Lucia's Blog: COMPETING WORLDVIEWS
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Friday, May 25, 2018

COMPETING WORLDVIEWS

 "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."
Romans 12:2


What you believe in determines your worldview. If you believe that the God of the Bible made us and the world that we live in giving us laws to live by, that worldview will govern every decision that you make. Your worldview defines your reason for living. What is your worldview?

Truth is under attack today in our culture. Today's morality is painted in shades of gray.  The days when right and wrong were painted black and white are gone.  Same sex-union is a reality.  The whole concept of creation is not allowed anymore in the classroom since the theory of evolution is heavily supported.  Faith in Christ is under attack in the public square.  Where will it all end?  Or better yet, where did all this begin?  Sadly, most of what is easily accepted in our society's marketplace of ideas is not Biblical and, in many cases, utterly illogical.  However, none of this is new.  Why?  Because most of what we are experiencing in our post-Christian society is hauntingly familiar to those of us who are familiar with Bible history.  Take, for example, the apostles Peter and Paul who were marginalized for their reliance upon unorthodox argumentation (they appeal to the simple argument that God had approved the teachings and standards of the lowly Nazarene).  Today, Christians are accused of "checking their minds at the church door" or "committing intellectual suicide" for believing and defending the Bible, the Truths of God.  Peter and John were forbidden from speaking and teaching in the name of Jesus, (Acts 3-4).  It is no different for Christians today, for the similarities are striking.  And though there are challenging similarities today, the apostles responded differently by challenging their cultureThey did not conform to their culture.  They earnestly embraced the supremacy of God in the midst of severe persecution.  They considered it an honor and privilege to suffer for the cause of ChristCan that be said of us today?  Unfortunately, our response to this post-Christian culture in which we live leaves quite a bit to be desired.

Our godless culture says we're not supposed to judge other people.  They just don't care what the Bible says and or what it condemns as sin.  Many in our culture have been conditioned to sift all Biblical discussions through the sieve of religious relativism, tolerance, and philosophical pluralism.  Such ideas lead to statements such as, "We all worship the same God," "All religions are the same," and that oft-voiced question, "Who are we to judge others?"  The beliefs behind such words often lead us to consider those who have strong Bible convictions as having "checked their minds at the door."  The absolute truth is that there is a God and that He has revealed Himself to mankind.  God's revelation gives access to Truth, the kind that is true for all humanity in all places and at all times.  Of course, it does not give Christians a license to be arrogant, rude or obnoxious.  On the contrary, it compels us to speak the Truth in love.  The early church overcame pre-Christian attitudes, leaving us a blueprint with which we can evaluate, infiltrate and invade our culture with the everlasting Truth.

There was a time when our nation looked at the Faith favorably, for we were filled with believers.  There is no doubt that the founders of this great nation were God-fearing men who built this our nation upon Biblical principles.  Sadly, things have changed for the worse.  Our nation is now a "post-Christian" America.  It is okay to practice our faith at church but not in the marketplace of ideas.  Some go so far as to keep Christianity invisible because they are openly antagonistic.  Christians are finding themselves more and more in a very hostile environment and thus are being persecuted for their active faith.  This is nothing new for the Lord's church.  Throughout history, Christians have been targets of ridicule and persecution.  It is always good to remember those who have gone before us and whose stories have been provided, protected and preserved in the Bible.  Take, for example, Peter and John before the Sanhedrin, (Acts 4:1-31).  When they were interrogated, we observe the onset of Christian persecution.  The Book of Acts gives us insight into the endless spiritual conditions that make persecution an enduring reality in the life of Christians.  In many ways, the Lord's church has begun to look more like our prevailing culture and is unable to provide a more viable alternative.

Our culture is defeating us because we are not winning our culture.  The truth is that what we believe determines how we behave.  This is called one's worldview.  Unfortunately, much of what our culture believes is entirely opposed to Biblical Truth.  Many people hear the Gospel and seem to be willing to respond to it but fail to see the need to change cultural practices which contradict their new faith.  Many compromise their faith for the sake of their culture.  The apostles did not compromise their faith even when they were persecuted.  They merely lived for Christ and preached the Gospel.  They refused to adapt their faith to the culture nor did they seek to adapt the culture to Christianity.  The popular culture refused to embrace them because they hated the Message and lived contrary to it. The unbelievers put some of them to death, but they kept preaching and living out that same Message.  They embraced the reality that there are two conflicting and different kingdoms at work in this world.

There has been such a gradual shift among many Christians in our culture that it has become more and more difficult to distinguish between those who are Christ's followers and those who are not.  We are in hot water and don't even recognize the dangerOur faith and our convictions must cost us something!  Have we forgotten who we are?  We must remind ourselves that we "are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light."  (1 Peter 2:9).  Those of us who insist on believing and doing what the Bible commands are labeled as narrow-minded, unthinking, untrained, and uneducated babblers.  To them, following Jesus and doing His will is unthinkable.  So, according to them what is our sin?  That we know the Truth!  That we believe that God has revealed Himself and has made Himself knowable to everyone.  We believe that God's revelation to us is in the Bible and that such revelation is the standard of all Truth.  That same Truth is under attack in our modern culture.  Our people rarely believe that there are facts that correspond with reality and that such facts are true for everyone in all places and all times.


I.   WHAT IS A WORLDVIEW?   (1 Kings 18:20-39)

A worldview is a pattern of ideas, convictions, beliefs, and habits that help us understand God, our world, and our relationship to God and the world.  It is a collection of life, origins, and ethics.  A worldview is a set of fundamental beliefs that address the nature of reality (metaphysics), the nature of truth (epistemology), and the nature of morality (ethics).  What we understand about God and the world affects everything that we believe.  In Romans 12:2 the apostle Paul says, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."  It is vital that we identify the world's patterns to understand what God wants from us.  A person's understanding produced by his worldview affects everything he does, what he is and what goals or choices he makes.  Our worldview will influence powerfully everything we do: 
  1. How we should raise our children.  
  2. At what age is a person considered not a child but an adult, accountable to God?   
  3. Is this decision behavior based on our age?  
  4. Does an adult have the right to defy authority?  
  5. Does he have the right to violate law?  
  6. What is the purpose of marriage?  
  7. What is the purpose of divorce?  
  8. Why do we work?  
  9. Why should we help others?  
  10. Why should we receive help from others?
Our worldview concept likewise affects our attitudes toward alcohol (intoxication), pleasures, sexual behavior, value systems, the definitions of right and wrong, and the concept of truth and truthfulness.  The Bible presents a specific and unique worldview.  Take for instance the story of Elijah on Mount Carmel, (1 Kings 18:20-39).  Consider the difference between Elijah and the prophets of Baal and their concepts of deity.  Baal's prophets thought there were many gods among them.  But Elijah declared there was only one God.  The prophets of Baal thought it was acceptable to worship and bow before other gods.  But Elijah declared to them that only the one God is due all honor and worship.  Baal's prophets thought deity was not concerned about them and that their gods were far away.  But Elijah declared that the one God is always near.  The prophets of Baal also thought that their gods, their deity was not concerned about human activityBut Elijah declared God was concerned about human affairs.  You see their behavior, worldview, was determined by how they looked at things in this world.  Their worldview affected and determined their way of thinking and behavior (their actions and choices).  Our worldview is a significant factor in the choices we make.  So to change the way we live, we must start changing the way we look at things and the world around us, our worldview.  We must refuse to conform to the world's patterns that we may be transformed into the pattern of living that pleases God.  A worldview answers fundamental questions such as:
    • What is true?  
    • What is the basis for the Truth?  
    • How do we know that something is true?  
    • Is there a God?
    • What is real?  
    • Is God real?  
    • Am I real?  
    • Is this world created real?  
    • Where do we come from? 
    • Or where did everything come from?  
    • Why are we here?  
    • What is the purpose of life?
    • What is right and wrong?  
    • Is there any right or wrong?   
    • Is there a difference between right and wrong?
All these questions have, but one purpose and that is to identify the fields of epistemology (the study of Truth), metaphysics (the study of reality) and ethics (the study of right and wrong).  It is easy to develop ideas to answer these questions.  Our ideas easily give rise to a system of beliefs that form the basis for our decisions and actions.  Our worldview is like a map in that it helps us to know where we are, where we must go and how best to get there.  Our worldview describes reality and prescribes how we must act and respond to every aspect of life.  Our ideas will eventually have consequences.  Often, people get their beliefs like catching a cold: by being around other people.  Such views or ideas are everywhere:  on television, in books, magazines, movies, and in conversations with friends and family.  It is easy to gather them and learn them without realizing whether they're worth believing.  Regardless of where such ideas come from and how we embrace them, they will lead to a set of core beliefs which form convictions in us.  But such ideas have consequences, for they form our beliefs, convictions, and habits.

In the war of worldviews, there is an enormous conflict between the one God of the Bible and the gods invented by modern man.  The Christian believes in God as the ultimate authority in Truth, in reality, in law, man's salvation and man's life and worship.  But our godless culture presupposes the sovereignty of man.  For man is the ultimate authority in Truth, in reality, in law, in man's salvation, and man's life and worship.  It is either God, the one Creator and Judge, or it is man that will be god.  It is indeed a clash between the humanist worldview and the Christian worldview.  The modern humanist today reacts saying, "But  I don't want God to control the Truth!  I don't want God to control my ethics or my behavior!  I don't want God to control my reality!"  In the minds of these men, they have stripped God of His goodness and righteousness.  So the end result is a flawed and unsound worldview that will produce a godless, broken and defective life and culture.

