September 25, 2016
In this issue: Correcting the Evil World by Joe Fitch | Is Your Faith Based on Evidence? by Stephen Russell
It is easy to pick up preaching themes from the world news. There is much that is shocking – and shockingly wrong. We get caught up with evaluating the world – correcting the world – fixing its ills – reforming society. Actually, little needs to be said about the character of the world. It is evil – always has been.
Preaching like the first century? Which apostle preached about corruption in the Roman government? Where is the New Testament’s expose of the decadent, cruel, and insane policies of Caesar – or Herod – or Agrippa? Who led a crusade for justice and fairness in the Roman government? Who demanded liberty? Who opposed the oppressive taxes? Christians, small and great, were noticeably absent from all attempts to revamp society or to restructure nations.
There were no sermons defining how to vote – of course, there was no vote. No one even demanded the right to vote. Democracy was not interwoven into first century Christianity. No patriotic sermons. No Christian led revolts against the system because of its evil. They understood being in the world but not of the world (John 17:14).
Yet, we feel compelled to fix the world where we live – without any biblical principle or precedent. Quit the nonsense! Abandon the impossible task! You will not change the evil world.
What Shall We Do?
Submit as a citizen -- “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities” (Romans 13:1). God expects it – even when rulers are far from good. “For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves” (Romans 12:1). Rebelling against government may be appealing, but it is not a recommendation to God. You must obey– not only to avoid civil punishment, but also for “conscience sake” (v.5}.
Exercise your rights as a citizen. Paul did occasionally. “Is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman, and uncondemned?” (Act.27:25). “For if I am an offender, or have committed anything deserving of death, I do not object to dying; but if there is nothing in these things of which these men accuse me, no one can deliver me to them. I appeal to Caesar” (Acts 25:11). Paul was a Roman citizen, but it was not his obsession. He was much more concerned with his heavenly citizenship. “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body,...” (Philippians 3:20). As a citizen, seek the protection of law, enjoy liberty, vote as you are allowed. You may even complain a little. It is allowed, but lead no crusade about it.
Work with people. What can you do – effectively? You can often effect change in an evil person. Convict them with the word of God. Show them sin in all its ugliness. Let them see the judge – and the fearful and eternal judgment upon sinners. Repentance – a change of life’s direction – may result. For centuries, Christians have been doing that – and dramatically changing lives.
Report the good news of redemption for sinners – even the worst of sinners. Show them the great mercy of the Lord of heaven. Let them envision a new and grand life open before them – with heaven’s gates open at the end. This news will be all the more precious after they realize what it means to be lost. For them, be sure to answer the question: “What must I do to be saved?”
Report the good news of God’s power to transform the character of men. Those who were once “conformed to this world” — pressed into the world’s mold – can be fully “transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). That transformation is exactly what God seeks in man. That transformation demonstrates “what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” It is possible to be a new man! – a completely different man! It is possible to be transformed into the very spiritual image of Jesus. “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Corinthians 3:18).
The world is an impossible challenge to correct, reform, or materially influence. Jesus came and went back to heaven; the evil world was little different. Christianity in its height – its most powerful and influential stage – did not change the character of the evil world. And yet from Jesus until now, men have been changed – one by one. Forget reforming the evil world! Do something worthwhile. Be an Andrew; bring a lost soul to Jesus.
-via Bible Comment, Coppell, TX and Gospel Power, Anderson, AL
In the minds of so many today religion is something that is good for the mental well-being of an individual. It has been relegated to being little more than a fairy tale that makes people feel good. That’s okay if it makes you feel good then go ahead and believe in that, some will say in a condescending tone. Can your faith stand this ridicule? The answer for many has been a disappointing no as they have given in on questions of the Creation or the deity of Jesus Christ. How do you view your faith? Is it something you have because it makes you feel good or is it something you have developed as a result of learning truth that leads to reasonable conclusions? Hopefully it is the latter.
How do we ground ourselves in the faith? So then faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Rom. 10:17). It is through intensive study of God’s word that we come to know more assuredly the truth of God and His Son. This should be the primary focus of anyone seeking more confidence in the Word. Read the Word.
What about scientists, historians, and the like? It should be any Christian’s assertion that the Bible is true in every field it addresses. Whether science, history, hygiene, etc. it is always accurate. With that in mind we should not fear to address any question from any one of these fields. I do not believe we need PhDs or years of research in all of these areas to discuss them. Nor do I believe that we need extensive knowledge in these areas to have a properly grounded faith. But if you are going to get into a discussion don’t be afraid to do a little research. Don’t be afraid that science will refute your faith. If your faith has been grounded as it should be then you will approach any subject knowing that the truth is on God’s side and therefore you will find the truth in these areas. The evidence in these fields to support God is overwhelming.
We do not need to concede that we cannot prove our faith. We do not need to think that we believe in something as ill supportable as the idea that the earth is flat. Our faith is based on evidence. Our faith can be proved. We are rational people drawing rational conclusions. What is the alternative? It is a very prevalent alternative which says, I don’t care about facts, my faith is in my heart. God has never expected faith without evidence. John says of his writings, but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. (Jn. 20:31). Evidence is given; a verdict is demanded.
In conclusion, let me offer a word of caution. If you are tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, then you need to take extreme care (cf. Eph. 4:14). This type of person is not the type of person who is established in the doctrine inside of the Word much less the premise of whether it is even from God. This person needs to establish himself with the ability to come to a firm conclusion and hold with conviction. And that doesn’t matter whether he is talking to a brother in Christ or an atheist. Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Heb. 11:1) ~