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In immoral world, Vines says, believers should walk like Enoch

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–In a time of moral decay, Christians can walk with God if they learn a few lessons from a man who never died, said Jerry Vines, co-pastor of First Baptist Church, Jacksonville, Fla.
Drawing from the life of Enoch, Vines challenged his audience at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s April 6 chapel service to develop daily a relationship with God and to make a difference for God in the world.
Reading Genesis 5 is like “a stroll through a cemetery, or a visit to a morgue,” with the phrase “and he died” repeated eight times, Vines said.
In the midst of that gloom, he said, there is one bright spot: Enoch, a man who walked with God and who did not die.
Though Enoch is mentioned only in Genesis 5, Hebrews 11 and Jude 14, he was a man, said Vines, who followed the Lord in a time of “an alarming corruption,” as exemplified by Lamech’s song praising his own act of violence.
That era’s corruption seems duplicated in today’s moral decay, Vines said.
“It is a time of divorce, alcoholism and sexual perversion. We are living in a world that is morally degenerate,” he said.
“We live in a day where there is too much religion,” Vines continued, citing today’s tempest of false ideas. “Even in the circumference of the Christian community, there are too many isms that ought to become wasms,” he said, giving emotionalism and religious commercialism as examples.
Today’s religious scene, he said, too often resembles what he called “Church Lite” — “the seven and a half percent tithe, the 45-minute service, the 15-minute sermon, the eight commandments, and you get to pick them.”
Enoch’s life, Vines said, demonstrates several ways Christians can truly draw nearer to the Lord.
First, Enoch walked “in an amazing conversion.” For 65 years, Enoch was a pagan, but “God broke through in the midst of his pagan darkness,” Vines said, citing Hebrews 11:5, which records that by faith Enoch followed the Lord.
“God reached down in grace, and Enoch reached up to God in faith,” said Vines.
Any conversion to Christ is an amazing conversion, said Vines, who related his testimony of how he was saved at the age of 9. Vines recalled going outside the church afterwards and thinking, “It was as if the stars lined up in a celebration march. Jesus is real to me. My conversion is real to me.”
Secondly, Enoch walked in an “appealing communion,” which implies a life of devotion, Vines said.
Encouraging the students to have quiet times of Bible study and prayer, Vines reminded that great figures of the Bible made it a point to spend time in prayer: Abraham, who built an altar and worshiped God wherever he pitched a tent; Daniel, who prayed three times a day facing Jerusalem; and Jesus, who spent time in the morning in prayer with the Father.
“You can’t walk with God unless you get in step with God on a daily basis,” Vines said.
Describing quiet times as daily cleansings, Vines said the spiritual battles believers face are won or lost behind the scenes during these times.
Vines also emphasized the necessity of walking with God in the vocation to which they have been called.
“If you can’t walk with God in this kind of day we live in, what’s it all about anyhow?” he asked.
Walking with God also entails a life of separation, said Vines, adding, “I guess that may be the lost doctrine.
“If you’re going to be in step with God, you’re out of step with this old world,” he said. “The average Christian today is a thermometer registering the temperature of the times rather than a thermostat changing the temperature of the times.
“There are some things you ought not to do if you belong to the Lord,” he added, saying there ought to be a difference between the life of the Christian and the non-Christian.
Walking with God means a life of proclamation, Vines said. Citing Jude 14, in which Enoch was described as prophesying the coming judgment of the Lord, he said the same principle holds true for Christians today.
“We’ve got work to do, friends. There are people who need to hear about Jesus,” Vines said.
“Have you shared your faith?” he asked the students. “Have you told someone about Jesus?”
The life of Enoch also holds a promise for Christians, Vines concluded. Enoch, who walked with God on earth 300 years before being taken into God’s presence, gives hope to Christians that they also will someday be in God’s presence, Vines said.

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  • Cory J. Hailey