A Troubled Land – Part 4

Matthew 16:18

by Paul George

The source of the problems in our nation is disobedience. The source of the problems in the Church is disobedience. This is not a popular subject and difficult to deal with. We would rather sweep it under the carpet. If we are going to be honest and solve the problems in the Church, we must deal honestly with the source. The Church is not a building. The Church is the body of Christ. Its purpose is to be a beacon in this sin-darkened world directing the lost to a safe harbor and away from dangerous waters. The Church cannot perform its responsibility if the light goes out. The light in the Ephesus church went out when it left its first love. The first sign the light has gone out and the church has lost its first love is the abandonment of devotion.

When the light goes out worldliness, heresy, and compromise enters into the body of believers. When the light goes out the minds of men and women are filled with confusion and doubt. When the light goes out the hearts of men and women fail them because they are filled with fear. When the light goes out the church is just a building. When the light goes out the church loses it power to have an impact and influence on society. When the light goes out God’s love is not revealed to the lost and dying; spiritual apathy erases the Christians testimony. When the light goes out love for God is replaced by the love of things, which results in a departure from the faith and loss of effective spiritual testimony.

It may come as a surprise. When the light goes out the church does not need more programs to recharge the batteries and restore the testimony of the Church. Programs have failed to restore the sacredness of marriage. Programs have failed to heal broken relationships. Programs have failed to build foundations for the building of values and virtue. Programs have failed to solve the drug problem. Programs have failed to reduce the abuse of children and spouses. Programs have eased the Holy Spirit out of the worship service. When the lights go out, we do not need entertainment. When the light goes out we do not need some gimmick to draw the people back to Church. We need the Word of God and prayer.

Programs cannot replace the Word of God and prayer. I have seen hundreds of programs fall by the wayside. Thousands of dollars invested in programs. They did not fall by the way side because we did not try to make them work. Entertainment lasts until the refreshments are served. Gimmicks are useless. The greatest need when the light goes out is the presence of the Holy Spirit. We need to open the door and let the knocking Son of God into His Church. Without Him, it is impossible to turn the light on.

In our disobedient society, the God of the Bible is not recognized as the Creator of the universe and life. Some impersonal “Force” is recognized as the creator of the universe and life. This force is often referred to the “Universal Mind” or “Nature.” The power of the Holy Spirit is being replaced by alleged “mind power” or psychic powers. Sin is nothing more than a bad self-image. We are told our greatest need is not a regenerated heart but a renewed self-image. Our problem is not that we think too highly of ourselves but too lowly. We do not know who we are. A popular pastor and television evangelist made the claim we need to be like Jesus, He knew His worth. His success fed His self-esteem and He suffered and died on the cross to sanctify His self-esteem and our self-esteem. He claimed a person is in hell when he has lost his self-esteem.

I listened to a man stand before a congregation and he used the term “mother nature” at least five times. I asked the question, “Does he know who mother nature is?” Since he was a thousand miles away and could not answer the question, I did the next best thing I turned off the television.

There are multitudes in the world that are living under a false sense of security built on the compromise of the Word of God. A promise of peace built on the philosophies and doctrines of the New Age Movement, cults, and mysticism. Thousands are falling into the snares of Satan baited with the promise of godhood. Professing Christians are ignoring warning signs and running stop signs. They are making decisions based on prejudices, assumptions, and speculations. They are not taking the time to explore God’s Word. They are looking at the world through eyes that have been blinded by the god of the air, the great deceiver and father of liars.

More than 2500 years ago, Israel was standing at a crossroad. The decision the people made was according to what they thought was best for them. They doubted the love of God. They did not trust the One who had brought their fathers from the land of bondage and through the Red Sea. They relied on their own abilities and human logic. They put their trust in their enemies and bowed before pagan idols and worshipped gods made of stone.

We are standing at a crossroads. The problems in the Church are the results of a people who claim they love the Lord and doubt His love. They question His motives. They are putting their trust in human abilities and knowledge. Sin is no longer a deadly spiritual disease. We are merely the victims of circumstances beyond our control. Criminal rights are protected and the victims ignored. Doing what they believe is best for them they ignore what God has said is best for them.

Someone once said, “There are more things between heaven and earth than our schoolmaster’s intellect can grasp. Let us not put our trust in any new tower of Babel; rather let us trust in the Holy Spirit inspired Scriptures.”

Will we ever rid our nation and the Church of the problems they must deal with? No. Can we rescue those who are dying in the sea of darkness sweeping over this land? No. However, we can tell them who is able to rescue them. In these dark days, we must stand strong in the faith. We must not let the deceivers who have made their way into the Church through deceptive means destroy the flock.

