Christian Worldview

A 'New Creature' and What it Means for You Today

Have you ever taken a moment and watched an old family video?  Recently I had the opportunity to watch my wedding video with two of my children.  The videographer was amazing and did a beautiful job capturing the ‘behind the scenes’ of my big day.   It was a very odd experience.  As I watched myself in the recording; moving, talking, joking and my overall behavior it felt like I was watching a person I barely remembered.  At this time in my life I did not have a personal relationship with Jesus.  It would be six years and three children after this video was taken that I would be ‘born again/saved,’ so I was watching on tape my ‘old self’…pre-Jesus, and based on God’s Word I knew ‘that person’ I was watching on tape is dead.  

2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV ran through my mind:  “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new..” (bold added)

The Bible verse above is explained in Rick Renner’s book “Sparkling Gems from the Greek” in this way “The word ‘new’ (in 2 Cor. 5:17) is from the Greek word kainos, and it describes something that is brand new or recently made.  It also carries the idea of something that is superior.  This means that when Jesus Christ came into your life, you were made brand, spanking new!  The new you is superior to the old you!  In fact, you are so new that this verse calls you a new ‘creature’!  The word ‘creature’ is the Greek word ktisis.  It is the same word used to describe the creation of the world.  When God created the universe, he used no existing materials or old elements to make it.  Everything in creation was newly made.  Now that same word is used to describe what happened to you the day you got saved.  Everything about you is new!  You’re not an amended, corrected, improved version of what you used to be.  You are an absolutely brand-new creation!  You are completely detached from the person you once were before Christ…That old person no longer exists.  She is dead.  You are brand new.” 

While we were watching the video my daughter said she couldn’t figure out why I looked so different.  I agreed with her and explained that since I didn’t know Jesus when my wedding pictures and video were taken everything about me was different, including my countenance.  I sat in awe, so thankful that I have been made ‘brand new,’ my spirit is new, my salvation is secure and I am fully alive through my belief in Jesus.

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Praise God today that you have been made a completely new creation and as Rick Renner says in “Sparkling Gems from the Greek” stop “laying claim to your family’s genetic problems, inheritable sicknesses, dysfunctional behavior, disorders, hang-ups, curses, or any other negative thing that was a part of your life before Christ.  That old person no longer exists.  He is dead.  You are completely and totally brand new!…Don’t you think it’s time to stop moaning about how dumb, stupid, ugly, (fearful, timid) or untalented you ‘feel’ compared to others?  Those ‘feelings’ are all lies.  Some of that may have been true before you were born again, but none of it is true of you now that you are a new creature in Christ.”  

In what ways do you most enjoy being ‘a new creature in Christ?’ 

(To learn more about how to have and grow in relationship with Jesus click here.)  

Written by Jamie Shaver

 

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Should We ‘Unhitch’ the Old Testament from Our Faith in Jesus?

Since the Garden of Eden, Satan has used the same strategy to separate man from God: he creates doubt in the mind of mankind regarding whether God really said what He did, whether His Word is trustworthy, and whether God is truly good. Satan longs for us to question—and ultimately to disavow and disobey--God’s life-giving Word. He appeals to our pride that leads us to think that we, the creation, know more or better than God, our Creator. Satan would have us believe that if we don’t understand or don’t agree with what is in God’s Word, then the fault must lie with God rather than in our inability to comprehend His thoughts and His ways, which are so much higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). The truth is that if we have a problem believing in God’s Word or juxtaposing it with His Loving Character, the problem lies with us, not with God.

We expect skepticism regarding God’s Word, His Sovereignty, and His goodness from those outside of the Church; however, increasingly doubt is being stirred up from within the Church regarding whether we can really trust the reliability of all of Scripture. Recently, and regrettably, well-known and influential pastor Andy Stanley of North Point Ministries, the second largest church in the United States, preached a three sermon series called ‘Aftermath’ that casts doubt regarding the validity and power of God’s Word. It also elevates his opinion above the Word of God. Most notably, Andy states in the series that we must “unhitch the Old Testament from our faith in Jesus”. He stated further: “[First century] Church leaders unhitched the church from the worldview, value system, and regulations of the Jewish scriptures…Peter, James, Paul elected to unhitch the Christian faith from their Jewish scriptures, and my friends, we must as well."

After listening intently to all three of the sermons in the series I was deeply grieved because of my love for the Lord and His Word, which God says is to be exalted along with His name and above all things (Psalm 138:2). I recognize that Andy has a large following not only in the Atlanta area, but across our nation, and even worldwide.  I have spent much time in prayer for Him as well as for those who are influenced by his teaching. I pray that the eyes of their hearts may be opened to comprehend the treasure that is found in ALL of God's Word!  In this post I am going to give a brief synopsis of the sermon series, and then focus on why the Old Testament is God’s reliable Word and  therefore important to our faith as Christians. In future posts, I will address other statements that Andy made during the series and why they also do not align with the teaching of Scripture.

The basic premise of Andy’s series is that the Church needs to move away from the belief in ‘sola Scriptura’—the belief since the Protestant Reformation that Scriptures are authoritative and the basis for our faith-- because there are those who find the Scriptures, especially the Old Testament, to be a stumbling block to belief in Jesus. He builds the case for making the foundation of our faith an event, the resurrection of Jesus, because there were eyewitnesses to it. Because of those eyewitnesses, he maintains that the resurrection is indisputable, whereas he seems to believe the Scriptures are not defendable as the inspired Word of God. He further rationalizes his contention that we move away from the authority of Scripture as the foundation of our faith because people now have the ability to go onto the Internet where they can be exposed to persuasive arguments against the validity of Scriptures, and those arguments will deter people from believing in Jesus. In fact, Andy stated that “the ‘Achilles heel of our modern faith is the bible.” He further stated:

