Perspectives on Spiritual, Intellectual and Pastoral Issues: Host – Lowell Qualls

Much of what you’re about to read was inspired by reading the book in the Bible – First John, as well as the writings and teachings of Frances Schaeffer, with special focus on his book, “THE GOD WHO IS THERE.”

Have you ever heard someone say, “Well, that’s your truth but it’s not my truth.”

According to the Urban Dictionary: The words “my truth, your truth” are substitutes for “non-negotiable personal opinion.”   This is a convenient phrase for avoiding arguments because people can contradict your opinion but not “your truth.” The phrase is often used when seeking to justify a controversial personal stance or action because people are not allowed to argue with “your truth.”

FOR EXAMPLE:  One day Gertrude said, “I’m leaving my husband.  He is a really good, faithful guy and all, but I just don’t love him anymore.  It was a tough decision, but I have to stand in My Truth!”
Sharon: You are so brave! I’m so proud of you for being true to yourself!  Stay strong!”

RELATIVISM is a family of philosophical views which believe that mankind is alone in the universe.  Relativism believes that there are no standards for living on this planet based on an outside source … like God.  Relativism believes that each person and each generation defines truth, ethics, laws and morals in their own way for their own time.

I’ll give you an example of what I’m talking about:

Within the last 60 years words like marriage, family, sex, and gender have drastically changed.  It wasn’t that long ago that all these words, and more, had different definitions.  Marriage was between and man and a woman, family was a married couple with children, sex was male or female, as was gender.

In the Western World, there is a general sense that religion, or anything described as God, has no say in a culture or society because religion and the worship of God is not based on science.  There’s no basis or allowance in science for a God who creates, or One who has standards that are above mankind’s understanding of this world. 

In a humanistic, relativistic world, Man is the measure of all things.  Man determines what is true and what is not true.  Man determines what is moral and what is not.

Enter the Apostle John.  He wrote the Gospel of John, the Revelation, and three letters called 1 John, 2 John, and 3 John. Throughout 1 John, the Apostle kept referring to something we need to understand.

1 John 2:15-17: 15Do not love the world or anything in the world.  If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.  16For everything in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — comes not from the Father but from the world.  17The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.

1 John 3:13: Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.

1 John 4:2-4: This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God:  Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.  4You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.  5They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them.

1 John 4:17: This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment:  In this world we are like Jesus.

1 John 5:4-5: 4 … for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.  5Who is it that overcomes the world?  Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

1 John 5:19: We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.

What was John writing about … and why would Rome put him into prison and try so hard to wipe out the infant, First Century Church?

Here’s the answer, but first I need to give you some history.  By 51 BC, Julius Caesar rose to become one of the most powerful politicians in the Roman Republic.  He was a military genius, and through a string of military victories in the Gallic Wars, he greatly extended Roman territory.  When the Gallic Wars concluded, the Senate ordered Caesar to step down from his military command and return to Rome.  

He had many, many enemies.  They feared his power.  Leaving his command in Gaul would mean losing his immunity to criminal prosecution by his enemies.  Knowing this, Caesar openly defied the Senate’s authority by crossing the Rubicon River (in northern Italy) with his legions, and marching towards Rome.  Thus began Caesar’s civil war, which he won.

After his victory, the Romans made Caesar “dictator for life” in the hope that the government of a single person would give them time to breathe after so many conquests, wars and civil wars.  

After Caesar’s death Octavian (later called Caesar Augustus, grandnephew of Caesar) came to power.  The great Roman poet Virgil, a friend of Augustus, wrote that Augustus was a divinely appointed leader, and that his calling, and Rome’s mission, was to bring peace and civilization to the world.

Augustus came to power in 27 BC, and he reigned for 38 years!  Because Augustus offered peace, Romans of every class were ready to allow him total power.   His power and influence was so strong that from 27 BC until about 180 AD the European and Mediterranean world experience the “pax Romana,” or the Roman Peace.

In order to control the political and economic system, Augustus became the head of the state religion with the title “pontifex maximus.”  All men were urged to worship the spirit of Rome and the genius of the emperor. Later this became obligatory for all the people of the empire.  The emperor ruled as a god, and you were required to recognize him as “Lord.”