Christians understand that God speaks with a voice of authority.  God spoke with authority when He created the heavens and the earth and everything in it.  He has all authority to command and control all things within His creation.  He speaks and communicates with men with words that will judge us on that final day of judgment, (John 12:48).  This alone ought to motivate us to obey Him and reverence Him.  Such knowledge must create reverence in our hearts as well as obedience to Him.  We must acknowledge that God is everywhere and underlies everything that we need to know.  He has ethical and judicial concern about our thoughts, words, and actions.  Therefore, we cannot escape His purposes, which are manifest around us and through us.  We cannot act outside His just and righteous scrutiny and fatherly discipline.  In Him we live, move and have our being.  This is a God who is fully and magnificently real.  So those who choose to live from a Christian worldview, cannot escape the inescapable reality, authority, and relevance of God.  For He is the source of all authority, knowing and being.  Therefore, He is worthy of our full adoration, reverence, obedience, and worshipHe is the ultimate in Truth, reality, and ethics.  Knowing all this about God our Creator, we must hear, obey, revere and worship only Him.  For He is the only source of Truth, Law, and reality.  He alone is worthy to be trusted for our salvation.


II.   THE CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW:   (Acts 26:12-19)
  • The Role of God as the Creator is a Fundamental Truth in the Bible:
Christians look at the world differently than those who are not Christians.  Why?  Because Christians accept and acknowledge God as the only source of life, for He is the Creator of all.  His role as the Creator is the most fundamental Truth in the Bible.  The Bible begins with God creating the world and mankind, declaring that all that God had created was good, (Genesis 1).

In Deuteronomy 4:32, Moses said to Israel,  "For ask now of the days that are past, which were before you, since the day that God created man on the earth, and ask from one end of heaven to the other, whether such a great thing as this has ever happened or was ever heard of."

Psalm 148:5 praises God saying, "Let them praise the name of the Lord!  For he commanded and they were created."

The prophet Isaiah spoke of God's greatness saying, "Lift up your eyes on high and see:  who created these?  He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name; by the greatness of his might and because he is strong in power, not one is missing."  (Isaiah 40:26).

Malachi, one of the minor prophets rebuked the nation of Israel saying, "Have we not all one Father? Has not one God created us? Why then are we faithless to one another, profaning the covenant of our fathers?"  (Malachi 2:10).

The apostle Paul wrote to the brethren in Rome saying, "For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."  (Romans 8:38-39).

He likewise wrote to the Ephesian brethren saying, "To be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness."  (Eph. 4:23-24).

Again in 1 Timothy 4:1-5 Paul said,  "Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2 through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, 3 who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer."

Indeed, it is easy to see the powerful connection the Bible makes between God, the Creator, and His awe-inspiring actsWhy?  Just think for a moment how God created the world and the universe out of nothing and then He fashioned the world that had no form into the orderly form that we know today.  And though God created the world, and the universe from chaos or nothing, they're both fundamentally orderly.  The universe is not chaos, but cosmos.  We live in a universe of order in which fundamental forces or interactions are responsible for such order.  You see for the forces to exist, something else must exist.  Matter did not create itself since for it to create itself, it would have had to exist before it's being created.  That is to say, it would have had to have both existed and not existed simultaneously (a logical impossibility).  Nor can the existence of matter explain the forces that dictate order upon it Indeed the forces themselves are orderly and not chaotic.

After Adam and Eve's sin (Genesis 3), mankind progressively fell deeper and deeper into wickedness, a way of life contrary to the laws of God.  When righteous Noah preached for more than a century with little results, God sent the great Flood to purge the Earth, (Genesis 6-8).  From Noah, many generations later, Abraham descended.  Through Abraham, the Hebrew nation was born and ultimately, the Messiah.  Some four centuries after Abraham, the Lord, through Moses, gave to the nation of Israel a written code called the Law of Moses.  It was designed to accomplish three goals:
  1. To define sin.
  2. Make them aware of sin and
  3. Their need for forgiveness.  
In Paul's words:  "What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.  13 Did that which is good, then, bring death to me? By no means! It was sin, producing death in me through what is good, in order that sin might be shown to be sin, and through the commandment might become sinful beyond measure."  (Romans 7:7, 13).

The Law made sin exceedingly sinful. 
  1. The Law was designed to make mankind aware that he could never on his own efforts justify himself, once he had sinned.  
  2. The Law demanded obedience and since no man kept it except Christ, all men were condemned by it, (Galatians 3:10-11).  
  3. So, the Law pointed out our need for a Justifier.  Someone who would do for us that which we were unable to do ourselves.  
  4. The whole system of the Law was but a shadow of the future reality.  
  5. The tabernacle, the sacrificial system, sin offerings, the unblemished sacrifice for sins and everything else were but shadows of the real substance we find completely revealed in the coming of the Messiah and what He accomplished for us, (Heb. 8:5, 10:1). 
  6. These things were but patterns of the heavenly things, (Heb. 8:5, 9:23).  
  7. Thus, the Old Testament Law, the sacrificial system, the nation of Israel all testify to the promise of God in Christ.  Every promise made by God back to the Garden of Eden testifies to the sinless Savior who would restore man's communion with God (reconciliation).  
  8. The Old Testament prepared humanity for the coming of Jesus, the Messiah-Christ, through scores of types (shadows) of the coming Lord and through numerous prophecies.  
  9. God implemented a divine plan through an eternal divine Being, the personal Word who took upon Himself the form of a man.  
  10. He then came to earth as a human being, (John 1:1-4, 14; Phil. 2:5-11; 1 Tim. 3:16).  
  11. He then shared man's nature and experience completely.  He was even tempted in all points just as we are.  Yet He never yielded to temptation and thus never sinned, (Heb. 4:15).  And although Christ our Savior was tested as a human being, (Isa. 28:16), He was found blameless and without sin, (2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Peter 2:22).  
  12. The prophets foresaw a sinless Savior, Jesus Christ, (Isa. 11:1-5).  Righteousness and faithfulness were to be His very perfect character, (Isa. 9:6-7).  He would be just and wise in His judgments.  
  13. Jesus was the Passover Lamb offered in sacrifice for sin.  Paul referred to Him as the Passover Lamb in 1 Cor. 5:7.  
You see God had a plan before the foundation of the world (the beginning in Genesis).  God had a plan before the world was created.  It was not the predestination that planned every act of every person who would live on this earth (as taught by Calvinism).  But, it was the plan of God in regard to man, (1 Peter 1:18-20).

So, from chaos God created the world, the universe, and life.  From Adam and Eve's failure (because they sinned), God created grace in the God-to-mankind relationship.  After the flood, God created a new beginning.  From Abraham, God created the nation of Israel.  From the nation of Israel, God provided Jesus, the Savior.  From the Savior, God provided our salvation.  From our salvation, God created a new me, a new man.  When we die, our soul lives on according to God's design.  Yet, with all these connections between us and God as the Creator of good, the world refuses to believe in His creation and blames God for the existence of evil.  Indeed, these are two distinct worldviews that are at war with each other.  Since the world does not look at God as we Christians do, we must share Christ with them, because Christians look at the world through eyes that understand sin and restoration.  A true Christian worldview acknowledges that there was no evil or sin in human existence and that man was not born with a sinful nature, or inherited sin.  Man was deceived and willfully surrendered to evil, or lawlessness, and thereby corrupted himself and God's good creation.  The Bible shows us God's efforts to reestablish a relationship between Him and mankind.  The first two chapters of the Bible in Genesis speak of a period of time when there was no evil in this world.  The third chapter of the Bible, describes God's determined efforts to reestablish a relationship between Himself and man.
  • Defeating Evil:
God acknowledged that the way to overcome evil was through humility.  Let me explain myself.
  1. Adam and Eve failed, but God humbled Himself.  
  2. Noah failed, and God humbled Himself.  
  3. Isaac and Jacob failed, and God humbled Himself.  
  4. Israel failed in the wilderness, and God humbled Himself.  
  5. Again, Israel failed God as His nation, and God humbled Himself.  
  6. God sent Jesus His Son to us, and in doing this, He humbled Himself.  
  7. His Son was rejected and crucified, and God humbled Himself.  
  8. God forgives us and to do so, He humbles Himself. (See Philippians 2:5-11).
 So, if God who is God of all humbles Himself, where do we stand?  Christians must humble themselves to be able to defeat evil and sin in their lives.  Consider what Jesus our Lord said to the audience in the Sermon on the Mount.
"You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers,[a] what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."  (Matt. 5:43-48).
Paul told the Christians in Rome,
"Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20 To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."  (Romans 12:17-21).
So while we Christians look at the world believing that evil is defeated when we do good, the world is deceived thinking that evil is defeated through acts of human justice.  Indeed, they are two distinct worldviews.  Unless we realize that mercy is the Gospel Message and not personal vengeance, we will never succeed at teaching Jesus Christ to the world.
  • Purpose of Life:
Christians acknowledge that the purpose of life is to serve others as commanded by Jesus. In Matthew 20:25-28 Jesus confirmed this to His disciples saying,
"You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. 26 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, 28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
Jesus also told to His disciples to be servants.  He said,
"A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household."  (Matt. 10:24-25).
Paul likewise told the Christians at Ephesus,
"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."  (Eph. 2:8-10).
So the faithful Christian should say,
"The purpose that Christ Jesus gave me for my life is to serve others."  
Indeed, it is a much different worldview than that of the world held by many in our society.  So to teach Jesus to the world, we Christians must understand life's purpose.
  • Death:
Christians look at death differently than the world does.  By the same token, the world's view of death is very different than that of Christians.  Christians see death as a day of accountability, in which we will be judged on how we have lived our physical life, the good life, with Christ.  Those who are not Christians reject the concept of accountability.  They have deceived themselves believing that a "good life" can only be experienced in fleshly pleasuresSo, to communicate Christ to the world, Christians must look at death quite differently than the world does.


