This name is especially applicable to Israel because of the geographical position of their country. (Cf. Numbers 23:9, “The people shall dwell alone.”) They were away, off the beaten track of the nations, shut in, and, as it were, hidden, by the deserts on the east and south, the sea on the west, and the mountains on the north, from the rest of the world. But the expression in the text is applicable to all God’s people everywhere and always. They are his hidden ones. And we note concerning them –
I. THE FACT – THEY ARE HIDDEN.
1. Their physical life God often hides from those who would destroy it. Not always does he do this, but often, as Peter from Herod (Acts 12.; and cf. Obadiah’s hiding of the prophets, 1 Kings 18:4). And how often God has hidden his servants in wildernesses, glens, mountain heights, catacombs, etc.! The adversary would fain have destroyed them all, as the wolf the sheep; but they have not all been destroyed, the sheep yet outnumber the wolves.
2. Their spiritual life is ever a hidden one. For it resides not in themselves, but in another, as the life of the branches is in the vine (John 15.; Colossians 3:3). The principles that govern it are not known or understood or appreciated by the world. Its law of self-sacrifice, meekness, etc. Except by uncertain conjecture, the world knows nothing of its springs of action and its controlling motives. The practice of this life is also so different from the world’s life. It is meek, retiring, not loving notoriety; it pursues a lowly and unnoticed way; it has no eye for worldly pomp, no ear for worldly applause. It is not necessarily identified with any places, or seasons, or forms of worship, or order of men; but whilst generally using more or less of them, is independent of them all.
3. And this condition of God’s hidden ones is of their own choice. (Ruth 2:12; Psalm 91:1; Psalm 143:9.) They love to have it so. The hidden life is, in their esteem, the blessed, the secure, the eternal life.
4. It is God who hides them. (Cf. Psalm 31:20; John 10:28.) He does this by his providential care and by keeping them in his own love. And the majority of them he has hidden from men below in his own blessed presence in heaven. The Church on earth is a little flock indeed, not absolutely, but in comparison with the vast flock in the heavenly pastures, and there they are forever hidden from all the malice and might of men or of the devil.
II. WHAT THIS FACT IMPLIES.
1. Their preciousness in the sight of God. Things common and cheap we do not hide, or those for which we do not care. Jewels are hidden oftentimes, and God calls his hidden ones his jewels (Malachi 3:17). And how could they be other than precious, when we remember their cost! – “redeemed with the precious blood of Christ;” each one was bought with that price. And God deems them precious, also, for their own sakes. They can and will respond, ever more and more perfectly, to that love in the heart of God which, like all love, yearns for a response such as they only can give.
2. Their peril. God would not have hidden them as he has were they in no danger (see text). And how perpetually did our Lord bids us “watch and pray”! The world, the flesh, the devil, are ever bent on doing us harm. We are safe only as “our life is hidden with Christ in God”
3. Obscurity. The world knows us not, even as it knew him not. See how all but unbroken is the absolute silence of secular history as to the birth, life, death, and resurrection of our Lord, and as to the history of his Church, until its marvelous growth and supernatural power compelled its attention. And still, the fame, layout, and honor of the world are things which none of God’s hidden ones may seek (John 5:41, 44).
4. Safety. (Psalm 91., the whole psalm.)
5. The love of him whose hidden ones we are.
III. TO WHAT IT SHOULD LEAD.
1. To the deep love of God. Whatever God has given you, he has given and he can give nothing like this – numbering you among his hidden ones.
2. To stay where you are. Dwell in the secret place of the Most High.
3. To have done with forebodings, murmurings, and helpless grief. Should such as you be chargeable with such things?
4. To confession of God’s love to you before your fellow men.
5. To all holy endeavors to bring others where you are
Spirituality and Community Building
Being charitable towards others is a spiritual asset—one that can contribute to community building. Some might even maintain that it is impossible to build a sense of belonging and community without some form of charitable practice.
An illustration is the South African view of community referred to as “Ubuntu,” which is usually translated as, “I am because of who we are.” Retired Archbishop and social rights activist Desmond Tutu believes that Ubuntu is the very essence of what it is to be human:
“You can’t be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality—Ubuntu—you are known for your generosity. We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole World. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.”
This value, or way of life—Ubuntu—suggests a way of thinking, seeing, and acting in the world that we live in now.
Tutu refers to being charitable as being someone with “generosity.” Whether you call it charity or generosity, each word translates to giving of one’s self for another, for the greater good of the community. This can be the giving of one’s time or finances, or something as simple as offering nonjudgmental and kind words.
Through charity or generosity of self, we create a deeper sense of community with each other. We begin to see ourselves as one—one community—connected with each other through Ubuntu. We begin to understand and to acknowledge, that we are interdependent in a respectful and supportive way.
As human beings, as a social clan, we have a need to live within supportive environments where we are nurtured and can thrive together, where there is a strong commitment to the well-being of the community as a whole. We are fundamentally designed to live this way. Being charitable towards one another is not just “a nice thing to do”; it is an imperative for our survival as humans, and for our well-being as a local and global community.
A WORKING DEFINITION OF “BEING CHARITABLE”
Based on your individual experiences, you may have your own meaning of the word charity or charitable behavior. The definition that we shall use for this post is that charitable behavior creates a feeling, which leads one to act voluntarily with kindness or goodwill towards another.
There are a number of synonyms or similar words to describe charity or charitable behavior that may be more comfortable for you; perhaps they resonate more with your values and beliefs. Here are a few based on Merriam-Webster dictionary definitions:
- Altruism: “unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of other’s feelings and behavior that show a desire to help other people and a lack of selfishness”
- Benevolence: “disposition to do good: (a): an act of kindness, (b): a generous gift”
- Compassion: “a feeling of wanting to help someone who is sick, hungry, in trouble, etc.; sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it”
- Generosity: “the quality of being kind, understanding, and not selfish: the quality of being generous; especially: willingness to give money and other valuable things to others”
That said, what words or phrases you use to define charity are not as important as taking some form of action to support those who are in need.
In your community, one person may volunteer six hours a month of his time to a homeless shelter, serving meals cheerfully and making everyone smile. Another person may donate money to the same shelter, yet never enter its doors. Another may offer her knowledge and skills by teaching a class on literacy once a month to the shelter’s clientele. All of these are examples of charity and of charitable behavior.
There are many ways one can be charitable to others. There is no one right way, only your way—the way that feels right for you.
Four Aspects of Charity
More specifically, some ways to be charitable include:
Time: Giving of one’s time, however long or short that may be. Giving time is not so much about quantity, as it is about quality—about being present with another to support them in a “hands on” way. This might mean serving meals in that shelter, helping out during disaster relief, volunteering to drive seniors to appointments, baking dinner for a sick neighbor, or any number of activities that help you get to know those you are serving.
Essence: Giving of one’s personal energy and vitality. You may have some personal qualities in abundance and want to share them with others – enthusiasm, hope, grace, gratitude, patience, love – or you may want to increase these qualities in your own life. Each of these qualities brings energy to the space you share with someone when you are truly present with them. Examples: Hearing an exhausted young mother laugh; listening patiently while a man struggles to share his story of being out of work; offering encouragement to someone who feels disheartened. Your own energy and vitality shifts to being more positive and optimistic when you share your authentic self with another.
Talent: Giving of one’s skills and knowledge, such as teaching, gardening, cooking, knitting, or singing; or sharing wisdom from life experience. Everyone has gifts and talents that they are passionate about. These talents come easily and give you joy when you have a chance to express and share them.
Money: Giving of one’s financial resources to provide aid, food, shelter, or clothing; or making a donation to a local or global cause. The sum of money given is not as important as the spirit of the gift. You could start off by giving what you can afford, knowing that even spare change is helpful, and then increase the amount when you are ready, willing, and able to do so.
You may want to take the time to think about these four aspects of being charitable and evaluate which ones have the most meaning for you and where to begin. You may also want to reflect on these questions:
- Do you have time, but limited funds to give; or do you have money, but limited time? What can do you for others with your time or money?
- Is taking a more personal approach, one where you would work side by side with others, more appealing to you; or do you prefer a more hands-off approach—where you give openhandedly, but don’t need or want to meet the recipients of your generosity?
There is no right or wrong answer—your answer is your personal choice. Once you determine what is most important to you, then you may want to begin by writing down some thoughts and ideas that come to mind on how you want to express your unique way of giving. Include names of people or organizations you may wish to support. Being charitable doesn’t need to be complicated; a simple gesture can be meaningful to the receiver. Now you may be more ready to share yourself with others.
THE IMPORTANCE AND BENEFITS OF BEING CHARITABLE
Being Charitable Enriches the Giver and the Receiver
There are rewards to being charitable, both for the giver and the receiver. Not only are you being helpful to those in need, you are developing positive character traits and behaviors in yourself. Charitable work allows you to see life from someone else’s perspective—their struggles and hardships, their triumphs and strengths. It is a privilege to be a witness to another’s life. And in being one, you gain appreciation and gratitude for your own life.
Martha is a manager whose young husband developed an aggressive, terminal cancer. She had her hands and heart full nursing him at home and caring for their two small children. Her co-workers organized themselves, and together they provided dinner every day, not for a month, but every day for six months. Martha’s co-workers were witness to her hardship and struggle, and they responded. They appreciated a need greater than their own. They were inspired to draw on the positive character traits and qualities that live within us all—caring, generosity, selflessness.
Martha’s story showcases how the act of charity in a workplace makes it a community. Because of her co-workers, Martha was able to concentrate on what was important during those precious few months before her husband’s passing.
Many nonprofit community organizations devote themselves to helping those who are suffering from hardship. They seek compassionate volunteers; they offer them the privilege of witnessing someone else’s life by lending a helping hand. By sharing what gifts they have to offer, volunteers receive a gift—they discover and nurture the best within themselves.
On its website, the U.S.-based nonprofit Share the Care states, “Whether you are a burned out caregiver or a novice caregiver, or a friend who wants to help, you can benefit from a system that lets everyone share responsibilities, creates a strong support network among the individual caregivers, and leads to making a profound difference in someone’s life.”
Similar to other website resources like CaringBridge and Lotsa Helping Hands, Share the Care’s mission is connecting caring citizens with citizens going through difficult times in their lives. They are creating small temporary communities of giving within the larger community.
When you give yourself the privilege of being a kind presence in someone else’s life, you will make a difference in theirs and learn a quiet appreciation and gratitude for your own.
Charitable Behavior and the Golden Rule
We all wish to be treated with respect and dignity, and to feel valued and listened to. In the spirit of charity, we would strive to do the same for others. One way to look at this principle is through the lens of reciprocity, known to many as the “Golden Rule,” which states, “Do to others as you wish done to you.” Here is an ethical code that instructs us to treat others the way we would want to be treated.
Although different cultures and faith traditions might have different words and language, all human cultures have a version of the Golden Rule. It advises us to treat our neighbors, families, and colleagues as we would wish to be treated and shows how we can all apply empathy, understanding, and right action as our moral guideposts.