Augustus set out to legislate morals, family life, the legal system and welfare programs, but a human god … an emperor … was a poor foundation.  Rome eventually fell because it was not securely built upon the foundation of God’s truth.

Do you remember, during the trial of Jesus, that Pilate actually asked Jesus, “What is truth?”

The Roman world view was that everything was built on the whims and wishes of powerful men and women.  These people dictated the terms of society and shaped culture.  

Consider this: It is important to realize the difference a person’s worldview makes.  In the First Century, when someone became a Christian, it meant that he or she stood, not only opposed to the surrounding religions, but the entire culture that was built on those religions … including the state religion. Our world … not just America, but the entire world … is built on the foundation of Man and manmade religions.  History is about to repeat itself.  

Get this:  legally, in First Century Rome, you could practice your own personal religion as long as you worshipped the emperor, too.  The emperors of Rome would tolerate divided worship because they knew it kept people in line. But back in the Roman Empire era, when a person became a Christian and was marked as a Christian by baptism, it was very short path from an open profession of faith to a martyr’s death.  Why?  

Here is the answer:   Christians worshipped one God, only, and they rejected every other religion.  All other gods were seen as “false gods.”  If Christians had worshipped Caesar they would have gone unharmed.  But they couldn’t.  They made a powerful choice. Christians were killed because in human history, no totalitarian authority, no authoritarian state, has ever tolerated those who have a world view that rejects the state and its actions, using standards produced by God. Christians were killed because they were seen as rebels.  When one became a Christian, it meant that he or she stood in opposition to the culture that was built on those religions and beliefs.  

The early church believed that Jesus was the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament.  They really did believe that the Old Testament, the revelation of Jesus Christ, and the growing New Testament was the only TRUE foundation for living a life that pleased God. CHRISTIANS believed that God had a voice, that He had spoken, and that God had given/revealed/defined TRUTH.  The early Christians, therefore, could not be caught up in the relativistic Roman world.  

How does this history lesson effect you and me? Well, think about it.  Rome was really much like our own day and age.  The foundation of the world’s cultures rest upon the whims and wishes of men and woman in power today.  (Example: In America, people no longer care about what our founding fathers had to say, but more importantly, our culture in general doesn’t care to hear what God has to say.). Generally speaking, because most cultural foundations are built on the shifting sands of Man’s opinions, collapse and ruin are inevitable.

What does this mean to you and me this morning?

Simply this:  if your life is built upon the foundation of Jesus Christ and His teachings, your life will stand when the culture around you is crumbling.  You’ll be about as popular as the First Century Christians were, but you won’t care about the opinions of Man!  Only God’s opinion is important to the Christ-following believer.  You need to understand that!

Here is something to ponder:  If you buy into the worldview that rests on religion of humanism, your life will lack meaning.  Humanism is dog-eat-dog, and only the strong survive.  And because there will always be someone more powerful, more influential, more connected, more popular than you, your life won’t count.

The foundation of the Christian worldview rests upon God … the infinite, personal God who has spoken in the Old Testament, revealed Himself through Jesus Christ, and empowers your life and mine by the power … the Dunamis … of the Holy Spirit! 

In the New Testament, the Greek word translated “power” is Dunami(the source of the English words dynamic and dynamite).  Both of those words are easily associated with “power.”  In addition, Dunamis can also be translated “mighty works.”

You and I need God doing mighty works in us and through us in our day and age.  We need God’s dynamite, His power, His Holy Spirit if we are going to come against the lies of God’s enemy and our enemy, Satan.

Even though many of the First Century Christians were martyred, they had the answer to life which the Romans did not have.  Rome did not collapse because of outward forces such as the Barbarians, but because of inward rottenness.  Rome gradually became a ruin because they tried to build upon the state or upon their limited, manmade and false gods, but the Christians continued to grow in numbers and continued in history.

Let us determine to build our lives upon Jesus Christ, and Him crucified, a stumbling block to humanistic Mankind, but to us who are being saved by His work on the Cross, He is the only foundation for real, purposeful, meaningful, dynamic, satisfying and ETERNAL LIFE!

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