III.   WHERE ARE CHRISTIANS GETTING THEIR WORLDVIEW?  (1 Corinthians 1:18-31)

The Lord's church is facing an enormous crisis today in our community.  It is a crisis in its own right that threatens the existence of the "organized church" and is overwhelming whether we want to admit it or not.  Indeed, it is not a threat to the kingdom since God's kingdom is eternal and can never be destroyed.  But God's kingdom in the 21st century in our nation is facing a severe and immediate crisis.  Sadly, this crisis has been ongoing for a long time, and it has been affecting the worldview of many Christians.  It is almost too late for us to respond to it since many Christians no longer see the world from a Gospel point of view.  When we see the world as those who walk in darkness and forget to believe in God and His Word, we stop leading the world to see life and death the way God has declared, and we adopt a godless worldview of life and death.  While some of us focus on a few corruptions of the divine pattern, we have not noticed fundamental changes in the way that many are looking at life and death and the fundamental changes that are happening in their daily lives. Don't get me wrong!  I am not talking at all about opposing religious traditions, but rather I am talking about our fundamental understanding or awareness of life's purpose.
  • Do we Christians Have the Courage to Confront the Worldview Crisis?
The question is not, "Does the worldview crisis exist?"  The real question is, "Do Christians dare to confront and challenge the worldview crisis?"  Consider at least four approaches to our worldview crisis.
  1. Denial:  So which crisis?  Some say, "There is no crisis.  Everything is fine and is to remain the same!  Don't worry about it!  Don't get anxious about it!  Don't let it make you afraid of anything!  Just ignore it and give it time. You will see that it will go away just like everything else has in the past."  Now, the problem with this worldview is that it is like a tsunami with waves crashing upon us and drowning us.  And as we're drowning,  our last words will be,  What happened?!
  2. Isolation:  Some will say, "Keep it cool!  Never judge, examine or question us or anything!  Just keep the world out there and us in here.  Tell everyone out there they can come in if they want to."  You see, isolation is what many use as the right approach to the worldview crisis they have created.  But guess what?  They're fooling themselves.  Their isolation is but mere imagination and not real.  Everyone but we ourselves knows it!
  3. Conformity:  Again, many say, "If you're going to come in here, you must agree with us exactly on these issues.  We do things this way, and so must you if you want to become part of us."  My question is:  Do they really understand the Gospel Message?  Is that really the Gospel Message?  Do you think that the early church (Jewish and Gentile Christians) saw every Bible or moral issue just exactly alike?  If we cannot even agree among ourselves (Christians) in matters of morality and a Biblical worldview, how dare we demand conformity from other people?
  4. Engagement:  This is the right approach to take because it will teach us how to confront the crisis.  Whose terms must we follow, ours or the Lord's terms?  Why not examine ourselves and honestly ask if there are any differences between the Lord's terms and our terms?  In Matthew 11, when the imprisoned John inquired through his disciples, if Jesus was the one that was to come or should they look for another, Jesus did not answer with a simple "YES."  He simply quoted from Isaiah 35:5-10 as He gave His answer (verses 5, 6) "The blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. 6 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me."  So, what is our vision or view?  Is it God's view or the world's view?
  • What is God's Definition of Love?
So, my question regarding the worldview crisis among Christians:  Who defines love for us Christians?  Our culture or God?  Shall we let Hollywood movies or public television define our worldview?  In today's culture, love is subjective and is based on personal feelings and experiences.  It is impossible to define such love objectively.  Indeed, it is much easier to describe love than to define it.  But the most inclusive definition is found in the Word of God:  "Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love."  (1 John 4:8). 

When love is only emotional, it will diminish or lessen within a very short period of time.  Love is active.  Love is known for its actionsGod loved, God gave.  Christ loved, Christ gave.  Love must be visible and evident.  Love is self-denial and a willing heart. It seeks the physical and spiritual welfare of others.  Love is not about hidden qualities but rather about evident and provable ones.  The word "love" in the Bible does not mean just a feeling or emotion but rather an action (a state of being active).  It is seen in our service to others and our good will (our kindness, generosity, tolerance, friendliness, empathy, sympathy, understanding, wholeheartedness, warmth, earnestness).  Love desires the welfare and protection of the one that we love.  Love demands that we love even our enemies and persecutors.  Love demands that we pray for them, and for their souls that they may come to repentance, (Matthew 5:44-45).

What the Bible teaches about love is much different than what the world teaches.  The world's love demands that we love self.  It is all about us and little else.  It is self-centered and selfish, for it asks the question, "Are things good for me?"  Love is frequently found with everybody.  "If I cannot find love with one person, I just go to the next person."  The world's concept of love is selfish rather than sacrificial.  It is self-absorbed emotionalism. It is designed to meet one's needs rather than respond to the needs of others.  It is conditional love rather than unconditional.  It is mutually exploitative. Our world teaches that love is one's appreciation for himself, and the attention others pay us.  Love is Valentine's Day and Cupid, love songs and romance. Moreover, the world's concept of love is based primarily on feelings rather than on the loyalty and commitment we have made to those we love and to God.  So true love is not just a feeling or emotion.  In fact, love goes against our feelings.  Love is treating others the way we want them to treat us.  It follows the Golden Rule of Matthew 7:12.  It involves self-denial rather than self-fulfillment.  It is considering others' interests before our own.  

God's definition of love is found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, John 3:16 and John 15:13.  John gives us an excellent example of love, the love of the Son of God, who died for us.  What more excellent example of love can there be than this?!  In God's definition of love, there is an unbreakable bond between love and serving others.  Is that not quite a contrast!  In an upside-down culture, this kind of love sounds rather strange.  Everyone wants to get something in return for their investment (money, time, emotion, etc.).  Often, I hear that marriage is a 50-50 proposition and each spouse is required to meet the other one-half way.  With this kind of mindset, there are a lot of problems in the marriage relationship.  Marriage is not a 50-50 relationship!!  For a marriage to work the way God has designed it (to be rich and fulfilling and rewarded by God), there must be 100% commitment from both husband and wife to the marriage relationship.  There will be times when the marriage relationship is put under extra strain. Here is where "agape love" must come into play.  Indeed, there are times of struggle in any enduring relationship.  If one believes that there is such a person as the one ideal person in the world for us, what would you do when inevitable moments of struggle come?  Would you quit and run?
    • So, is Love Always the Right Thing to Do? 
"And He said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.'  This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'  On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.'"  (Matthew 22:37-40
There is no doubt that love is always the right thing to do.  Again, almost everyone would agree on this.  The problem is that love has different definitions for many people.  This leads me to a critical question:  Who am I supposed to love?  Again, the Bible has all the answers to these questions.  First of all, we are to love God and to love our neighbor as our self. Second, we are to love His Word with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength.  It is the revealed Word of God that teaches us how to love Him and our neighbor.  All this can be accomplished by keeping His laws.

In the 60’s there was a band called “The Beatles” who sang a song called “All You Need is Love.”  Everyone would agree, except that they used the word with a double meaning.  The type of love they express is not the kind of love our Lord and Savior spoke of in His Law.  We all agree that love is good.  Yet, many misinterpret what love is.  God defines love differently.  We know that we love God when we keep His commandments, precepts, and statutes, as found in His Word.  How do we love our neighbor?  By following His commandments.  The one who loves God and His commandments is well thought of even by those outside the church, I Timothy 3:7. He practices the Bible concept of love.  He seeks the welfare of all. He behaves in a manner worthy of his calling.  He is a giver, selfless and generally well-liked and respected by others, even by those who are not Christians.  Such a person will always do the right thing because they love and obey God’s laws.  He will manifest such love in his marital relationship, his home, and children, as well as in his community as a law-abiding citizen.  The one who claims to love God also avoids all types of destructive behavior: alcoholism, drunkenness, drug abuse, infidelity, promiscuity, enmity, covetousness and all licentious behavior.  He is sober-minded, patient, kind, merciful, gentle, godly, well respected by those who acknowledge a true concept of love, as it demonstrates right and wrong, good and evil.
  • What is God's Definition of Success? 
Who defines success for us Christians?  Our culture or God?  Our culture defines success according to the material things that we have, the world of money, or both.  They say that wealth, lifestyle, pleasure and the "good life" (being able to afford whatever your heart desires) are the evidence of success.  For if one does not live the "good life" according to them, then he is not successful!  But God defines and measures success much differently.  He measures success by service and sacrifice.  It has nothing to do with money.  In Matthew 6:19-27 Jesus said,
"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust[a] destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, 23 but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!  24 “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.  25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?"
  • What is God's Definition of Wealth?
So who defines wealth for us Christians, our culture or God?  According to our culture wealth is usually defined by "things."  If you don't own "things," you are not wealthy.  So you must get "things" even if you have to abuse and use others.  But in 1 Timothy 6:3-7, the apostle Paul wrote about what God values the most.  He said,
"If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, 4 he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, 5 and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world."
  • What is God's Definition of Commitment?
So who defines commitment for us, our culture or God?  Our culture defines commitment in terms of paying your dues and in terms of no dues to be paid.  But God plainly defines the Christian's commitment as a lifetime commitment.  In Luke 14:25-35, Jesus defined our commitment or the cost of discipleship.
"Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.  34 “Salt is good, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? 35 It is of no use either for the soil or for the manure pile. It is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear."
  • What is God's Definition of Happiness?
Does our culture define happiness for us or God?  Our culture defines happiness in terms of personal pleasure.  According to our culture, no one can be happy if he has a terrible lifestyle or if he lives in poverty.  They say, "I decide what an acceptable lifestyle is and what the poverty line is."  But God defines happiness in terms of service and a holy, righteous life whose values and treasures are eternal.
  • What is God's Definition of Death and the Afterlife?
Is death the worst tragedy one can experience?  Our culture answers this question with "me" centered answers But do those answers come from God or our culture?  Our culture shouts, "That is a lot of junk!  We have had all religious matters figured out for generations!"  Really?!  Our culture is confused or unsure about what comes after death.  And though they might not like it or accept it, it is a certainty that death is coming to all and that is a fact of life.  No one lives forever!  You see death is terrifying for those who do not know God, for they do not know what lies beyond this life.  Sadly they are not ready to face it!  Our Philosophers or religious leaders love to speculate saying that we cease to exist when we die or that we will be reincarnated.  Do they have any proof?  Not at all!