Depending upon your age or upbringing, you might remember the Golden Rule (or something similar) being introduced into your school, as part of your family values, or as a faith-based principle. It is a universal ethic, with the power to cut across gender, culture, age, beliefs, and social-economic status.
Wisdom traditions, such as the Golden Rule, date far back in our collective history and are expressed in a multitude of societies – both as lay philosophies and as the vital cornerstone of the vast majority of faith traditions.
The Golden Rule in Different Faith Traditions
In alphabetical order, each reads:
- Baha’i Faith: “Lay not on any soul a load that you would not wish to be laid upon you, and desire not for anyone the things you would not desire for yourself.” Baha’u’llah Gleanings
- Buddhism: “Treat not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.” The Buddha, Udana-Varga 5:18
- Christianity: “In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets.” Jesus, Matthew 7:12
- Confucianism:” One word which sums up the basis of all good conduct ~ loving kindness. Do not do to others what you do not want done to yourself.” Confucius Analects 15:23
- Hinduism: “This is the sum of duty: do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you.” Mahabharata 5:1517
- Islam: “Not one of you truly believes until you wish for others what you wish for yourself.” The Prophet Muhammad, Hadith
- Jainism: “One should treat all creatures in the world as one would like to be treated.” Mahavira, Sutrakritanga
- Judaism: “What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. This is the whole Torah; all the rest in commentary.” Hillel, Talmud; Shabbat 31a
- Native Spirituality: “We are as much alive as we keep the earth alive.” Chief Dan George
- Sikhism: “I am a stranger to no one; and no one is a stranger to me. Indeed, I am a friend to all.” Guru Granth Sahib, p. 1299
- Taoism: “Regard your neighbor’s gain as our own gain, and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss.” Lao Tzu, T’ai Shang Kan Ying P’ien, 213-218
- Unitarianism: “We affirm and promote respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.” Unitarian principle
- Zoroastrianism: “Do not do unto others whatever is injurious to yourself.” Shayast-na-Shayast 13.29
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.
—Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message)
Taking time to inventory the great challenges God has delivered me through today has allowed me to get to know Him more intimately. Jesus loved all my hurt and misconceptions about my life away, He turned everything around. I looked in the mirror and saw His character today and for that I say,,. Thank you, Jesus…
That sounds good, doesn’t it? I’ve had enough “heavy stuff” in my life, and I want to enjoy freedom. When you are overloaded with the cares of life you need some help. Your mind needs rest from worrying, your emotions need rest from being upset, and your will needs a rest from stubbornness and rebellion. So you need to be humble enough to call out to God and say, “I need help!” Your beginning doesn’t have to dictate your ending. Get God involved in every area of your life and allow Him to lead you into “real rest.”
“If it is not right do not do it; if it is not true do not say it.”
― Marcus Aurelius,
The early civilizations were well aware of the danger of pride and power and knew that this could destroy kings and empires if not held in check. And thus a philosophy was developed by the very wise Greco-Roman philosophers (lovers of truth) in order to help their rulers and themselves to be vigilant about their behavior, lest they destroy themselves by pride. And thus when any great general (be it an emperor-to-be, a war general, or any victor of a great battle) was honored by a great manifestation such as a triumphal entry into his city-state, a slave (a lowly of lowlies) would ride in the chariot with him and whisper in his ear that he should remember that he is not a god, but a mortal human being.
I think a better source than wiki might be a scholarly treatise aboutRoman triumphal marches by the historian Robert Payne in the book “Rome Triumphant: How the Empire Celebrated its Victories” Robert Payne, 1962, Barnes & Noble Books 1993. In the closing remarks of the book (pg 251), Payne remarks “…it was the anonymous slave standing behind the triumphator, whispering in his ear about the vanity of honours, who represents the greater triumph. The voice of the slave was the voice of humanity,never so desperate as when it passed unheard.– We do not know when the slave first rode in the triumphal chariot and held the golden crown over the conqueror’s head, or when he stepped down for the last time. We do not know whether the triumphator ever spoke to him in reply,or even glanced at him. He appears only briefly in the history of the triumph, and only once do we see him plain –on the Boscoreale cup,where he is depicted as a youth who seems to be filled with a sense of compassionate duty.”
You should be aware that this type of reminder of vigilance is still very meaningful and applied in many ways in modern life as a philosophical heir to the ancient traditition. The warning against pride and care to remember that life is a fleeting gift and should not be squandered on empty vanities that are really meaningless when considering the totality of life’s journey (the human actions of craving for power, riches, adulation, popularity) is just as important today as it was 2500 years ago. Instead of wasting time thinking that you are “God’s gift to humanity”, the reminder states, “try to live life as a good and simple, honest, kind and noble person (like the beautiful shaker hymn: “Tis a gift to be simple…”)
You might be aware of the yearly Christian tradition of Ash Wednesday in the beginning of the Lenten journey when people receive blessed ashes on their foreheads with the words “Remember man that thou art dust and unto dust thou shall return”. This is done not to depress people, but to remind them that true happiness of this life is totally dependant upon our own human goodness to be fantastically good people instead of selfish jerks.
Whenever a bishop (or cardinal) is elected to be a pope (a really tremendous honor in the Catholic Church), before the pope steps out into the balcony of St. Peter’s basilica to greet the City and the World and to be hailed as the new pontiff (Viva el Papa !) something really cool is done that is centuries old. A simple poor franciscan friar stands before the pope with a broom-like staff made with a pile of dry straw. The straw is lit and for a few seconds a huge flame bursts out, but is gone in a mere minute (a straw fire means an empty fleeting fanfare). (This is done three times) Each time the friar utters the words to the pope “sic transit gloria mundi) meaning “and thus passes the glory of this world”. This is of course a reminder that the great Roman pontiff (like the Roman generals and emperors) should remember that he is nothing more than a lowly servant and all the glory and power and wealth of this world is meaningless when compared to the true meaning of life : just be a very very good and kind and honest person – at the end of your life this will be the only measure of true meaning of the nobility and richness of one’s life.
Is it not cool how all of this applies to our lives today ?
Is good enough, good enough? Consider, if you will, that if 99.9 percent were good enough then
- 2 million documents would be lost by the IRS this year.
- 22,000 checks will be deducted from the wrong bank account in the next 60 minutes.
- 1,314 telephone calls will be misdirected by telecommunications companies every minute.
- 2,488 books will be shipped with the wrong covers on them each day.
- Over 5.5 million cases of soft drinks in the next year will be flat.
- 20,000 incorrect drug prescriptions will be written each year.
- 12 babies will be given to the wrong parents each day.
Obviously, being good enough is not good enough for life in modern society. So why do we think that being good enough is good enough to get us into heaven? You’ve heard people ask, “If I try my best won’t God let me into heaven?” or “Doesn’t God just require me to be better than the average human?” or “Don’t I have to just live a good life to be a Christian?” or “How could a loving God send good people to hell?”
Martin Luther, the reformer, wrote, “The most damnable and pernicious heresy that has every plagued the mind of man is the idea that somehow he could make himself good enough to deserve to live with an all-holy God.” A Bible teacher used to say, “Man is incurably addicted to doing something for his own salvation.”
Let’s examine what the Bible has to say about being good enough.
I. God’s standard is perfection
In one sense, one can be good enough to get to heaven, but they would have to be perfect. God’s standard for entrance into heaven is perfection. On one occasion Jesus identified the two most outwardly religious groups of people in his day the Pharisees and the scribes and told his listening audience, “For I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:20). On another occasion Jesus said, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48).
God’s standard never falls short of complete righteousness and holiness. Anything less than perfection is sin. Think about heaven for a moment. Heaven is a place of the “no more’s” – no more tears, no more sadness, no more pain, no more sickness, no more death. All of those things are caused by sin. The “no more’s” don’t exist in heaven because sin does not exist in heaven. Heaven will be wonderful, not only because of what is present – God, but also because of what is absent – sin.
God’s standard of perfection is not arbitrary. God does not grade on the curve. He does not say, “Oh, you are close enough” or “You have tried really hard to live a good life.” God does not compare. “Well, Bill you are better than John so you are in and John is out, Betty, you are better than Sue, so come right on in.” That would be like trying to jump the Grand Canyon. So what if your jump thirty feet and set an Olympic record, you still splatter.
Now don’t get me wrong, for the most part we are all pretty good. I don’t suppose there are any rapists or murderers among us. If we were grading ourselves on goodness we would rank right up there pretty high on the scale. Let’s call ourselves Danny or Debbie Decent. From our perspective, we do everything right. We pay our taxes, pay our bills, pay attention to our family, and pay respect to our superiors. We are good people.
But God sees us differently. God sees what Danny and Debbie Decent choose to overlook. For as decent as we are walking through life, we make mistakes. For example, we stretch the truth. We might fudge, ever so slightly, on our expense report. We gossip about the new employee. From our perspective, these aren’t big deals. But our perspective does not matter. God’s does. And what God sees is a person wrapped in mistakes.
So let me ask you, is there any sin in your life? If so you are not perfect. You have not met God’s standard of perfection.
II. God’s solution is a pardon
Fortunately, there is good news. There is a solution, a remedy to our imperfection. God’s solution is a pardon found in Jesus Christ. Here’s how is works: “Christ made a single sacrifice for sins, and that was it! . . . It was a perfect sacrifice by a perfect person to perfect some imperfect people. . . . Our sins are taken care of for good” (Heb. 10:12-18 MSG). The apostle Paul described it this way: “He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). When Jesus Christ, God’s Son, went to the cross he took our sins, our mistakes, our evil, and our unrighteousness. He was the ultimate sacrifice.
R.G. Lee, former pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, TN, was visiting Gordon’s Calvary at Jerusalem, possibly the site where Jesus was crucified. Lee told the Arab guide he wanted to walk to the top of the hill. At first the guide tried to discourage him, but when he saw that Lee was determined to go, he went along. Once on the crest, Lee removed his hat and stood with bowed head, greatly moved. “Sir,” asked the guide, “have you been here before?”
“Yes,” replied Lee, “2,000 years ago.”
And so have we. We were there because our sins nailed Jesus to the cross. Now we must go there to find redemption, to find our pardon for our sin.
So, when it comes to salvation, when it comes to going to heaven, whether we are more like Hitler with our evil or more like Mother Teresa with our purity, our sins are no longer the issue. The issue is what we do about Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is God’s solution to our not measuring up to his standard. Jesus has already paid the price for our sin. Jesus is the perfect sacrifice by a perfect person to perfect some imperfect people. Jesus now offers us a pardon, a release from our sin.
Think about it this way: if a criminal was handed a pardon that would release him from prison, the issue is no longer the crime but rather what he will do about the pardon. If he refuses he will remain in prison. The questions, why he is in prison?, and why is he not out of prison? have two different answers. He is in prison because he is convicted criminal. He is not out of prison because he refuse the pardon. Likewise, the answer to the question, why will a person be in hell? Is because he is a sinner, but the answer to the question, why will he not be in heaven? Is because he did not accept the pardon offered in Christ.
