Pastor Dennis Smith
It seems only fair that someone would be held accountable only for what they know. That’s actually a good guiding principle when it comes to child rearing, the point being that instruction needs to precede chastening. But I want to speak about our responsibility before God, not about child rearing. The Scriptures show that God is not just righteous, he is the very standard of righteousness. As such, I think we could say that he is eminently fair. So where do people stand when it comes to their accountability in relation to the things of God?
In Genesis 15 we’re told that the Lord challenged Abraham to count the stars, as if that were possible. Some astronomers tell us that there about 9,000 stars that are visible to the unaided eye. More on this in a moment. The point God was making was that if he could create such a wondrous sight as the display of stars in the night sky, he could grant childless Abraham a posterity. So Abraham had a certain knowledge of God’s power — he had abundant evidence of it just in the sight of the stars spread across the heavens.
Jump ahead to our day. Scientific advances, such as the Hubble telescope, have enabled man to observe that the universe is far more vast than Abraham could have imagined. We now know that, besides the 9,000 visible stars, there are hundreds of billions of galaxies in the cosmos that are not even visible to the naked eye. And each galaxy can contain more than 100 billion stars! It seems that we have an even more amazing display of God’s power and infinitude than Abraham had. In light of that, do you wonder if modern man might bear even more responsibility to believe and obey God than Abraham did? I don’t know, but I find it an intriguing thought.
Now, Jesus said, “For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required” (Luke 12:48). And I think that includes how much revelation has been given. In that vein, he also said in Matthew 11 that in the day of judgment it will be more tolerable for the Gentile cities of Tyre and Sidon, and even Sodom, than for the Jewish cities that had the witness of his miracles.
This brings me back to my question about our responsibility when it comes to the things of God. As Christians, the Lord has brought us into the light. By his grace, he has revealed the gospel of his Son to each one of us, and by his Spirit, he has convicted our individual hearts of its truthfulness and our need of it. God has revealed himself to me in the person of Jesus. He has shown me through the Scriptures all that I need to know about him, about myself, and about the relationship he wants to have with me.
So in light of that, what is my responsibility? For what am I accountable before God? For some time now I have had a philosophy of ministry, a guiding principle: We serve God by serving others. Granted, that is just one aspect of serving God, but I think it's essential. If you would agree with me, how are you striving to serve others? That can take countless forms that you can decide on for yourself, and we might do well to take stock occasionally. If we are accountable for anything in God’s sight based on the knowledge he has given us, surely serving others would be included.