A Call for Authentic Faith

 

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

“The descent is easy.”- Virgil

I read a lot. Thanks to my mom, I’ve loved reading since I was a kid. Mom enrolled me and my brother in a book club where we’d excitedly wait to receive the new reads we ordered each month. As an avid reader today, I am also selective in what I read and what I feed my spirit. Two years ago, a great book passed my litmus test and was added to my collection.

Sometimes you read a book and from the first page the author’s words grip you. Their words resonate with you so much that you are nodding your head all the way through. You might even highlight certain text that you want to remember. You might even say as I did in reading this book, “He (or she) is speaking my language!”

Real Christianity, written by English abolitionist and politician, William Wilberforce (1759-1833), is the book I am referencing. Wilberforce and his book’s message were instrumental in stopping the slave trade in England. In his book’s introduction, Wilberforce pens an “author’s apology” telling the reader that because he is not a theologian he may not be taken seriously but that his message is nonetheless important, truthful and worth strong consideration. After he apologizes, he writes this:

“Enough apologies and justifications; let me get on with the task at hand. Here is what I am going to attempt to accomplish in writing this book. I’m not going to attempt to either convince skeptics or answer the questions unbelievers seem to ask, but rather point out some of the problems with the beliefs and actions of those who already claim to be Christians. I’d like to attempt to contrast what we see in the lives of many, perhaps most, who make this claim with what I understand the Bible teaches about what it means to believe in Christ. I am disturbed when I see the majority of so-called Christians having such little understanding of the real nature of the faith they profess…

…Life as we know it, with all of its ups and downs, will soon be over. We will all give an account to God of how we have lived. Because of this fact, I’m not going to pull any punches in what I write. I hope you will seriously consider what is contained in these pages. If what I write seems too rigid or austere, I would only ask that you check what I have to say against what the Bible teaches. That is the only opinion that counts. If you accept the authority of the Bible, I assume you will agree.” – William Wilberforce, Real Christianity, 1797

Real Christianity book cover

Wilberforce’s words written more than 200 years ago are “speaking my language” today. Wilberforce anchors his message in the infallible, unchanging and often offensive Word of God. His straightforward writing from the book’s start to finish makes no apologies for upholding God’s Word as the standard by which we should live, particularly those of us who proclaim to follow Jesus. In his day, Wilberforce was disheartened by a climate that was gradually abandoning authentic faith and embracing something far easier to swallow; something that would allow people to live how they wanted to live and make themselves more likable to others: cultural Christianity.

Cultural Christianity is a watering down of God’s Word and relationship standards to make it more palpable to those who want to do what they want to do anyway. In watering down the truth, we strip the Word of its power to truly heal and restore people, communities, our nation, world and situations. This action is akin to using a placebo to treat an illness instead of the medication prescribed by your doctor. You allow the illness to fester and worsen. Either you want to be healed or you don’t. Wilberforce said it well:

“Nominal or superficial Christianity does not have the ability to create such outcomes (that overcome any social, economic or racial barriers). (Societal) and political decay can thrive under cultural Christianity but authentic faith will bring it to a sudden halt.”

As society was pursuing greater degrees of progress, Wilberforce saw more people wavering in their convictions. Trust and believe that today, we are reaping those decisions made then.

As the Roman poet Virgil wrote in his popular work the Aeneid, “The descent is easy.” In essence, the seemingly “little” and “insignificant” compromises we make become even easier to do so the next time, and harder to ascend back up to truth. If we decide to be “all in” then we’ll never be satisfied with living as a halfway Christian, making the descent into cultural Christianity and candy-coated messages less likely.

In leading Voices Against the Grain, to boldly advance God’s Kingdom in a ‘do your own thing’ society, I too, pull no punches. I desire to deliver God’s Word just as it is — not adding to or taking away from it. Like Wilberforce and many others who share/teach God’s Word, I am not seminary trained. However, I have gained much knowledge revealed through the Holy Spirit and spending significant time communing with the Lord. God has also placed great and studied spiritual teachers in my life who have aided in my further understanding, teaching and administering of His Word.

Introspection and Call for Authentic Faith

Many of you reading this are living out authentic faith in a time when unbelief, strange teachings and “live and let live” ideals are preferred. Thank you! You have no idea the amount of moral, political and social decay and injustices that have been stopped simply by your prayers and commitment to truly share the Gospel, unfiltered. Yet, God desires that the entire Body of Christ exercises authentic faith— not only some. When we gradually fall in with societal trends, we are accelerating society’s decay. In Matthew 5:13-16, we are described as “salt” and “light.” Salt preserves and light shines a path out of darkness. Neither occurs when we compromise the truth.

Where are you on the spectrum of truth? If you are a Christian, do you see truth from the view of our God who “changes not” (Malachi 3:6)? As a Christian, are there areas where you’re likely to compromise and if so, why? 