But God tells us in His Word what follows after death.  "And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment."  (Hebrews 9:27).  And though Jesus may come before we die, we will be raised from the dead when He returns. We are going to face God and be judged for the lives we have lived, good or bad.  There won't be any escape.  For God will hold every one of us accountable for whether or not we have accomplished the purpose for which He created us. (John 5:28,29; Ecclesiastes 12:14; 2 Corinthians 5:10).

At judgment,
    1. The righteous will inherit the kingdom prepared for them by God, (Matthew 25:31-46 ). This is eternal life (v. 46). 
    2. The wicked will go into eternal fire, (v. 41). This is eternal punishment, (v. 46).  
So, what determines the reward we receive? Our works. We receive wrath if we work evil and do not obey the Truth. We receive eternal life if we continue doing good works. Our eternal destiny depends on how we accomplish our Maker's purpose.  In Acts 17:30-31, we find the answer to what will happen to us after we cease to live on this earth.  Jesus will judge our lives, (1 Cor. 15).  There will not be any reincarnation but instead, we all will be raised and judged.  The Bible is the proof for mankind that it is from God.  It establishes the resurrection of Jesus, His ascension, His miracles, and the fulfilled prophecies of Scripture.  Since the Bible is God's will for us, we can rest assured of life's origin, purpose and destiny after life on this earth.  

Since we will be judged according to what we have done, as to whether or not we have accomplished our Maker's purpose, it is vital that humanity hear the good news, the Gospel Message.  The good news that Jesus came and died to forgive our sins, ( since we were all guilty of sin, and shall be condemned because of our sins if we are not forgiven, (1 John 1:8,10, Romans 5:6-10; 6:23; John 3:16). To receive this forgiveness, you must be willing to live the rest of your life in His service  - "Repent."  (Acts 2:28; 22:16) - If you come to Christ believing in Him, confessing Him, and being baptized, He will forgive you and make you a new creature so you can have eternal life, (Romans 6:3,4; Mark 16:16; 2 Corinthians 5:17; 1 Corinthians 15:58).  All humanity must be compelled to seek God's ways for them.  For a life apart from obedience to God will destroy our souls for eternity.  A life of pleasure will not save us but will bring the wrath of God on us.  The Bible has the answer to life's questions.  All people must believe the Gospel Message to be saved.  They must hear, believe, repent, confess, be baptized and live faithfully to be saved.  That is God's plan of salvation and the only way to enter His kingdom of righteousness.  So stop acting as if you know all the answers!  Therefore, we must start telling and teaching our culture about our SaviorWe must stop letting our culture decide or determine who we are and how we must live!


IV.   WHO CONTROLS US?   (Romans 6:8-18)

We cannot claim to be followers of Christ and think like the world.  Those who do the Father's will look at the world, at life, and at death differently.  As Christians, our concept of life and its purpose is different than that of the world.  Our joy is different than the world's pursuit of pleasure.  Our view of money and the typical view of the world are different.  The Christian's concept of relationship is different than that of the ordinary world's concept of relationship.  The Christian's understanding of commitment is different than that of the world's.  Genuine followers of Christ have a different worldview of life and death.
  • The Reason that Urged Paul to Write the Letter to the Christians in Rome:
Paul wrote a letter to the Christians in Rome.  The Jews had some very unique beliefs and traditions.  They did not work one day each week.  As a consequence of this, many people did not like them.  They had to live in isolation.  They often felt superior to other people.  They were continually influencing their neighbors to abandon other religious practices.  They had a history of being forced out of the city of Rome.

In 139 BC (more than a hundred years before Jesus was born), the Jews were thrown out from Rome because they challenged Roman morals.  In the next century,  the Jews were again expelled from Rome because they were too many and because many of them were converting Romans to Christ.  In Acts 18:1-2 we have a third incident that states:  "After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. 2 And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome."

Once again, the Roman Emperor drove the Jews out from the city of Rome because of an argument about "Chrestus" (Christ) among the Jews in Rome.  It was such a powerful movement that it caused riots.  At the time of the riot, the Roman authorities did not make any distinction between the Jews and the Christians.  Their expulsion most likely occurred circa 49 AD as an imperial edict which was inevitably canceled when Claudius died.

In Romans 16:3, Paul greets the brethren saying,

"Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus."  When Paul wrote Romans, Aquila and Priscilla had already returned to Rome.  While all Jewish religious practices were protected in Rome because Judaism was an ancient religion, the Jews were often subjected to anti-Semitic feelings.
  • The Problem:
When the Jewish Christians left Rome, the church had a distinctly Jewish appearanceJewish customs and practices were respected.  Everything was done according to what the Jewish tradition dictated.  When the Jewish Christians returned to Rome, the church had a distinct Gentile expression.  For things were not done according to the way Jews did them.  Jewish ways and traditions were not respectedThe Christian Jews in most cases expected the church to do things exactly like they did when they left them.  Gentile Christians were not interested in going back to Judaism, doing things the Jewish way.  Both sides were definitely arrogant, for each group of Christians felt superior to the other.  Ultimately, those differences caused all kinds of problems among the brethren in Rome.
  • Romans 6 Was Written to Christians:
Everyone that was addressed in this letter was baptized since they believed in Christ.  Romans 6 is not a sermon on baptism, for it is a continuation of Paul's arguments about their attitudes of superiority which had no room in the Christian faith.  Paul's focal point is not the atonement of Christians but their ongoing death to sin or lawlessness.  Paul used their baptism as an illustration. Some tried to make Paul's concern look ridiculous and foolish enough to reject it.  While it is true that grace increases as sin increases, some suggested the best way to enlarge God's grace was to sin as much as possible.  But is that true?  Is it true that Christians may sin as much as possible to emphasize God's grace?  Paul declared that was a foolish argument with no merit!  Those Christians who made such an argument did not understand the concept and purpose of their own baptism.  For they forgot that just as Jesus paid the ultimate price for sin by dying on the cross, those who choose to become Christians shared in Jesus' death to sin (by rejecting temptation and refusing to sin) and the renewing of life by following Jesus.  The purpose of baptism is to die to sin by choice.  So how can a Christian deliberately continue sinning if he has died to sin?  The primary point of emphasis in Romans 6 is death to sin.  Consider what Romans 6:6-7 declares, "We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin."

