The World’s Biggest Problem

CapitalismYesterday we discussed Bill Gates’ perspective on the world’s greatest problem, which is basically a shortage of clean energy.

Before we start tossing around the liberal and conservative labels, let’s think quickly to the perspectives of the leading “conservative” advocates of our day. From time to time I listen to Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, and talk show hosts of that ilk, and after listening to them for a while I get the same empty feeling as when I listen to Bill Gates or the Democrat solutions. They miss the real problem as well.

For example, Rush Limbaugh said:

“The world’s biggest problem is the unequal distribution of capitalism. If there were capitalism everywhere, you wouldn’t have food shortages.”

If you asked these men to list our country’s biggest problems, do you believe they would include a lack of submission to God? To be fair, it might make the list for some, but I am fairly certain none would place that as this country’s primary issue. Glenn Beck? He might.

Bible ReadingSatan has drilled deep into our heads and successfully obscured the real problem! The real problem is not clean energy vs. coal and oil. It’s not racism. It’s not conservatism. It’s not liberalism. It’s not global warming or terrorism. It’s not capitalism or (gasp!) socialism. And ABSOLUTELY NO government will (or can) solve our real problems! People are not the solution; we make the mess.

Don’t let all the political yammering and yapping obscure what is real, that only God can turn things around, and He requires people to submit to Him and His ways. Repentance is the key.

How are poverty-stricken people really taken care of? Those who are more wealthy open their hearts and help them. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble… (James 1.27). Command those who are rich…not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God…Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share… (1 Timothy 6.17-18).

How is racism defeated? God pricks our hearts to understand all men are, indeed, created equal in His sight. God has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on the all the face of the earth…we are the offspring of God (Acts 17.26, 29).

As soon as we take God and His word out of the picture, we have no anchor for the soul. Men do what they will and what they want. Chaos reigns.

The end of the matter, when all has been considered is this: to fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man (Ecclesiastes 12.13).

This World’s Greatest Problem

Carbon EmissionsBill Gates recently gave out his annual letter in which he and his wife focus on the superpowers they would like to have. Bill would like the power to grant the world more energy, and Melinda would like to grant the world more time.

Quotes Bill:

If I could have just one wish to help the poorest people, it would be to find a cheap, clean source of energy to power our world.

I actually love most of what he writes in this letter; it certainly touches my heart as he describes poverty-stricken countries. But something about the letter leaves me with an empty feeling–maybe it’s just me? As I read through, a gaping hole presents itself.

How does Mr. Gates solve problems? He explains:

Whenever I’m confronted with a big problem I turn to my favorite subject: math. It’s one subject that always came naturally to me, even in middle school when my grades weren’t that great. Math cuts out the noise and helps me distill a problem down to its basic elements.

Earth SunsetThe problem is here exposed: the Achilles heel of our modern-day, solutions-oriented scientist. He leaves a major factor out of the equation because it’s a factor which math cannot contain or describe. He leaves out the infinite power and creative ability of the Creator and God who continues to work with this planet and its pathetic people!

God, the designer of mathematics and order, has the unique ability to turn mathematics on its head, which, perhaps, explains why many “reasonable” people refuse to accept Him. He exists outside the bounds of our test tubes and micrometers and advanced calculus. And He can change things!

Gates insists “we need an energy miracle” and

When I say “miracle,” I don’t mean something that’s impossible. I’ve seen miracles happen before. The personal computer. The Internet. The polio vaccine.

There is such a thing as a miracle, but none of those things is it!

The great moral question of our day seems to address how we eradicate poverty. Tellingly, God never poses that question to us. He presents, as the world’s most destructive and pressing problem, man’s sinful heart. “Follow Me,” God says, “and I will bless you. Follow your own paths, and I will curse you.” The world will not burn up because we made poor energy choices. The world is damned because we refuse to acknowledge the Creator of all things!

