April 11, 2014

40 Below

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb. 11:6).*

Why be a Christian? Why follow God? These are questions that have been around since the birth of Christianity. But many of the non-Christian people I’ve encountered (and those I’ve seen on TV and the Internet in recent years) who ask this scoff at the very thought of religion. Or they think they can carve their own road to heaven instead of living by the Word of God.

For Christians, the struggle between living God’s way and living our way is very real. In attempting to do it our own way, many have intellectualized truth to the point that we do not think God’s Word is relevant to our world today.

Scripture warns us: “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear”
(2 Tim. 4:3, NIV).

That time is now.

Afraid of Absolutes?

Jeremy Lelek serves as president of the Association of Biblical Counselors. He wrote an article about our postmodern world for www.christianity.com called “Instilling Biblical Values in a Postmodern World.” According to Lelek, “postmodernism is on the march. And while the church has vigorously sought to evangelize the postmodern culture, little has been discussed as to how to raise children in a culture where absolutes are dismissed, even ridiculed. While most parents and grandparents were raised when moral tensions existed between objective good and evil, today’s children are being raised in a society where the lines of good and evil are being replaced by subjective interpretation of the two. Children are growing up in a world where there are no absolutes” (www.christian ity.com/christian%20living/just%20for%20families/11597641/).

In a world with no absolutes time marches on, morals decline, and no one wants to take a stand for Jesus Christ and live the way He tells us is right. Too many are going with the flow when it comes to morals and faith.

What happened to us having the faith of our fathers—such as Abraham, who believed in God and His providence, and followed His orders to travel into the great unknown? Or Noah, who endured cruel ridicule for building an ark so people who had faith in God could be saved from the impending flood in a world that, at the time, had never seen rain? How about Elijah, who never tasted death during his steady, faithful journey with God? Where is that “old-time religion” on which our grandparents were raised?

It’s as if the faithful are afraid of standing out or causing a stir in mainstream culture. We’ve decided to be politically correct and accept whatever the world presents as relevant and permissible.

The problem is that what the world says is OK is often not what God says is OK. God created the earth and all that is within it, including humankind. So why do we think our laws are more relevant to our postmodern world than the law of the One who spoke the world into being?

Everyone Is Involved

We must remember that there’s more than the face value of life as we know it. Every living soul is, like it or not, engaged in the great controversy, and it’s more than light versus darkness. The Bible says that it’s an intense spiritual battle. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12). That’s why it’s important to be on guard at all times, to pray without ceasing.

So why be a Christian? Because Jesus Christ wins. He wants us to be His “hands and feet,” to carry the gospel into all of the world so He can return. God wants every individual to be saved; He wants us all on the winning side. That’s why He commands us to go out into the world and tell everyone the good news.

Life and death on earth are not the final chapters of our life stories! Jesus offers salvation, and promises eternal life to all who believe in Him who says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).

Satan will do everything he can to keep us distracted from biblical truth, filling our minds with fiction and falsehoods. He distorts God’s Word in clever ways that may make sense, but actually leads us further from the Truth. He’ll even use people to promote (knowingly or unknowingly) his lies that today masquerade as truth, resulting in millions being led astray.

Ellen White advised us to use Scripture as a safeguard, so we will not stray from God. In the book The Great Controversy, she wrote, “All who value their eternal interests should be on their guard against the inroads of skepticism. . . . It is impossible to keep beyond the reach of the sarcasms and sophisms, the insidious and pestilent teachers, of modern infidelity. Satan . . . assails the illiterate with a jest or sneer, while he meets the educated with scientific objections and philosophical reasoning, alike calculated to excite distrust or contempt of the Scriptures. Even youth of little experience presume to insinuate doubts concerning the fundamental principles of Christianity. And this youthful infidelity, shallow as it is, has influence. Many are thus led to jest at the faith of their fathers and to do despite to the Spirit of grace. . . . All who trust to the boastful decisions of human reason and imagine that they can explain divine mysteries and arrive at truth unaided by the wisdom of God are entangled in the snare of Satan” (pp. 600, 601).

Our Faithful God

God is faithful to us even when we’re unfaithful to Him. His love for us is unfailing, and His mercies are new every morning. But “closing time” will come. Revelation 22:11-14 paints the picture: God will say, “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. . . . Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.”

We Christians are called to wear the full armor of Christ (Eph. 6:12-20), so we will be able to withstand the fiery darts of the evil one.

In True Revival—The Church’s Greatest Need, Ellen White appeals to the church to take action. “Let the church arise, and repent of her backslidings before God. Let the watchmen awake, and give the trumpet a certain sound. It is a definite warning that we have to proclaim” (p. 13).

In this postmodern world we must be “sentinels of God” who carry the gospel of Jesus Christ to the people of this planet with compassion and rigor. Instead of spending time on earthly distractions, we should engage in deep Bible study, in learning and discovering truth in His Word—as our predecessors in faith did (think: Martin Luther, William Miller, Ellen White . . .).

We are called to have the faith of our fathers. It is our duty to give others the message; to teach them about the One who gives hope to a dying world. We have to live our lives in a humble, merciful, and just way (Micah 6:8) to show the world that this is not it. Earth is not our final destination. Heaven and eternity await all who have faith in Jesus Christ, who have unwavering faith in His Father. God’s plan for our lives (Jer. 29:11) includes eternity.

* Unless otherwise noted, all Bible texts quoted are from the King James Version.