There is an analogy between Christ's death and our death to sin.  Christ was crucified and our old man was crucifiedOur old man and the body of sin are the same.  To crucify the old man is to die to sin, (Galatians 2:20).  This is true of everyone who obeys the Gospel and becomes a Christian.  Every time someone becomes a Christian, a sinner dies.  We die as sinners and are raised up as saints and to a new life.  We are no longer slaves to sin.  His master, sin, no longer has dominion over him.  Sin must not rule him anymore.  This new life we live in Christ, must not continue in sin.
    • Romans 6:12-13:  "Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. 13 Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness."
Here, Paul is speaking of that part of man that controls his body and is responsible for what the body does. The body is a mere instrument to be used by the inner man, the spirit, for good or bad.  The spiritual man does not allow sin to control his body.  Our appetites and passions become evil when we let them become our master and thereby lead us to lawlessness, sinful thoughts, and deedsSince we have died to sin, we must not let sin rule our bodies.  We must control that which is sinful desire in our bodies and refuse to obey it.  The body must die to sinAnd though it is true that God gave men appetites and passions for his own preservation and for the continuity of the human race, mankind must keep their heart pure with all diligence.  Obedience is from the heart.  The spirit expresses itself through the body.  Hence, we are commanded to present our members as instruments of righteousness unto God.  Sin comes from the heart, or spirit, of man, (Mark 7:21-23).  It is absurd to claim that a Christian may sin, but his spirit remains pure and sinless.  It would make us in every way not responsible for what we do!
    • Romans 6:14-16:  "For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.  15 What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?"
Sin does not rule over us when we die to sin.  Through grace, our sins have been forgiven, for we are free from sin and can present our members to God as instruments of righteousness.  Sin has dominion over us only when we have no means of escaping it.  Through grace, there is a way of escape from sin.  The Old Testament Law did not free anyone from sin, for it condemned the sinner.  But under the Law of Christ sin does not have dominion over us unless we submit to its control and neglect to seek forgiveness.  Where law condemns, grace makes pardon possibleIf we were under no law, then we would be guilty of no sin and there wouldn't be any need for grace to forgive our sins.  And since we are under grace and not law, some might contend that this gives us liberty to go on sinning.  But the grace that forgives our sins and helps us overcome sin does not give us license in any way to indulge in sin, but instead grants us a way of escape from sin.  Just because we are under grace and not under law, does not give us liberty to continue in sin.  Surely, the Gospel of God's grace (God's power to save us from sin), does not encourage us to sin.  Those who believe that the Gospel teaching concerning law and grace gives us license to sin are overlooking the fact that there is a principle of faithful service involved.  So whose servants are you and whom do you serve?  The life we live determines whose servants we are.  To be servants of sin leads to death, but those who obey the Gospel are lead to righteousness.
    • Romans 6:18, 20, 21: "and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.  For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death."
When we are freed from sin, we become servants of righteousness.  We become free from sin because we obey from the heart the form, pattern or mold, of doctrine into which we were delivered.  Paul describes the Gospel doctrine as a mold, into which we are placed by our baptism, to be fashioned anew both in principle and practice.  The pattern of doctrine is something which we obey and thus are delivered from the slavery of sin, to become slaves of righteousness.  By our obedience, we change masters Christ's death, burial, and resurrection is the fundamental doctrine.  In His death, He was buried and then arose from the dead.  In our death to sin, we are buried with Him and then raised up to a new life.  And since we have become servants of righteousness, we must live free from the practice of sin, just as we were once free from righteousness.  The end result of living in sin is eternal death.
    • Romans 6:22-23:  "But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
The fruit of being made free from sin to become servants of God is sanctification and eternal life.  Compare the fruits of righteousness and the fruits of sinSin pays wages but God gives a free gift.  So if you continue serving sin, surely you must know what your wages are to be, for they will be paid in full.  Your final reward for serving sin is eternal death, so you must look to sin for your wagesEternal life as a free gift is for those who love and serve the Lord faithfully. 

I want to stress that Romans 6 places great emphasis on the Christian's choice and determination to die to sin.  That is how we choose to be like Christ and imitate Him.  We choose to live free from sin every day of our lives like Jesus our Lord did.  Jesus was free from sin.  Like Jesus, we must say no to temptation on a daily basis.
  • Those Who Became Christians in the First Century Chose to Repent and Change Their Life's Purpose and their Lifestyle:
All Christians in the first century were first-generation ChristiansThe Lord's church began in Acts with the adults who gave ear to the Gospel Message, the teachings of the apostles.  The Jews had a background in Judaism by which they worshiped the same God and followed the same moral principles.  On the other hand, the Gentiles came from a much different background of idolatry in which they worshiped many different gods and had different moral principles.  It is possible that a few of the brethren came from a profane or atheistic background in which they did not consciously believe in any god or any set of moral principles.  Today is very different than the first century, since there are many brethren who come from at least two or three generations of Christians.  Sadly, today, many think only of  "joining or placing membership in an institution" among many Christians instead of adopting a new purpose in life reflected in the way they live.  Let me explain.  If we were to ask any person if he is a Christian, he most likely would answer, "Yes, I go to church regularly."  Granted, "regularly" implies different things to different people.  Yet, most people would say they have membership, rather than to say they follow Jesus Christ on a daily basis.  It seems as if we would rather talk about membership in an institution than to talk about following Jesus faithfully on a daily basis.  It is apparently strange to focus on following Jesus daily We have a hard time determining what that means.  If one were to talk about dying to sin and being alive to Christ, although this is the Bible concept, it will be foreign to many of us.  The truth is that many do not like it.  For far too many Christians live just like the world, who have no commitment to Jesus and His cause.  Yet, they feel quite spiritually comfortable since they are members of an institution called the “church.”  They forget that Christians must choose to die to sin and all evil influences around them.

The primary reason that our young reject the church is that we stress the church as an institution too much and we do not stress godly living and the righteous lifestyle enough.  It is okay with the institution that many Christians are material oriented or pleasure-centered, but the church often fails to stress the need to be perfectly moral or righteous.  Our young ought to know that immorality is not God's way.  Fornication and uncleanness was never permitted in the New Testament church.  The early church stressed the need to live pure and holy lives among unbelievers.  They chose to follow Jesus every day and be lights shining in a world full of so much darkness.  They chose to die to sin daily and live to Christ and His righteousness!  Can we say the same today?


V.   THE CHRISTIAN'S PERSPECTIVE OF THE GOD OF PEACE:   (Romans 1:18-32)

The primary foundation for the Christian's worldview is our perspective of God, the Father, for  He is the central character of the Bible.  Now, think for a moment about the Bible.  Is this Sacred Book about humans only?  Or is it a book about God?
  • The Bible:
    • It is not is Not About Humans:
Mankind (individually or collectively) is not the central character of this Sacred Book.  The central focus of the Bible is not mankind.  And though it is true that it talks a lot about people and the basic need that mankind has, the Bible's central focus is not  the activities of people. Without a doubt the Scriptures speak of man's reaction and interaction with God, but the truth is the Bible is a Sacred Book about God, for God is the central character of the Bible.  The Bible begins with the words:  "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth."  (Genesis 1:1).  It ends with God and His Lamb enthroned in the heavenly and eternal kingdom. (Revelation 22).  From Genesis to Revelation (from the opening to the closing), the Bible stresses the need for mankind to repent, and be reconciled back to God (restoring the breach between man and God).  The central focus that God addresses in the Bible is man's problem and his need and God's solution to that human need.
    • It is about Man's (Humanity's) Separation From God:
Man's rebellion (accepting sin and evil) produced separation from God.  A horrible problem that mankind could not resolve themselves.  I must stress that the primary emphasis of the Old Testament is not an "angry" God who had to be appeased.  Surely, God was angry for two main reasons:
  1. Stop for a moment and think about how angry God must have been after creating something very precious (mankind), and allowing them to share the beauties of His creation, and then seeing them deceived by Satan into rebellion against Him.
  2. As God tried to remove this huge problem, humanity kept resisting and rebelling against His efforts, for the harder God tried to provide a solution for man, the more mankind was determined to rebel against Him.  Indeed, our God is and was more longsuffering (patient) than any of us could ever be.  What an awesome God we serve!!
However, God's longsuffering and steadfast love are repeatedly declared in the Bible.  Take for instance,
  • How patient God was with the nation of Israel  in the wilderness.  
  • God was again very patient with Israel during the period of Judges.  Just read the last two stories in the Book of Judges. Amazing!  
  • Then again, God was patient with Israel during the history of the United Kingdom as well as the Divided Kingdom.  
  • God was patient with the returning remnant.  
  • God was and is still patient with us over and over again, not wanting that anyone will perish.  Amazing!!  
  • And though humanity failed our God over and over, God refused to give up on us.  This is very moving to me!!!
    • God Wants to Reconcile and be at Peace with Mankind (Humanity):
This is nothing new for God!  The Bible from cover to cover stresses God's desire for peace with all humanity.  In Acts 10:34-38 when Peter opened his mouth to speak to the crowd, he said,  "Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36 As for the word that he sent to Israel, preaching good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all), 37 you yourselves know what happened throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John proclaimed: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him."

Truly, God cares for and loves all humanity.  He has always been that way!  But He wants all people to love and reverence Him, no matter what race, nationality or anything elseJesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, is God's revealed Message of peace and reconciliation to mankind!  In Romans 5:1-2 we read about this Message of peace from God "Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith  into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God."

We have access to God's peace through faith in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.  In Galatians 5:22-23, we read about peace as being one of the fruits of the Spirit.  " But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law."

In Philippians 4:4-7, rejoicing is a natural expression of being in Jesus ChristThose in Christ have no need to be anxious since the Lord is near and His peace is guarding us even when we cannot fathom or explain it!
"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
In Hebrews 13:20-21, we read that God is a God of peace, for He is the Provider and He will use us for His glory.
"Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, 21 equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen."
Although we are at peace with God, it does not mean that we will have physical peace in this world.  Consider the words spoken by Jesus to the twelve apostles before He was betrayed.  "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid."

After a few hours of Jesus making that statement, He died a horrible and cruel death and the twelve were scattered.  When the Lord's church was established, there were times when they had to endure severe persecution.  According to tradition, all but one of the twelve apostles died a violent death.  Evidently, the promise of peace did not include a wonderful life in this world!  But God's peace does grant us peace with Him, for we do not have to live in fear, with a guilty conscience, living unforgiving and without hope!  Thanks be to our wonderful and righteous God that His peace is internal, of the heart.  Such a peace is worth more than anything this world can offer us!

Sadly, our culture thinks of peace primarily in terms of material and physical peace.  For they want to live in a physically safe society and world.  Our culture does not want to suffer disease, die prematurely and be in situations that will threaten their physical life.  They want to define peace as everything being okay right here and right now.  As a terrible consequence of this mindset or worldview many Christians easily lose their faith in God when things go wrong and life is difficult and not what they expected.  For many Christians, life is all about here and now.  Amazing!  