It all begins with letting God have His way in our lives.

A Troubled Land – Part 3

1 John 3:4-12

by Paul George

In part 3, A Troubled Land” we will examine the sources of the problems in our nation and in the Church.

The number one source is disobedience. This is not a popular subject. Many view the concept of disobedience antiquated and demeaning, something that needs casting aside in light of current “modern thought.” The advocates of the current modern thought theory claim the problems in our nation and in the Church are the result of a conflict between those who are content living a life that is going nowhere and those who are moving forward to a higher state of consciousness. Christians however know the Word of God will never become outdated. Disobedience is one of the subjects that will never become outdated. It is as relevant today as it was two thousand years ago.

Disobedience is defined as the knowingly and willful refusal to comply with the guidance of authority, especially a refusal to obey the commandments and statues of God. Disobedience involves the setting of the human will above the will of God. This is a natural tendency. It is the Christian’s responsibility to engage in a spiritual warfare against their natural tendency to disobey God (2 Corinthians 10:5-6) and be as obedient to God’s will as Christ was when He “became obedient to the point of death (Philippians 2:8).

We do not do this blindly. God has given us His commandments and statues to guide us in the way of righteousness. These commandments and laws are for our good and are meant to preserve the gift of life that God has given us. When we obey God’s commandments and law there is liberty and freedom to enjoy the gift of life without fear of future problems.

James wrote in his letter, “But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does” (1:25). The laws of God are perfect and are given to bless us.  When we break God’s law we have committed sin and are acting in a way that will be detrimental to our own good and that of our neighbor.

Righteousness is a word used to describe the state of being in conformity with God’s laws and requirements. The apostle Paul asked the Corinthians, “Do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). He told them, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership has righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14). Unrighteousness is the same as lawlessness both of which describe the concept of sin. “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do, and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17).

The second source of the problems in the nation and in the Church is Rejecting God’s Plans and Purpose.

God has given His laws to govern His creation. These laws govern our lives in the context of the pursuit of God’s plans and purposes. God has created and designed this world with specific plans and purposes that are not to be neglected or rejected. His original plan for the human family was to be fruitful and multiply and to fill the earth. This puts the focus of life on the family. Husbands and wives raising children in loving families where the truth about God is learned from God’s word. Disobedience has altered the original plans and purposes of God.

The focus of the disobedient society we live in is the destruction of the family unit. In the disobedient society, the family unit is described as three or more people living together as a family unit. This can be two men living together in the role of a husband and wife. Two women living together in the role of a husband and wife. The label, “domestic partners” is used to describe this perverting of God’s plan and purpose for the family unit.

The problems in our nation and in the Church exist because this one source of disobedience that is supported by the authorities of this nation and the judicial system. In the Church, it is tolerated. We often ask the question what would Jesus do. If we need to ask this question we have not listened to what Jesus said when He walked on this earth two thousand years age. He has not changed His mind.

The third source of the problems in the nation and in the Church is Rejection of the Will of God.

The will of God for our lives includes our salvation, sanctification and service for the kingdom of God. When we reject the plans and purposes of God for our life in pursuit of our own plans and purposes we are disobeying God. Isaiah said, “Woe to those who deeply hide their plans from the LORD, and whose deeds are done in a dark place, and they say, “Who sees us?” or “Who knows us?” (Isaiah 29:15). The Lord sees and the Lord knows.

The fourth source of the problems in our nation and in the Church is The Human Heart, the Human Nature.

The scriptures are consistent in teaching that man is inherently flawed. This idea like that of disobedience is not popular with many today. However, what needs to be accepted is not what is popular but what is true. The Bible as God’s word is true when it speaks of the condition of man. The prophet Jeremiah tells us, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). Jesus said, “That which proceeds out of the man that is what defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man” (Mark 7:20-23)

The apostle Paul, one of the greatest Christians to have lived, evaluated his own heart condition in these words: “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the wishing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I wish, I do not do; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish. But if I am doing the very thing I do not wish, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wishes to do good… Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?

While some might recoil at the thought of admitting to the presence of sin in their heart, others might find hope in being able to define and understand a principle at work in their lives that moves them towards that which they know to be wrong. May such an individual find even more hope in the words of Jesus, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” ((Luke 5:31-32).

The most important aspect of disobedience is the rejection God’s plan and purpose for our lives and the rejection of His will. We need to understand and acknowledge these are the universal nature of disobedience. The scriptures are clear and unmistakable on this point. Every person has disobeyed God and stands before God guilty. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), “There is none righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:9-10), and “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). We need acknowledge the source of disobedience. It is the sinful human nature.