Because many have lost faith…many have lost faith… because of something about the Bible, or in the Bible, the Old Testament in particular, once they can no longer accept all the historicity of the Old Testament, once they couldn’t go along with all of the miracles, once somebody poked a hole in the Genesis creation, you know myth… once all that went away, suddenly their house of cards faith came tumbling down. Because they were taught it’s all true, it’s all God’s Word, and if you find one part that’s not true, ‘Ough-oh’, the whole thing comes tumbling down. Not Christianity.  The Bible did not create Christianity. The resurrection of Jesus created and launched Christianity. Your whole house of Old Testament cards can come tumbling down. The question is: Did Jesus rise from the dead? And eyewitnesses said he did.” Andy Stanley, from the ‘Aftermath’ series, April 2018

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I treasure ALL of God’s Word which has been life changing for me! I have been in church virtually my entire life, but my faith and intimacy with the Lord did not grow and mature until I became a student of His Word, because ‘faith comes from hearing, and hearing from the word of God’ (Romans 10:17). I have read the Bible daily and cover- to- cover for the past 22 years, as well as taken and written many in-depth Bible studies; His Word has 'cleansed' and 'renewed' my mind as it states it will do. (Ephesians 5:27; Romans 12:2) I have found what David describes in Psalm 119:104-105 to be true:

Through your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. ESV

I believe that the entirety of the Bible, including the Old Testament, is the inspired, infallible Word of God and is therefore essential for teaching righteousness, truth, purposeful living as well as instruction regarding the character and ways of God. As critical as the resurrection is to our faith-- which we learn about through reading the very Scriptures whose reliability Andy questions-- neither it, nor even the written word alone is the foundation of our faith. The foundation of our faith is the ‘Word that became flesh’ (John 1:14), the person of Jesus Christ.

For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:11 ESV

Even more specifically, Jesus is the Cornerstone of the Foundation, a foundation that we learn is also comprised of the apostles and prophets.

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. Ephesians 2:19-22 ESV

We come to know Jesus, the Cornerstone and Foundation of our Faith, through the inspired words of the prophets written down in the Old Testament, as well as the writings of the apostles recorded in the New Testament. Since we know from Scripture that God and Jesus are one and were together since the beginning (John 1:1-2; John 10:30), we can trust that the Old Testament as well as the New Testament gives us knowledge of Jesus Who is ‘the Way, the Truth, and the Life’ (John 14:6). We come to know the Truth, the Way, and to receive abundant and eternal Life through a relationship with Jesus, the Living Word, Who is revealed to us through the written word in both the Old and New Testaments, as well as through the work of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:10; John 6:44-45)

On the road to Emmaus, while walking alongside two men who were grieved because of his death and the empty tomb, Jesus explained that the scriptures—the part we know as the Old Testament--referred to Himself, the Christ. It seems clear that he expected them to know the scriptures, which Jewish men-- and even women—in that day learned from the time they were young because they were taught in the synagogue to read, to write, and to memorize the Old Testament writings, especially the Pentateuch. Scriptures were interwoven into discussions that were held in every Jewish home and within the greater community. That is also in contrast to a statement that Andy made in his series that the disciples were ignorant of the Old Testament writings because they were fishermen and did not have a copy of the Bible in their homes; the disciples--like the two walking to Emmaus--would have known the scriptures well. Jesus made it clear to the two men with whom He walked on the road to Emmaus that the Old Testament testified to Who He was.

Then Jesus said to them, “O foolish men, and slow of heart to trust and believe in everything that the prophets have spoken!  Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and [only then to] enter His glory?” 27 Then beginning with Moses and [throughout] all the [writings of the] prophets, He explained and interpreted for them the things referring to Himself [found] in all the Scriptures. Luke 24:25-27 AMP

Maybe he started by explaining to them that He was the promised seed of woman that would destroy the Serpent, as taught in Genesis, or that just as Adam was the first of the human race, so He was the first of those who would be raised from the dead to eternal life.   I imagine He would have talked about how in the book of Exodus the Passover lamb foreshadowed Him, the Unblemished Lamb of God Whose blood would atone once and for all time for the sin of man and destroy the power of sin and its penalty, death. Maybe He explained how the Levitical priests are a picture of Him, our High Priest Who sacrifices on our behalf and makes intercession for us. Or that Boaz in the book of Ruth is a picture of Christ, our Kinsman Redeemer. Or that Jonah's 3 days in the belly of the fish foreshadowed Jesus' being in the grave for 3 days. Maybe He explained that due to His crucifixion He is the 'Man of Sorrows and Acquainted with Grief', as foretold in Isaiah 53, yet, their hope in Him was not in vain because He was also the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace of Isaiah 6:9. Or maybe He showed them that He is the Judge of all Nations as mentioned in the book of Amos. Or perhaps Jesus referenced one or more of the Messianic Psalms that foretold and referred to Him. (Psalms 2, 8, 16, 22, 23, 24, 40, 41, 45, 68,69, 87,89, 102, 110, 118) I am sure that their minds and hearts were spellbound as Jesus illuminated the scriptures to them, for EVERY book in the Old Testament--as well as those in the New Testament which would be written after His ascension-- testifies to and points to Jesus! After listening to Jesus share, I think the two men would have readily agreed with Bible scholar and teacher Chuck Missler's often repeated phrase, ‘The New Testament is in the Old Testament concealed; the Old Testament is in the New Testament revealed.