One who thinks with a Christian worldview understands that peace is only found in God and nothing else!  Not prosperity, not the "good" physical lifestyle, not the insurance policy, not the guarantee that you will not die a premature death. Such things will not bring peace!  Peace is not about the earthly or physical.  Peace is about the heart, for it is internal!


VI.   DELAYED GRATIFICATION:   (1 John 2:12-17)

Soon before Jesus' betrayal, Jesus told His disciples,
"I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; 27 for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.  28 I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.  29 His disciples said, 'Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! 30 Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.' 31 Jesus answered them, 'Do you now believe? 32 Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. 33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.'"  (John 16:25-33)
Our culture has a critical love affair with speed in matters of personal gratification.  We want everything fast (food, speed limit, possessions).  We hate waiting in line.  We have made it convenient and possible to divorce quickly.  We do not want to wait for a cure for illness, for we want it fast.  If we don't get everything we want right away, we complain like children throwing a big tantrum.  Our society wants gratification "now."  They hate to wait, so they make big demandsThey think it is their right!  Have you noticed how some commercials use words and phrases such as "fast-acting," "instant relief," "immediate delivery," "quick service," and "no waiting?"

Even when it comes to wars involving us, our culture wants is fast, bloodless and with no danger to them.  The highest form of responsibility is to self, for we owe it to self.  Our culture's worldview is "immediate gratification."  But the Christian worldview is "delayed gratification."
  • So What is Gratification?
It is fundamentally the pursuit of something that brings satisfaction.  In our society, gratification is just the pursuit of things that give personal satisfaction and makes "me" happy.  For example, marriage in our society is often about "me" being happy and living in a way that satisfies "me."  Our culture thinks that one of the most important qualities for anything is "my satisfaction" in connection with "my sense of personal fulfillment."  In our society, quality of life is usually considered everything.  Likewise, "having fun" is the ultimate expression of personal satisfaction.  For if we're not having fun, we are deprived of our personal right, so we get depressed.  Many think, "It is my right to be happy and I cannot be happy if I am not having fun."  "If I am not having fun, then I cannot be happy."

Our culture calls "normal living" a prosperous home, worthy cars, worthy clothes, recreational equipment.  How sad!  Do you know that one of the biggest threats to many marriages is expense?  Too many cannot grasp the concept of delayed gratification, for they want immediate gratification.  They say, "If you give me the personal satisfaction that I want right now, then I will pay you for that satisfaction for years and years."  That is the credit mentality.  They deceive themselves thinking that the key to happiness is having all the things they want or deserve.  But that is not true!  It is a big lie!  For many are still unhappy even when they're surrounded by all the things they want or think they deserve But guess what?  Happiness is much, much more than being surrounded by the things we want!
  • This World (the physical existence and environment) is Basically Evil:
When we think that this world (the physical existence) will provide us with a daily experience of fun through a satisfying lifestyle, we are deceiving ourselves.  Why?  Because it is impossible for everything to be okay and for things to always work out the way we want them to.  Don't get me wrong, I am not pessimistic!  I am being honest.  I am not saying that there are no thoughtful, caring and loving people.  The point I want to stress is that we must not equate God's blessings with only the physical.  When we think that we must achieve a fulfilling lifestyle in which everything is a bed of roses and wonderful, we are deceiving ourselves and setting ourselves up for a catastrophic spiritual crisis.

There are two ways to look at physical existence.
    1. One way is to view mankind as basically good.  So we do good like Jesus did since people make it easier to do good.  So when people are less than good, that is the rare exception but not the rule.  
    2. The other view is mankind is basically evil.  If people do as they please, they will collectively sink to their lowest common denominator.  So mankind's desire for pleasure, greed, power, and selfishness will continuously move their desires or appetites into a downward spiral.
It is a fact that we live in the most prosperous and free society on earth.  We are the envy of the rest of the world.  Yet, we're still accountable if we abuse our freedomWe are still accountable in this free society for spouse and child abuse, child neglect, pornography, affairs, promiscuity, adultery, theft, crime, dishonesty, financial scams, and violent crimes.  How do you explain a society with the highest standard of living in the world and still being so unjust in their actions or behavior at the same time?
  • Christians Must Understand God's Promise of Delayed Gratification: 
Christians cannot make this physical world we live in "heaven on earth."  Instead, we must be ready to be part of an existence in which evil does not exist.  In that existence, there won't be any abuse or neglect from people trying to acquire things.  People will be valued because they are made in God's image.  Yes, we Christians must be God's light and the preserving power of righteousness and goodness in the midst of so much darkness in this world.  Sadly, many in this world of darkness refuse God's offer, for they prefer the pleasures of evil.  They ignore that there are consequences to doing evil or lawlessness.  They prefer immediate gratificationThey refuse to do good rejecting a much greater gratification because it is delayed.

Our purpose for existence in this world is to encourage all people to come to know God and belong to Him.  Yet, we do not belong here and never will, since we are aliens and strangers waiting for a better country and city, a heavenly one.
"But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.  11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. 12 Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation."  (1 Peter 2:9-12).
"These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city."  (Hebrews 11:13-16).

VII.   THE GOSPEL  (Matthew 9:35-38)
  • What Does the Word "Gospel" Mean?
The Greek word for "gospel" is translated "good news."  Although the concept of "good news" is familiar to us, the word "gospel" is strange for many people.  Does anyone ever use the word "gospel" outside a Biblical context?  For most of us, the word "gospel" is a strictly religious word  used only when we are using "church language."  We assume that when we use the word "gospel" most people know the meaning.  You see, so often when we tell others we want to teach them the "gospel," they cringe.  As a matter of fact, some will do anything to keep you from sharing the "gospel" with them.  They will say, "I don't want to talk about church things," or "I don't want to talk about religion, period."  But do we actually understand the why of that reasoning?

The verb, Uangelidzo, is translated as "gospel," "good tidings," "glad tidings" and in many cases, it is translated simply as "preached," as in "preaching the glad tidings."  It may refer only to glad tidings to something other than what we think the Gospel is.  “Glad tidings” was used in Gabriel's message to Zacharias, to communicate to the latter the coming birth of a son, John.  Gabriel said he was there to "bring thee good tidings."  (Luke 1:19).  Yet, and I must stress, we must look to the context to determine the meaning of the "good news."  The same applies to the noun form, "uangelion."
  • The Kingdom:
One of the first things we learn about the definition of the "gospel" is that it is the "gospel of the kingdom of God." The Gospel is about the kingdom of God instead of the Gospel coming from the kingdom. Consider Mark 1:14-15 followed by Luke 16:16.
"Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel."
"The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it. "
So, the Gospel of the kingdom, the Gospel of God, and the Gospel all refer to the same Message.  Matthew 4:23 states that Jesus went throughout Galilee preaching the gospel of the kingdom as does Matthew 9:35.  Again in Luke 4:43, Jesus said that He "must preach the good tidings of the kingdom of God" to other villages as does Luke 8:1The Gospel that the apostles preached was the same Gospel.  In Matthew 24:14 when Jesus instructed them about the events leading to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, He said to them,
"And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come."
Acts 8:12, states that Philip the evangelist "preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ."

Jesus commanded the apostles to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature, (Mark 16:16).  This, of course, involves preaching the Gospel of the kingdom.  The Message was that the kingdom that was prophesied in the Old Testament, the kingdom to be established in the first century was at hand.  Notice what Colossians 1:13-14 saying regarding this kingdom.
"He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."
Thus, the primary purpose of the Gospel was to take men from darkness into the light, (Acts 26:16-18; 1 Peter 2:9-10).  Being delivered out of darkness is part of being transferred into the kingdom.  Understanding the Truth about the kingdom is part of the GospelIf one cannot understand the Gospel, he will not believe the Gospel.  If one does not believe the Gospel, he cannot be saved, (Mark 16:16).  No one has the right or authority to fellowship or promote anyone who denies the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • The Church:
Jesus purchased the church with His own blood, (Acts 20:28).  His death was vital to our salvation and a fact of the Gospel.  We are baptized into one body, (1 Cor. 12:13).  It is a command of the Gospel that we must obey.  The kingdom is the people of God, the church.  So it is the Gospel of the church in that sense.  The teachings of the New Testament about the church, the body of Christ, the house of God, is thus directly related to the Gospel.  Since the sacrifice of Jesus is at the heart of the Gospel, how can anyone ignore His body and what His blood did for us as a part of the Gospel?
  • The Creation and the Creator:
In Revelation 14:6-7 we are told that the "everlasting gospel" consisted of giving God the glory, worshiping Him "that made the heaven and the earth and the sea and fountains of waters."  It is not surprising then to find Paul preaching the Gospel at Lystra in Acts 14:11-17, including God the creator as part of the "good tidings," the Gospel.  To believe or to teach anything other than what the Bible teaches about God and His creation is an attack on the Gospel.
  • The Resurrection:
The resurrection of Jesus is the centerpiece of the Gospel.  It relates directly to the concept of resurrection in general and the very nature of man.  In Matthew 22, Jesus answers the Sadducees saying, "ye do err, not knowing the scriptures nor the power of God."  In 2 Timothy 2:17-18, "Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some."  In 1 Cor. 15 Paul argues for the resurrection extensively.  He begins the chapter by establishing the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.  This was the heart of the Gospel Paul had preached to them.  The grand climax of that chapter is the second coming of Jesus to raise the dead.  Anything other than what the Bible states about the resurrection is error and must be opposed at all cost!  One cannot preach the Gospel and teach error about the resurrection!
  • Life After Death:
The resurrection and the existence of the soul and life after death go hand in hand.  2 Timothy 1:10 says that Jesus "brought life and immortality to light through the gospel."  In 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10, the second coming of Jesus, judgment day and eternal punishment are raised in connection with those who do not obey the Gospel of Christ.  Paul preached the Gospel to the Athenians in Acts 17.  He spoke of God's nature, resurrection and judgment dayNo error on any of these facts must be tolerated!
  • The Hope of the Gospel:
Paul gives plenty of information regarding the death of Christ and its consequences.  
"And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven... "  (Colossians 1:21f).
It is vital that we continue grounded and steadfast in our faith and not be moved away from the hope of the Gospel so that the value of the death of Christ might work in our lives the way God has planned it for usGod has already done His part. Therefore, we must do our part. It is part of our faith.
  • We must be Careful not to Give People the Wrong Impression of God:
Are we responsible for our choices and behavior? Of course we are!  Must we assume responsibility for our actions and the way we live our lives?  Absolutely!  Must we seek God's will and obey Him?  Surely!  However, God is not our enemy just because those statements are true.  We must stress that making people accountable to God is not the core of the Gospel, the good news, and the good tidingsThe good news, the Gospel is that God loves us and wants to help us even when our lives are chaotic and a mess.  The proof of God's commitment to us is Jesus Christ.

