Geoff Thomas

line Geoff Thomas

Earnestness is the most important evidence that someone has truly grasped Christianity.

This characteristic of earnestness is so fearful to parents when they see their children getting interested in Christianity: They say, “I don’t mind them becoming religious, but I don’t want them to become fanatical.”

We are not fanatical – not fanatical at all.

Fanaticism is sending crusades across Europe to capture Jerusalem. Fanaticism is burning people at the stake. Fanaticism is children who through some cult cease being loving obedient sons and daughters to their parents. Fanaticism is living in communes, and pooling all the money which you get from begging on the streets, and being under the authority of some freaky tyrant who thinks he has a direct line to God. Those are some of the marks of fanaticism.

Being earnest is very different. It is taking God seriously, and taking seriously your own behaviour and the consequences of what you do on the lives of other people.

Would parents say to their son as he began a new job, “Don’t take it all too seriously. It’s only a game.”? Or would they say, “Show them you’re in earnest about this.” What would they say to their son appearing in a court of law on trial for a serious charge? Would it be, “Have a good old laugh”?

There was a book written in the 19th century by John Angell James the minister in Carrs Lane Congregational Church in Birmingham for fifty-five years. The sub-title of the book was, “The Want of the Times.” Now what do you think is the want or need of our times? James entitled his book, “An Earnest Ministry.”

The chapters on earnestness are worth the price of the book. James has five headings:

1. Earnestness comes from selecting one object which you especially pursue. “This one thing I do.”

2. Earnestness means that that one object has taken over your heart and mind. God is more important to you than anything else.

3. Earnestness means you use every legitimate means to serve that object.

4. Earnestness means that you subordinate everything to second place to accomplish that end.

5. Earnestness means that you use all your energy untiringly to achieve that end.

No Christian will be really effective in anything he does, however intelligent he is, unless he has three qualities, strong faith, true godliness and deep earnestness.

Earnestness is Abraham’s immediate obedience when God called him to leave Ur of the Chaldees. Earnestness is Noah going on building that ark for decades when there was no hint that there was going to be a flood. Earnestness is Stephen preaching to the Sanhedrin as they gnashed their teeth with murderous rage at him.

Earnestness is C.T.Studd saying, “If Jesus Christ be the Son of God and died for me then nothing I can do can be too great for him” Earnestness is Thomas Brooks saying that, “It is our duty and glory to do every day what we would willingly do on our dying day.” Earnestness is William Carey saying, “Attempt great things for God; expect great things from God.” Earnestness was the whole demeanour of Robert Murray M’Cheyne as he led the worship and preached to the congregation in Dundee.

It is the very antithesis of the laid-back casual folksiness of some of today’s churches. And they are perplexed why revival tarries!

So it was in Corinth; they were once careless about the Christian message and about their behaviour. They were getting indifferent to God, but Paul wrote his letter to them and as soon as they heard those sentences a tremendous change took place. They began to see sin as God saw it. That always happens. A man who shows true repentance is someone who looks at his life from the divine perspective. He becomes an earnest man.

Geoff Thomas is pastor of the Baptist Church in Alfred Place, Aberystwyth