Let me see if a story will not help clarify this issue. Many years ago a young boy shot and killed a man while gambling. In those days, murderers were sentenced to hang. But the townspeople were so concerned for the young lad that they gathered a petition asking the judge to pardon the boy. Finally, the judge agreed but only on one condition. The judge would wear a clergyman’s robe and collar and carry the pardon between the pages of the Bible.
As the judge approached the boy’s cell, he could hear the young man cursing and swearing at him. “Get out of here, preacher, I don’t want what you have to offer.”
“But, son,” the judge replied, “You don’t understand.”
“I understand fine,” said the boy. “I don’t want what you have to offer.”
The dejected judge left the jail. Later the guard told the boy that it was the judge who was dressed like a minister. Between the pages of the Bible was an authorized, sealed pardon for his release.
When the day of execution arrived, just before they put a black sack over the boy’s head, they asked if he had anything to say.
He replied, “I am not dying because I killed a man. I am dying because I rejected the pardon.”
You see the issue is not your sin. The issue is what you will do with Jesus Christ. Our fault before God is not necessarily our sin – He made a remedy for that. Our fault before God is rejecting the pardon.
“Yea, but,” I can hear some people say. And then the question: How could a loving God send good people to hell? The question itself reveals a couple of misconceptions. First, God does not send people to hell. He simply honors their choice, as when the judge honored the choice of the condemned boy who rejected the pardon. Hell is the ultimate expression of God’s highest regard for the dignity of man. He has never forced us to choose him, even when that means we would choose hell. As C. S. Lewis stated: “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ All that are in hell choose it.”
No, God does not “send” people to hell. Nor does he send “people” to hell any more than the judge sent the boy to be hung. That is the second misconception.
The word people is neutral, implying innocence. Nowhere does scripture teach that innocent people are condemned. People do not go to hell. Sinners do. The rebellious do. The self-centered do. The ones who reject God’s pardon do.
So how could a loving God send people to hell? He doesn’t. He simply honors the choice of sinners.
III. God’s salvation is through personal faith
So what must we do? We must, by faith, accept Jesus’ finished work on the cross as God’s only accepted way to enter heaven. God’s salvation is through personal faith in Jesus Christ. We must trust in what he has done for us.
Ten of the eleven world religions teach a salvation by good deeds. Christianity stands alone with its emphasis on faith rather than works for salvation. The Scriptures say, “For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift – not from works, so that no one can boast” (Eph. 2:8-9). Salvation is a gift – we don’t work for it, we don’t deserve it, we don’t earn it. We simply trust God for what he has done through his son, Jesus Christ.
It is like a medicine. You can believe a certain medicine will help you, but until you trust it enough to take it, it won’t do anything for you. Faith is more than believing in God. It is trusting in him to the point of receiving Christ into your life.
Was there a time when you honestly realized that you were a sinner and admitted that to God? Do you truly understand that Christ took your place on the cross? Do you understand that the real issue is not your sin, but what you will do with Jesus Christ? Have you received Christ alone for your salvation?
Why is context so important in studying the Bible? What is wrong with looking at verses out of context?
The main reason it is important to study the Bible in context is in order to obtain a correct understanding of the passage. Misunderstanding a portion of the Bible can lead to misapplying it in our lives as well as teaching something wrong to others. These are quite the opposite of God’s desire for our lives, which includes knowing His Word accurately, applying it in our own lives, and teaching it to others, following the example of Ezra, “For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel” (Ezra 7:10).
Another concern with taking the Bible out of context is the temptation to make the Bible say what we want rather than what it originally meant. Those who have taken this misguided approach have used Scripture to “prove” a wide variety of practices as “biblical.” However, a practice is only biblical if it is based on an accurate understanding of Scripture that includes studying the context surrounding a passage.
For example, some have taught that slavery was biblical since this practice can be found in the Bible. However, while it is true slavery is found in the Bible, the New Testament did not teach Christians to enslave one another. On the contrary, in Paul’s most personal letter regarding this issue, he wrote to Philemon with the intention that Philemon should free his runaway slave Onesimus (Philemon 1).
In addition, Genesis 1:27 speaks of men and women being created in God’s image. Christians are called to love neighbor as self (Mark 12:31), a practice that would certainly contradict the practice of modern slavery. Further, a close examination of slavery and servanthood in first century times shows that it often differed widely in application from modern slavery. A doulos (Greek word for servant) could have a servant of his or her own and held much responsibility. While there were certainly masters who treated their servants poorly in that time, slavery then was not practiced exactly as slavery has been in modern times. Without studying the context of biblical passages on this topic, however, past generations have used Scripture to support the most tragic of interpretations regarding the enslavement and mistreatment of people.
Scripture encourages readers to study the full counsel of God. In Acts 20:27, the apostle Paul told the elders in his presence, “I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.” Our lives are to follow this same practice of studying all of God’s Word to accurately understand its teachings and apply them to our lives. Second Timothy 2:15 is clear, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.”
Someone recently submitted a comment saying in part, “God is love PERIOD…Are you sure YOU know God?”
I had to admit, as I read the person’s comment that it was abundantly clear we didnot serve the same God. The idol god they endorsed was someone completely alien to the Father, because their perversion of “love” does not involve obedience to God’s commands. In this erroneous perspective, sin is of no consequence because God is love. Holding to God’s truths are merely academics in “biblical knowledge” which has nothing to do with a Christian’s call to “show love.” Somehow, I don’t think this is what God meant when He said that love covers a multitude of sins. God is love, but God is also Truth. You cannot separate the two without perverting who God is.
Christianity itself is being redefined to be about tolerance (of sin), diversity (of sin), and unity (with thosewillfully in sin). Anyone who speaks about sin is therefore “judging” and “unloving.” The hatred coming against those who speak against sin has indeed become palatable.
Let me say unequivocally that I am not a servant of this idol “god of love” promoted by many in the churchworld which shies away from addressing sin and uses the grace of God to promote lasciviousness. If that makes me your enemy, so be it.
Churches today are filled with people who hold to a faith that does not save. James referred to this as a “dead faith”-meaning a mere empty profession (James 2:17, 20, 26). Paul wrote to the people in the church at Corinth to test or examine themselves to see if they were truly in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). As important as it was in Paul’s day, how much more important it is for people in our churches today to put their faith to the test and to make sure they have not been deceived.
But where do we start? By what criteria do we determine true from empty faith? What are the distinguishing marks of genuine saving faith? Surprisingly, there are a number of popular standards or tests that really don’t prove the genuineness of one’s faith one way or the other. So before we look at the tests that prove genuine faith, let’s take a look at some popular tests that neither prove nor disprove the genuineness of one’s faith.
Here is a list of seven conditions that do not prove or disprove the genuineness of saving faith. One can be a Christian and possess these things or one may not be a Christian at all and still possess them. While they don’t prove or disprove one’s faith, they’re important to know and understand so you will not be deceived.
Seven conditions that do not prove or disprove genuine saving faith.
1. Visible Morality
There are some people who just seem to be good people. They can be religious, moral, honest, and forthright [trustworthy] in their dealings with people. They may seem to be grateful, loving, kind and tenderhearted toward others. They have visible virtues and an external morality. The Pharisees of Jesus day rested on visible morality for their hope and yet some of Christ’s harshest words were directed at them for this very thing.
Many who possess visible morality know nothing of sincere love for God. Whatever good works they appear to possess, they know nothing of serving the true God and living for His glory. Whatever the person does or leaves undone does not involve God. They’re honest in their dealings with everyone-but God. They won’t rob anyone-but God. They’re thankful and loyal to everyone-but God. They speak contemptuously and reproachfully of no one-but God. They have good relationships with everyone-but God. They are like the rich young ruler who said, “All these things [conditions] have I kept, what do I lack?” Their focus is on visible morality, but that visible morality doesn’t necessarily mean salvation. Jesus told one of the Pharisees “you must be born again” (John 3:6), not “you must put on an external morality.” People can “clean up their act” by reformation rather than regeneration-so reformation in itself is not a mark of saving faith.
2. Intellectual Knowledge
Another condition that can be misleading is intellectual knowledge. People can possess an intellectual understanding and knowledge of the truth and yet not be saved. While the knowledge of the truth is necessary for salvation, and visible morality is a fruit of salvation, neither of these conditions by themselves translate into true saving faith. People can know all about God, all about Jesus, who He was, that He came into the world, that He died on the cross, that He rose again, that He’s coming again, and even many details about the life of Christ-and still turn their backs on Him.
That’s what the writer of Hebrews was warning against in Hebrews 6:4-6. There were people in the church who knew all about God and understood gospel truths. They even had a measure of experience with gospel truth. They’d seen the ministry of the Holy Spirit at work in people’s lives-and yet knowing all of that, they stood in grave danger of turning away and rejecting Christ.
In Hebrews 10 the writer warns this kind of man that he is treading underfoot the blood of Christ by not believing what he knows to be true. There are many people who know the Scriptures but are on their way to hell! A man cannot be saved without the knowledge of the truth, but possessing that knowledge alone does not save.
3. Religious Involvement
Religious involvement is not necessarily a proof of true faith. According to Paul there are people who possess an outward form (a mere external appearance) of godliness but who have denied the power of it. They have an empty form of religion. Jesus illustrated this when He told of the virgins in Matthew 25. They waited and waited and waited for the coming of the bridegroom, who is Christ. And even though they waited a long time, when He came they didn’t go in. They had everything together except the oil in their lamps. That which was most necessary was missing. The oil is probably emblematic of the new life; the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. They weren’t regenerate. They had religious involvement but were not regenerate. A person can be visibly moral, know the truth, be religiously involved, and yet not possess genuine saving faith.
4. Active Ministry
It is possible to have an active and even a public ministry, and yet not possess genuine saving faith. Balaam was a prophet who turned out to be false (Deuteronomy 23:3-6). Saul of Tarsus (later becoming the apostle Paul) thought he was serving God by killing Christians. Judas was a public preacher and one of the twelve disciples of Christ-but he was an apostate. In Matthew 7:22-23 Jesus said, “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'” Those whom Jesus spoke of had been involved in active and public ministry-but Jesus said he never knew them. Sobering words indeed.
5. Conviction of Sin
By itself, even conviction of sin is not a proof of salvation. Our world is filled with guilt-ridden people. Many even feel badly about their sin. Felix trembled under conviction at the preaching of the apostle Paul, but he never left his idols or turned to God (Acts 24:24-6). The Holy Spirit works to convict men of sin, righteousness, and of judgment, but many do not respond in true repentance. Some may confess their sins and even abandon the sins they feel guilty about. They say, “I don’t like living this way. I want to change.” They may amend their ways and yet fall short of genuine saving faith. That’s external reformation, not internal regeneration. No degree of conviction of sin is conclusive evidence of saving faith. Even the demons are convicted of their sins-that’s why they tremble-but they are not saved.