God specializes in what seems to us to be lost causes.  The night that He was tried by the Jews, Peter (Jesus' most committed disciple who vowed to never deny Jesus) cursed and swore he never knew Jesus, (Matt. 26:74).  Imagine if someone were to treat us that way?  I'm pretty sure we would be outraged!  Now, 50 days later, God used this same man to preach the resurrection of Jesus and the fact that God made Jesus Lord and Christ. Peter took that brave stand in the same city where he denied Jesus.  Isn't that amazing!

Did Peter repent?  Absolutely!  Imagine the cowardly man who publicly denied Jesus, because he was afraid, on the night of Jesus's betrayal. Now imagine him finding the courage to stand up for God's work in Jesus His Son on the day of Pentecost.  What about Paul who made a statement very well known by many of us?!
"I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, 13 though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, 14 and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 15 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 16 But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life."  (1 Timothy 1:12-16).
You see, prior to Paul being a Christian, he was a very religious but hostile man.  His religion made him this way.  In Acts 26:9-11 He said of himself before Agrippa when giving his defense:
"I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 And I did so in Jerusalem. I not only locked up many of the saints in prison after receiving authority from the chief priests, but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them. 11 And I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to make them blaspheme, and in raging fury against them I persecuted them even to foreign cities. I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things in opposing the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 And I did so in Jerusalem. I not only locked up many of the saints in prison after receiving authority from the chief priests, but when they were put to death I cast my vote against them. 11 And I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to make them blaspheme, and in raging fury against them I persecuted them even to foreign cities.

Indeed, Paul was an obsessed hate monger and not a nice man at all.  He did many ugly and hostile things to the name of JesusHe put many Christians in Jewish prisons and encouraged the execution of many of them.  He used physical force, pain, trying to get Christians to blaspheme.  He was furiously enraged at Christians.  And he was willing to go outside of Judea to arrest Christians without remorse.  In his statement to Timothy, he describes himself as a blasphemer, a persecutor, and a violent aggressor.  In other word, he said, "If God could save me, God can save anyone!"  That is how serious our God is about saving all mankind through the Gospel of His Son.  That is how much God loves us and wants to save us!
  • Why the World Needs the Gospel?
Undoubtedly, the world needs the Gospel.  Sadly, many professing Christians don't even have a clue about this great need Why do I say that?   Simply, because they are not aware that the world has such a great need.  It is disturbing to see how the crowds commonly function on the atheistic principles taught to them in the public schools:  the end justifies the means.  Thus, they grow up making terribly wrong choices.

The Gospel Message, however, contains no such ethic.  In fact, the apostle Paul explicitly rejected and condemned the idea of doing evil that good may come, (Romans 3:8).  Jesus taught a higher and absolute standard of righteousness and morality:  love God and love your neighbor, (Matt. 22:37-39).  It implies that neither God nor our neighbors are means to an end, but ends in and of themselves!  Both God and our neighbor have intrinsic value.  Jesus echoed this truth when He declared that one soul is worth more than the whole wealth of this world, (Matt. 16:26).  Thus, God and the souls of men are precious as ends in and of themselves!

So, how do I show my love for God and my neighbor?  The answer to this question is explicitly found in the commandments (John 14:15, 1 John 5:2-3).  Paul urges us to keep God's commands so that we may demonstrate our true love toward God and our neighbor.  When we follow or obey these absolute and higher standards of righteousness and morality, the result is not small But when we take away real morals, we harm our neighbor, (Romans 13:8-10).

Although it is a good and desirable goal to minimize harm, when we seek that goal following purely humanistic counsel  instead of God's counsel, we actually end up causing more harm than good.  You see, the humanist seeks to reduce specific harm as an end in itself.  They use any means to accomplish it, even harming great numbers of people as a means to the end which is called “the greater good.”  With this mindset they increase harm.  This was the tactic of Napoleon, Stalin, Mao, Hitler, and Pol Pot.  They committed many crimes against humanity in the name of "social progress."  The end justified the means, they thought.  Their biggest mistake was to think that they could do it based on their own auspices without divine revelation and without an absolute standard of morality and righteousness.  Most people in this world do not want to harm anybody, but reject or ignore the best way to that:  to commit to and obey the Gospel Message.  Indeed, the world needs the Gospel Message desperately, but they don't know it or want it.  The question is not, "Can God save men?"  The issue is, "Do people want God's forgiveness?"  "Do they want to belong to God?"  "Do they want to hear and believe the gospel, the good news, the good tidings to be saved?"  The choice is theirs to make.


CONCLUSION:

The fool has said in his heart there is no God.  Atheism is mostly a negative philosophy, for it is and foremost a denial of the existence of God and all thingsPractical atheists see the concept of God's existence as useless as far as to be able to make any real contributions to the advancement of society.  In fact, most atheists believe that faith in God brings more harm to the world than good.  Ridiculous!  It is foolish to say there is no God because that implies there is no ultimate purpose in life.  Some atheists have claimed that there are purposes in life.  They contradict themselves when they say that we must evolve into a Utopian society, a purpose that they have invented without explaining why. It is foolish to say there is no God because that implies no absolute truth or morals in life.  This was exactly the problem in the period of Judges when "every man did that which was right in his own eyes," (Judges 21:25).  So if there are no absolute morals, then all behaviors or actions become morally equal and everything is allowed or permitted.

It is foolish to say there is no God because it cuts oneself off from the faith, hope and love.  There is no doubt that an atheist worldview undermines and destroys the Bible worldview, the basis of faith, hope, and love.  For the atheist, there is no God in whom we can believe; there is no life after death, no ultimate destiny for which to hope; and there is no objective basis on which to love our neighbor.  An anti-Bible worldview or philosophy produces doubt, pessimism, fears, despair, contempt, and selfishness.  How foolish can that be!  How much greater are Paul's words in Corinthians 13:12-13!  "And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love."

Faith in Christ is different than the world's religions since it is based on actual historical events.  The Bible presents Christ as the One who is the historical origin of all things.  It supplies us with a historical account of man's creation, initial fellowship with his Creator, and subsequent fall.  It tells us about the destruction of that first world by a global flood.  This Sacred Book speaks of Abraham (one of the patriarchs), his family, and God's covenant with them as His chosen people.  This Book then chronicles the development of this covenant and relationship as this family grew, their establishment as God's chosen nation and their consecutive failures.  The apex of this Sacred Book's story is when God enters the world and history in the Person of Jesus, presenting Him as the long-awaited Messiah of the Hebrew nation.  The heart of God's New Covenant with men is Jesus' death, burial, resurrection, and ascension to heaven.  This made it possible to be partakers with Abraham's family.

The Bible presents all these events as occurring in history.  It makes such events subject to investigation and reasoning.  Therein, the Bible is rational. That is, one may reason about the recorded events in the Bible in the same way that he would reason about any other historical event.  The Word of God exhorts us to investigate the Bible that we may reasonably and honestly consider the evidence, and weigh it in the crucible of our mind, that we may be able to conclude that it is God's Truth.  The Word of God is consistent with the Law of Rationality:  one must justify his conclusions by enough evidence.  In other words, if one is not willing to justify his conclusion by enough evidence, he may "infer" anything he wants without any evidence to support his claim.  Under such a scenario, "conclusions" do not demand any evidence at all, and he is thus "justified" in drawing a countless number of "conclusions."  Such conclusions may or may not be related at all to what really happens in the real world.  So if one chooses to believe or "conclude" that the moon is made out of green cheese, then his belief in such a claim is "warranted."

