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Culture #3 Understanding The Times 1 Chron. 12:32

24 Nov

(Appreciation to Harding University, who developed this theme in their 1999 lectureships)

1 Chronicles 12:32: “…men of Issachar, who understood the times and knew what Israel should do–200 chiefs, with all their relatives under their command…”

How desperately we are in need of people with that kind of insight today. Church leaders everywhere are shaking their heads in bewilderment when trying to understand the age in which we live. And just think of the wisdom required to determine what the church should do in order to influence the current generation so that we all may “be found blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes.” (1 Thess. 3:13).

In his book Reality Isn’t What It Used To Be, Walter Truett Anderson suggests that the Wizard of Oz is a myth for our time. Toward the end of the movie, when Dorothy returns to the Emerald City, she and her companions are granted an audience with the “Great and Powerful” Oz. Then Toto, the dog, makes a discovery, which Anderson sees as the moral of the whole story: The “Great and Powerful Oz is unmasked for what he really was…a fraud, the product of the imagination of a clever man who gets a lot of mileage out of the wishful thinking of Dorothy and her naïve friends.

Anderson claims that many people in our modern society are making a similar discovery: that the “truths” around which they have built their lives in the past are nothing more than the philosophical inventions of clever people from days gone by.

Anderson believes that people who make the discovery don’t necessarily stop going to church or temple or mosque, at least not right away. Instead, leaving their doubts in the foyer they continue to attend, even participate, NOT because they are convinced that the myths they repeat are true, but only that they are “helpful.”

Plato labeled such a belief system “a noble lie” – noble because it is useful in bringing order to society, but a lie nonetheless. This helps explain why 90% of Americans say they believe in God, but more than 2/3 of them say there is no absolute truth.

Os Guinness: “Unless reversed, this hollowing out of beliefs will finally be America’s undoing.”

 

  1. Where are we and what is this place like? We are in an open universe—God can and often does influence it—a universe created and sustained by God.

 

  1. Who are we and where are we going? We are God’s creation, made in His image, an image distorted by sin, clarified by Jesus Christ, and restored by His redemptive work – created to enjoy fellowship with Him forever.

 

  1. What is the problem and what is right and wrong? Sin.

 

  1. What is the solution? Individual and collective reconciliation through Jesus and recreation through our cooperation with the indwelling Holy Spirit.

 

  1. How do we know? God’s Word, which gives faith.

John 1:1-4: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. {2} He was with God in the beginning. {3} Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. {4} In him was life, and that life was the light of men. {5} The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. {6} There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. {7} He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. {8} He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. {9} The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. {10} He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. {11} He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. {12} Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God– {13} children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. {14} The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

John 20:30-31: “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. {31} But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

Purpose for our life?

(Luke 7:30) “But the Pharisees and experts in the law rejected God’s purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John.)”

(Acts 13:36) “”For when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his fathers and his body decayed.”

(Romans 8:28) “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

(Romans 9:17) “For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.””

(Ephesians 1:11) “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,”

(1 Peter 4:1-2) “Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. {2} As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God.”

There are those who live as if the proper response to the spirit of the age is to retreat from the world by withdrawing to large churches in mostly Christian enclaves (South) where our children can be protected from all of these evil influences.

At the other end, there are those who suggest we get heavily involved in politics and, by the power of sheer numbers, force onto the table of public discussion the issues we hold dear. I am convinced that Jesus intended neither when he discussed light, salt, and leaven.

We must respond to opposition “with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15b-16), not with either retreat or coercion.

We must slowly but surely impact every level of society through a commitment to Jesus which is the product of our conviction about Him, conviction that we can readily explain to those who do not share it.

Sanctified and sent: John 17:13-19: “”I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. {14} I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. {15} My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. {16} They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. {17} Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. {18} As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. {19} For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

 
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Posted by on November 24, 2014 in Article

 

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