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Posts Tagged ‘history’

ice fishing III

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for,
the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

 

Faith, it seems, is taking a bit of a knock these days, at least in western societies. Although everyone has faith in something (even if it’s faith in oneself or fate or love or natural selection or…); I am talking about those who have faith in the supernatural, namely a God. Even that isn’t as ridiculous to some as faith in the one true God, the triune God, Yahweh.  It’s really popular and stimulating these days to be searching for truth and open and “tolerant” of all worldviews, but to say that you have found Truth (and He is also the Way and the Life) is absurd and humorous to those who find it much more intellectual (or noble or easy or…) to be ever searching and never finding.

By the new life, with its new affections and new longings, the new creature in Christ experiences for the first time a reality that always existed, but up until conversion, was never perceived. Now things previously hidden from them are revealed by the Spirit of God and are readily received and believed by them.  This is faith.

Hebrews 11, that great ode to faith, confirms the universal experience of the Christian believer. Where those outside of Christ perceive faith to be a wish or a hope or even a superstition that we follow, the Christian believer knows that faith doesn’t bring about our spiritual reality, but as Hebrews 11 states, it is the evidence of that spiritual reality. It is substance; not a mere hope, but an absolute assurance that we are sealed now by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of Christ, who unmistakably takes up residence in us upon our conversion, is our guarantee that we will one day take possession of the promised eternal inheritance that awaits all in Christ. The Holy Spirit in us, directing us, teaching us, revealing God to us, opening Scripture to us, etc. is “the anchor which holds beneath the veil” (Hebrews 6:19).

This undeniable presence in the life of the believer, a presence which most assuredly was not there before conversion, is evidence to the believer of things that are unseen. The whole of Hebrews 11 lists person after person who were indwelt by the Holy Spirit and acted in accordance with that new evidence in their lives. They believed beyond their senses of a yet-unseen, spiritual reality that exists as surely as does grass or trees or gravity or energy. They acted in obedience to God’s revelation to them, always with an eye to that other, heavenly country to which they were now traveling (vv. 14-16). All were sure of the substance of their faith, many willing to suffer and die for it (vv. 32-38), because they had evidence of things not seen (vv.39-40).

What was the evidence that provided them with the courage to stand and withstand? It was the faith given them upon conversion (Ephesians 2:8-9). We don’t simply have faith in faith however (i.e. “if I only had enough faith…”); instead we have faith in the Faith-giver. Dana has used the analogy of walking on an icy lake in the middle of winter. It is not my faith that keeps me from crashing through to the icy depths below, but it is the reality that I have at least 8-12 inches of a hard, solid surface on which to walk. Whether I have faith the ice will hold or whether I lack faith that the ice will hold makes no difference. Only the reality of what I walk upon makes the difference. Whether I speak of having faith in God or whether I mock those who trust in their faith makes no difference to the reality.  The only thing that matters is if there is in fact a God holding me up.

An open-minded study of our world reveals the imprint of God on every aspect of man’s experience; it bears witness to the reality of a God who exists outside of matter so as to design and create man and matter.  Education with this filter allows us to look upon the face of God in every field of study. It is to actually perceive that the “ice” upon which we stand is not there because we merely wish it to be so, but because we have bored down, down, down through the many layers of it and found it has substance and reliability. This is true whether we study –

– philosophy – the particulars and the universals;
– anthropology – is man basically good or basically flawed;
– the marvels of science and irreducible complexities;
– history with sin being played out from one generation after another -and
God’s divine plan progressing from one generation to another;
– sociology – how mankind in all ages seeks a spiritual and moral code;
– government and its God-given role as keepers of that moral code;
– labor and our ability and desire to create; etc. *

Such an education allows us to look upon the face of God and to see that God’s written revelation, given to us in his Word, is supported by his general revelation, revealed to us in nature.

Despite the attempts of godless men to divorce learning and education from the source of all Truth, does not the very definition of insanity – “lost contact with reality” – cause us question those who define their world only in terms of what they themselves have experienced (or selectively so as with their belief in the existence of wind or magnetism or their belief that there ever existed an Attila the Hun or Alexander the Great)?  They have wittingly or unwittingly rejected a portion of reality that, although unseen, has much evidence of its existence.