Earth from SpaceGod gave us dominion over this earth, but we must recognize Him as the Creator of all things! This is His world; we are but stewards, trustees.

Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1.29)

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
What is man that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You visit him?
For You have made him a little lower than the angels,
And You have crowned him with glory and honor.

You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands;
You have put all things under his feet,
All sheep and oxen—
Even the beasts of the field,
The birds of the air,
And the fish of the sea
That pass through the paths of the seas.

O LORD, our Lord,
How excellent is Your name in all the earth!
(Psalm 8.3-9)

Let us exercise our dominion appropriately, and let us not forget the God who gave us dominion in the first place! Praise the Creator, for He is awesome and good! Only then we will be blessed indeed.

Appointing New Leaders

Your Vote CountsIt’s election time. Again.

Not only is it election time, but all the chattering voices on TV and radio insist this is the most crucial moment and most defining election of the history of the United States! Again.

First, let’s remind ourselves of the following:

  1. The government will not and cannot save us
  2. The government will not and cannot provide for us
  3. God will either bless or curse our country as we heed or disregard Him

That being said, how shall we cast our votes? Or should we?

Some claim it is a God-given responsibility for Christians to vote for the right person. But what if there is no right person?

Is it best to vote for the “lesser of two evils”? Is it too much to expect high moral character from our highest officials?

I’ve been thinking much about appointing elders lately, and I’m wondering, “What if we applied God’s qualifications for elders in preparation for electing high officials of state and country?” The apostle Paul gave the following qualifications to Titus (1.5-9) and Timothy (1 Tim. 3.1-5). As you scan down the list, picture your favorite presidential candidate (Sanders, Trump, Clinton, Cruz, Rubio, Carson, or another) and ponder his or her character.

  • sober
  • self-controlled
  • Check the Boxrespectable
  • not addicted to wine
  • not a bully
  • gentle / kind / tolerant
  • peaceable / not quarrelsome
  • not loving money
  • ruling his own house well
  • not self-willed
  • not quick-tempered
  • not greedy for dishonest gain
  • loving what is good

I intentionally removed several character traits which apply more to spiritual shepherds, but these seem to be appropriate to ponder for POTUS (or the new member of the SCOTUS). How wonderful and beautiful it would be to have a man like this in the lead!

Do you think any of the candidates generally fits the above list? Several violate most of the items on the list!

God bless you as you (if you) go to the polls.

Time Markers in Apocalyptic Literature

Time PassingPerhaps one of the most misapplied passages of our time is Matthew 24, in which Jesus answers the disciples’ questions concerning the destruction of the Temple. Another greatly-abused scripture is the entire book of Revelation! Throw in a number of other Old and New Testament apocalyptic passages and you have an excellent recipe for outlandish and obscure results.

Ironically, Jesus warns several times in Matthew 24 against false Christs and false prophets who claim to know when the Lord is coming! Don’t listen to them, Jesus instructs. We ought to pay close attention to what Jesus articulates and block out the massive volume of junk interpretations of what He meant.

One helpful interpretive device is the time markers the speaker or author reveals. For instance, if you wonder exactly when the events of Matthew 24.1-35 (and possibly extending through verse 44 or beyond) take place, examine the context for time markers from the Lord. In the greater context, Jesus warns in the previous chapter of the fall of Jerusalem: “Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation” (Matthew 23.36). When? Within a generation from the time Jesus spoke the words. In the immediate context, we find 24.34: “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.” What things will take place? Return to the beginning of the chapter in which Jesus boldly proclaimed that the great temple would be torn down, “not one stone shall be left here upon another,” and include all He said with reference to that event up through verse 34.

Those terrible judgments would happen in their generation. Jesus was not speaking of something 2000+ years in the future, so we should not be looking for these signs today.

Also, John reveals time markers in Revelation to which we should pay heed. In the very first verse John marks for us, “things which must shortly take place.” How misleading if what he meant by “shortly” was “in a couple of thousand years.”