6. The Feeling of Assurance
Feeling like you are saved is no guarantee you are indeed saved. Someone may say, “Well, I must be a Christian because I feel that I am. I think I am one.” But that is faulty reasoning. If thinking one is a Christian is what makes one a Christian, then no one could be deceived. And then, by definition, it would not be possible to be a deceived non-Christian, and that doesn’t square with the whole point of Satan’s deception. He wants people who are not truly saved to think they are. Satan has deceived multiplied millions of religious people into thinking they are saved even though they are not. They may say to themselves, “God won’t condemn me. I feel good about myself. I have assurance. I’m ok.” But that doesn’t necessarily mean a thing.
7. A Time of Decision
So often people say things like: “Well, I know I’m a Christian, because I remember when I signed the card,” or “I remember when I prayed a prayer,” or “I remember when I walked the aisle” or “went forward in church.” A person may remember exactly when it happened and where they were when “it” happened, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Our salvation is not verified by a past moment. Many people have prayed prayers, gone forward in church services, signed cards, gone into prayer rooms, been baptized, and joined churches without ever experiencing genuine saving faith.
These are seven common conditions or tests that don’t necessarily prove or disprove the existence of saving faith. What then are the marks of genuine saving faith? Are there some reliable tests from the Word of God that enable us to know for certain whether one’s faith is real? Thankfully there are at least nine biblical criteria for examining the genuineness of saving faith.
Nine conditions that prove genuine saving faith.
1. Love for God
First of all a deep and abiding love for God is one of the supreme evidences of genuine saving faith. This gets to the heart of the issue. Romans 8:7 says “the carnal mind is enmity [hostility, hatred] against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.” Thus, if a man’s heart is at enmity with God there is no basis for assuming the presence of saving faith. Those who are truly saved love God, but those who are not truly saved resent God and His sovereignty. Internally they are rebellious toward God and His plan for their life. But the regenerate person is set to love the Lord with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength. His delight is in the infinite excellencies of God. God is the first and highest affection of his renewed soul. God has become his chief happiness and source of satisfaction. He seeks after God and thirsts for the living God.
By the way, we must be careful to distinguish the difference between that kind of true love for God that seeks His glory from the kind of self-serving love that sees God primarily as a means of personal fulfillment and gain. True saving faith doesn’t believe in Christ so that Christ will make one happy. The heart that truly loves God desires to please God and glorify Him. Jesus taught that if someone loved their father and mother more than they loved Christ, they were not worthy of Him. In Matthew 10:37-39 Jesus put it like this: “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 10:37-39).
The question then is this: Do you love God? Do you love His nature? Do you love His glory? Do you love His name? Do you love His kingdom? Do you love His holiness? Do you love His will? Is your heart lifted when you sing His praises-because you love Him? Supreme love for God is decisive evidence of true faith.
2. Repentance from Sin
A proper love for God necessarily involves a hatred for sin that leads to repentance. That should be obvious. Who wouldn’t understand that? If we truly love someone we seek their best interests. Their well being is our greatest concern. If a man says to his wife, “I love you but I could care less what happens to you,” we would rightly question his love for her. True love seeks the highest good of its object. If we say that we love God, then we will hate whatever is an offense to Him. Sin blasphemes God. Sin curses God. Sin seeks to destroy God’s work and His kingdom. Sin killed His Son. So when someone says, “I love God, but I tolerate sin,” then there is every reason to question the genuineness of his love for God. One cannot love God without hating that which is set to destroy Him. True love for God will therefore manifest itself through confession and repentance. The man who loves God will be grieved over his sin and will want to confess it to God and forsake it.
In examining our faith we should ask: “Do I have a settled conviction concerning the evil of all sin? Does sin appear to me as the evil and bitter thing that it really is? Does conviction of sin increase in me as I walk with Christ? Do I hate it not primarily because it is ruinous to my own soul or because it is an offense to the God I love? Does the sin itself grieve me or am I only grieved over the consequences of my sin. What grieves me most-my misfortune or my sin? Do my sins appear to me as many, frequent and aggravated? Do I find myself grieved over my own sin more than the sins of others?” Genuine saving faith loves God and hates what He hates, which is sin. That attitude results in real repentance.
3. Genuine Humility
Saving faith is manifested through genuine humility. Jesus said blessed are those who are poor in spirit, and those who mourn [their sin], and those who are meek, and those who hunger and thirst for righteousness (Matthew 5:3-6)-all marks of humility. In Matthew 18 Jesus said that “unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). True saving faith comes as a little child-humble and dependent. It is not the man who is full of himself who is saved, but the man who denies himself, takes up his cross daily and follows Christ (Matthew 16:24).
In the Old Testament we see that the Lord receives those who come with a broken and contrite spirit (Psalm 34:18; 51:17; Isaiah 57:15; 66:2). James wrote: “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). We must come as the prodigal son, broken and humble. Remember what he said to his father-“Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son” (Luke 15:21). Those possessing genuine saving faith do not come boastfully to God with their religious achievements or spiritual accomplishments in hand. They come empty-handed in genuine humility.
4. Devotion to God’s Glory
True saving faith is manifested by a devotion to God’s glory. Whatever believers do, whether they eat or drink, their desire is to see God glorified. Christians do what they do because they want to bring glory to God.
Without question Christians fail in each of these areas, but the direction of a Christian’s life is to love God, hate sin, to live in humility and self-denial, recognizing his unworthiness and being devoted to the glory of God. It is not the perfection of one’s life but the direction of a life that provides evidence of regeneration.
5. Continual Prayer
Humble, submissive, believing prayer is mark of true faith. We cry “Abba, Father” because the Spirit within us prompts that cry. Jonathan Edwards once preached a sermon titled, “Hypocrites are Deficient in the Duty of Secret Prayer.” It’s true. Hypocrites may pray publicly, because that’s what hypocrites want to do. Their desire is to impress people-but they are deficient in the duty of secret prayer. True believers have a personal and private prayer life with God. They regularly seek communion with God through prayer.
6. Selfless Love
An important characteristic of genuine saving faith is selfless love. James wrote, “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you do well” (James 2:8). John wrote, “Whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?” (1 John 3:17).
If you love God you will not only hate what offends Him, but you will love those whom He loves. “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death” (1 John 3:14). And why do we love God and love others? Because this is the believer’s response to His love for us. “We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Jesus said we will know that we are His disciples by our love for each other (John 13:35).
7. Separation from the World
Positively, believers are marked by a love for God and for fellow believers. Negatively, the Christian is characterized by the absence of love for the world. True believers are not those who are ruled by worldly affections, but their affection and devotion is toward God and His kingdom.
In 1 Corinthians 2:12 Paul wrote that “we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.” In 1 John 2:15 we read: “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (1 John 2:15). True saving faith separates one from the pursuits of this world–not perfectly, as we all fail in these areas, but the direction of a believer’s life is upward. He feels the pull of heaven on his soul. Christians are those whom God has delivered from the power of darkness and conveyed into the kingdom of His Son. The believer is marked by the absence of love or enslavement to the satanically controlled world system (Ephesians 2:1-3; Colossians 1:13; James 4:4).
8. Spiritual Growth
True believers grow. When God begins a true work of salvation in a person, He finishes and perfects that work. Paul expressed that assurance when he wrote in Philippians 1:6, “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
If you are a true Christian, you are going to be growing-and that means you are going to be more and more like Christ. Life produces itself. If you’re alive you are going to grow, there’s no other way. You’ll improve. You’ll increase. The Spirit will move you from one level of glory to the next. So examine your life. Do you see spiritual growth? Do you see the decreasing frequency of sin? Is there an increasing pattern of righteousness and devotion to God?
Obedient living is not one of the optional tracks given for believers to walk. All true believers are called to a life of obedience. Jesus taught that every branch that abides in Him bears fruit (John 15:1-8). Paul wrote that believers “are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). That speaks of obedience. We are saved unto the obedience of faith (see 1 Peter 1:2).
How can we know our faith is genuine? Examine your life in the light of God’s Word. Do you see these characteristics in your life? Do you have a love for God, hatred for sin, humility, devotion to God’s glory, a pattern of personal and private prayer, selfless love, separation from the world, the evidence of spiritual growth and obedience. These are the real evidences of genuine saving faith.
Everyone Has a Worldview
A Chinese proverb says, “If you want to know what water is, don’t ask the fish.” Water is the sum and substance of the world in which the fish is immersed. The fish may not reflect on its own environment until suddenly it is thrust onto dry land, where it struggles for life. Then it realizes that water provided its sustenance.
Immersed in our environment, we have failed to take seriously the ramifications of a secular worldview. Sociologist and social watchdog Daniel Yankelovich defines culture as an effort to provide a coherent set of answers to the existential situations that confront human beings in the passage of their lives. A genuine cultural shift is one that makes a decisive break with the shared meaning of the past. The break particularly affects those meanings that relate to the deepest questions of the purpose and nature of human life. What is at stake is how we understand the world in which we live.
The issues are worldview issues. Christians everywhere recognize there is a great spiritual battle raging for the hearts and minds of men and women around the globe. We now find ourselves in a cosmic struggle between Christian truth and a morally indifferent culture. Thus we need to shape a Christian worldview and lifeview that will help us learn to think Christianly and live out the truth of Christian faith.
The reality is that everyone has a worldview. Some worldviews are incoherent, being merely a smorgasbord of options from natural, supernatural, pre-modern, modern, and post-modern options. An examined and thoughtful worldview, however, is more than a private personal viewpoint; it is a comprehensive life system that seeks to answer the basic questions of life. A Christian worldview is not just one’s personal faith expression, not just a theory. It is an all-consuming way of life, applicable to all spheres of life.
Distinguishing a Christian Worldview
James Orr, in The Christian View of God and the World, maintains that there is a definite Christian view of things, which has a character, coherence, and unity of its own, and stands in sharp contrast with counter theories and speculations. A Christian worldview has the stamp of reason and reality and can stand the test of history and experience. A Christian view of the world cannot be infringed upon, accepted or rejected piecemeal, but stands or falls on its integrity. Such a holistic approach offers a stability of thought, a unity of comprehensive insight that bears not only on the religious sphere but also on the whole of thought. A Christian worldview is not built on two types of truth (religious and philosophical or scientific) but on a universal principle and all-embracing system that shapes religion, natural and social sciences, law, history, health care, the arts, the humanities, and all disciplines of study with application for all of life.
Followers of Jesus must articulate a Christian worldview for the twenty-first century, with all of its accompanying challenges and changes, and to show how such Christian thinking is applicable across all areas of life. At the heart of these challenges and changes we see that truth, morality, and interpretive frameworks are being ignored if not rejected. Such challenges are formidable indeed. Throughout culture the very existence of normative truth is being challenged.
For Christians to respond to these challenges, we must hear afresh the words of Jesus from what is called the Great Commandment (Matt. 22:36–40). Here we are told to love God not only with our hearts and souls but also with our minds. Jesus’ words refer to a wholehearted devotion to God with every aspect of our being, from whatever angle we choose to consider it—emotionally, volitionally, or cognitively. This kind of love for God results in taking every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5), a wholehearted devotion to distinctively Christian thinking (or as T. S. Eliot put it, “to think in Christian categories”). This means being able to see life from a Christian vantage point; it means thinking with the mind of Christ.