We may not know exactly what Jesus shared along the Emmaus Road, but His life and ministry made it clear that He treasured and knew the power of the Old Testament Scriptures. When led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness following His baptism and tempted by Satan, Jesus did not offer His opinion nor did He flee in fear when Satan twisted and misconstrued the Word of God. He deftly used the Word of God from the Old Testament as the powerful sword that it is, and defeated Satan’s best attempt to tempt Him! (Matthew 4:1-11; Hebrews 4:12: Ephesians 6:17)

On numerous occasions (see also Matthew 8:1712:40-42Luke. 4:18-2110:25-2815:29-3117:3224:25-45John. 5:39-47 ), Jesus substantiated the divine authority of the Old Testament, for instance when He stated the following recorded in Matthew 5:17-18: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. ESV

Jesus also affirmed the Genesis account of Creation—which Andy references as a ‘myth’-- when He said, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? (Matthew 19:4-6; Mark 10:6; Genesis 1:27; 5:2) Jesus directly quoted 78 times from the Old Testament—including 26 times from the Pentateuch, the first five books. He also quoted from Psalms, Proverbs, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Amos, Jonah, Micah, and Malachi. Countless other times he made allusions to scriptures with which He knew His audience would be familiar. He referred to Old Testament writings as “The Scriptures,” “the Word of God,” and “the wisdom of God.”

Jesus chastised the false religious teachers of his day, the Pharisees, with these words:

You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me…For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of meBut if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words? John 5: 39,46-47 ESV (Boldness added)

My question to Andy and to anyone who thinks we can separate our Christian faith from the Old Testament is this: How can you believe the words of Jesus-- or the words of the eyewitnesses to the resurrection that we know about because they are recorded in the Bible-- if you do not believe Moses’ writings?

Based upon Jesus’ Words, do you think that Jesus would agree with Andy that we should ‘unhitch' the Old Testament from our faith in Jesus?

Andy said in his series that, “Peter, James, Paul elected to unhitch the Christian faith from their Jewish scriptures, and my friends, we must as well." But is that statement true? Can it be substantiated?

The apostles quoted 209 times from the Old Testament and considered Old Testament writings to be “the oracles of God.” (Romans 3:2; Hebrews 5:12; 1 Peter 4:11) In fact, at least 25% of the New Testament writings are quotations from the Old Testament.

The apostle Paul, who was inspired by God to write the majority of the epistles found in the New Testament, wrote the following words to encourage his disciple Timothy. These words underscore the value he placed on studying the Scriptures, which at the time only included and referred to the Old Testament:

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2nd Timothy 3:16-17 ESV

Or what about Peter? Do you think he would agree that we should ‘unhitch’ the Old Testament from our faith since he clearly stated that the prophets spoke the Word of God?

…that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:20b-21 ESV

Besides the reasons Paul details to Timothy for studying Scripture, in his letter to the Romans he gives us another reason for us to study and to know the Old Testament: so that we might be encouraged and have hope.

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:4 ESV

I am full of hope knowing that since God accurately foretold in the Old Testament the  birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus, that I can trust His promises written in the Old Testament--as well as those in the New Testament-- that tell of the second coming of Christ when He will judge and rule the nations, and assume His rightful position as ‘King of Kings and Lord of Lords’! 

So, how important is all of God’s Word, including the Old Testament? God tells us His Word is equal to His Name, and along with His Name, to be exalted above all things!

 I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word. Psalm 138:2 ESV (highlight added for emphasis)

I agree with Chuck Missler who said: “Believing in Jesus Christ as the Messianic Saviour, as Christians do, is absurd without the foundation of the Old Testament.” I hope that the Word of God you have read in this post has convinced you of that as well.

I believe that all those who are willing to read through the entire Bible, including the Old Testament, and to study it, and most importantly of all to ask for the Holy Spirit to illuminate it, will come to know Jesus--the Cornerstone of our faith--more intimately, and it is in knowing Him that we have eternal life! (John 17:3)

Written by Julie Van Gorp

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What We Christians Must Do: Final Blog in series 'America: The Cause of Our Decline and a Clarion Call for Christians'

As Christians in today’s America we are living in the midst of an unbelieving, perverted culture. So, what should we do? Head to the hills and hide? Wave the white flag and give in to the culture’s toxic influence? By no means! Each one of us has been created ‘for such a time as this’, and God’s word gives us our marching orders for how we can be used by Him to impact the culture for His kingdom purposes. These are days of great opportunity for those who are kingdom-minded to shine forth as bright lights in the midst of the darkness and to be used to draw others to Jesus, the Source of our Light and Life!

To live victoriously in these latter days, however, it is essential that we set our eyes, hearts, and minds upon Jesus and ‘things above’ to ensure that we are focused upon what is ‘truly real’, eternally significant, and so we will remain steadfast in our faith in a culture that opposes our Christian beliefs.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV (emphasis added)

 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.  Colossians 3:1-2 ESV (emphasis added)

 It is easy to get distracted by and  ‘sucked into’ the things that our culture esteems unless we intentionally make it a priority to keep God the focus of our lives. Knowing about Jesus is not enough to empower us to remain steadfast in the days ahead; we must know Him and worship Him ‘in spirit and in truth’ (John 4:24), which we do by spending time in His Presence through reading His Word; communing with Him in prayer; and gathering together with other believers. It is in His Presence that there truly is ‘fullness of joy’ (Psalm 16:11)-- the kind of joy that will serve as our strength in the storms and sorrows of this life (Nehemiah 8:10). Yes, we are to be like the Sons of Issachar who understand the times in which we are living (1 Chronicles 12:32), but we also must be careful to guard and protect our hearts and minds so that the moral decline in a world that increasingly rejects God does not rob us of our joy or cause unbelief in us.

It is imperative that we daily renew our minds by reading and meditating upon God’s Word, which is the truth. His Word will give us the knowledge, understanding, guidance, and encouragement that are vital for living in these ‘latter days’. It is also essential that we set aside time every day for prayer. Prayer is our lifeline to God and what allows us to be intimately connected to Him. During our prayer time we have the opportunity to ‘pour our hearts out before the Lord’ (Psalm 62:8), to get our eyes fixed upon Him as we worship Him for Who He is, as we thank Him for all that He has done for us, and very importantly—for us to hear His voice speaking words over us that calm us because of His amazing love (Zephaniah 3:17). Another important thing we must do for victorious living in these days is to gather together with other believers (Hebrews 10:25) so that we can worship the Lord together, and teach, admonish, and encourage one another (Colossians 3:17) to ‘hold fast to our confession of faith’ (Hebrews 10-23).