This is a call for authentic faith. We can’t walk the fence between pleasing God and pleasing the world. The compromise is never worth hindering someone’s true liberation found only in Christ Jesus. We should trust that God is big enough to overcome opposition. Jesus said, “And I, if I be lifted up (exalted) from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” (John 12:32). The attraction of the cross of Christ and the matchless love of God will prove to be the mightiest revelation to draw those far away near to Christ, those with whom you may fear sharing truth.

John 12-32 I if I be lifted up

We share truth (Jesus) because we love God and we love people. We desire for those who will to become beneficiaries of truth, no longer slaves to deception but freely living as intimate co-workers with God. We desire that no one lives less than the abundant life Jesus promised. This can only be acquired through sharing and living authentic faith.

Can you be counted on to never compromise the truth (Jesus)? Will you live “all in” and not halfway? Pray for courage. Pray to grow in deeper love with the Lord that gives way to your unwavering obedience to Him.

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”- John 8:32

-Nicole

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Stop Lingering. ‘Come Out of Her, My People’

 

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

She has been an adulterer with all of us…

What activities in your life do you linger in that are snares to your spiritual growth?

1After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven. He had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his splendor. 2With a mighty voice he shouted:

“Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great! She has become a home for demons and a haunt for every evil spirit, a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird. 3For all nations have drunk the maddening wine of her adulteries. The kings of the earth committed adultery with her, and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries. 4Then I heard another voice from heaven say: “Come out of her, my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues; 5for her sins have piled up to heaven, and God has remembered her crimes. – Revelation 18:1-5, New International Version

Babylon was a splendid city in ancient Mesopotamia located between the Euphrates and Tigris rivers about 60 miles south of what is now Baghdad. It was a resilient, thriving and idolatrous city whose pleasures often came with a price to its occupiers. Through Daniel, King Belshazzar, who ruled in Babylon, was warned that “God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end.” (Daniel 5:26) True to the prophecy, Babylon and Belshazzar’s kingdom was destroyed by the Persians.

Today, “Babylon” is our sinful, wicked and hedonistic culture. It is also whatever is your personal “Babylon.” What is your personal Babylon? I don’t know. But it usually appeals to our flesh. The Holy Spirit surely will indicate areas in your life that need sanctification; activities or people that He has asked you to shed, be separated from, no longer be ensnared by, to no longer entertain the flesh.

Your “Babylon” could be anything from gorging on unhealthy foods or particular goods He has instructed you to abstain from, music, types of television shows or other forms of media and entertainment He has pricked your spirit about to no longer allow these in your life since our bodies house the Holy Spirit. It could be any form of sexual immorality, lusts of the flesh, pride of life, gossiping, ungodly associations, materialism, vanity, selfish ambition, false doctrine, false beliefs and trends, etc.

If we are truly walking and talking with the Lord, studying His Word and learning His ways, we’ll feel that “prick” in our spirit as only He can do. In His infinite wisdom, He knows that indulging Babylon is harmful to us whether spiritually, physically, emotionally or mentally. I presume that any loving parent would call their child away from harm.

In His great love for us, God does the same and we should take joy in this. We are His Children and He calls us away from such harm knowing that it corrupts even if “everybody else is doing it” (in this case, the world). The world is behaving as it should in a world heavily influenced by Satan. We are called to be set apart from the world. Not only has God set us apart from the world for His purposes, we are called to expose the works of darkness (Ephesians 5:11).

It may even be something that doesn’t appear bad by outward appearances. For example, habitually drinking coffee, or for me it was listening to a lot of R & B music years ago, watching some TV shows. The Lord may see an activity as too consuming in your life and ask you to “put it down” to subdue the flesh. We may also be ignorant of what is our personal Babylon. Ask Him to reveal it to you.

When He says, “Come out,” don’t linger like Lot’s wife who was destroyed along with Sodom and Gomorrah for lingering because her heart was still joined to it. Sever ties with it. Avoid rationalizing your need to stay in Babylon, however harmless it seems in the grand scheme of things. That’s the intended delusion!

 

Babylon culture

Is there anything we would allow to hinder deepening our obedience to the Lord, whatever He asks? Is there anything not worth shedding that He asks us? He is indeed a gracious, loving and patient God who calls and prompts us, awaiting our response. He is imploring His People—you and me as members of the Body of Christ, His elect and those lost sheep yet to return to the fold—to “Come out of her,” to come out of Babylon.

I join many of you and other Believers in sensing that Jesus is preparing His Bride, preparing His Church for His return. There is a serious tenderness with an increased urgency to “come out now” and “don’t linger.” While the world will continue to engage in its affections, God has called us to separate from it. He is returning for a glorious Church without spot, wrinkle or blemish, holy and blameless (Ephesians 5:27).