The beginning point for building a Christian worldview is a confession that we believe in God the Father, maker of heaven and earth (the Apostles’ Creed). We recognize that “in him all things hold together” (Col. 1:15–18), for all true knowledge flows from the One Creator to his one creation.
We Believe in God, Maker of Heaven and Earth: A Worldview Starting Point
A worldview must offer a way to live that is consistent with reality by offering a comprehensive understanding of all areas of life and thought, every aspect of creation. As we said earlier the starting point for a Christian worldview brings us into the presence of God without delay. The central affirmation of Scripture is not only that there is a God but that God has acted and spoken in history. God is Lord and King over this world, ruling all things for his own glory, displaying his perfections in all that he does in order that humans and angels may worship and adore him. God is triune; there are within the Godhead three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
To think wrongly about God is idolatry (Ps. 50:21). Thinking rightly about God is eternal life (John 17:3) and should be the believer’s life objective (Jer. 9:23–24). We can think rightly about God because he is knowable (1 Cor. 2:11), yet we must remain mindful that he is simultaneously incomprehensible (Rom. 11:33–36). God can be known, but he cannot be known completely (Deut. 29:29).
We maintain that God is personal and is differentiated from other beings, from nature, and from the universe. This is in contrast to other worldviews that say God is in a part of the world, creating a continual process, and that the process itself is God—or becoming God. God is self-existent, dependent on nothing external to himself. God is infinite, meaning that God is not only unlimited but that nothing outside of God can limit God. God is infinite in relation to time (eternal), in relation to knowledge (omniscience), and in relation to power (omnipotent). He is sovereign and unchanging. God is infinite and personal, transcendent, and immanent. He is holy, righteous, just, good, true, faithful, loving, gracious, and merciful.
God, without the use of any preexisting material, brought into being everything that is. Both the opening verse of the Bible and the initial sentence of the Apostles’ Creed confess God as Creator. Creation is the work of the trinitarian God. Creation reveals God (Ps. 19) and brings glory to him (Isa. 43:7). All of creation was originally good but is now imperfect because of the entrance of sin and its effects on creation (Gen. 3:16–19). This is, however, only a temporary imperfection (Rom. 8:19–22), for it will be redeemed in the final work of God, the new creation.
The Creator God is not different from the God who provides redemption in Jesus Christ through his Holy Spirit. God is the source of all things. This means that God has brought the world into existence out of nothing through a purposeful act of his free will. A Christian worldview affirms that God is the sovereign and almighty Lord of all existence. Such an affirmation rejects any form of dualism, that matter has eternally existed, or that matter must, therefore, be evil since it is in principle opposed to God, the Source of all good.
A Christian worldview also contends that God is set apart from and transcends his creation. It also maintains that God is a purposeful God who creates in freedom. In creation and in God’s provision and preservation for creation, he is working out his ultimate purposes for humanity and the world. Human life is thus meaningful, significant, intelligent, and purposeful. This affirms the overall unity and intelligibility of the universe. In this we see God’s greatness, goodness, and wisdom.
General Implications of a Christian Worldview
A Christian worldview becomes a driving force in life, giving us a sense of God’s plan and purpose for this world. Our identity is shaped by this worldview. We no longer see ourselves as alienated sinners. A Christian worldview is not escapism but is an energizing motivation for godly and faithful thinking and living in the here and now. It also gives us confidence and hope for the future. In the midst of life’s challenges and struggles, a Christian worldview helps to stabilize life, anchoring us to God’s faithfulness and steadfastness.
Thus, a Christian worldview provides a framework for ethical thinking. We recognize that humans, who are made in God’s image, are essentially moral beings. We also recognize that the fullest embodiment of good, love, holiness, grace, and truth is in Jesus Christ (see John 1:14–18).
A Christian worldview has implications for understanding history. We see that history is not cyclical or random. Rather, we see history as linear, a meaningful sequence of events leading to the fulfillment of God’s purposes for humanity (see Eph. 1). Human history will climax where it began—on the earth. This truth is another distinctive of Christian thinking, for Christianity is historical at its heart. In the sense that according to its essential teaching, God has acted decisively in history, revealing himself in specific acts and events. Moreover, God will act to bring history to its providential destiny and planned conclusion.
God who has acted in history in past events will also act in history to consummate this age. So when we ask, “How will it end?” we do not simply or suddenly pass out of the realm of history into a never-never land. We pass to that which is nevertheless certain of occurring because God is behind it and is himself the One who tells us it will come to pass.
Developing a Christian worldview is an ever-advancing process for us, a process in which Christian convictions more and more shape our participation in culture. This disciplined, vigorous, and unending process will help shape how we assess culture and our place in it. Otherwise, culture will shape us and our thinking. Thus a Christian worldview offers a new way of thinking, seeing, and doing, based on a new way of being.
A Christian worldview is a coherent way of seeing life, of seeing the world distinct from deism, naturalism, and materialism, existentialism, polytheism, pantheism, mysticism, or deconstructionist postmodernism. Such a theistic perspective provides bearings and direction when confronted with New Age spirituality or secularistic and pluralistic approaches to truth and morality. Fear about the future, suffering, disease, and poverty are informed by a Christian worldview grounded in the redemptive work of Christ and the grandeur of God. Moreover, a Christian worldview offers meaning and purpose for all aspects of life.
While many examples could be offered, here are six particular applications where a Christian worldview provides a difference in perspective:
- Technology—Technology can become either an instrument through which we fulfill our role as God’s stewards or an object of worship that will eventually rule us. A Christian worldview provides balance and insight for understanding this crucial aspect of twenty-first-century life.
- Sexuality and marriage—Sexuality has become a major topic for those entering the third millennium. Much confusion exists among Christians and non-Christians. Sexuality is good in the covenant relationship of mutual self-giving marriage. Sexual intimacy, separated from covenant marriage, in hetero-sexual or homosexual relations is sinful and has a distorted meaning, a self-serving purpose and negative consequences.
- The environment—Environmental stewardship means we have a responsibility to the nonhuman aspects of God’s creation. Since God’s plan of redemption includes his earthly creation, as well as human (see Rom. 8:18–27), we should do all we can to live in it carefully and lovingly.
- The arts and recreation—The arts and recreation are understood as legitimate and important parts of human creativity and community. They express what it means to be created in the image of God. We need to develop critical skills of analysis and evaluation so that we are informed, intentional, and reflective about what we create, see, and do.
- Science and faith—For almost two centuries science has been at the forefront of our modern world. We must explore how we see scientific issues from the vantage point of a Christian worldview. An understanding of God includes the knowledge we gain through scientific investigation. With the lens of faith in place, a picture of God’s world emerges that complements and harmonizes the findings of science and the teachings of Scripture.
- Vocation—Important for any culture is an understanding of work. Work is a gift from God and is to be pursued with excellence for God’s glory. We recognize that all honest professions are honorable, that the gifts and abilities we have for our vocation (vocatio/calling) come from God, and that prosperity and promotions come from God.
These are only a few examples that could be cited that will help shape our thinking in other areas.
Thus Christian thinking must surely subordinate all other endeavors to the improvement of the mind in pursuit of truth, taking every thought captive to Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). At three places in the book of 2 Corinthians, Paul reminds us that we cannot presume that our thinking is Christ centered. In 2 Corinthians 3:14 we learn that the minds of the Israelites were hardened. In 4:4 Paul says that the unregenerate mind is blinded by the god of this world. In 11:3 the apostle says that Satan has ensnared the Corinthians’ thoughts. So in 10:5 he calls for all of our thinking to be liberated by coming under the lordship of Christ.
So today, as in the days of the Corinthian correspondence, our minds and our thinking are ensnared by the many challenges and opposing worldviews in today’s academy. Like Paul and Bernard of Clairveaux several centuries after him, we must combine the intellectual with the moral and spiritual expounded in Bernard’s famous statement:
Some seek knowledge for
The sake of knowledge:
That is curiosity;
Others seek knowledge so that
They themselves may be known:
That is vanity;
But there are still others
Who seek knowledge in
Order to serve and edify others;
And that is charity.
And that is the essence of serious Christian worldview thinking—bringing every thought captive to the lordship of Jesus Christ in order to serve and edify others. That is a high calling indeed as we move forward and faithfully into the twenty-first century.
The Puritans, preserving the line of faithful and orthodox Christians, have always had a passion for Truth. This pattern was established in the story of the Bereans who asked if what the Apostle Paul was saying was true (Acts 17:11). And how would they know? They searched the scriptures.
There are two sources of Truth: God’s work and his word. Psalm 148 reminds us that all creation communicates about God’s existence and his nature. Paul reiterates, in Romans 1:20, that all human beings can know that God exists and something about his nature through the things that he has made.
Reformers Martin Luther and John Calvin spoke of two books: God’s Word – the Special Revelation comprised of scripture, and His Works – the General Revelation of Creation.
Three other reformers–Campenella, Comenius, and Alsted–spoke of three books:
- The book of revelation – Special Revelation – The Bible
- The book of nature – General Revelation – Science (a la Aristotle)
- The book of the mind – Reason or Logic – Philosophy (a la Plato)
Truth is found at the intersection of the books of Scripture, nature, and reason. Comenius writes of the tripartite revelation for truth: “the only true, genuine and plain way of Philosophy is to fetch all things from sense, reason and Scripture.” Puritan Historian Dr. David Scott says that “Comenius went on to say that the end of scholarly endeavor is not to merely add to the wood pile of human knowledge, but to grow a living tree that from its roots to its boughs and fruit reflects the image of the words and works of its divine Creator.”  (For more on this subject see Dr. Scott’s excellent paper A Vision of Veritas: What Christian Scholarship Can Learn from the Puritan’s “Technology” for Integrating Truth .)
William Ames (1576-1633), the French Huguenot Educational Reformer, wrote of the three books,
Thus, let us not become the slaves of anyone, but performing military service under the banner of free truth, let us freely and courageously follow the truth …. Testing all things, retaining that which is good, let Plato be a friend, let Aristotle be a friend, but even more let truth (veritas) be a friend.
When, eight years after landing in New England, the Puritan fathers established Harvard College (now Harvard University) to educate pastors and civic leaders, they enshrined VERITAS with the three books in the college’s shield.
Harvard’s first mission statement was explicitly Christ centered:
Let every student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the main end of his life and studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life, John 17.3 and therefore to lay Christ in the bottom, as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning.
Christ is the focus of all of life and vocation. It was this that laid the groundwork for their Christian culture and self government.
Sadly, the Western world today is no longer founded on a Biblical worldview. And only the Biblical Worldview provides a foundation for free, just, prosperous, and compassionate nations. The four dominating worldviews today are Biblical Theism, Secularism, Evangelical Gnosticism, and Monism.
Question: “Why is God going to send a strong delusion in the end times?”
Answer: The Bible makes it clear why God is sending a strong delusion in the end times: “They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness” (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12). Simply put, God sends a strong delusion to those who chose not to believe the gospel of Christ. Those who take delight in mocking and rejecting Him, He will condemn.