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In order to keep our eyes on Jesus we also may need to eliminate from our lives those things that cause us to take our gaze off of Jesus. For example, we must be willing to stop watching the nightly news if it instills debilitating fear in us; or to get rid of a hobby-- or even quit our job—if they consume our time to the point of being our ‘first love’; or discontinue a friendships that has a negative impact upon our relationship with Jesus.

When we set our eyes on ‘things above’ we will be in a better position to understand that the real enemy at work in our culture is Satan, who is always at work to ‘rob, steal, kill and destroy’ (John 10:10), and that as the ‘father of lies’ (John 8:44) he often comes ‘disguised as an angel of light’ (2nd Corinthians 11:14). We are not to be ignorant of Satan’s schemes, but to expose them. Keeping our focus on Jesus will remind us that our battle is not against flesh and blood, but it is “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:11), and we will realize that for victorious living we must ‘dress’ like Jesus, putting on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:12-17) and praying on all occasions.

Keeping our eyes on Jesus also will encourage us to know that the victory has already been won at the cross! Satan is a defeated foe, and we have everything we need for victorious living because we have the Holy Spirit living in us-- the very same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead! In other words, we have ‘resurrection power’ to sustain us in these days. And just like on the first Good Friday, it may appear that Satan is winning in our culture, but we can know that things are not as they appear---they aren’t ‘falling apart, they are coming together’ according to God’s perfect will!

Keeping our focus on Jesus is also necessary if we are to remain faithful and persevere to the end. God encourages us not to grow weary in well doing (Galatians 6:9), and to be full of courage, knowing that God is for us, with us, and mighty to save (Joshua 1:9)! Jesus was able to endure the cross for our sake because He kept His focus upon His Heavenly Father and doing His will; He calls and commands us to do the same.

And the will of our Heavenly Father is that those who are living rebellious, perverted lives in this ‘wicked and perverse’ generation would come to know and believe in Jesus, the only One Who can save and deliver them out of the ‘pit’ they are in that leads to death and destruction. When God is our focus—our very life—His desires will become our desires; and He is “not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance”(2nd Peter 3:9). He has called us to be ‘ambassadors of reconciliation’ (2nd Corinthians 5:20) who will proclaim His praises (1st Peter 2:9) and who will ‘go and make disciples’ (Matthew 28:19-20) by speaking His truth in love, calling unbelievers ‘to repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand’. (Matthew 3:2) Now is the not the time to throw in the towel or to head for the hills—now is the perfect time for us to share the good news of the gospel because it is more evident than ever that people are desperate for the hope that can be found in Christ alone!

Like Jonah before us, we may recoil at sharing the message of repentance with those in our world who have scorned the Lord, but if we keep our focus on Jesus, we will realize afresh that we too were once lost and have been saved only because of God’s loving kindness that He demonstrated to us ‘while we were yet sinners’ (Romans 5:8). We are to respond to the  ‘sinners’ in our culture as Jesus did to those who nailed Him to the cross. He did not revile His enemies but instead He loved, prayed for, and forgave them. It is only by the power of the Holy Spirit at work in us and by keeping our focus on Our Lord that we will be able to respond in the same way to our enemies, and to remain faithful to Him when we are persecuted for being aligned with Him and His will. By fixing our eyes upon Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, I believe we even will be able to rejoice when the world hates us, knowing that Jesus, Who is ‘Faithful and True’ and cannot lie, promised us that we are blessed and ‘great will be your reward in heaven’ when you suffer for the sake of righteousness. May you and I-- and all who come behind us-- be found faithful to the glory of His Great Name for He is worthy of ‘our all’ and ‘utmost’!

Written by Julie Van Gorp

To read the first 3 blogs in the series entitled ‘America: Cause of Our Decline and a Clarion Call to Christians’ go to https://www.trueviewministries.org/blog/

 

 

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What We Who Know Jesus Can Have In the Midst of Today's America: Part 3 in the series 'America: Cause for our Decline and a Clarion Call for Christians'

For those of us who know God and His life-giving Word, the moral decline in our nation should not surprise us. We know that Jesus is ‘the Way, the Truth, and the Life’ (John 14:6); abundant life, as well as eternal life, is found in Him, and in Him alone. Therefore, when we-- as individuals or as a nation-- forsake Him, we will lose our way; we will fall into the trap of deception; and we will reap destruction and death. If bible reading was the centerpiece of family life and still allowed in our public schools as previously was the case in our nation’s history, there might be a greater understanding that what we are experiencing today as a nation can be summed up in this verse from Isaiah 59:14:

Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away; for truth has stumbled in the public squares, and uprightness cannot enter.”  ESV

We can be assured that what is going on in our culture has not caught God by surprise. He is still Sovereign, and He is still full of love for us whom He created and gave His life to save! Yes, our rebellion against Him and His perfect ways grieves Him, but it does not surprise Him. He warns us over and over again in His Word of what will happen when we choose to forsake Him and choose to ‘do what is right in our own eyes’ instead of following the commands He gave to us for our good. The consequences of our sin of going against God and His will are designed to cause us to despair so we will realize our depravity without Him, and return to Him Who alone is able to deliver us out of our misery.

Like a loving earthly father who first instructs, then repeatedly warns his disobedient child, and finally takes an ‘arms off’ approach to his child’s rebellion in hopes that the child will come to his senses because of the misery he creates for himself, God allows us to experience the consequences of our sin and rebellion, wanting us to repent—to change our ways. God promises to heal our land IF we who are His children will humble ourselves; seek after Him; pray; and turn away from our sin and follow in His way.