Praise be to God who gives to men faith – the evidence of things unseen. No wonder that “without faith it is impossible to please [God]: for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).

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* Thanks to Focus on the Family’s Truth Project for its deep analysis of these disciplines, revealing the reality of God in each.

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Joe Rigney, Assistant Professor of Theology and Christian Worldview at Bethlehem College and Seminary, distributed the following letter of analysis, charge, and encouragement in the wake of our recent national election.  I am so grateful for his thoughts and clarity.

________________________

“Last week Americans went to the polls to participate in our biennial electoral ritual. Evangelicals were rightly disappointed in the election of President Barack Obama. During the campaign the president vocally, clearly, and persistently advocated for same-sex marriage and abortion on demand, and a majority of the American people rewarded him for it. For many of us, it was a stark reminder that there are millions of our fellow citizens who embrace the culture of death (or who at least are not sufficiently provoked by it to vote against politicians who endorse it).

“As I watched the election returns come in and it became clear that the American people had embraced a larger, more intrusive federal government that tramples on religious liberty, that celebrates what God hates, and that refuses to protect the weakest among us, I wrote down a number of thoughts and questions that I’d like to share with you. These reflect my own views only and not necessarily those of BCS as a whole.

  • We seem to be witnessing the triumph of envy, resentment, and blame-shifting in American culture. The President ran ads saying that Romney is “not one of us.” He stirred up crowds with “voting is the best revenge.” For his entire first term, he blamed America’s woes on George W. Bush, House Republicans, the Japanese Tsunami, and so on. And 51% of the American people rewarded him for it. Class warfare worked. Demonizing success worked. And perhaps it worked because many of us are full of envy and resentment ourselves, and because we hate to take responsibility for our actions. If the culture is eight months pregnant with a particular sin, then the church is five months pregnant and starting to show.
  • This looks to me like a “father hunger” election. A fatherless generation is looking for a Father in Washington. The President won single women by 38%. The President, as a man abandoned by his own father, is in a unique position to appeal to the needs, desires, and fears of the fatherless (there’s a deep connection between father hunger, sexual “freedom,” and envy). He put out a famous ad about the life of Julia, a single woman who has most of her needs provided for her by the federal government, from high school through old age. In the liberal vision, the State replaces the father as the direct provider for the family. I predict that the State will make a lousy dad.
  • This election is a further flowering of the 1960’s sexual revolution (and associated movements). The media, government schools, universities, and culture-makers are overwhelmingly progressive and hostile to the gospel and the Scriptures. As someone said, you can’t fight a culture war if you don’t have a culture. It seems to me that figuring out what a godly culture is and cultivating it within our churches and communities is one of the chief challenges for Christians.
  • Some day President Obama and all those who support the murder of unborn children will stand before the God who gives life. That’s a terrifying consolation.
  • A hermeneutical question for Bible-believing Christians: Does God still judge nations today for specific sins, and do we have the ability to recognize his intentions in historical events? Natural disasters, willful blindness of leaders, societal disintegration: are these God’s judgment for specific sins and how can we know? It seems to me that recovering our prophetic voice means learning to stand in God’s council and then to interpret the present time in light of God’s authoritative word.
  • A practical question for Bible-believing Christians: Will we continue to hold the line on the Bible’s teaching on sexuality and gender in the face of increasing hostility, opposition, and marginalization? Will we continue to be the 7,000 who don’t bow the knee to Baal?

“Here’s what I’m preaching and praying for myself in light of the downward trajectory of this country:

  • Love your wife. May she never desire to look to the State for provision and protection.
  • Love your [children]. May they never pray in their hearts, “Our Father which art in Washington.”
  • Teach your students. May they think and feel and live like Christians all the way down.
  • Pray for the mercy and justice of God. May His kingdom come and His will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
  • Remember that there are only two ways to live and two ways to die. And in God’s world, faithful death always leads to resurrection.
  • Cultivate a genuine counter-culture where God has planted you. Generational love and faithfulness; honor to godly authorities; wise husbands and fathers who provide for their households; strong wives and mothers who don’t fear what is frightening; care for widows, orphans, and the unborn and their mothers; and a readiness to give gospel love when the Lie comes undone.
  • Hope in God and laugh at the time to come.

Gladly trusting in the Lord of history.”

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