Gold Standard Christianity

And he did evil, because he did not prepare his heart to seek the Lord. – 2 Chronicles 12:14

The life of Rehoboam, king of Judah, was quite sad. He had everything he needed to be a great and glorious king, but instead, he became the king of a cheap replica of the glory which once was. His father, Solomon, was the most glorious king there ever was. He was rich and wise and powerful. A symbol of that glory was the golden shields that he had made to put in his palace–two hundred large shields and three hundred smaller ones. It was a picture of his vast wealth and his great power (see 1 Kings 10:16-17). But through Rehoboam’s foolishness, the kingdom was divided, and his failure to seek God’s ways resulted in judgment in the form of Jerusalem becoming plunder for the king of Egypt. The Bible says that he ‘took away the treasures of the house of the Lord and the treasures of the king’s house; he took everything. He also carried away the gold shields which Solomon had made‘(2 Chronicles 12:9, emphasis mine). Rehoboam was stripped of all the gold that he had. Just a few years before, his father Solomon had filled Israel with so much gold that it was ‘as common as stones,’ but now he was forced to replace the shields that were taken with bronze instead of gold.

Then king Rehoboam made bronze shields in their place, and committed them to the hands of the captains of the guard, who guarded the doorway of the king’s house. And whenever the king entered the house of the Lord, the guard would go and bring them out; then they would take them back into the guardroom. – 2 Chronicles 12:10-11

Two things happened when Rehoboam failed to prepare his heart to seek the Lord. First, he lost the glory and splendor of what once was, and second, he lived the rest of his days in shame and fear. He had lost the golden shields, and now he feared losing the cheaper replacements. So much so that he only had them on display when he was walking through. The rest of the time they were kept locked away.

All this is a picture of the Church. The Church has had her golden days in years gone by, with waves of glory at different times throughout her history. But I do not believe the Church, at large, is living in that gold standard now. The Church now is like the days of Rehoboam. We remember and long for the years of the golden shields, but we live in the years of the bronze shields. In other words, our Christianity is a cheap replica of what it should truly be.

Gold represents having the best. If something is the gold standard, it is the best, most reliable, and most prestigious version of its type. If a hospital, for example, provides ‘gold standard’ care for its patients, it means that they provide the best possible example of what care at a hospital can be. When it comes to the Church, and to Christianity, the gold standard would be Christianity as it is intended to be, the Christianity given to us by the apostles, and by Christ Himself.

‘Gold standard Christianity’ is the Church (that is, God’s people) living and operating as a church should. ‘Gold standard’ is not revival, per se, but it is the result of revival. Revival is to bring back to life; gold standard Christianity is that life lived: a life full of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17)

By way of example, we can look at some of the churches in the Book of Revelation. Only two of the seven churches were without rebuke. In other words, two of the seven churches were ‘gold standard churches.’ The other five had issues and the Lord called upon them to repent. They were ‘bronze shield churches.’

I specifically think of the church in Sardis. The Lord said to them, “You have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.” (Revelation 3:1) This is a fearful saying, for it tells us that what man thinks about a church can be very different than what God thinks of a church. Apparently, the church in Sardis was full of activity. Word was around that it was a happening church. But from God’s perspective, it was dead, or at least near to dying. It was a bronze shield church. There was enough of a display when everyone was around to make it look like a happening church, but as soon as everyone was gone, the shields went back into the store room.

This is how I perceive much of the Church today. Our Christianity is a cheap replica of what it should be. Many churches have a lot of activity, but spirituality is lacking. For many Christians, their Christianity only comes out when it is needed, perhaps on Sundays and special occasions, or if they happen to be in need, but for the rest of the time, it is put away. They are like king Rehoboam.

This is why the Lord said to the church in Sardis, “I have not found your works perfect before God.” In other words, what man saw that gave the church the reputation of being alive, God had no regard for. Men saw a gold-standard church, but God saw a bronze-shield church.

A church is not gold-standard because it has a lot of people, or a lot of activity, or even a lot of people being baptized. All of these things can certainly be good, and I pray for all of these things for our church, but they are all outward demonstrations. If there is no substance behind these things, then the church is not good, nor healthy, but a cheap replica. If there isn’t true heart change, with true works of righteousness as fruit, then it is not a church that attains the favor of God.

But let’s look at a different example. There were two churches in the book of Revelation for which Jesus had no rebuke. This means that they were gold-standard churches. They were churches that lived up to the name of Christ, honoring Him in all that they did. One of them, the church in Smyrna was a persecuted church. Jesus said to them this:

I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich)… – Revelation 2:9

This church was quite different than the other. This church was known to be a poor church, a church with troubles. Yet Jesus saw the richness of their faith, therefore He said, “You are rich.”

And observe the church in Philadelphia. He says this:

I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept my word, and have not denied my name. – Revelation 3:8

This church wasn’t a mega church or a church with a lot of money. On the contrary, Jesus said that they were a church with ‘a little strength.’ Yet they were a church greatly honored by our Lord. They were a gold-standard church, filled with gold-standard Christians.

I want to be a gold-standard Christian in a gold-standard church. I want my works to be perfect before God. I want to be above reproach and without rebuke. I don’t want to just have a name that I’m alive, but I want to be alive. I hope that you desire the same things.

How to be a gold-standard Christian

A gold-standard Christian is not a super-Christian. A gold-standard Christian is simply a Christian as he should be. It may be that a gold-standard Christian seems like a super Christian to some, but it is only because we live in a world of bronze-shield Christians.

The following are a few principles that you will need to become a gold-standard Christian. These are not suggestions on how to be a better Christian if you would like to, but principles that God requires of us, principles that will help to keep us in the place where God wants us to be so that we would not be like the churches rebuked by Jesus in the book of Revelation.