These verses are not saying that every person is living a life characterized by consistent patterns of gross sin and rebellion against God but simply that all have sinned in one way or another and as a result that none can stand before God in perfect righteousness. We need to stop making excuses and justifying the problems in the nation and in the Church and apply the cure, confession. Confess disobedience and return to the ways of the Lord. As long as our nation and the Church disobey God, we will not solve the problems.

A Troubled Land – Part 2

2 Chronicles 29:1-8

by Paul George

The problems in our nation, the world, and in the Church are an extension of the problems in the twentieth century. The problems in the twentieth century were an extension of the problems in the ninth and previous centuries. The problems were in previous centuries were the results of the attitude of the people toward God. The attitude today is, “It’s my life and I can do what I want.” This is a second reason why the problems we must deal with in both our nation and the Church exist. The fact of the matter is that our lives are not altogether ours to do, as we like. God has created us and we belong to Him. The universe, this world and the people in it all belong to God. He owns them all by right of creation. Furthermore, God has not set us loose in the universe to do as we please but to live according to the plans and purposes of God. We are to obey His laws and commandments in the grateful pursuit of the life He has given us. It is important we recognize and accept the biblical worldview. This world and the people in it belong to God. Many today believe that their life is theirs to do with it as they please and that they have a right to live in an autonomous way before God. This is the opposite of the biblical worldview, which recognizes an inherent responsibility of every person to honor and obey God.

God’s plans and purposes

The Bible teaches that God has created all things with a purpose, which fits into His overall plan. In Isaiah, it is written, “Remember the former things long past, For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, Declaring the end from the beginning And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’; …Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it” (Isaiah 46:9-11)

In Genesis 1:27-28 it is written “And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. And God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

From Isaiah we learn that God has planned things with purpose according to His good pleasure. The account of creation states man’s purpose, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth”. Furthermore, man is placed in the garden and is commanded by God not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Some important principals become known here. First, we are the object of God’s love and goodness. Second, we have been given a specific purpose by God and are responsible to fulfill that purpose. Third, God has given us His laws and commandments to govern our lives as we accomplish the plans and purposes, which God has ordained for us.

There are other verses in the Bible that tells us that the plans and purposes of God for man are for his good and blessing. While some might initially view the plans, purposes and commands of God as restrictive, the wise person will see that God alone can provide an abundant life of happiness and fulfillment. However, this can only be realized as each one yields in complete subjection to God’s plans and purpose, trusting Him, obeying Him and honoring Him in all things. On the other hand, we are warned in scripture of the danger of taking the gift of life and misusing it by pursuing our own plans and purposes refusing to acknowledge God’s rightful place in our life.

The laws and commandments of God

Many have a mental picture of God as one who takes pleasure in denying happiness to man through the imposition of His laws and commandments. The truth is God wants His people to enjoy an abundant life. When we observe all the beauty of creation the fact that God has provided it and sustains it for us to enjoy should reveal the goodness of God in this regard. However, the ability to enjoy this creation and every other thing that God wants to bless us with rests upon our obedience to God’s laws and commandments, which are given to preserve the gift of life.

While the world was created to be in subjection to God, the facts of the matter reveal the sad reality that man from the beginning did not maintain this relationship with God. The account of the creation of man also gives testimony to the account of the fall of man. Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s commandment and took from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

The scriptures reveal that Eve was led to question and doubt the wisdom and goodness of God and to test the authority of God. Being told by the serpent that she would not die as God had warned and led to believe that God was withholding some good thing from her she succumbed to temptation and broke God’s commandment. Furthermore, she convinced Adam to do the same and he too broke God’s commandment (Genesis 3:1-6).

The lesson we need to learn from Adam and Eve’s disobedience is this; we must trust God and obey Him in all things. All God’s commandments are for man’s good and God will not withhold any good thing from His creation. Furthermore, the warnings that God gave to Adam and Eve concerning the consequences of disobedience were in the end found to be accurate. The death God had said would come did in fact occur and continues to this day. Many today still do not take seriously the warnings that God has given to this world in His word. Tragically, like Adam and Eve, those who continue to ignore His warnings will one day reap the inevitable consequences of their disobedience, as they will face the certain judgment that God has declared will come on those who reject the truth and disobey the gospel.

We must be thankful and content to be living in God’s will and keeping His commandments knowing that God will not deprive us of any good thing and that obedience to Him is for our good and that of our neighbor. Much if not most of the misery in the world today is a direct result of man living in disobedience to God. The pain and unhappiness we find in our lives at times is a result of our waywardness.

The key to finding the solution to the problems in our nation, the world, and in the Church is learning and doing God’s will.