Two Truths of Life

It amazes me how so often we can go for weeks without seemingly any significant events occurring in our lives. We get so tied up with our day-to-day routines that it appears we are functioning as mere robots. Days go by and we do the same things over and over again and are almost blind and deaf to some of the events that are going on around us. We are busy like ants gathering food for the winter and our focus seems to be only on ourselves. It reminds me of some of the zombie shows that seem to be so popular today. We are like dead men walking and are immune to any form of  a potential vaccine that may reverse our dreadful condition. And we don’t realize the condition we are in.

Does this sound familiar? I know I have found myself at times almost like what I have just described. And then it happens. Some event or circumstance develops around me that causes me to stop and take note. And all of a sudden my eyes become wide open to the things I have been paying little or no attention to. And then I finally realize that God has awakened me from my stupor and wants to either teach me or remind me of something important. During the past week this has happened to me because of two significant events that have occurred. I have been reminded of a couple of truths that I have not really thought about lately but are most assuredly ones that we all should be more aware of. So I want to briefly describe these events and then discuss the resulting truths in the next few paragraphs because they have had a serious impact on me.

The first event is one that just about every person in this country is watching and talking about. It is the high-profile nomination of the next Supreme Court Justice and subsequent hearing brought about by an allegation of sexual misconduct. If you have watched any part of the hearing or kept up with it through reliable news outlets then you have seen the same things I have seen. It has been very obvious to me that a certain group of the very ones who have been elected to represent the people of this country have taken it upon themselves to destroy an individual in hopes of furthering their personal agendas. I have seen incredible hate all over their faces, in their voices and certainly in their actions. All forms of decency and fairness have been tossed aside by this group of people and as far as I am concerned they have proved themselves to be the very epitome of evil. So what is the resulting truth of all of this? Well here it is: Satan is the ruler of this world and is the master of all evil. As jesus told the Pharisees ” You are not sons of Abraham, your father is the devil.” And it is no different today. Satan has his children and they are doing his bidding. Since the fall of man there has been a continuous battle between good and evil and will continue until the time Jesus returns to this earth and finally puts things in order.

The other event is one that really hits close to home because it involved someone who I hold dear to my heart and love very much. Several days ago my wife Becky had a routine appointment with her regular doctor. She has been having some serious health issues with continuing headaches that seemed to start after an earlier experience with a severe headache that led to some disorientation and tremendous nausea. Another experience occurred shortly thereafter but not as serious as the first. After her regular checkup she informed the doctor about those experiences and the resulting headaches. After doing a couple of other checks the doctor then advised her that he was scheduling a diagnostic test that would determine if she had a serious brain condition. From that moment on fear and anxiety set in for her and then for me because the test would not be for another week. As we researched the possible reason for the symptoms the anxiety grew even worse because of the unknowns that we faced. I began to pray every chance I had and I’m sure she was doing the same. No doubt, both of us were trying to plan how we would handle something serious if diagnosed and if we need to put things in order if there was a terminal condition. Needless to say that week of waiting took a great emotional toll on us. However, on the morning of the scheduled test we prayed together and we cried together but we resolved to leave it all in God’s hands. The test lasted for about 45 minutes and we then took care of some personal business, had lunch together and headed home. Just as we turned on our street Becky got a call from the doctor’s office with the results. I was trying to drive and listen to the conversation at the same time but all the while my heart was racing. The conversation ended about the time I pulled up in the driveway of our home. I could not believe what I was hearing! No tumor! No aneurism! No mass! No brain bleed! No stroke! No sign of any kind of any abnormality! We sat in our car in the driveway and we held on to each other, we cried together, and we thanked God for His answer to our prayers! Now, what is the resulting truth of all of this? Well again I say “Here it is!”: What a mighty God we serve! Every promise He has ever made He will keep. We can trust Him. We realize that the outcome could have been immensely different but we were resolved to trust Him. And we thank Him thank He gives us that opportunity. There is one thing we know. There is coming a day when He will set all things in order and there will be no more evil, no more pain, no more sickness. What a day that will be and we will trust Him until that day appears. 

   

The Autumn of Life

Last week we completed the series we had entitled “Stand or Cower” and we looked in-depth at three major issues that we as Christians are faced with to make a decision as to how we respond to the position that most of our society holds today on each issue. I think, without exception, we have proved what God’s view is on the issues of abortion, homosexuality, and civil disobedience because our answers came directly from God’s Word. There is no doubt that there are other issues within our society that require  us to take a firm stand but these don’t seem to be as prevalent as the three we discussed. So, far the most part, we can end the series with the reminder that our authority is God Himself and our real citizenship is somewhere else.

Tonight I want to change gears and move in somewhat of a different direction. As most of you know, today is the first day of fall according to the astrological calendar and we can expect leaves to begin changing colors and then turn loose, the grass to become dry and dormant, and the temperatures to start a slow downward spiral. We are thus reminded that from the day that God finished His creation, the seasons have come and gone every year and everywhere on this old earth and will continue to do so until the Lord’s return. This is what we know as the autumn of the four seasons. But there are two other autumns I want us to consider.

