I often say looking, acting, and sounding like a Christian for 2 hours on the Lord's Day morning doesn't make you a Christian. I can go every Saturday morning from 10-12 and sit in my garage acting and sounding like a car, but that doesn't make me a car. If we want to be a Christian I believe it boils down to one word... OBEDIENCE. I believe that the above text is the best example of a person being obedient.
It starts with the study of the Law of the Lord. This is much deeper than Bible memorization. Many people stand and quote scriptures on Sunday, but look like the world the rest of the week. The word "study" also means to seek. When we study we should be seeking the Lord! Not just reading and memorizing a book. The religious leaders of that time studied hard but never sought the Lord in their studies. It was all about showing others their knowledge. Jesus tells them in Jn 5:39,40 that a diligent study of the scriptures should lead a person to Christ. Do you read your Bible to say, "I read the Bible this year" or do you read, or study, to be closer to Christ and be more apt to bring a person to Christ.
If we are studying properly we will automatically move on to the next step in obedience according to Ezra, and that is practice it. We must observe what we read as we seek Christ. Many people think hearing a sermon once a week is enough. Some say, "Hey I read a chapter every night." Others say, "I read the Bible twice last year." Great, but what good is that if we are not observing, applying, or practicing what we are reading. It's like reading an instruction manual on building a swing set. I don't listen because I think I know an easier and faster way to do it, and when my kids get on their new swing it crumbles to pieces. The kids are crying, my wife is yelling, and I'm thinking, "I should have listened to the instructions." We must make sure our Christianity is not an act. We must seek God through a diligent study of His Word and apply the things we find in the seeking process. Consider the following examples of hearing the Word and not observing, practicing, or applying it:
Lk 11:28 This is said after someone said that Mary is blessed for giving birth to Jesus. Sure Mary was blessed, but even more blessed is the one who hears and observes the Word of God.
Jn 14:23,24 Love is not an ooey gooey feeling. It is an action. If we fail to "keep His Word" we can't even claim to love God!
Mt 12:50 If we fail to observe, practice, or apply God's Word we can't even claim to be Jesus brother!
1Jn 2:4 Forget loving and being a brother. If we do not observe, apply, or practice God's Word we can't even claim to know Him.
Who is the one who is blessed by God? Who are the ones who can claim to know God, love God, and be a brother to Christ? Those who observe, apply, and practice the Word of God. So much for the faith only claim, huh?
Finally, We see Ezra's example of an obedient person is more than a diligent seeking of God through His Word and applying what we learn. An obedient person will also teach others the things they have learned and obeyed from their seeking of the Lord. What we see here my favorite saying concerning the Great Commission. Mt 28:19,20 GO, PREACH, BAPTIZE, & TEACH That is what Ezra is doing. We have to go get the lost. Jesus understood that, he "came to seek that which was lost." Yet, today we build beautiful buildings and think they will fill themselves. We must GO. Then we must PREACH. We must PREACH Christ crucified. In order for others to listen, we better be PRACTICING what we PREACH! Then we give them an opportunity to be added to the Lord's Church when they are BAPTIZED, or immersed, into Christ's death, burial, and resurrection for the remission of their sins and to receive the gift of the holy Spirit. People are added to the Church. YOU DO NOT "JOIN" THE CHURCH!!! Finally we have to TEACH them to observe Christ's commands. We better know those commands if we plan to teach them.
How many people come to weekly Bible studies and services with this perspective? "I'm going to seek God through His Word today. I plan to obey what I learn. I will then take whatever I have leaned and obeyed and share it with others." That is a rhetorical question. I pray you have that perspective. If not, I pray you do now!!
Today, be an obedient Christian. Show others you are a Christian by your actions of studying, practicing. and teaching God's Word!
WHAT MUST I DO TO BE SAVED?
Hear The Word- Rom 10:17; Acts 4:4
We Must Believe or Have Faith- Heb 11:6; Acts 16:31
We Must Repent- Lk 13:3; Acts 17:30
We Must Confess Christ Before Others- Mt 10:32; Acts 8:37
We Must Be Immersed Into Christ (Baptized)- 1Pe 3:21; Mk 16:16; Acts 2:38
We Must Remain Faithful- Rev 2:10; Acts 14:22