“…if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2nd Chronicles 7:14 ESV

The good news is that in the midst of the chaos that we have created for ourselves, we who know Jesus can have understanding, peace, hope, and joy.

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Understanding:

God’s word tells us over and over again what will happen to the nation that turns away from God, which is exactly what America has done. We can know that we are reaping what we have sown (Galatians 6:7-8), and we can understand not only the root cause of our nation’s problem—but know that the remedy is to be found only in our returning to Him.

For instance, we can know that choosing to deny the truth that God created us in His image is at the root of why so many Americans lead purposeless, despairing lives. When we as a nation chose to replace the teaching of creationism with the theory of evolution, we chose to ignore the truth that our life has meaning and purpose that has been given to us by God, the One Who created us in His image. Our purpose is derived from our relationship with God and it is for His pleasure and glory that we were created (Isaiah 43:7). The epidemic number of people experiencing confusion, anxiety, and depression; drug, alcohol, pornography and other forms of addiction; as well as the increasing number of people—especially youth—committing suicide is directly correlated with people not understanding that they are ‘uniquely and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) with a divine purpose.  We have been deceived into thinking our lives have no intrinsic value, are our own, and that we can make our own rules for living without being held accountable to Our Creator, a holy and loving God, for our choices.

However, we who have become His children by putting our faith in Him can know that our lives are significant and of immeasurable value to God; God loved us so much that He gave His beloved Son Jesus to die the death we deserved. When we doubt whether our life is valuable or special, we can consider Jesus' outstretched arms on the cross and we will be reminded that Jesus loved us so much that He gave His very life for us! We also can delight in knowing that God has a plan and a purpose for all of His creation and that He is in control, even when things around us appear to be spinning out of control. As it has been said, things are not falling apart, they are coming together just as God foretold in His Word. We can understand that what is transpiring in the world today is precisely what God warns is going to happen during the latter days.

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.  For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God…2nd Timothy3: 1-4 ESV

 We also know from God’s Word that God’s wrath will be made manifest when we choose to walk in deception rather than choose to believe what God has clearly revealed to us through His creation all around us, through His Word, and by His sending us His Son—the Living Word—to atone for our sin.For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.  For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.  For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Claiming to be wise, they became fools…Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves,  because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. Romans 1:18-23a; 24-25 ESV

So what is going on in America today should not surprise us, but it most definitely should grieve us! We are bearing the fruit of our sin as a nation that has turned away from God, and the fruit of the sin of God’s Church Body that has been more influenced by our culture than it has been an influence to transform our culture. We can also have understanding regarding what our role as His children is in this ‘wicked and perverse generation’. We have been called-- and through the power of the Holy Spirit equipped—to be ‘salt and light’, to ‘let our light so shine before men so that they will see our good deeds and give gory to our Father in heaven’, and to declare His praises. (Matthew 5:13-14; 1st Peter 2:9)

Peace, Hope and Joy

For those of us who are His children (John 1:12), we can have hope and joy in the midst of the trials and tribulations in this world.

Jesus told us:

I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.] John 16:33 AMP

Since God foretold that these days would be upon us, we can also rejoice, knowing that everything that is going on proves the validity of God’s Word and reaffirms that He is ‘the ‘Alpha and Omega’ Who knew these days would come upon us. (Revelation 22:13) He Who has spoken the truth to us about these days has also promised that He will come again in all of His glory to take home to Heaven all of those who have put their faith in Him! May we all be found faithful until we see Him ‘face to face’!

 He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! Revelation 22:20

 

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'America: The Cause of Our Decline and a Clarion Call for Christians' Part 2

America has been the envy of the world’s population for most of its history because of the freedoms it guarantees its citizens through its constitution, freedoms derived because of our founding father’s recognition that we were created with inalienable rights given to us by our Creator God.

Many have compared America to a second Israel, and for good reason because like Israel, we are the only other nation that has looked to God with reverence for guidance and direction and based our laws upon His Word. Moses shared with the people of Israel what made them a great nation:

 Look, I have taught you statutes and judgments just as the Lord my God has commanded me, so that you may do them in the land which you are entering to possess. So keep and do them, for that is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’  For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God [is to us] whenever we call on Him? Or what great nation has statutes and judgments so righteous (upright, just) as this whole law which I am placing before you today? Deuteronomy 4:5-8 AMP

Like Israel, the world recognized America’s greatness was due to its relationship with God, as evidenced by the quote below from Alexis de Tocqueville, the French diplomat and historian who toured America in the 1830’s and wrote the following in his famed ‘Democracy in America’:

“I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers – and it was not there . . . in her fertile fields and boundless forests and it was not there . . . in her rich mines and her vast world commerce – and it was not there . . . in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution – and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.” 
― Alexis de TocquevilleDemocracy in America

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The Lord through Moses warned the people of Israel that they not forget Him, the source of their greatness and goodness. He gave the Israelites the following instructions; wise words of counsel and warning that are applicable for us in America today:

“Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one [the only God]! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and mind and with all your soul and with all your strength [your entire being]. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be [written] on your heart and mind. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children [impressing God’s precepts on their minds and penetrating their hearts with His truths] and shall speak of them when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road and when you lie down and when you get up. Deuteronomy 6:4-7 AMP (See also Deuteronomy 4:9)

America’s decline is because we have forgotten God, the Source of our greatness, and we have failed to instruct the next generation in the truth of His commands. God warns us that the nation that forsakes Him, He will in turn forsake. (Isaiah 1:28; 2 Chronicles 24:18  Ezekiel 14:13-14  Judges 10:13

 Our forsaking God is the reason we are experiencing the internal decline in our nation, as well as why we are losing the world’s respect that we enjoyed when we operated under the rule of God-inspired laws rather than laws based upon the dictates of man.

