212. A crooked and perverse generation

The Bible has it all.  A signpost in the dark, shining bright light over every obscure and uncertain path of life.  It is and was the same in every generation of the existence of mankind.  A book that grew out of the mysteries of ancient history; a time where only the archeologists can be consulted.  

It consists of sixty-six books and still is a unit with a singular message of love and salvation.  It still stands as the best-seller of all times, read by people of all walks of life.  It was mostly written by uneducated men, while being regarded as a literary phenomenon.  It is the most hated book, but  could not be destroyed despite majestic efforts.  Today it is available to more people than ever before.  Again and again, I stand in awe of its pertinence and significance for our times.

No Christian can deny that our public debate is toxic and destructive.  It is troubling and often very disturbing to be confronted with the issues of the day.  The debate is aggressive and intolerant.  Classic liberalism that brought us the inalienable right to freedom of speech and basic liberties to express conflicting views, are attacked and assaulted.  As Christians our basic values are condemned and harassed daily.  It is a time of persecution and tribulation.  We need to stand firm and win the day and the age.  We  are fighting from victory, already achieved by the Cross and the Blood of Jesus.   Our weapons are love and salvation for a hurting, needy world perishing in misery and violence.

Where do we stand?  Remember always that the aim of Jesus was to focus the eyes of the people on the Father.  He never allowed the issues of the day to cloud his message.

Read with me the words of Paul in Philippians.  He was a very learned men who wrote most of the New Testament, amongst his fellow Bible writers who were mostly uneducated.

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;  for it isGod who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

 Do all things without complaining and disputing, 

 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain. (Philippians 2:13-16)

Our living and being progresses in a way that we are more and more aware of the work of God in this world.  The word for work means to bring to completion.  God will not leave us half-way.  He will complete the work as we have to complete our work before him.  We can only be satisfied with all the benefits of godly living and should not settle for anything less.  He promises his unrelenting active part  in our well-being.

 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; (Philippians 1:6)

He will bring our lives to completion. We play an active part in his work, fellow-labourers in harvest of our own hearts.  With fear and trembling we work.

This is the difficult part, but only if we stop there and do not read on.

The sentence is not finish.

…for it is God who works in you to will and to do…

Our salvation is not dependent on our works, but on obedience to the will of God in us.  Our salvation expresses itself in progressive Christian living and an upright character as an individual and as a member of the body of Christ – the invisible and true Church.

God works.  The Greek word is energein, which means to work actively and effectively. When God works in us, his results are guaranteed.  No half measures – full satisfaction and effectiveness, accomplishing his good pleasure.  The destiny of his work in us is the fullness of a love relationship that is the highest, holiest and most beneficial that this life can offer.

But what exactly is our role?  

Salvation comes from God, not from human efforts.  That is the truth and we know it. 

So how do we work in fear and trembling?  

We acknowledge our own powerlessness and live in a sense of human helplessness to receive and value the exalted gifts of our heavenly Father to perfect our life and thinking by the work of his Spirit in our deepest inner being.  Our role is to receive and not reject the amazing gift of knowing God to the full.  The highest gift and the most powerful promise have no effect if it is not received with joy and expectation, respecting the holiness of the work of God in our lives.  

He inscribes the life-changing principles of living on our mind when we surrender in trembling at the Word of God, touching our hearts.  When we are moved to tears by the sheer wonder of God’s love, we tremble at his amazing gift of grace – again and again, throughout our many trials, troubles and triumphs.  We cannot know God by knowledge alone.  It is his Spirit that brings us to the depth of knowledge so that it transforms us form the inside.

 But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.  (1 Corinthians 2:10)

Revelation knowledge is the only true knowledge.  It is knowledge that can save our souls.

When we engage in the debate of this world we are double-minded.  We have to come before God blameless and harmless.  

The word for blameless actually means innocent and carries the notion of unmixed and unadulterated.  Blameless living is not a struggle to live faultlessly, full of guilt and sin-consciousness.  Rather, it is living before an audience of One.  It is  the only way we can be a light in this world.  It is the missionary endeavour of living as a witness to truth and purity.

God has an answer for the heated issues and scorching debate in the public domain that always find a victim who has been wronged and who  should find justice from a group pronounced guilty by a new analysis of history or social structures.  It is a scheme to manipulate people away from God Who is the true answer to the longing and hurt of a broken world.  

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.

 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.  (Romans 1:18-21)

Thank God for the mind of Christ.  We understand, we live in light and we are the light.  Let us not be caught up in all the rubble and ruins of words that destroy values and virtues around us.  Let us shine in truth and righteousness through Christ in us.

But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. 

 But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. 

 For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.  (1 Corinthians 2:14-16)

When we are forced into forming an opinion, wouldn’t it elevate the debate to a higher level when we could respond with the Word we have received from the Lord in our most recent time spent in prayer?  We have to choose unity in the church.  Unity is not uniformity – we are different.  Only God can make us one.  Ask him.

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