I’ve begun reading Real Christianity (A Paraphrase in Modern English of A Practical View of the Prevailing Religious System of Professed Christians in the Higher and Middle Classes in This Country, Contrasted with Real Christianity. Published in 1797. by William Wilberforce, Esq. Member of Parliament for the County of York – Revised and Updated by Dr. Bob Beltz (Regal From Gospel Light, Ventura, Ca., USA)
In 1797 long descriptive titles for books were in vogue. I’m amazed how up to date the issues of Wilberforce’s day are. I’m posting the following from the book. I’m finding it’s one of those books where I want to share every other paragraph! The following is from the first chapter titled, The State of Contemporary Christianity (Cultural Christianity, What the Bible Says, the Problem of Ignorance)
“Understanding Christianity is not something that comes without effort. Almost every example in the natural world teaches us this principle. The very way we must exert effort to enjoy all the good things God has provided illustrates this lesson. No one expects to reach the heights of success in education, the arts, finance or athletics without a great deal of hard work and perseverance. We often use the expression “You have to really want it!” Growing in our faith requires the same. Christianity is based on a revelation from God that is filled with information that the natural mind could never have imagined. The wealth of this knowledge will never be mastered without diligent effort.
Carefully studying the Bible will reveal to us our own ignorance of these things. It will challenge us to reject a superficial understanding of Christianity and impress on us that it is imperative not to simply be religious or moral, but also to master the Bible intellectually, integrate its principles into our lives morally, and put into action what we have learned practically.
The Bible is one of God’s greatest gifts to humanity. It tells us of the greatest gift that men and women have longed for through-out the ages and of which the prophets spoke about for centuries. When Jesus finally came, His arrival was hailed by the angelic host with the exclamation, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:14). How can you measure the value of the good news of Christ? It is spoken of in the Bible as light in the darkness, freedom from slavery and life from death. Look at how much the Early Church valued the message. They received it with great joy and overflowing gratitude.
Surely all these things should help us come to terms with the inexpressible value of true faith. The greatest gift of God is often either rejected outright or treated as if it is of little worth. But if we really began to study the Bible, we would be impressed with the proper value of the gift.”