Every day we have choices to make. Shall we eat at this restaurant or that one? Do I want this pair of shoes or the other pair? Shall we watch a movie or take a walk? Even though people can find decisions about these simple questions hard to make, eventually they do get made.
But there other kinds of decisions of far greater consequence that often never get made at all. Questions about one’s character, reputation, legacy and future are often just neglected.
One reason for this is that decisions about these areas don’t always seem as significant as they should. Relativism has taught us that one way is as good as another, so why be overly burdened with the course of our lives?
As a result, people easily end up drifting along, spending their lives in what you might call “the murky middle” – a place that seems safe and comfortable because that is where so many reside. But a place that – despite appearances – is not safe. There is a way that leads to life and a way that leads to death. And we must actively choose to step out of the murky middle and onto the path of life, lest we die.
The need to choose where our lives are headed is a message that the Bible gives us repeatedly.
It’s not uncommon for the gospel to be understood in very personal and other-worldly terms. In other words, the gospel is viewed as a message given to individuals so that they would respond in faith and have assurance of heaven when they die.
The message typically goes something like this. . . Jesus came, died, and was raised again for your sins. Repent and believe and you will be forgiven of your sins, and experience everlasting life in glory when your days on earth are over.
This message is true enough, as far as it goes. The problem with it, though, is that it often leaves those who believe it living little differently than they were beforehand. Yes, they have the hope of heaven in their hearts, but they don’t have a clear idea in their heads of what they are to be doing until they get there.
It’s because of this we need the full picture of what the gospel is all about. Yes, Jesus came to save individuals from hell and bring them to heaven. But there’s more.
In the gospel, Jesus Christ is declared the Lord of all things in heaven and on earth. As Lord he is making all things new. The message of the gospel, then, is about more than simply the salvation of individual souls. It is about nothing less than the renewal of all of creation.
This new creation was initiated and secured at the time of Christ’s resurrection. When Christ was raised from the dead, he was the “first fruits” of what is to come. And what is to come? The subjection of all things to Christ so that God would be “all in all” (1 Cor.15:20-28).
Individuals become an active part in this new world as they are joined to Christ by faith. The Bible tells us “if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things have past away, behold new things have come” (2 Cor.5:17). As a result, individuals who trust in Christ are not simply waiting for heaven, but are participants in the redemptive work God is doing now.
The recent Koran burning controversy has revealed something significant – secularism is dying. Europe has been learning this for awhile. Now it’s America’s turn.
For years secularism has been put forth as the desirable operating system of the world. Secularism, it’s been argued, is the only system that can supply the neutrality necessary to allow all viewpoints to flourish. But now the virus of relativism has snagged up the secular system, making it inoperable.
The recent brouhaha over the burning of the Koran reveals this in several ways.
First, it reveals secularism’s inconsistency. Not too long ago the U.S. Military burned a whole shipment of Bibles in Afghanistan for tactical reasons. This is not widely known, but once you learn about it, it makes any sensible person wonder, “Why is it OK to burn Bibles in Afghanistan but an outrage to burn the Koran in America?” Secularism cannot offer a consistent answer.
Second, the Koran burning controversy shows that secularism is losing authority because it’s becoming apparent it has no standard. Even if you agree with the slew of secular authorities who believe burning the Koran is a bad idea, it is proper to ask them, “By what standard is it wrong?” After all, if someone were to plan a similar stunt using something Christians hold dear, there would be no outcry. He may have even got Federal funding. At best, the only standard secularism has to offer is, “be nice,” and even this is applied selectively.
The Bible tells us that “The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul” (Ps.19:7). In a world of fractured souls, that’s good news.
It’s also surprising news for many, because it’s often thought there is little place for the law since the coming of the gospel. But Jesus Himself said, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill” (Mt.5:17).
So, how is it that God’s law restores the soul? God graciously uses His law to restore souls in three primary ways.
First, He provides the law as His standard of righteousness. As we meditate on the law with faithful hearts, God uses it to renew our souls by causing us to marvel at the beauty of His precepts and making obedience to Him the desire of our hearts.
Second, He reveals His law as a way of restraining us from evil. In the process of restoring the soul, we need to avoid evil. God’s law shows us what evil is so we know what we must flee. Through practice, our souls become better able to discern good and evil.
Third, and most importantly, God uses His law to lead us to Jesus Christ. As we seek to abide in God’s law, we discover our own insufficiency and our continual need for Christ. It’s ultimately only through Christ, and Christ alone, that our souls can be restored.
God’s law – which rightly understood encompasses His entire Word – has been graciously provided as a means of restoring our souls. Let us not neglect what He has given to us as we recognize the need for restoration of our own souls.
An important step toward getting on in life is for a man to realize that his greatest enemy is himself. No amount of complaining about one’s circumstances, past, boss, bank account, or political leaders will move him forward. He must take responsibility for that which is under his control – namely, his own life.
The Bible tells us that God ordained men to rule the earth as kings (Gen.1:28). In this role, human beings are to wisely cultivate all that God brings into their care. And as they do, they fulfill their highest purpose and bring glory to God.
Too often the reality is that men do not live as kings, but slaves. Instead of governing the domain that God has given them, they sit as in chains waiting for their lot in life to somehow improve. But it never does improve, because the life of a slave remains the same day after miserable day.
The good news is that men do not have to continue on as slaves. Jesus Christ came to set men free from sin and guilt, fear and folly, so that they would live as the kings God destined them to be.
How can this be?
The Bible tells us that those who have faith in Christ live in union with Him. We have been buried with Him in baptism and raised up with Him so that we would walk in the newness of life (Rom.6:4). The old things have passed away, and new things have come (2 Cor.5:17).
A consequence of this new life is that men are restored to their kingly status. They need not live bound in servitude to all that holds them back. This is confirmed in that the Bible tells us that those who have faith in Christ are seated with Him in the heavenly places (Eph.2:6). In other words, all who humbly believe are put in the exalted position of co-regents with Jesus Christ.
From The Roots of Reconstruction:
War is a sign of impotence. A system or philosophy of life which has no power to convert becomes imperialistic. For the zeal and faith of peaceful missionary work it substitutes brutal terror. A failing faith resorts to war, because it lacks the contagion of faith and conviction and can only force men into its own system. War is the resort of those who lack true power and are declining.