Not only was Israel’s eventual decline and the scattering of its people due to their forgetting God and His faithfulness, but it was also due to its embracing idolatry in place of God. Like Israel, we have committed two evils: we have turned our back on God and His commands, and we have embraced a false belief system that posits that man can control his own destiny apart from God. These words God spoke to Israel are true for us in America today:

 “…for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.” Jeremiah 2:13 ESV

Yes, there have been and are grave consequences for our removal of prayer and Biblical teaching from our public schools, the institutions where the majority of the next generation is being educated. And there are also grave consequences for teaching a false belief system —Humanism—that we have substituted in place of God’s truth.  Humanism (also known as secular humanism) assumes that there is no God, no spiritual dimension to life, and therefore no revealed absolute truth or moral code. It posits that human beings are capable of being ethical and moral without religion or God; that man is capable of determining what is good based upon his own judgment; and that scientific and technological advancements will enable mankind to make wiser decisions that will improve the conditions for humanity.

“Humanism is a democratic and ethical life stance, which affirms that human beings have the right and responsibility to give meaning and shape to their own lives. It stands for the building of a more humane society through an ethic based on human and other natural values in the spirit of reason and free inquiry through human capabilities. It is not theistic, and it does not accept supernatural views of reality. “ The Minimum Statement on Humanism from the Amsterdam Declaration 2002 that represents the official defining statement of World Humanism

Since it does not accept that there is a God, it obviously opposes Creationism and embraces the teaching of evolution. The following is taken from a statement made by the 1977 manifesto of the American Humanist Association:

There are no alternatives to the principle of evolution, with its "tree of life" pattern, that any competent biologist of today takes seriously....Evolution is therefore the only view that should be expounded in public-school courses on science.*

The removal of the teaching of Creationism and the widespread teaching of the theory of evolution has dramatically impacted the beliefs of the citizens of our nation. Creationism lets students know that they are uniquely designed by their Creator; each person has significance, purpose, and is accountable to his Creator for what he does with his life. Evolutionary theory does not provide the same sense of meaning, direction, or accountability nor does it give the same hope in an afterlife to the adherents of its belief system.  

Just a few of the secular humanists that have influenced our educational system and culture include:

  • Mary Calderone: American physician and a public health advocate for sexual education
  • Richard Dawkins: ethologist, evolutionary biologist and author
  • John Dewey: leading psychologist of the 20th century and educational reformer
  • Joseph Fletcher: American professor who founded the theory of situational ethics in the 1960s; leading academic involved in the topic of abortion, infanticide, euthanasia, eugenics and cloning
  • Sigmund Freud: Austrian neurologist who founded the discipline of psychoanalysis.
  • Betty Friedan:  American writer, activist, and feminist. A leading figure in the Women's Movement in the United States
  • Aldous Huxley: English writer best known for his novel Brave New World
  • Abraham Maslow: American professor of psychology who created Maslow's hierarchy of needs
  • Bill Nye: American science educator
  • Carl Rogers: American psychologist and among the founders of the humanistic approach to psychology
  • Margaret Sanger: American sex educator, nurse, and birth control activist who established Planned Parenthood 
  • B. F. Skinner: American behaviorist, author, inventor, social philosopher and poet 
  • Benjamin Spock: American pediatrician whose book Baby and Child Care, published in 1946, is one of the biggest best-sellers of all time and hugely influenced child-rearing
  • Gloria Steinem: feminist, journalist, social activist and spokeswoman for the feminist movement
  • Gore Vidal: American author, playwright, essayist, screenwriter, and political activist
  • Kurt Vonnegut: American author and satirist 
  • Walt Whitman: American poet, essayist and journalist

Secular humanism beliefs infiltrated our educational system in the 1930’s and now permeate our public educational system and our culture as a whole. Through our public schools, our nation’s children are being indoctrinated in a set of beliefs, values, and behaviors that are sharply contrary to the teachings of the Bible. As God warns us in His Word, there are consequences for forsaking the truth and embracing false teaching. We are, as God’s Word instructs us, reaping what we have sown.

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked [He will not allow Himself to be ridiculed, nor treated with contempt nor allow His precepts to be scornfully set aside]; for whatever a man sows, this and this only is what he will reap. For the one who sows to his flesh [his sinful capacity, his worldliness, his disgraceful impulses] will reap from the flesh ruin and destruction, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Galatians 6:7-8 AMP

If we liken our children’s minds to fertile soil, our schools have removed the ‘good seed’ that was being sown—Biblical truth-- and replaced it with ‘bad seed’—secular humanism. The bad seed, like weeds, has taken over and ‘invaded’ the minds of our vulnerable children. We as a nation have been deceived into thinking that we will not pay the consequences for what we have been teaching our children for almost the past century. Over the years, students trained in our schools have risen to positions of influence in journalism, social media, entertainment, politics, government, the military, businesses, institutions of higher learning—including many seminaries—as well as parents in our homes—and they in turn are teaching the next generation the secular humanism worldview they were taught. Christians and non-Christians alike are commenting that our nation seems to be ‘going to hell in a hand basket’. School shootings; students consumed with ‘doing whatever feels good’ without regard to others; rampant promiscuity, homosexuality, and gender identity confusion; a lack of respect for authority; and epidemic drug addiction, depression and suicides are just some of the ‘fruit’ produced by our nation’s forsaking God and His laws and embracing secular humanism.

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In general, our educational system-- which used to be based upon absolute truths derived from a biblical worldview, is now teaching that truth and morals are relative and can be determined by man, which clearly impacts how one looks at everything-- from math problems, to social issues, to even one’s gender.

Why is it essential that we know this influence in our culture? Because there is a consequence for our lack of knowledge.

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge [of My law, where I reveal My will].
Because you [the priestly nation] have rejected knowledge,
I will also reject you from being My priest.
Since you have forgotten the law of your God,
I will also forget your children. Hosea 6:4 AMP

What we fill our minds with is important because our thoughts influence our beliefs; our beliefs impact our actions and shape our character; and they ultimately affect our eternity.