It is man’s choice whether to accept and believe the truth of Jesus Christ as presented in the Scriptures. To receive the truth and the love God offers is in keeping with its teachings, “This is love for God: to obey His commands” (1 John 5:3). Conversely, to know the truth and not obey it is to face the wrath of God: “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness” (Romans 1:18). Frankly speaking, there is no more dangerous condition for man than to know the truth and refuse to obey it. To do so is to harden the heart and make God’s condemnation sure.
When one knows the truth and refuses to obey it, he is subject to any lie, any deception, any untruth that man can conjure up. “For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:21-22). Paul goes on in next few verses to describe the mindset and behaviors of those who disbelieve (see Romans 1:29-31). As a result of man’s foolishness and his arrogant disdain of the things of God, “God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done” (Romans 1:28). And correspondingly, “Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things, but also approve of those who practice them” (Romans 1:32).
Isaiah puts it succinctly: “They have chosen their own ways, and their souls delight in their abominations; so I [God] also will choose harsh treatment for them and bring upon them what they dread. For when I called, no one answered, when I spoke, no one listened. They did evil in My sight and chose what displeases Me” (Isaiah 66:3-4).
When men know the truth and refuse to receive it, when they refuse to obey it and hold it in unrighteousness, “they will be condemned for enjoying evil rather than believing the truth” (2 Thessalonians 2:12 NLT).
“God is love” (1 John 4:16). He is not some cruel monster who deliberately and inwardly delights in preparing people for everlasting condemnation. But He earnestly and lovingly proclaims the gospel of Christ, “not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
Throughout the Scriptures, God urges people to accept the truth. But when people reject Him and spurn His message, then—and not until then—God hardens them and turns them over to a deluded mind to wallow in their wickedness to their eternal damnation. This is what the Lord says about those who choose to reject the truth: “They greatly love to wander; they do not restrain their feet. So the Lord does not accept them; He will now remember their wickedness and punish them for their sins” (Jeremiah 14:10).
Sometime ago I posted a article called Moral Decay In America. I was pleased that several people were motivated to comment on this article, but there was one comment in particular that got my attention. Here’s the comment, “change nothing, just be yourself and experience peace.”
How do you feel about that statement?
The more I thought about it, the more thought-provoking it became. It is very true that to experience peace we must live in harmony with our true self. Striving to be something we are not only creates internal conflict and disharmony. So on this level I completely agree with the statement, “just be yourself.”
But which part of ourselves should we be?
Within each of us is the capacity to be generous or selfish, understanding or harsh, loving or unloving. It is up to each of us as individuals to choose what aspects of our character we want to nurture and develop. Clearly, if we want to maximize our potential, we need to make wise choices about the kind of person we will allow ourselves to become.
Prisons are full of people who were just being themselves. The problem is that the aspects of their personality that they chose to express had a negative effect on the world around them. So the philosophy of “just be yourself and everything will turn out fine” seems a little simplistic, don’t you think?
Who else could we be?
While it is true that everything we are, or will ever become, is already part of our true self. It is also true that most people do not know how to make the most of their incredible potential because they do not understand their true self. This is where learning advanced life skills can open the door to self-discovery and personal growth.
But no matter what kind of personal change we experience, we don’t grow into someone else, we develop into the best possible version of ourselves. Regardless of how it is expressed, we will always be ourselves. Think about it, who else could we possibly be?
We get to decide who we will become
Finding the best expression of our true self can involve any number of choices and challenges. Sometimes we need to learn to let go of those stealthy, little, self-imposed obstacles that can block our ability to realize who we really are. Other times, it’s about finding our passions or adjusting our focus to harmonize with our true nature.
Self-expression can be the vehicle by which we achieve our dreams, or it can land us behind bars. If we operated solely on instinct, the way animals do, there would be no room for choices and no basis for accountability. As humans though, we have the ability to exercise freedom of choice, and like it or not, with that freedom comes accountability.
Why accountability is a good thing
Accountability is a two-sided coin. If we use our freedom of choice in an unwise fashion, then we may experience undesirable consequences. On the other hand, if we make wise choices concerning the person we allow ourselves to become, life can be extremely rewarding.
Every single day of our life will present us with choices. Big or small, those choices represent opportunities. Do we use our freedom of choice to encourage our personal growth and development in a positive direction? Will we embrace the reality that the person we become is the culmination of the choices we make day in and day out, year after year?
When we accept personal responsibility for who we are, and how we impact the world around us, we grow. When we choose to be accountable to ourselves for our thoughts, our conduct, and our contribution, we add value to the world around us. Accepting the concept of accountability always creates opportunity.
Have you ever seen one of those cartoons where somebody has a little angel whispering in one ear, and a little devil on the opposite side, whispering in the other ear? One is saying, “Do the right thing,” while the other one is saying, “Never mind that, do what you want.”
In reality, those voices don’t come from any outside source. Those voices come from inside, and they are both a part of our nature. That is precisely why we need to make wise choices about which inner voice we will listen to. Nobody is all good or all bad, it’s not that cut and dried. Not one of us is always motivated to do the right thing, anymore than we are helpless against our wrong inclinations.
There is ALWAYS a choice
We listen to the voice we want to listen to, because ultimately, most people do what they want to do. What do you want to do? Which voice do you allow to guide your thoughts and actions?
Once we have an answer to those questions, it becomes a matter of developing the habit of consistently making choices that will support our decisions.
How to be yourself and be at peace
One of the best ways to develop a strong sense of inner peace is to take the time to discover your deepest personal values and passions. These two aspects of your true self define the person that you truly want to be. If you structure your self-expression around these core elements, you will create a deep sense of internal harmony.
Internal harmony is something that very few people ever realize because almost everyone is, to some degree, out of balance with their deepest values and passions. They are out of touch or insulated from their true self. When I work with others one-on-one, this is where we start. When I created TRUE SELF, this was the focus of the very first step. If you want a deep sense of inner peace, you need to discover what is at your very core, and build from there. You must discover your true self.
The self-discovery process
To be yourself, and be at peace with yourself, you must truly know yourself. Getting in touch with your true self is not usually as straightforward as we might like. The reason for this is because the real you likes to play hide and seek with your conscious mind. Our ego has a way of disguising our true self, so it requires some effort to unveil it.
We also have an emotional maze of pain and pleasure paradigms that will attempt to steer our efforts in the most comfortable direction. This is a built in safety mechanism that is designed to protect us emotionally, but it also tends to thwart our attempts at core discovery. If we are acting out of harmony with our true self we may subconsciously avoid facing that realization.
Not as difficult as it sounds
In spite of the psychological detours, the process is not as difficult as it might sound. By using a series of specially targeted questions, we can easily convince our deepest values and passions to come out of hiding and reveal themselves. Once that happens, the ability to “just be our true self, and be at peace,” tends to unfold naturally.
So, here we are back at that thought provoking facebook comment, “just be yourself and experience peace.” Do I agree with that statement? Yes, as long as that person you call yourself is in reality your true self.
How about you –
Do you feel that just being yourself will lead to inner peace?
Do you feel truly aware of and connected to your authentic self?
The lines are open!
Truth is Exclusive and Absolute
Some people are offended by truth because of its very nature— it is exclusive and it is absolute, not relative. The absolute nature of truth means that it does not depend on, nor is it changed by, people’s opinions. For example, if someone says, “There is no God,” that does not affect the existence of God. It only shows that the person is ignorant. Truth is also exclusive, meaning that it is “narrow” because it excludes anything contrary to it. Unfortunately, in the spiritual world, some people view the narrow nature of truth as “narrow mindedness.” We all recognize the narrowness of truth when it comes to the physical world. People do not put water in their gas tanks or jump from tall buildings if the elevator is full. We train our children to do what is “right” (like looking both ways before crossing a street), and not to do what is “wrong” (like running with a knife) so they will live safely in our “narrow minded” world.
There is a false belief held by some Christians, sort of a Christian myth, that if you are a good Christian you will not offend anyone. In fact, a Christian who offends people is sometimes considered to be just one more arrogant, insensitive, narrow-minded Christian, because it is thought that “true” Christians are sensitive and considerate, and never offend anyone.
To be sure, there are Christians who offend others by their tone of voice, overbearing manner, or by insistence on things that could be called “dogma” rather than truth. This article is not intended to excuse prideful Christian behavior, attitudes, or hardheartedness. History shows that there have been and still are many Christians who do not act very Christ-like. Much could be said about the great need for Christians to walk in love, have good character and demonstrate the fruit of the spirit.
Luke 7:23 (King James Version)
It is sometimes very difficult not to be offended in Jesus Christ, for the offense may be the result of my circumstances. I may find myself confined to narrow areas of service, or isolated from others through sickness or by taking an unpopular stance, when I hoped for much wider opportunities. Yet the Lord knows what is best for me, and my surroundings are determined by Him.Wherever He places me, and my surroundings are determined by Him. Wherever He places me me, He does so to strengthen my faith and power and to draw me into closer communion with Himself. And even if confined to a dungeon, my soul will prosper.
The offense that causes me to turn from Christ may be emotional. I may be continually confused and troubled over questions I cannot solve. When I gave myself to Him, I had hoped that my skies would always be fair, but often they are overcast with clouds and rain. But I must believe that when difficulties remain, it is that I may learn to trust Him completely–to trust and not be afraid. And it is through my mental and emotional struggles that i am being trained to tutor others who are being tossed by the storm.
The offense causing me to turn away may be spiritual. I had imagined that once within His fold, I would never again suffer from the stinging winds of temptation. Yet it is best for me the way it is, for when I endure temptation His grace is magnified, my own character matures, and heaven seems sweeter at the end of the day. learning to trust a righteous God that has proven Himself faithful, wonderful, marvelous and excellent is a painful but worthwhile endeavor to encounter in this life. Once I arrive at my heavenly home, I will look back across the turns and trials along my path and will sing the praises of my Guide. So whatever comes my way, I will welcome His will and refuse to be offended in my loving Lord.
Blessed is he whose faith is not offended,
When all around his way
The power of God is working out deliverance
For others day by day;
Though in some prison dark his own soul does fail,
Till life itself be spent,
Yet still can trust his Father’s love and purpose,
And rest therein content.
Blessed is he, who through long years of suffering,
Not now from active toil,
Still shares by prayer and praise the work of others,
And thus “divides the spoils.”
Blessed are you, O child of God, who does suffer,
And cannot understand
The reason for your pain, yet will gladly leave
Your life in His blest Hand.
Yes, blessed are you whose faith is “not offended”
By trials unexplained,
By mercies unsolved, past understanding,
Until the goal is gained.
I am experiencing the trial of my life at this very moment as I write this post. I cannot understand how any of this is working out for my good. I cannot see the victory coming or even piercing the doom and gloom I am faced with, but by faith I believe God is here and will make a way out of what seems to be no way. Our Father is forever acquainted with His permissive will and will see us through every storm. The pain is I believe to burn away our reliance on self.