The first one is what I call the autumn of God’s time. I’m referring to His plan that He has had from before the foundation of the world. His plan to provide the way for man to be reconciled to Him and then a specific length of time He has set aside to give man the opportunity. And of course only God the Father knows what the time duration is. However, I believe we are not too far from that time to come to a close. There are so many signs that we can recognize from the descriptions found in God’s Word that certainly makes it appear the end is nearing. I’m not sure whether we are in the beginning, the middle, or near the end of His autumn of time but I do believe winter is fast approaching.

The other autumn that I want to consider tonight is what I call the autumn of life as our post title indicates. What I mean by this is that many of you and certainly myself have more than likely lived more than half the years of our lives. If we consider the fact that the average life span today is somewhere between 80 and 85 years depending on our gender, we can compare the seasons of our life very closely to the climatic seasons we experience.However, for argument’s sake, let’s assume the life span of a person has now reached 90 years. if that is so then anyone who is 22.5 years old or less would be considered in the spring of life. Those who fall between 22.5 and 45 are in the summer of their lives. And those who are between 45 and 67.5 in the autumn of their lives. And folks I am at the very end of my autumn. And I know many who are in the same situation as me. That also means I am about to begin the winter of my life.

With all of this said, why is the autumn of life so important? Well, I can speak only for myself, but let me share with you my observations and my thoughts. The last few years have had a great impact on me. I have realized that I am no longer invincible and that parts of my body are beginning to wear out. Obviously this affects me physically which also results in additional mental and emotional stress. Like the leaves on a tree, my leaves are turning color and some are falling off. But the thing that wears on me the most is not my physical, mental, or emotional condition but spiritual condition. I have come to the realization that I am still so short of what God wants me to be and time is running out. Therefore the things that I once considered most important in life have waned in comparison to what truly is important. But I am so thankful that God has brought me to the point of understanding that what I do for Him and His glory is what true life is all about. He has given me a desire and hunger for His Word much greater than I’ve ever had and a greater desire to share His Word with others. This includes the good news of His glorious gospel but along with that how God’s Word has the answer to any and all things in this life and many for the life to come.  My greatest desire now is to finish strong! I realize that at my age I will most likely begin to encounter major health issues, loss of loved ones close to me, probably some criticism and maybe even persecution. But this I know. He who began a new work in me will complete it just as He promised. And even though I am in the autumn of my life He still expects me to strive everyday to be what He has called me to be. I know that he still has great things He wants to do in my life. And I pray that when I come to the end of the winter of my life I will leave a legacy that He and my loved ones will be proud of.

If you are in the autumn of your life or even winter, God still has great plans for you. Never give up and finish strong with me.

Civil Disobedience; Biblical Examples

When we started our series entitled “Stand or Cower” the intent was to identify those issues that today’s society so readily embraces as acceptable and even normal. We have seen that these include abortion, homosexuality and ungodly civil authority. It is very obvious and easy to understand what God’s view is with regards to the first two but civil disobedience is not quite that simple. We saw that God’s view of civil authority requires us as Christians to obey those in authority over us because he has put them in that position. However, we have also seen that scripture tells us that there are exceptions and that is when those in authority are attempting to require us do something that God commands and instructs us not to do. Last week we looked at the three basic views that we may have concerning this issue with the Biblical view being the one we are to follow. That view basically is that we obey unless it is contradictory to God’s laws.

With today’s post we will take a look at some biblical examples that will give us an insight as to when civil disobedience is acceptable in God’s eyes. As we do so it should serve as a reminder that the day is coming if the Lord tarries that we may very well have to make a decision if we will stand or cower in the face of very similar circumstances.

The first example involves the Hebrew midwives that Pharoah commanded to kill all of the male Jewish babies but did not do so. In Exodus 1 we are told that they feared God, disobeyed the command of Pharoah, and the lied to him as to why they did not kill them. The Bible also said that God was good to them and the people multiplied. We also know that shortly after that was when Moses was born and was hidden in a basket in the Nile river. And we know how God used Moses to lead His people out of Egyptian.

In Joshua chapter 2 we see where Rahab disobeyed the command of the King of Jericho to produce the Israelite spies. We see that she was rescued from the destruction of Jericho because of her previous actions. In 1 Samuel we see where King Saul’s own son Jonathan ate honey for refreshment not knowing that Saul had ordered that no one could eat until he had won the battle. When Saul ordered that Jonathan be put to death the people rose up against the king and Jonathan was spared.

The Bible says that Obadiah “feared the Lord greatly” and hid 100 of God’s prophets while Jezebel was attempting to have them all killed. This was certainly in defiance of the queen’s authority. And the book of Daniel records several acts of civil disobedience. The two most prominent are when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow down to the golden idol and subsequently were thrown into the fiery furnace and when Daniel was thrown into the lion’s den because he prayed to someone other than the king. In both cases God spared them and in fact Jesus was present with them during their time of trial.