1. We must make a firm decision to seek God.

Rehoboam failed as he did because he did not ‘prepare his heart to seek God.’ He should have made a decision early in his reign to make the Lord his God, and His law his rule of life. But he neglected to do this and suffered for it. We should learn from his mistake and not repeat it. If we do not make a firm resolution to serve the Lord, we will easily be moved off course.

In the Book of Joshua, we see that Joshua gathered all the people just before he died and told them to make a choice. Would they serve God or not? He said this:

And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. – Joshua 24:15

Every one of us must make a choice. Are we going to serve God, or are we going to serve someone or something else, whether it be a career, a hobby, a relationship, pleasure, money, etc? It is much like anything else in life, if we don’t make a decision to do it, we won’t do it.

We need to make a choice that, come hell or high water, we are going to seek God. That means we are going to make provisions in our lives to do what God calls us to do. It means that we are going to set aside time to pray and study the scriptures, it means that we are going to attend church and tithe, and it means that we are going to do our part to complete the Great Commission.

A heard a man say that his children have never asked him the question, “Are we going to church this Sunday?” They’ve never asked that? Why? Because he made a decision that when it came to him and his house, he was going to serve the Lord by going to church. And that’s all his children knew.

Will you make a decision today to seek God? Will you prepare your heart, will you make a firm decision to seek the Lord and honor Him with your life? Will you make the choice to get back up when you fall, to keep going, to never give up? Make that decision today. If you don’t, your Christianity will be no Christianity at all, but a cheap replica.

2. We must give quality precedence over quantity.

Quantity is good, and we should desire it. However, quality must always take precedence. Quality should come first, then quantity. If I told you I was going to give you $50 Billion dollars, you might be excited. But if I revealed that it was $50 Billion Zimbabwean dollars, you might be less excited, especially when you learn that $50 billion Zimbabwean dollars is only equal to 33 U.S. cents. Our spiritual lives are similar, if we value quantity over quality, we may end up with very little.

When it comes to our spiritual lives, if we wish to be gold-standard Christians, we must bring to God our very best. When we come to pray, we come with all of our hearts. We pray like we mean it and we do whatever we must to eliminate distractions. We need to focus on actually connecting with God rather than doing our duty. I believe that everyone’s spiritual life would be revolutionized if they did this. Prayer becomes a drag to many people because their prayer life is more about duty than connection.

Jesus said that we must ‘love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength’ (Mark 12:30). This means that your service of God is genuine, heartfelt, focused, real. God knows when we are praying or studying or doing any other religious activity half-heartedly. It is not honoring to Him. It is a stench, really.

So, when you enter into your time with God, make the goal connection, not quantity of time. I used to be all about quantity when I prayed. I would go into my place of prayer with the idea that I would pray for an hour or so. God met me many times when I did that, but now I realize that this is not the best practice, for I began to get burnt out. My prayers had become religious requirements rather than connection with God. Now I pray with the goal to connect with God. Sometimes that takes a certain quantity of time, but it’s not the quantity that I’m focused on, it’s the quality. This has been very helpful to me and, I believe, honoring to God.

We also must value quality over quantity in our churches. Once again, quantity is good, for God desires for all people to be saved, but if quantity is our measuring stick for success, we have missed the boat. Remember, the church in Sardis had a reputation of being alive, which must have included a large number of people, but they were a dead church in God’s eyes. Our churches must not seek, above all us, to fill the pews, but to provide quality ministry to the people. Our focus should be on teaching the word of God, guiding people in prayer, and living holy lives. This should be the atmosphere of the church. It’s better to be a church with five people who are striving for holiness than a large church that is shallow and uninterested in spiritual things. Better even is a church that is large and spiritual, but quality should be sought first.

3. We must be skeptical – yet not cynical.

This may seem like an odd thing to being a gold-standard Christian, but it is of vital importance. When it comes to our spiritual life, we must be able to distinguish between the real and the fake. After all, we do not wish to be a ‘fool’s gold’ Christian.

This is a great risk for those who commit their hearts to seeking God and who desire a quality relationship with him. If the devil can’t get us to be apathetic, he’ll try to turn us into fanatics. This why the Bible tells us ‘not to believe every spirit, but to test the spirits to see if they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world’ (1 John 4:1).

There’s a lot of crazy stuff out there. We have to be diligent Bereans when it comes to something new that crosses our path. God has not called us to believe everything that anyone who claims to be a prophet or bible teacher has to say. We are to prove all things and to hold fast to that which is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21). Everything we hear should be examined in the light of scripture, and nothing should be adopted or acted upon unless it is firmly established in the text of the Bible. Don’t be pushed into anything by a pushy preacher or teacher. It is a noble thing to search a matter out fully. Take the time to know for certain if a thing spoken is true or not (Acts 17:11). If it’s true, act upon it. If it is false, throw it out. To be gold-standard, we must be pure in doctrine, not tainted with fringe teachgins that are to no profit.

Test all things, hold fast to that which is good – 1 Thessalonians 5:21


The glory days of the church do not have to be in the past; they can be now. And we don’t need to be large, or in the majority, or have political power. We don’t need public opinion. We don’t need lots of money. God can work gloriously through us in the midst of trial, persecution, and hardship. He can save people while the world goes hell-ward. The church can get better as the world gets worse. The light can shine brighter even as the world gets darker and darker. But this all can only be true if we commit ourselves to being ‘gold-standard Christians.’

I believe Paul had something similar in mind when he wrote the following verses to Timothy, a fitting passage to end our study:

Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. – 1 Timothy 4:15-16 (NIV)

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