I am going to cloth myself in His clothing, I am going to walk in the spirit, I am going to give thanks for Him trusting me to stand in His finished work and declare and decree victory though it seems so far away from reality. He will rescue me and receive His glorious praises from my unworthy vessel.
Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth.
Theologically, Real freedom is the ability to function the way God designed us to function. This is the reason why freedom and truth are so intertwined; we need to know what our purpose and design are before we can exercise the freedom to fulfill our mission on earth. That is also true of things we ourselves make. A meticulously manufactured car is a marvel on the road, is completely useless in the water. Similarly, we function at our best when our lives measure up to our creator’s prerequisite.
Anyone with a bit of knowledge, and any experience at all with today’s world, is aware of the fact that the people of today is facing a time of great crisis. Fundamental reason is that Basic truth has been thrown to the wind. God said in Hosea chapter 4:6 “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being my priest. Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.” Why are things in such a state of chaos? One of the reasons is ignorance of God’s truth. There probably has not been a time in this century when Bible truths even among the Believers have ruined to such a base level. Let us be more precise. We suffer a leadership crisis. Where are the godly leaders who know the Bible from “cover to cover”? You probably heard the old story about the judge who couldn’t find a Bible in his courtroom with which to swear in a witness; so he simply called for a Christian man and had the witness place his hand upon the brother’s head. The days are gone when God’s people were known as a “Bible-toting, Bible-quoting “or people living in submission to God’s word. Many members of the church never carry a Bible to worship, and they could not cite scriptural references on the most fundamental of doctrinal issues.
The majority of churches are not the solid Bible teaching centers, a few they used to be. The time was when the leaders and pastors of our churches were great Bible teachers who knew how to powerfully proclaim the truth. They were rich in Bible knowledge. The Bible teaching seminar and convention that we have seen in recent decades is sadly feeble. It is hard to find serious and deep Bible teaching that is spirit filled, strong in doctrine and life changing. The current professional and lively seminars are filled with case-study/story telling- scenarios and role-playing exercises that rely more on human wisdom than a respect for the authority of God’s Word. The supreme concern within God’s heart in giving us the Bible has been, through the centuries that we might understand what goes on in the human spirit, affecting everything we do. He has deliberately made the physical to correspond to the spiritual in such a way as to illustrate to us what is going on within.
One of the keys to triumphant Christian life is a persistent and continual pursuit of scriptural truth for freedom in the Spirit. Passion for precepts will drives everyone to extend and expose to new initiatives and create a new spiritual environment. The desire to keep growing in knowledge of god will inspire us to stretch beyond our fears and self-imposed boundaries. God’s Truth are essential in real, lasting, life-changing experience and genuine freedom.
There are two kinds of knowledge. These are the head knowledge and the revelation knowledge of Jesus Christ. Head knowledge of Jesus Christ is more of intellectual assent rather than experiential encounter with the Lord. A person may know all the great doctrines of the Bible, can give beautiful insights of biblical verses, but may not actually know God or have not personally experienced God in his life. Knowledge of God and knowledge about God are two different things.
For example Paul’s experience with the Lord is revelation knowledge. One of the distinguishing marks that a person’s experience with the Lord is revelation knowledge is the revolutionary transformation of such person and that is exactly what happened to Paul. Prior to his conversion Paul was a very different person and pursuing an entirely different direction in life. Formerly he was the persecutor of the Church of Jesus Christ. He was a violent man, a persecutor. .He did everything to oppose the followers of Jesus Christ. He was extremely fanatical for his religion. He had been a member of the Pharisees, the strictest sect of their religion. He is also filled with head knowledge about God, but he was alienated from the life of God. A person could be filled with so much theology, doctrine but still very much alienated from God. He thought he was living inside the will of God but actually outside of it.
But when the Lord Jesus was revealed to him the truth, one day while he was on a mission to Damascus, a dramatic transformation happened to his life. There is a radical revolution that happened to him, and the course of his life was totally altered. The Faith that he once tried hard to destroy became now the one he bravely proclaimed and he even risked his life for this faith. He became a radical preacher of the gospel. To achieve a Freedom in one’s life, the “Truth” (CHRIST) must first be revealed to that person. We should never settle for anything less, we must crave for the revelation of the Son of God in our life. Paul said “But I make known to you brethren that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
Without exception, Deceptive knowledge elevates the self and lowers God. It always, no matter how seemingly sincere and objective and scholarly, caters to human self–will, pride, fleshly inclinations, and independence. Those are the basic characteristics of the unredeemed, and they always direct and determine the unredeemed thinking, desires, and conclusions. The reason people love complex, elaborate philosophies and religions is because these appeal to human ego. They offer the challenge of understanding and doing something complex and difficult. For the same reason some people scoff at the gospel. It calls on them to do nothing—it allows them to do nothing—but accept in simple faith what God has done. The cross crushes human sin and crushes human pride. It also offers deliverance from sin and deliverance from pride.
Becoming a Christian does not give us all the answers to everything—certainly not in the areas of science, electronics, math, or any other field of strictly human learning. Many nonbelievers are more educated, brilliant, talented, and experienced than many believers. If we want our car fixed we go to the best mechanic we can find, even if he is not a Christian. If we need an operation we go to the best surgeon. If we want to get an education we try to go the school that has the best faculty in the field in which we want to study. As long as they are used properly and wisely, medicine and technology and science and all such fields of human learning and achievement can be of great value. Christians should thank God for them.
But if we want answers to what life is about—answers about origin, purpose, meaning, relevance, morals and destiny where we came from, where we are going, and why we are here, about what is right and what is wrong—then human learning cannot help us. If we want to know the ultimate meaning and purpose of human life, and the source of freedom, happiness, joy, fulfillment, and peace, we have to look beyond what even the best human minds can discover. Human attempts to find such answers apart from God’s revelation are doomed to fail. Jesus said in Luke 16:15 “And he said to them, You are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knows your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.”
The above Scripture is followed by the literal account of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). The Bible contrasts the extravagant and pleasurable life of a rich man verses the sorrowful existence of a poor beggar named Lazarus. In the end, the Bible tells us that the rich man went straight to Hell to be tormented in flames; but Lazarus was escorted by angels into Abraham’s Bosom (i.e., Paradise). There is not a clearer passage of Scripture in the Word of God, testifying to the vanity of earthly fame and fortune. The rich man had it all―wealth, health, power, security, friends, and the respect of his peers; BUT, he didn’t have Jesus. In sharp contrast, Lazarus had nothing except Jesus. He was sick and the Bible says that dogs came and licked his wounds. Lazarus ate from the rich man’s garbage, whatever he could scrape together. The Bible tells us that the rich man was consumed in his mind concerning building bigger storage barns for his grain, and laying up massive wealth for his old age; BUT, his retirement never came because God ended his life. The selfish rich man never gave thought to helping Lazarus in any way, nor did he think about God or the eternal destiny of his soul.
The world measures greatness by many standards. At the top are intelligence, wealth, prestige, and position—things which God has determined to put at the bottom? – “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.” God reveals the greatness of His power by demonstrating that it is the world’s nobodies that are His somebody. According to Jesus, the greatest man who ever lived, was John the Baptist. He had no university education, no money, no military rank, no political influence, no social position, no prestige, no impressive appearance or oratory. Yet Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist” (Matt. 11:11). This man fit none of the world’s standards but all of God’s. And what he became was all to the credit of God’s power. Why Because John was A BURNING WITNESS TO THE LIGHT-John 1:6-8-There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came for testimony, to bear witness to the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light. Jesus Said He Was Born to Bear Witness to the Truth “You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth. (John 5:33) Jesus also said “For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.”
Knowledge of Divine truth is the fundamental factor of all meaningful relationships. Truth means is love and justice in action — the action of selflessness, of esteeming others above ourselves. All interpersonal problems could be solved with a faithful, mutual expression of divine love. Imagine what the world would be like if everyone acted in truth and love. No war. No divorce. No evil, No AIDS. No murder. No rape. No tears. No sin. We want to be appreciated, loved, treated with dignity, and esteemed. This, then, is the way we ought to treat others. The double benefit is that when we treat others that way, they begin to treat us the same and our relationships are characterized by God’s truth, divine love, transparency, trustworthiness, respect and faith.
The more you know the truth of God the more powerful you are to change your world. There is no excuse for not being the best you possible. Now is the time to change your life, regain the power you have given away because you are waiting for someone else to fix things for you, and get what you know you deserve. So what are you waiting for? Truth is liberty in many ways. It has the power to eradicate ignorance, sin; poverty, bondage and make individuals become free indeed. Bible is God’s liberating power of Divine Truth. THIS BOOK contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword and the Christian’s charter. Here paradise is restored, heaven opened and the gates of hell disclosed. Christ is its grand object; our good is its design and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, and prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure. It is given you in life, will be opened in the judgment, and will be remembered forever. This why ““Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
God Bless you!!!!!
The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.
Do you ever ponder the price paid for freedom as a child of God and as a human being? We all were or still are a slave to sin. Myself and other African-Americans come from a past of our for fathers not being able to drink from any water fountain or enter any particular establishment to eat or entertain. How many of you take freedom for granted? How many of you live to set someone free from the bondage that exist in their life at present? The Truth will set you free not ideologies and opinions.
I wonder how many of us live in the “Truth” of the essential Jesus. I wonder how many of us live our life based off the opinion of others. Do you realize you will be judged by the “Truth”? I realized this week that society as a whole is not favorable about the “truth”. Only “Truth” shapes the “Truth”. I will attempt to introduce the author of “Truth” in a two-part series starting today and concluding tomorrow If the “Truth” wills it.
The Liberating power of Divine Truth
Truth purifies human thought
Truth destroys illusions
Truth set you free
“Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”(John 8:31-32 NLT)
There is a humorous tale about a young lad who approached his father and asked, “Dad, why does the wind blow?” to which the father responded, “I don’t know, son.” “Dad, where do the clouds come from?” “I’m not sure, son.” “Dad, what makes a rainbow?” “No idea, son.” “Dad, do you mind me asking you all these questions.” Not at all sons, if you don’t ask question, how else are you going to learn?” The father was honest to admit his ignorance but encouraged his son to keep asking question. But a parent with knowledge is a blessing for their children. “Research shows that children of educated parents are healthier, perform better academically, and are more likely to attend higher studies themselves than children of those with lower educational background and the same truth applicable to the knowledge of God.
We cannot give someone what we don’t have ourselves and we can’t teach someone what we don’t know ourselves. Sincerity is the foundation of our humanity. Sincere inquiry leads to successful investigation. Successful investigation adds value to our knowledge. Truth tests our reasoning and improves our minds. We must anticipate Truth is leading to a better society and a better world. Self-transformation leads to world transformation. Learning truth is the beginning of freedom and action. Free Action is the completion of learning truth. Truth shapes your world view. Your world view shapes life. Knowing the truth and practicing it is the key to the freedom.