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he…” Proverbs 23:7 KJV

Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” John 6:28-29

 When I think of Humanism which assumes that man alone apart from God has the answers to the big questions of life—the following verse comes to my mind:

 There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. Proverbs 14:12 ESV

God instructs us on how to keep away from self-deception:

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2 ESV

May we be found faithful to renew our minds by studying God’s Word and spending time in prayer and communion with Jesus, the Living Word, so that we will know the Truth that alone can set us free from deception, sin, and death, and free to enjoy the abundant and eternal life He offers! (John 8:32)

*American Humanist Association, "A Statement Affirming Evolution as a Principle of Science," The Humanist, January-February 1977, Vol. XXXVII, p. 4

This is Part 2 in a series on America: The Cause of Our Decline and a Clarion Call for Christians

There will be additional articles posted in this series; to read Part 1: go to https://www.trueviewministries.org/blog/2018/3/15/america-the-cause-of-our-decline-and-a-clarion-call-for-christians-part-1

Written by Julie Van Gorp

 

 

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‘America: The Cause of Our Decline and a Clarion Call for Christians’ Part 1

As I was talking with Jamie this morning, she shared with me that she had been invited to be a guest speaker at her son Zach’s public high school class on entrepreneurship. Once she got to his school, the teacher took her aside and nervously informed her that when she was invited to speak he hadn’t realized that the non-profit she represented was a Christian ministry.  He made it clear that she needed to be careful not to mention the name ‘Jesus’ in the classroom, since being in a school setting they had to be considerate of all of the other religions that might be represented and to make sure not to offend anyone.

As Jamie shared this, my heart was overwhelmed with grief that our culture puts a premium on not offending people, and yet gives little or no thought to how often we offend God--both by our silence, as well as by our words and actions. I have come to realize that it is difficult---if not totally impossible—to not offend others. Even Jesus, who was perfect, ‘offended many’ (Matthew 13:57; John 6:66). The question we must ask is, ‘Are we offending God or man? And, if we are offending man, is it because of our sinful nature, or because we are aligning ourselves with God and His Word-- which can be offensive to those who don’t know Him?

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I also was grieved because I believe that Zach’s teacher represents so many in our educational system and our society at large who seem blind to the correlation between the downward spiral of our culture and our nation choosing to turn its back on God. We think that creating laws to control the purchasing of guns is the answer to school shootings and ignore the reality that our problem is not that we need more laws on the books; we need to have hearts that love God and obey the laws that He has given to us to protect us in His Book, the bible. We in fact have created a culture where such violence is to be expected since we have removed teaching on God and His Word from our schools and other public institutions.

Our culture took a significant turn on the road toward the moral degradation we are experiencing today when the Supreme Court voted to remove prayer from schools in 1962; voted to remove Bible reading in 1963; and chose during that same decade to include the teaching of the theory of evolution in essence ‘as fact’ in every public school. The 10 commandments, including the command to not commit murder-- which used to adorn classrooms and were taught as the moral code for conduct—also became taboo in our schools and in our public square. Why? This was done under the guise of making sure schools adhered to the establishment clause of the 1st amendment, what’s usually referred to as ‘separation of church and state,’ a phrase most people don’t realize doesn’t even appear in the U. S. Constitution. Perhaps that ignorance is because the powers that be also determined that civic courses---formally a requirement for high school graduates-- are no longer necessary and the majority of high schools in our nation do not teach it.

Most students would be surprised to learn that for the first 355 years of our nation’s history—from 1607 to 1962-- children prayed and read the Bible in schools. They knew that a Biblically literate population would be a great asset to our nation and necessary to insure the moral fiber of the electorate. Just a few of the many quotes that support this assertion are:

“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable.”
– George Washington

 Let the children…be carefully instructed in the principles and obligations of the Christian religion. This is the most essential part of education.
– Benjamin Rush

Education is useless without the Bible. The Bible was America’s basic textbook in all fields. God’s Word, contained in the Bible, has furnished all necessary rules to direct our conduct.
– Noah Webster

“We have staked the whole future of our new nation, not upon the power of government; far from it. We have staked the future of all our political constitutions upon the capacity of each of ourselves to govern ourselves according to the moral principles of the Ten Commandments.”
– James Madison

“The Congress of the United States recommends and approves the Holy Bible for use in all schools.”
– United States Congress 1782

“Cursed be all that learning that is contrary to the cross of Christ.”
– James Madison

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It is essential that we know the truth that this nation was founded by Christians who knew that it was essential that future generations also would venerate the Word of God and look to Him for instruction and guidance. The woes we are experiencing in our schools and nation today are directly attributable to us turning our back on God and forsaking the truth, truth that our founding fathers knew was essential for the prosperity of this nation and its constituents. As I read the quotes above and consider the state of our nation today, the following scripture immediately comes to my mind that was given as a warning to the Church of Ephesus and I believe is so applicable to our nation today:

…But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Revelation 2:4-5

 Questions to ponder: What is lost when people do not know there is a God? What is lost when the truth  of God and His Word is no longer being taught in our public schools and His truth is no longer recognized in our public institutions? What is lost when the truth of God and His commands is no longer taught in our homes? 

This is the first in a series entitled 'America: The Cause of Our Decline and a Clarion Call to Christians

Written by Julie Van Gorp

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How to Find Hope in a Divided World

We are living in a day and age that is more polarized than at any other time in my lifetime. That is a refrain I am hearing from many others as well. The divisiveness is causing strife within our communities, the Church, and even in many families.  Recently I sat at a wedding reception where a friend poured out her heart to me that at Christmas, in exchange for the gifts she sent to her sister, she received a letter notifying her that her sister no longer wanted to have anything to do with her. Her reason? Their political viewpoints were so far apart that she thought it was hopeless to think they could have a relationship.