Sand FallingAgain he writes in Revelation 1.3, “for the time is near.”

Revelation is addressed to the seven churches of Asia (1.4, 11), which collectively probably symbolize the overall Christian church in the first century; nevertheless, they were actual, historical churches, and Jesus targeted His seven letters of Revelation 2-3 to those specific churches. John then records all the wild visions Jesus gives him and ends the book with several statements of Jesus, “Behold, I am coming quickly!” (22.7, 12) and “Surely I am coming quickly” (22.20). The time marker at the end of the book reflects the first chapter: “And the Lord God of the holy prophets sent His angel to show His servants the things which must shortly take place” (22.6).

While I don’t believe Matthew 24 and Revelation deal with the same judgment, they both use similar language, sometimes quoting the exact same Old Testament passages or using the same judgment symbols. Both speak of Jesus coming in judgment and Him coming quickly. Both indicate a time frame within about a generation. If we interpret those scriptures in the time frames they themselves present, we will find ourselves on a firmer foundation than if we attempt to apply those things to our period of history thousands of years later!

Take care to interpret Scripture using Scriptural time frames.

Are You Confident in Your Salvation? Why?

Trust ExpertsWhat thing or person completes the following for you: “In ______________ do I trust for my salvation”?

Careful, now. Answer honestly.

“Why are you confident in your salvation?”

If you answer, “I am not confident in my salvation,” please shoot me a response e-mail, because that needs to be remedied! God wants you to be confident. Read 1 John 1.1-4, and see that God wants your joy to be full. You should “know that [you] know Him” (2.3), and you should “know that [you] are in Him” (2.5).

But allow me to address the rest of you who are confident in you salvation. Why are you confident?

Are you confident because of your church or your minister?

“I am sure of my salvation because I’m a member of the right church and my preacher preaches the right doctrine.”

Let us immediately dismiss this, for no person or body of men can ever save a soul.

For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written:

“As I live, says the LORD,
Every knee shall bow to Me,
And every tongue shall confess to God.”

So then each of us shall give account of himself to God. (Rom. 14.10-12)

Trust DadAre you confident because you follow God’s laws?

Does your assurance come from having been baptized (in the correct way and for the right reasons)? Does your confidence swell each first day of the week as you assemble with the saints and correctly partake of the Supper of the Lord? “I do lots of good works. I’m obedient.”

The recurring sermon of every Bible preacher under both Old and New Covenants has been and continues to be, “Repent, and bear fruits worthy of repentance.” So the fruit of a changed heart surely should be seen in us, giving us a level of confidence as to our position with the Lord. However, the fruit is merely a sign of the salvation and not the very thing itself. The good works we do may reveal that we have been saved, but the works themselves don’t save!

“He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy…” (Titus 3.5)

Are you confident because of your inward repentance and faith?

“I know my heart is right.”

Please don’t depend upon some attitude of your heart, some inherent internal goodness. Can you be saved without faith and repentance? Not hardly! But these, again, simply expose the fact that you are saved!

If we are completely honest with ourselves, each of us knows he is not worthy because the intents of his heart continue to hold traces of evil motives and weaknesses to temptation. When is faith ever good enough? When is repentance ever absolute? We might believe our latest repentance came from a complete and utter brokenness, but then in a few more days our weaknesses resurface again! O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?

Reaching UpSo From Where Does True Confidence Come?

Our confidence, ultimately, comes from Jesus Christ, the One whose word never falls to the ground, whose promises are never broken. He exists, He lives, and He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Our confidence should never be in our seeking but in the One Whom we seek! Christ is our Yes and our Amen.

“For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” (2 Cor. 1.20-22)

Brother and Sister, rest confidently in this, that God saves in Christ, not because of any works we accomplish but because of THE WORK Christ has done and the work the Holy Spirit continues to do in us.

In Christ do I trust. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me (Gal. 2.20).