Edward Everett said “Education is a better safeguard of liberty than a standing army.” “Education makes people easy to lead, but difficult to drive; easy to govern, but impossible to enslave. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” Education of Truth is a companion which no misfortune can depress, no crime can destroy, no enemy can alienate, no despotism can enslave. Look at the words of Jesus in John 8:31 and 32 that…”If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”The truth is there at all times – whether or not we recognize it – but unless we know the truth, and apply it, truth itself is helpless. The Bible is full of truths, but you must be careful that the “truth” you follow is an original and Biblical truth and not an interpretation from man, specially a man with an agenda. Once you know what the Bible actually says, then you can apply that truth to your life.
We credibly often use the expression “the truth will set you free” because we live in a society where freedom and truth are cherished more than anything else. Yet many people do not really know the truth and enjoy no freedom. They are slaves to their own sinful desires. They are enslaved by the fear of guilt, death and condemnation. The man set canon and Constitution cannot make us free from this kind of bondage. But Jesus can set us free from the bondage of sin and death. James 1:25 tells us that practicing God’s perfect law gives us freedom.
“What is truth?
” Truth is one of the central subjects in philosophy. It is also one of the largest. Truth has been a topic of discussion in its own right for thousands of years. Moreover, a huge variety of issues in philosophy relate to truth, either by relying on theses about truth, or implying theses about truth. It would be impossible to review all there is to say about truth in any coherent way. Instead, this sermon will concentrate on the Biblical themes in the study of truth.
Almost 2,000 years ago, a Roman governor (Pilate) chose to ask a profound and significant question to “The Lord Jesus” —the man who handed over to be executed — “What is truth?” It was a rhetorical question, a cynical response to what Jesus had just revealed: “I have come into the world, to testify to the truth.” Pilate didn’t realize that he was talking to the Truth.
He was talking to God in the flesh — the One through whom the worlds were created. The Old Testament refers to the Almighty as the “God of truth” (Deut.32:4; Ps 31:5; Is.65:16). Jesus said in John Gospel chapter 14:6 “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” He was thereby making a profound claim about His own deity. He was also making it clear that all truth must ultimately be defined in terms of God and His eternal glory. After all, Jesus is “the brightness of [God’s] glory and the express image of His person” (Heb 1:3). He is truth incarnate—the perfect expression of God and therefore the absolute embodiment of all that is true.
“What is truth” Most people ponder that question at some time in their lives, especially at critical points when they are struggling with the question of the meaning of life. After all, the need for meaning is a basic human need, and there can be no meaning without some ultimate truth. We seem to know instinctively that ultimate truth is somehow related to the existence of God. In fact, it is interesting that those who deny the existence of God are the same ones who say there is no absolute truth and that everything is relative. But something deep within us says this is not so — something tells us that God exists and that He holds the key to truth. However, that raises another question. If there is a God, a creator, as evidenced by creation, how do we know who He is? How do we know what He’s like? Has He revealed Himself and His truth to the human race? The answer is yes! He has revealed Himself to all mankind and He has authenticated His communication to us in such a way that it is clear that it is His word and no one else’s.
Truth is that which conforms to reality, fact, or actuality.” Truth is that which is consistent with the mind, will, character, glory, and being of God. Even more to the point: Truth is the self-expression of God. Because the definition of truth flows from God, truth is theological. Truth is also ontological—which is a fancy way of saying it is the way things really are. Reality is what it is because God declared it so and made it so. Therefore God is the author, source, determiner, governor, arbiter, ultimate standard, and final judge of all truth.
Jesus also said that the written Word of God is truth. It does not merely contain nuggets of truth; it is pure, unchangeable, and inviolable truth that “-and the Scripture cannot be broken-” (John 10:35). Praying to His heavenly Father on behalf of His disciples, He said this: “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:17). To recover man out of his fallen state, the Holy Scripture is of much greater aid to us than the air we breathe, or the light of the sun. There is need of the word of God to enlightening the eyes – Showing men what they should do and what they should avoid. It is by God’s commandments that we see the exceeding sinfulness of sin, and the necessity of redemption, so that we may love the Lord with all our heart, and our neighbor as ourselves. For this is the end of the commandment, and thus to enlighten the eyes is its use.
Hence David said “Let me understand the teaching of your precepts;” Psalm 119:27, Precepts are breaking scripture down into micro chunks, word by original word and then building it back up. It is a style of teaching that believes that they cannot do better than to teach the Bible the way it was originally written in other word David prayed Lord teach me your “original idea” he says “How I long for your precepts” Psalm 119:40 David also prayed “Teach me, O LORD, to follow your decrees” Psalm 119:33- we need the guidance of the Spirit of wisdom in the heart to understand the way of God’s precepts, the meaning of them, to have a more comprehensive, clear, and distinct knowledge of them; and to be led into the way they direct unto, and walk therein; not the mere words, but the way of applying them to our life daily. God, by his Spirit, gives a right understanding and puts his Spirit within us, causing us to walk in his statutes. The statutes of the Lord – The word here rendered statutes properly means mandates, precepts – rules given to anyone to guide him.
Moreover, the Word of God is eternal truth “which lives and abides forever” (1 pet 1:23). Of course, there cannot be any discord or difference of opinion between the written Word of God (Scripture) and the incarnate Word of God (Jesus). In the first place, truth by definition cannot contradict itself. Second, Scripture is called “the word of Christ” (Col 3:16). It is His message, His self-expression. In other words, the truth of Christ and the truth of the Bible are of the very same character. They are in perfect agreement in every respect. Both are equally true. God has revealed Himself to humanity through Scripture and through His Son. Both perfectly embody the essence of what truth is.
Remember, Scripture also says God reveals basic truth about Himself in nature. The heavens declare His glory (Ps 19:1). His other invisible attributes (such as His wisdom, power, and beauty) are on constant display in what He has created (Rom 1:20). Knowledge of Him is inborn in the human heart (Rom 1:19), and a sense of the moral character and loftiness of His law is implicit in every human conscience (Rom 2:15).
If there is such a thing as truth, then we should be able to find it. If truth cannot be known, then it probably doesn’t exist. But, it does exist. For example, “Something cannot bring itself into existence.” This is an absolutely true statement. In order for something to bring itself into existence, it would have to exist in order to be able to perform an action. But if it already existed, then it isn’t possible to bring itself into existence since it already exists. Likewise, if it does not exist then it has no ability to perform any creative action since it didn’t exist in the first place.
But if it already existed, then it isn’t possible to bring itself into existence since it already exists. Likewise, if it does not exist then it has no ability to perform any creative action since it didn’t exist in the first place. Therefore, “Something cannot bring itself into existence” is an absolute truth. Therefore, we can say that truth conforms and affirms reality. God would be truth, the absolute and true essence of being and reality who is the author of all truth. If you are interested in truth beyond yourself, then you must look to God. For the Christian, the ultimate expression of truth is found in the Bible, in Jesus who said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life…” (John 14:6)
“The truth will set you free” is a commonly used phrase, in the world today. Many would consider it one of the great laws of life. Only those who study the scripture carefully have an idea about the source and the real meaning. Even people, who don’t believe in Jesus, believe in this phrase of His, not knowing the source and practical application. So Let us consider to give some attention to the context of our text.
John chapter Eight begins with a beautiful expression “But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.” “At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts; where all the people sat gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them.”
Jesus went to the Mount of Olives, and there he knelt down and prayed, as it was his normal custom. As we know that usually, Jesus prayed there all night, and then from the early morning Jesus came in the temple court and begins to teach them the word of truth. The word of God and prayer were the two basic ingredients in Jesus’ daily life. Suddenly a group of people stormed into the temple courts, interrupting Jesus’ teachings. They were few self righteous religious people. They were not alone. They dragged in a woman caught in the act of adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” As usual, they didn’t ask Jesus this question to learn from him. Verse 6 says that they used this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing Jesus. In fact, they thought this was a perfect time to entrap Jesus. If he answered “yes” he would get in trouble with the Roman authorities as the Jews did not have the right to carry out a death sentence (John 18:31). He would also contradict his own teaching of forgiveness and mercy. On the other hand, if he said “no” he would oppose the Law of Moses which was a serious transgression to the Jews.
“But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground.” We don’t know what Jesus wrote on the ground. Most likely he wanted to give them a few moments to reflect on what they were doing and come back to their senses. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” The religious frauds were self-righteous and dragged the woman around with their hands. But Jesus challenged their consciences and their consciences were pierced. They could not deny their sinfulness before the Holy God. What did they do? Look at verse 9. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. They tried to condemn Jesus as well as the woman. Instead, they were condemned by their own evilness. We see that the world is filled with condemnations.
Look at verses 10, 11. “Jesus straightened up and asked her, `Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ `No one, sir,’ she said. `Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. `Go now and leave your life of sin.’” In these verses we learn two things about Jesus. First, Jesus did not condemn, but saved her. Second, Jesus gave her a new life direction. Jesus also said to the woman, “Go now and leave your life of sin.” Jesus not only saved her from condemnation; he also commanded her stop sinning and start a new life — life based on God’s word, not on her sinful desires. Jesus saves a woman from the hands of religious hypocrites and gives her a new life direction.
Jesus knew that the religious people were also slaves to their own sinful desires, even though they looked religious outwardly. As he was preaching the word of God, many of them opened their hearts and believed. After this transformational encounter Jesus said, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” Truth is a very powerful force. It brings light where there is darkness. It brings clarity where there is confusion. It can impact an entire nation just as easily as it can impact a single individual. Truth enables us to discern and reject the lies of the enemy. Truth demolishes arguments and pretensions that are at war with the knowledge of God. Truth, will “take captive every thought” and make it obedient to Jesus (2 Corinthians 10:5 ).
It isn’t just the truth that sets you free, it is first knowing the truth and then applying it that sets you free. The truth is original information and it is there at all times – whether or not we recognize it – but unless we know the truth, and apply it, truth itself is powerless. Jesus said to the people who believed in him,”If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”To enjoy real freedom we must 😦 a) Believe that Jesus is the son of God and savior. (b) Hold on to the teachings of Jesus (c) know the truth, (d) truth will set you free. – more than just a student who learns about His teachings, but a follower who emulates Him in all that you do In verse 34, Jesus tells us “everyone who sins is a slave to sin” so, if you are a slave, then you are not free. In verse 36 He says that if he sets you free, then you will be free indeed.
Our freedom therefore requires that if we believe that Jesus is our savior, and hold to His teachings in all things, then His truth will set us free. It is not enough to receive God’s truth – we must retain and walk in it. And it is only when we receive the truth, love it, keeps it, and walks in it, and then we are the genuine Disciples of Christ. The service of God is freedom from degrading vices and carnal propensities; from the slavery of passion and inordinate desires. It is a cheerful and delightful surrender of ourselves to Jesus whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light. No man is truly free, but he in whose heart the power of sin is destroyed, and who has received the Spirit of adoption, through which he cries, Abba! Father!”Romans 8:15 says “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The bondage of sin is the most grievous bondage; and freedom from its guilt and influence is the greatest liberty.
I want to stop here and pick-up in the next post. I hope this revived your stance on the “Truth”. May God hold you steady until we meet again In Jesus name.