I direct this message to you as well as to myself. Our goal is spiritual maturity, to be perfected in Christ Jesus. To be truly liberated from our clamoring flesh. We are at war with our flesh–not to make peace with it. We must be vigilant.

Sanctification is a process. You have to desire the change and it starts by renewing your mind (Romans 12:2) and setting your mind on what the Spirit desires (Romans 8:5-6). God will not change His mind about what He wants from us so we need to change ours. Come out now and don’t linger. May you be obedient and guard against any rationalization to stay in or return to it. He will help you if you trust Him and obey. He will give you the grace to do it but we must be a participant. May we directly associate obedience with our love for Him.

“If you love me, you will obey what I command.” -John 14:15 (New International Version)

Heavenly Father, thank you for your lovingkindness shown toward us even when we have blatantly rebelled. As your children, you know what is best for us and the purposes you have for us. May we be determined by a desire for holiness to stop lingering in a lifestyle or habit when you have said “Come out of it.” May our hearts be tendered to your voice. If we are ignorant of our personal Babylon, show us and help our obedience to leave it behind. May we press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of us. Thank you for wanting to free us from the affections of this world so we may experience abundant life as you’ve promised. By your leading, may we serve as light, love and truth to help free others who are ensnared by worldly culture. 

In Jesus’ Name we ask and pray this.

Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is Your Living Inside/Out?

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

For those in relationship with Christ Jesus, the experience should extend beyond ourselves. It should impact those around us. In addition to The Great Commission, how are you transforming the culture around you through your Christian living?

According to the book How Now Shall We Live?, co-authored by Charles Colson and Nancy Pearcey, every decision we make either “expresses a false worldview and thus contributes to a disordered and broken world, or expresses God’s truth and helps build a world that reflects His created order.”

As Christ told His disciples and in essence us as Believers in Matthew 28:18-20, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (New International Version)

 

Romans 12 1-2 be transformed

As we are being transformed by the Holy Spirit indwelling in us, and in Christ calling Believers to The Great Commission, we should be impacting those around us—family members, friends, co-workers, strangers, etc., to help them discern between falsehood and truth; right and wrong, to bring clarity to confusion, to bring light, hope, joy and peace where darkness, discouragement and anxiousness reside. Now that we have been freed from the law of sin and death through our new life in Christ Jesus, we should be motivated to see others set free; to be restored to their original purposes, distorted by the veil of sin and death. The transformation we’ve experienced and continue to undergo is a gift that we’ve been blessed to receive and would be lost without.

The Holy Spirit as the Light, new life and living waters flowing in us can effectively restore and rebuild what is broken and has been stolen in a society/culture or family by the enemy. Though it is the Holy Spirit that transforms hearts, we’ve been invited to take part in that great work. As Colson and Pearcey write “transformed people transform cultures.”

Society has long been clamoring to have it their way. Now after having it their way (aka, alcoholism, drugs, sex outside of marriage, sex and pornography in movies, music, everywhere, abortion, various ideologies that advance one’s personal agendas), some now see how this full access to darkness has advanced the destruction and demoralization of our decaying society. Morass abounds and people want quick solutions. Those solutions are in essence a humbled, contrite, repentant heart turned to Christ Jesus. A heart and mind that recognizes they have exhausted all avenues of what they considered effective only to be emptier and more disheartened than before. Christ is humanity’s greatest hope and solution.

As the Body of Christ, when we truly yield to the Holy Spirit and allow Him full access and reign in every area of our lives, we’ll be in awe of the inside/out transformation that can occur in us and others. Salvation is an experience for us and others. As author and Pastor John Piper wrote, “Who wants a Jesus who is so nothing that all he can produce is a people who mouth religious platitudes but think, feel and act just like the world?”

At Voices Against the Grain, we have served as change agents of God’s Kingdom prior to and since our ministry launched in May 2013. We will continue to allow the Holy Spirit to work through us, sharing His Truth to help restore hearts of those prepared to receive Him. We will not conform to the status quo. Lovingly and boldly, we will continue to “advance God’s Kingdom in a ‘do your own thing’ society.” We will continue to serve as the tip of the sword, rightfully dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). We will continue to be salt and light in places of darkness and territories the enemy thinks he owns.

I ask again: How do you impact the culture around you? Are you a change agent or conforming to the culture? Are you allowing the Holy Spirit to do an inside to outside work within and through you? Through your speech and actions are you advancing society’s destruction and further bondage or are you sharing the true freedom found only in Christ that will break every chain? Is your living inside/out?

-Nicole

Nicole D. Hayes is the founder of Voices Against the Grain, a bold teaching ministry launched in May 2013. Nicole’s purpose in creating Voices Against the Grain is to be light in darkness, to boldly instruct truth amid confusion so as to bring clarity and restoration.

Learn more about Nicole D. Hayes here.