In the New Testament, the book of Acts records the civil disobedience of Peter and John towards the authorities that were in power at the time. After Peter healed a man born lame, Peter and John were arrested for preaching about Jesus and put in jail. The religious authorities were determined to stop them from teaching about Jesus; however, Peter said, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19–20). Later, the rulers confronted the apostles again and reminded them of their command to not teach about Jesus, but Peter responded, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). 

There are certainly other instances that can be found in God’s Word that are considered to be defiance to civil authority. And every one of them is because the rules or the actions of the authority are in direct opposition to God’s commandments and expectations. In each instance it required courage on the individual’s part and God’s presence in their lives. In each of the examples we have seen the individual chose to stand and not cower. May God give us the courage to stand!

As we draw this to a close let’s review the possible conclusions we can come to with regards to the this subject. Below are just a few:

• Christians should resist a government that commands or compels evil and should work nonviolently within the laws of the land to change a government that permits evil.
• Civil disobedience is permitted when the government’s laws or commands are in direct violation of God’s laws and commands.
• If a Christian disobeys an evil government, unless he can flee from the government, he should accept that government’s punishment for his actions.
• Christians are certainly permitted to work to install new government leaders within the laws that have been established.

We should also be reminded that we are to pray for our leaders and for God himself to intervene in His time to change the ungodly path they are pursuing. May we then have the urgency to pray for them and the patience to wait upon the Lord.

Civil Disobedience; Three Views

Although there could be others there are at least three major views regarding the subject of civil disobedience. These are the anarchist view, the extremist patriot view, and then the scriptural view. Let’s take a look at each one of these, one at a time.

The anarchist view takes the position that a person can disobey the rules of government whenever they wish and certainly anytime they feel personally justified with their choice to do so. However, as we saw last week, in Paul’s writings in Romans chapter 13 he consistently reminds them and us that God expects us to be in submission to those in authority over us. And that includes the government and it’s representatives because they have been placed in those positions by God himself. So, it is therefore obvious that this view has no biblical support and is certainly not God’s view at all.

The extremist patriot viewtotally opposite position as the previous view, says that a person should always obey the laws of government, without consideration of what the law is, be it right or wrong in God’s eyes. This argument has been used many times by those who commit atrocities by orders from someone else and then takes no personal responsibility or accountability for their actions if they are morally wrong. Again, this view has no biblical support because we realize that there are laws higher than mans laws.

So that leads us to the third view which is the scriptural view. This view expects us to be in submission to the civil authorities but allows us to act in civil disobedience to the government if their commands are evil in nature, such that they would require us to act in a manner contrary to the clear teachings and requirements of God’s Word. In other words, there truly are laws higher than mans laws and God’s ways are higher than our ways.

I’m sure there are other views concerning this subject and many opinions to be offered by people holding on to various beliefs. But as we have said before, it really doesn’t matter what any of us think or believe it only matters what God has to say about the subject. And the way we find out what He has to say is through the reading and study of His infallible Word.

Next week we will share numerous biblical examples of civil disobedience and we will see how God responds to the actions of the characters in the examples. We will attempt to summarize what we have learned and hopefully all come to the same conclusion on this elusive subject. 

 

Civil Authority; God’s View

In our last post a couple of weeks ago I informed our readers that we would begin a new topic of discussion which I entitled “Civil Authority and The Christian.” This will be the third issue we will have considered since we began the series “Stand or Cower.” It may not seem to carry the same weight as the homosexuality or the abortion issue but you can rest assured it is just as much a threat to our way of life because the time is coming that, like the other issues, we will have to take a stand if we intend to defend our faith. So tonight let’s start from the point where we should begin and that is what God thinks and says about the subject.

The most familiar passage of scripture with regards to the subject can be found in Paul’s letter to the Romans in chapter 13. We must remember that the words were penned by Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and therefore they must be considered as God’s very words. I have included these words below which were provided from my New American Standard Bible translation, verses 1-7:

“Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor”

Paul actually wrote this letter during the reign of the notorious Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (Nero), the Roman Emporer from AD 54 to 68. He was known as an ungodly man, engaged in a homosexual marriage and many other illicit acts. He also was considered the who, by arson, started the great Roman fire in AD 64, which destroyed a huge portion of the city. The great Roman senator and historian wrote the following words: “To get rid of the report [that he had started the fire], Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace”. If Paul had not been writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit he may well have encouraged his readers to rise up against the oppressive ruler but his writing was the exact opposite.

Peter, in one of his letters, writes almost the identical words. Again, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he pens these words in 1st Peter 2:13-17:

“Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king”

We have seen in Paul’s and Peter’s teachings what is described as God’s view concerning how we are to respond to civil authority. However, a major question arises from all of this that we must address. It is one concerning civil disobedience. Does the verses we have included here mean that we, as Christians, are always to submit to whatever the government commands, no matter what is asked of us? What a dilemma we have if that is so!

We will attempt to resolve this dilemma over the next couple of weeks in the posts to follow. Next week we will consider at least three views on the subject of civil disobedience and come to a conclusion as to which view we should embrace based on God’s Word as a whole.