The Bible sharply contradicts such thinking, declaring, "but test everything; hold fast what is good."  (1 Thess. 5:21).  It exhorts all Christians to "give an answer" or "make a defense"  of the Message that they believe in or those things that they believe to be true, (1 Peter 3:15).  The writers of the Bible assert that  they did not follow cleverly devised myths but were eyewitnesses of these events that we may believe, (John 19:35; 2 Peter 1:16).  They consistently presented the evidence explaining and proving the facts under-girding their beliefs, (Acts 17:3).   And though some doubted the truthfulness of these true facts, they were given enough evidence to satisfy their doubts and support their belief, (John 4:42; 9:1-41, 20:26-31).  These facts were proclaimed by men and women who were willing to suffer and die in zealous and loyal support of their truthfulness.  Thus enemies who heard the Message and examined the evidence were convinced and converted, (Acts 6:7, 8:37, 9:1-31).  Indeed in each of these cases, the law of rationality was applied.  You see men and women were seeking to justify their conclusions (worldview) by enough evidence.  They were given that evidence in abundance!  Sadly in our society many have substituted the genius of what it means to be a true follower of Christ for the message of the world, and its ungodly religions.  They say it does not matter what one believes as long as he believes something.  Any old "belief" will do.  The truth is that the Gospel calls all men to accept the law of rationality, so that they can draw conclusions that are warranted by the evidence.  The very resurrection of Jesus demands nothing less, for without such a foundation "we are of all people most to be pitied."  (1 Cor. 15:19).

Today, we live in the most anti-rational times in the history of mankind.  The most popular question in our postmodern world is, "Why do I even need to be rational?"  The truth is one cannot survive without rationalityWithout rationality it is impossible to get along independently in this world, making it necessary for others to take care of us.  It will also be impossible to communicate anything worthwhile without it.  Indeed, one must be rational to establish a conversation with someone else.  Our postmodern culture way of thinking places experience prior to thought.  To them everything we know comes through sense experience alone.  They conclude that there can be no thought prior to experience.  So is all knowledge after sense experience or is some knowledge prior to sense experience?  Well, at least some knowledge must exist prior to sense experience.  Why do I say that?  Because before one can make sense of the world around us, he must have some knowledge so that he can evaluate the world around him.  When one looks at the world and the things around him, he must demonstrate, separate and characterize them from other things to make sense.  To be rational, we must use the right kind of thought process (known as the laws of thought).  They are the foundation for rational thought.  As long  as men persist in thinking based on the law of non-contradiction and God's existence continues to be infinite and eternal, we must not accept the premise that the Bible is just a roadmap for one reality among many.  Instead, we must affirm that the Bible is the only roadmap for all reality!

Every person has some type of worldview. A personal worldview is a combination of all you believe to be true, and what you believe becomes the driving force behind every emotion, decision, and action. Therefore, one's worldview will affect how he responds to every area of life: from philosophy to science, theology, and anthropology to economics, law, politics, art and social order (everything).  Among other things, it is alarming to find that only 17 percent of Christians have what the researchers consider a Biblical worldview.  For that definition, Barna provides these markers:
“Believing that absolute moral truth exists; the Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches; Satan is considered to be a real being or force, not merely symbolic; a person cannot earn their way into Heaven by trying to be good or do good works; Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; and God is the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the world who still rules the universe today.”
The reason for such a low percentage is that many practicing Christians have accepted many more worldviews including those based on other religions—especially when it comes to millennials and Gen Xers.  Based on the study, 61 percent of practicing Christians strongly agree with at least one of the ideas of “new spirituality”that everyone is praying to the same god/ultimate being, regardless of the name they use for it (28 percent); “that meaning and purpose come from becoming one with all that is” (27 percent); and that good deeds are rewarded with good and bad deeds receive bad in turn (32 percent).  A “secular worldview” is significantly less popular among practicing Christians. In this case, researchers defined secularism as looking for rational views of the world and making scientific explanations a greater priority for explaining things. Only 10 percent strongly overall agreed that “a belief has to be proven by science to know it is true.”

Another tenet of secularism is that someone’s “life is valuable only if society sees it as valuable,” a statement that 13 percent of practicing Christians strongly agreed with overall. Similarly, 28 percent of people under 45 strongly agreed and 7 percent over 45 strongly agreed. Finally, one-fifth of practicing Christians strongly agreed that your “meaning and purpose in life” are based on working hard enough “to earn as much as possible so you can make the most of life.”

Postmodernism, rooted in the theory that objectivity doesn’t exist, finds an easy welcoming audience with practicing Christians. Fifty-four percent agree with one of the study’s statements about postmodernism: that “no one can know for certain what meaning and purpose there is to life,” which 19 percent strongly agreed with; 23 percent strongly agreed that morality is subjective and 15 percent strongly agreed with the statement that “if your beliefs offend someone or hurt their feelings, they are wrong.”

Brook Hempell, senior vice president of research at Barna, said this about the study’s conclusion:
"The challenge with competing worldviews is that there are fragments of similarities to some Christian teachings, and some may recognize and latch on to these ideas, not realizing they are distortions of biblical truths... Informed thinking is essential to developing and maintaining a healthy biblical worldview and faith as well as being able to have a productive dialogue with those who espouse other beliefs."
So, What's a Biblical worldview?  A Biblical worldview is based on the infallible Word of God. It is the belief that the Bible is entirely true, and is the foundation of everything we do and say.  A Biblical worldview is that the primary reason for existence is to love, obey and serve God faithfully.  How does a Biblical worldview get diluted?  There is a big problem I see since non-Biblical worldview ideas or concepts don't just sit on a bookshelf somewhere waiting for people to examine them.  Why?  Because we are constantly bombarded by television, film, music, newspapers, magazines, books and academia.  Because we live in a selfish, lawless world in which these ideas seductively appeal to the desires of the flesh.  Sadly, as a terrible result of this, many end up incorporating them into their personal worldview without even knowing it.  For example, most Christians would agree with 1 Thessalonians 4:3 and other Scriptures that command us to avoid all sexual immorality, but how often do Christians fall into lust or premarital and extramarital sexual sin? Is it possible because they are weak when tempted, or did it simply begin much earlier, with the seductive lies from our sexualized society?

So, why does a Biblical worldview matter?  Because if we don't really believe the Truth of God and live it out, then our world will become confused and mislead us.  Many Christians don't realize that their personal worldviews have been deeply affected by the world.  How?  Through the media and other influences, the secularized American view of history, law, politics, science, God, and man.  All these affect our thinking (worldview) more than we realize. We then end up being taken "captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ." (Colossians 2:8).  However, it is vital that we Christians diligently learn, make application and trust God’s Truths in every area of their lives; whether it's watching a movie, communicating with others, in our marriage, raising our children, our work, etc.  We must start developing a deep, comprehensive faith that will stand against the unrelenting tide of our culture's non-Biblical ideas or concepts (worldview).   We must be compelled to embrace God's worldview more and trust it with an unwavering faith.  In doing this, we will begin to make righteous decisions and give righteous answers to questions on abortion, same-sex marriage, and even media choices. Because, in the end, it is our decisions and actions what truly reveal what we truly believe, and that is our faith.

All Christians must do battle in the realm of ideas, for the Word of God commands us, (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).  It is our duty to destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey ChristWe must not fear evil, for we must fear God and expose and tear down the unfruitful works of darkness.  For the love of Christ, His church, our families and our neighbor, we must be aware of the influence of a wicked and secular worldview.  Their ideas or concepts are dangerous to our faith.  Indeed, it is a battle of ideas and often very dangerous. The crux of the worldview conflict is mankind's denial of God's right to be God and the desire for man to replace Him.  There is a huge conflict between the statements about God found in the Bible and those that are taught by modern man.  It is a fundamental disagreement in the world of worldviews.  Christians and those with a non-Biblical worldview disagree on the basic assumptions that make up our understanding of Truth and the universe.  Christians believe in the sovereignty of God:  God is the ultimate authority in Truth, in reality, in law, the only source of man's salvation.  Therefore, God must be the center of man's life and worship, (Romans 12:2).

The Bible addresses every aspect of life. Anyone who accepts God’s inspired Word will be able to hold the same ethical conduct, morals, the perfect standard.  The Word of God is our only source of Truth for discerning right and wrong, good and evil.  But we must fear Him to understand and honor His authority with complete surrender to His will.  We must test all doctrines and practices against that Divine Word.  This is the only way we are going to remain faithful to Him.  It is when we rebel against that Word that we begin to do wrong or sin.  Therefore, let us embrace His Word heartily and not be condemned.  That is the key to our salvationIn His infinite love for us, our God has revealed His plan for our salvation.  We can know for sure what church is the right one because He has described it to us.  The same is true of the right kind of worship, the right way of living, what is sin, what is righteousnessGod has revealed all this to us in His divine Book.   And yes, we can know with certainty who is right and wrong, good and evil!  God has given us His absolute, perfect laws which are intended to be used by all men at all times.  It is wrong, it is sin, to disobey themHis laws are the foundation of the Law of ChristWe must use them to govern our societies and ourselves lest we perish.  Let us listen to them!  
“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
May we never forget  who we are but remind ourselves that we "are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light."  May we never be conformed to the world's pattern that we may be transformed into the pattern of living that pleases God.  May we always remember that only God is due all honor and worship.  May we always hear, obey, revere and worship only Him.  For He is the only source of Truth, Law, and reality.  He alone is worthy to be trusted for our salvation.  May we Christians understand life's purpose so that we can teach Jesus to the world.  May all humanity be compelled to seek God's ways for them.  For a life apart from obedience to God will destroy their souls for eternity.  May we choose to die to sin daily and live to Christ and His righteousness.  May we Christians diligently learn, make application and trust God’s Truths in every area of our life.  May we develop a deep, comprehensive faith that will stand against the unrelenting tide of our culture's non-Biblical ideas or concepts (worldview).   May we be compelled to embrace God's worldview more and trust it with an unwavering faith.  May we never fear evil, but fear God and expose and tear down the unfruitful works of darkness.  May the Lord help us to discern right from wrong, and good from evil according to His Sacred Word.

Luci