World Domination. Persecution. Beheadings. Crucifixion. One World Government
Rome AD 33: What has changed in 2000 years? Not Much! You might have thought as you read the words in the graphic above that I was talking about ISIS and 2015, but actually the statements were referring to AD 33 and the Roman Empire. The Romans favored beheading as their preferred form of execution, unless they wanted to prove a point, then crucifixion took the place. Sound familiar? ISIS today is using the same tactics in its quest to usher in the Mahdi’s (Islam’s Messiah) coming. ISIS does not want peace; they want chaos. According to Islamic teaching, the world must be chaotic before the Mahdi’s coming. This is the world of today, but it is not so different from the world Jesus was born into and from which the Church was born. Yes, the Church was birthed and flourished in just such a world. The Church has always grown through suffering and persecution. The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.
For the Church to flourish in times like these, we must live by principles that transcend the issues of the day. We must march to the beat of a different drummer. Our allegiance must be above and beyond the temporal conflicts of political partisanship, and social silliness.
We must, to use the Apostle Paul’s word, “Set our minds on things above ” Colossians 3:2. We must keep our eyes on Jesus. “…looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” Hebrews 12:2.
Now I am not suggesting that we should be uninvolved. God forbid! As citizens we must be involved in the democratic process. But we must not get hung-up in the upheavals and social chaos of this world. We are in the world but not of the world. We must “earnestly contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” Jude 1:3. But, what I am saying is that we must live out our faith based on Biblical principle and not based on the world’s permission or opinions.
We must live by principles that are greater than the latest political polls or pundit’s opinions. Jesus taught us that there are ideas that are bigger than the struggles of mediocre minds. There are words that are larger than life! They are statements that answer the questions of the soul! They are filled with light and truth that dispels the darkness of heart. Words are Powerful!
There are words which have changed history and the world. Perhaps these statements came at pivotal moments in history, during the times of great stress among nations; in times of war or disaster. Maybe they came during times of great social or political change. But they are so powerful that they became larger than the situations that gave birth to them. They are remembered. They are now embedded in our minds and have become part of the fabric of society. In a way they help to make us who we are as a people. They define us. They inspire us, correct us, and challenge us. They are transcendent. They are larger than life!
Words for our Religious understanding…
For example, toward the end of the Middle Ages Martin Luther who would become world renowned and launched a reformation that continues to define the Christian movement to this day, coined a phrase during his trial for heresy that ultimately led to his excommunication from the formal church; “Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, sola Gratia.” This phrase became a foundation for a doctrinal position that transformed the western world of Christianity. It captured a revelation and struck a balance for the workings of grace, faith and scripture in the life of a believer. In the movement his teaching ignited there were two other Sola’s added,“Sola Christus and Sola Deo Gloria.” Think of that! How profound! How straight forward and uncomplicated! Only Scripture, Only Faith, Only Grace, Only Christ, and Only God’s Glory!
Words define our freedom…
During the Revolution for American Independence these words became engraved on the hearts of Patriots in the cities and in the battlefields of America. Today they are engraved in stone, “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal…” The Declaration of Independence. Franklin, Adams, and Jefferson.
Words establish our rights and obligations…
In more recent times, the day was August 28th, 1963 on the Mall in Washington DC at the Lincoln Memorial, the words were first spoken, “I have a dream that this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed…” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a speech that has become the gold standard for words spoken in defense of the oppressed and less fortunate.
Words determine our politics…
Presiding over the end of the Cold War, Ronald Reagan said while standing at the base of the Berlin Wall, “Mr. Gorbachev, Tear this wall Down!” and an entire Continent was united.
But, what about Jesus? Do His words matter? Are they transcendent as well? Do His words speak to us today? Are they relevant? Do they adequately address the issues of today?
Yes… a thousand times, yes! Every truth I have mentioned had its genesis in God and the Holy Scripture. The Word of God is larger than the vexing issues of the day! We grapple with specific issues like race relations and civil rights for minorities, and who should have the right to marry as if we were trying to formulate our position. But do we not have instructions? Do we not have our orders?
Or have we come to a place in the development of our culture and our society that we have become God’s counselors? Do we feel the need to justify God’s morality and God’s position to a world He Himself created? Have we become too sophisticated to simply say, “I am a Christian believer and, therefore, a Disciple of Jesus Christ”? Jesus Christ does not need our defense. He is the truth and the life and the way!
You see, the call from Jesus Christ to us is not just a call to be saved, but it is also a call to be surrendered, our will to His Lordship. We say that He is the King of Kings and The Lord of Lords yet we cower in the corner of indecision and trepidation when confronted by a hostile world demanding a decision and an answer. We have a word–we have an answer: Receive the Holy Spirit!