It is almost impossible to tune into any news outlet without hearing caustic comments, discord, and dissension. Facebook--which initially helped friends to connect-- has become a vehicle that now is separating those same ‘friends’ due to views expressed and pictures posted that align the person with a particular ‘side’ of our increasingly fractured culture. Instead of healthy, respectful discussions about the differences in viewpoints, the modus operandi all too often seems to be pride-filled personal attacks that stir up fear, prejudice, and hatred, creating barriers that separate people rather than building bridges that unify them.

Is there any hope for our fragmented society and world?

Yes, there is! However, we must keep in mind that our fight truly is not with one another: we are wrestling against the powers and principalities of darkness (Ephesians 6:12). We are in a spiritual battle with Satan and his demonic hordes, whose goal is always to ‘rob, steal, kill and destroy’. Satan is using his age-old method of‘division’; first, dividing us from God and His Word, and then working to bring division among God’s most treasured creation, mankind. Satan has blinded people to his schemes and the reality that he is the one behind the divisiveness.

Regrettably, even within the family of God—those who have received the free gift of salvation that He offers--we appear to be oblivious that it is Satan who is behind the schemes to divide us from one another, and we frequently play right into his plan to 'divide and conquer'. All too often we live in apathy toward and divided from one another-- if not outright conflict-- misrepresenting the heart of our Father in Heaven Who longs for His children to live in harmony with one another and to love one another as He has loved us.

We have allowed sin—particularly the sin of prejudice that is rooted in the sin of pride—whether it be racial, denominational, or socio-economic--to divide us as the Body of Christ.

But He, [well] aware of their intent and purpose, said to them, Every kingdom split up against itself is doomed and brought to desolation, and so house falls upon house. [The disunited household will collapse.]  Luke 11:17 AMP

Our sin of pride is not only playing into Satan’s scheme of bringing division among God’s children, it also grieves the heart of God Who longs for unity among those who have put their faith in Him. He desires that they experience the joy of oneness in Him, and He also wants the world to come to know Him by seeing the love and unity that Christians share in Him!

 I do not pray for these alone [it is not for their sake only that I make this request], but also for [all] those who [will ever] believe and trust in Me through their message, that they all may be one; just as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be one in Us, so that the world may believe [without any doubt] that You sent Me. John 17:20-23 AMP

Our Heavenly Father longs for the world to know Him by our love for one another. The trinity is one, and He longs for His disciples to accurately represent the triune God's love by our love for each other and our living in unity with one another. 

I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too are to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you have love and unselfish concern for one another. John 13:34-35 AMP

As His children, we have the opportunity--and the commandment--to bring glory to God and to make His Name known by our loving one another as He has loved us.

This is My commandment, that you love and unselfishly seek the best for one another, just as I have loved you. John 15:12 AMP

 John 15:12

John 15:12

As stated, we are in a spiritual battle, so a spiritual solution is necessary to overcome our enemy Satan. That solution is to be found: first, in our receiving God’s love; then, in our loving God; and lastly, in our loving others as He has loved us. God, Who is love, (1st John 4:8) demonstrated what true, unconditional love looks like by sending His Son Jesus to earth to die for us ‘while we were yet sinners’ (Romans 5:8). Our sin had separated us from God, who is holy, and the only way that we could be reconciled to Him was through the atoning work of His perfect and beloved Son Jesus who took our sin upon Himself and died in our place on the cross. Jesus is the ‘bridge’ whose death and resurrection enables all who put their trust in His atoning death to be reconciled to God the Father. The Holy Spirit is the priceless gift that is given to all who put their faith in Jesus, and the Holy Spirit empowers us to be reconciled with others, to love them as He has loved us. Sacrificially. Selflessly. Unconditionally.

Jesus lived out 1st Corinthian 13 love:

Jesus endured with patience and serenity, Jesus was kind and thoughtful, and He was not jealous or envious; Jesus did not brag nor was He proud or arrogant. Jesus was not rude; He was not self-seeking, He was not provoked [nor overly sensitive and easily angered]; He did not take into account a wrong endured. Jesus did not rejoice at injustice, but He rejoiced with the truth [when right and truth prevail].  Jesus bore all things [regardless of what came], He believed all things [looked for the best in each one], and He had hope in all things [remained steadfast during difficult times], He endured all things [without weakening]. Note: the name Jesus or “He’ was inserted in place of the word ‘love’ and the verb tense was changed where appropriate in the above passage taken from the Amplified version of 1st Corinthians 13: 4-7

If you inserted your name into the above passage, would the statement be true of you as it is for Jesus? What would your relationship with your family, friends, acquaintances, the Body of Christ, the world at large, and especially those with whom you differ, look like if you demonstrated Christlike love to them?

You may wonder, ‘Does love mean accepting everyone’s viewpoint and condoning their beliefs, even if that means endorsing what is unrighteous before God?’. No, not at all! Jesus is not only the epitome of love, but He is also Truth. Love and truth are inextricably linked together. If we truly love others as Christ has loved us, we must share the truth with them, but we will do so in the spirit of love. We will also follow Jesus’ example and intercede with prayers for those who have been deceived and taken captive by Satan to do his will, praying that the eyes of their heart will be opened and that they will have the faith to comprehend ‘how wide, long, high and deep, is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-- that they may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God’. (Ephesians 3:18-19)

How different our world would be if we who claim to be Jesus’ disciples demonstrated our love for Him:  by obeying His command ‘to love one another as He has loved us’; by living in obedience to 1st Corinthians 13:4-7; and by praying for those with whom we differ! We would be lights shining forth in the darkness of this world, pointing the world to Jesus, the Source of our Light and all Love, who is able and longs to set the world free from its enslavement to pride, fear, prejudice, and hatred, and Who alone is able to empower us to love one another as He has loved us so that the world will come to know Him and receive Him as their Savior and Lord!

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