Tuesday September 11, 2018
Scripture closely connects sin to sorrow and distress and also connect righteousness and the gospel to peace.
Last time we concluded this point in a passage in Isa 57. “There is no peace for the wicked,” says God. The creature who rejects his Creator and fights his Creator will search for peace in vain.
EPH 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are at Ephesus, and who are faithful in Christ Jesus:
EPH 1:2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Grace and peace are bookends to this letter. The church is to be full of both and reveal both to the world that the world may see and believe.
EPH 6:23 Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
EPH 6:24 Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with a love incorruptible.
What does it mean to be human? To worship and represent God and to enjoy His blessings - grace and peace to you.
So many different answers are given. Among them is the answer given by the gospel of Jesus Christ. “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”
Several centuries ago the world view concluded that man was a rational being. The thirteen and fourteen hundreds were overcome by a surge of thinking philosophically. Man was thought to be a thinking being, a rational being.
As with everything that claims to answer big questions, questions were raised about rationalism, and eventually empiricism became the answer to man’s meaning in the seventeen and eighteen hundreds. Man went from a thinking being to an empirical being. He went into the laboratory, so to speak, and sought answers by experiment.
On the heels of empiricism came men like Immanuel Kant and man ended up becoming a skeptical being. The conclusion was that experiment could not be trusted. No answers could be trusted and so any conclusions about meaning and morality could not be trusted. As bleak as this conclusion is, it was taken into further despair with the nihilist who concluded that nothing mattered and there was no right or wrong. Yet on another front skepticism was fought against by the existentialist who concluded that man could simply fight hard enough to find his own meaning.
And so, after centuries of learning in western culture, we went from rationalism, to empiricism, to skepticism, and then onto two views: 1) there is no meaning and 2) man can fight hard enough to find his own meaning. The controversial Nike commercial just released fits the second one. “Believe in something, even if it costs you everything,” says the powerful commercial, but the “something” is not defined.
The existentialist gives a lot of vent to his emotions and wills for his environment to fit his needs. The progressive movement has made this its mantra.
What did we conclude, whether a nihilist or an existentialist?
Current general world conclusion: There is no such thing as truth, no such thing as meaning, and no such thing as certainty.
The nihilist doesn’t bother with them and the existentialist defines his own and wants everyone to respect it, while he doesn’t respect anyone else’s.
No truth, no meaning, no certainty.
The problem is that the absolute continues to hold sway and authority over all people no matter how much they deny it. The Absolute is Jesus Christ.
COL 1:13 For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,
COL 1:14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
COL 1:15 And He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation.
COL 1:16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things have been created by Him and for Him.
COL 1:17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
COL 1:18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; so that He Himself might come to have first place [proteuo = preeminence] in everything.
The Nike commercial is built around the phrase, “Believe in something, even if it costs you everything.” The “something” is not defined. It’s up to the person to define it. It’s a true statement if the “something” is absolute truth.
Nike didn’t even bother to use an individual who epitomized bravery and sacrifice, of which there are so many to choose from. This is existentialism.
What if your “something” is against the way, truth, and life of Christ? It is sin and it will harm yourself and others. That’s the absolute that no one can come out from under.
When religious institutions based on Christian principles become minimalized in a society then man is unrestrained in his pursuit of happiness, or what he thinks is happiness, and he hurts himself and others. He has no peace.
Solzhenitsyn said that when he was a boy his father every night would speak to the family around the table and would ask, “Do you know why all this has happened to us?” Meaning the murders, the gulag, the corruption, etc. He would conclude, “Because we have forgotten God.”
In any university in our time, if you were to walk in there and proclaim that you believed in the sanctity of marriage and the sacredness of the body, as defined in the Bible, you would be thought of as worse than a terrorist. That is our present reality.
C.S. Lewis wrote an allegory called Pilgrim’s Regress. It’s about a man in search of meaning and answers. The character John is moving from philosophy to philosophy and ends up on a mountain called the Spirit of the Age. He is there with his hands tied behind his back. He is brought breakfast and his hands are untied so that he can enjoy it. He drinks the milk and comments on how nutritious and tasty it is, and the waiter comments that it is only the excretion from a cow and that its no better than urine or feces from a cow. John then comments on the delicious eggs and the waiter makes the same kind of analogy - “They are only the secretion from a chicken, no different than urine or feces.” John’s hands are retied and soon after a man comes to him to rescue him. The man is called reason and he states to the man who is in charge of the Spirit of the Age, “Sir, you lie. You don’t know the difference between what nature has meant for nourishment and what it has meant for the garbage.”
That is existentialism and nihilism. We have lost this distinction in our general world. We cannot make the distinction between what is true and what is a lie. We cannot clearly differentiate between good and evil and sin.
The angels didn’t say, “Peace on earth.” Older manuscripts eudokias (genitive = men of good will). KJV used eudokia (nominative = good will towards men). Truth is absolute.
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. [KJV]
LUK 2:13 And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
LUK 2:14 "Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased."
A copyist error, one sigma at the end of a word changes the meaning of the entire sentence. People loved the KJV so much that some didn’t care for the change no matter what the reason was, some even thinking it was blasphemous. Truth is truth. It is clear to us that in the inspired text Luke writes a genitive and not a nominative.
The world in general has lost its ability to know that which is good, of well-being, and beautiful, and that which is sinful, hurtful, and destructive.
People claim today that all choices have equal value.
On top of this secularization, where Christian morals are removed from society, and pluralization, where there are many competing views and none are defined as right or absolute, is privatization, where your public life and your private life are separate. If you believe something, then fine, keep it in your private life, but don’t make it public. If you make your belief public you will violate the public space and infringe upon the rights of others causing them discomfort.
What all this (rationalism, empiricism, skepticism, nihilism, existentialism, secularization, pluralization, and privatization) makes for is the opposite of the peace of God. People are living lonely, desolate, desperate lives without purpose. They need the gospel.
Yet, the people have a large capacity for distraction. If everyone knew the reality, they would all be walking around in severe depression or fear.