and witnessing. When Jesus wanted to explain the importance of a good deed to a lawyer He told him the story of the Good Samaritan. If those to whom we witness see in our conduct no evidence of our faith it may be a real stumbling block to one who needs and wants to hear the good news of the gospel. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
We sometimes cloister ourselves with other Christians in fellowship and worship, neglecting to share our faith with others about us. This is contrary to our Lord’s instructions to be His witnesses. In order to carry out His program on earth we must show both our faith and our works as evidence of our redeemed condition. James cites the example of Abraham (James 2:24) to illustrate the truth that a person is declared righteous as the result of both faith and works. Either one alone is not enough. Both are indispensable.
Again in Hebrews we find a “must” for the believer in 12:14. “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” The writer is addressing Jews who had professed faith in Christ but were suffering persecution for their testimony and needed encouragement. He is not advocating a flaccid attitude in pursuing peace, nor is he expecting moral perfection. None of the characters in the Bible, Christ excepted, was morally perfect. But the Holy Spirit through this writer says we are to pursue peace with all men, godly and ungodly, and in spite of opposition, without surrendering the pursuit of holiness. Peace and holiness go hand in glove, peace without holiness being no peace at all. When we are giving the preeminence in our lives and devoting our time and substance to serving Him, we are pursuing holiness. The reason we do not attain perfect holiness is that we are still subject to the old sinful nature and are striving to please men rather than God. We tend to compromise with holiness, but God has never indicated that it is all right to sin just a little. His standard of holiness is inflexible and if we pursue this standard with all our vigour we are as sure of seeing God as we are of not seeing Him if we do not pursue it. We have a promise in Psalm 34:10b, “They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.” Let us claim this promise by the uncompromising pursuit of peace and true holiness.
We see how indispensable love is in the life of the Christian when we consider the place it has in the teachings of Christ. In His only two explicit commandments love is the dominant thought, love for God and love for fellow men. In John 3:16 we have the very purest use of the word that sacred literature contains, the love of God for the world. In the First Epistle of John we find love is the theme, developed by the disciple whom Jesus loved. We find in 4:8, “He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” In 1 Corinthians 13 the Apostle Paul expresses the emptiness and futility of eloquence, education, generosity, sacrifice, and even faith when these things are not accompanied by love. How loosely we use this word in our conversation, relating to flowers, music, food, a good book, etc. In our materialistic existence the true meaning of the word is often lost sight of, but the mature Christian finds love for the truth, love for Christ, and love for His redeemed people is an indispensable part of his spiritual duty and exercise.
The supreme object of the believer’s love is our risen Saviour, Jesus Christ. In His discourse on the vine in John 15, Jesus told His friends that without the life-giving vine the branches could bear no fruit. As He is the Vine and we are the branches, it follows that without Him we can do nothing. So another indispensable in the believer’s life is the living Christ. The man of the world finds this hard to understand as he views the accomplishments of man in the application of science. He sees man landing on the moon, building lightning-fast computers, performing vital organ transplants in the human body, etc. The unconverted point to these things and ask, “Who needs God!” But the child of God knows that life without the unbroken, active, constant relationship to Jesus Christ is fruitless. To be without Christ is to be without God, without life, without salvation, without hope, without promise, and without light in the world. Man’s ingenuity may be great, but all his material accomplishments without Christ can only bring frustration, confusion, and spiritual darkness. This seems to be the condition of the world today as it puts material progress and accomplishments ahead of the indispensable Christ.
In discussing some of the indispensables of the Christian life we must not omit prayer, our communion with God. Just as air is vital to the health of our physical bodies, so is prayer indispensable to the health of our souls. We approach the throne of grace with courage and confidence, knowing that the appeal of our hearts is heard. We come in our helplessness, in humility, and in penitence, knowing that we have One at God’s right hand Who knows our every weakness and pleads there on our behalf. So we come, in the agonizing silence of a broken heart, or in fellowship with others of like mind and attitude, maintaining the indispensable line of communication between ourselves and God.