Friday, May 12, 2006

The World Today (4)

This is the fourth and final part of chapter 9 of my book, Biblical Glasses.

Next, from Biblical history we see God’s desire for His chosen nations to do His will. And God is patient! But when His nations in their apostasy become prideful and do not conform to His will, He disciplines them by lowering His hedge of protection around them, making them more vulnerable to outside attacks.

We saw this in Old Testament Israel repeatedly, as many nations were allowed to invade to draw repentance. Read the Book of Judges! We have seen this with America as well. Recall again the 9/11 tragedy; perhaps the attacks relate to what has been happening in America since the 1960s. To paraphrase and quote David Reagan, since America is in rebellion against God—in the process of jettisoning our Christian heritage, converting into a secular society, embracing a hedonistic lifestyle, and morally polluting the entire world—perhaps God permitted the attacks as a judgment on our nation.

Think about it for a moment—God allowed the symbols of American pride to be destroyed, the symbols of both wealth and power: The Trade Towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.

We must face up to the unpleasant reality that we are a nation in rebellion against God. … As we began turning our back on God during the 20th century, God started placing judgments upon us to call us to repentance. The Vietnam War was a judgment. Additional judgments included the drug epidemic, the homosexual scourge, the AIDS plague, the glut of pornography, and the rebellion of young people.

The first chapter of Romans teaches that God pours out His wrath on a rebellious nation by stepping back, lowering His hedge of protection, and allowing evil to multiply. It’s as if He were saying, ‘If you really want to live in a fouled nest, then I will let you.’ According to Romans 1, when He first steps back, a sexual revolution occurs (see Romans 1:24-25). That happened in the United States in the 1960s. If the society persists in its rebellion, then God will take another step back and lower His hedge of protection even more. The result will be a plague of homosexuality (see Romans 1:26-27). The United States has been experiencing this judgment since the 1970s. If the society continues its rebellion, God will take a third step back and deliver the nation to a ‘depraved mind’ (see Romans 1:28-31). This is the point at which the Lord moves the nation from judgment to destruction. We are at that point.

We have dug in our heels and set our jaw against God. We have been shaking our fist at Him, saying, ‘Who are You to try to tell us what to do?’ We have thumbed our nose at the very One Who has blessed us beyond anything we have ever deserved.

So, I believe that God allowed the attacks of September 11, 2001 in order to get our attention—to call our nation to repentance before He is forced by His character to deliver us from judgment to destruction.
If this is not the case, if post-modernism, which calls for extreme tolerance and says that no absolute truth exists, is correct, then when Osama bin Laden, truly convicted that his belief was right, that he was on God’s side to terrorize America, directed the attacks on America, he was right! It was true and justifiable, simply because he believed it! The same goes for Hitler during World War II. Extermination of the Jews during the Holocaust can be justified, simply because Hitler believed it to be so. The same goes for anyone who believes anything! What an outrage!

Ultimately, if no repentance comes from the nation, it will fall as God allows. Israel fell, because it failed to repent and turn to God; Judah fell because of its stubborn refusal to remain committed to God with a penitent heart. It is difficult to imagine how mighty America could be felled by another nation, but keep in mind the power of a nuclear or chemical weapon. America could be destroyed in seconds! America as a nation must repent and turn to God!

Finally, we see from Biblical history that God expects His Church—not the physical building, but the body of believers—to serve the people of the world during their time on earth. This is done by four primary means.
First and foremost is evangelism. Believers are called by the Great Commission to preach the Gospel to the entire world. In other words, Christians are called to evangelize the lost.

Second, the Church is called to edify the saved. This includes teaching, encouraging, and building up believers so they grow in Christ and become more useful to God in spreading the Gospel. Believers begin making wise and discerning decisions, often based on the idea of “What Would Jesus Do?”, because they actually learn to know what Jesus would do!

These first two measures are fulfilled through the preaching of the Word of Truth. The Church, in preaching the Gospel, must be neither concerned with political correctness nor overly liberal in its interpretation of Scripture. It must not teach what the Bible forbids, which is unfortunately the case in many liberal churches throughout our increasingly liberal society. Rather, the Church “must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that [it] can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it” (Titus 1:9); it “must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1).

Third, the Church must minister to the needy, with the full support of its members, who, being edified, understand why they should be generous. Although I do not have space for a discussion of the topic of welfare in America, I feel it is important to mention, because the Church should be ministering to the needy, there should be no government welfare programs! The Bible says: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10).

Finally, the Church is called to be a conscience in the community. The Bible says: “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Think about the impact of an entire church living for Christ every day of their lives! Although this may be only a dream, Christians must still maintain a healthy skepticism about modern American society. We should be discerning when it comes to educational, economic, and civic structures; we should support what is good and healthy but continue to stand against sin.

Christians should be in the world, but not of the world. Because we know that this world is temporary—it is not our eternal home—we should show the world the glory of God, rather than separate ourselves from the world.
In the Bible, the great prophet Elijah asked the nation of Israel, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal is God, follow him” (1 Kings 18:21). Israel had a choice to follow God or to follow Baal. They chose Baal and were destroyed. America likewise can choose its worldview.
Each American has a choice regarding the worldview to which he or she subscribes. Choose what the evidence supports: Creation, absolute truth, and a patient, loving, infinitely merciful, infinitely just God. Or choose what the evidence does not support: Evolution, relativism, no eternal consequences, and no God.

If we choose a Biblical worldview, we must remember that Jesus wants more than mere acknowledgement; He wants more than admiration. He wants our adoration; He wants praise and worship through our lives, through an individual, intimate relationship with Him. He wants us to enjoy the gifts He has given to us, especially in America! But we must be careful not to become so infatuated with the gifts that we forget about God. Sinclair Ferguson said, “How foolish to seek the gift, when it is possible to seek the Giver.” In choosing to see the world through “Biblical Glasses,” with a godly worldview, you can “seek the Giver.” What do you have to lose? Seventeenth century French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal described the logic in choosing God; he said, “If you win, you win everything; if you lose, you lose nothing.” The Bible says: “If serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve. … As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15).

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