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Buckle Up-h

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! Scripture: Ephesians 6:10-20

Is there truth to hold to in these days?

For the Christian this is bordering on a ridiculous question.  I believe without question that God is the only possible author of absolute truth.  That is my starting point – God.  The world in which we live in allows us to exercise knowledge and to inquire and to discover because there are natural laws and processes that repeat themselves without fail and without question.  These laws are inviolable if we wish to live very long in this world.

ü      If I step into the pathway of an oncoming automobile, the automobile will win and I am likely to die.

ü      If I jump off a high building, gravity will have its way with me.

ü      If I stick my hand in the fire it will get burnt. 


20 My son, keep your father’s commands

and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.

21 Bind them upon your heart forever;

fasten them around your neck.

22 When you walk, they will guide you;

when you sleep, they will watch over you;

when you awake, they will speak to you.

23 For these commands are a lamp,

this teaching is a light,

and the corrections of discipline

are the way to life,

24 keeping you from the immoral woman,

from the smooth tongue of the wayward wife.

25 Do not lust in your heart after her beauty

or let her captivate you with her eyes,

26 for the prostitute reduces you to a loaf of bread,

and the adulteress preys upon your very life.

27 Can a man scoop fire into his lap

without his clothes being burned?

28 Can a man walk on hot coals

without his feet being scorched?

29 So is he who sleeps with another man’s wife;

no one who touches her will go unpunished.[1]

In this portion of scripture, Solomon connects physical laws with moral laws.  In his mind, bot absolute laws.  When a man or woman commits adultery there will be certain consequences that are inescapable.  The first thing that we want to do when we fall to these moral sins is to justify, to find reasons that it is right and even “okay” with God.  We seem to want to discredit truth or to adjust it in order to make ourselves right.  It is not just the sin of adultery, but the sins of greed, gossip, envy and they go on and on.

ü      The tide comes in and out every 12 hours, 6 in and 6 out.

ü      Our calendars are based on the predictability of the sun and moon

We live in a physical, material world that we thrive in because of the absolute truths or realities that we have learned to work with.  It is absolutely unbelievable to me to suggest that all of this occurred accidentally, without design or Designer.

If there is a Designer who is Spirit then there is a spiritual world as well.  In order to thrive spiritually we have to be in harmony with the Creator as well.  Spiritually speaking, we are created in the likeness of God

I believe that there absolutely is absolute truth and that it originates with the Creator.  I believe that adherence to this truth makes the journey easier than it is if one tries to find his/her way through life without this knowledge.  We are in harmony with God and his Creation as we live by this truth.

q       Relativism - Barna spoke on the release of a report by his Barna Research Group (BRG). It revealed that among all adults, only 22 percent believed in moral absolutes, while 64 percent thought truth was always relative to the person concerned and their situation. Among interviewees identified as being born again, just 32 percent believed in moral absolutes.

The picture was even gloomier among teen-agers questioned in a parallel inquiry. Eighty-three percent of all teens thought moral truth depended on the circumstances, with just 6 percent believing in absolute truth. Only 9 percent of teens identified as being born again accepted the idea of absolute truth, compared with 4 percent of other teens.

Barna said that the "alarmingly fast decline" of moral foundations among young people had culminated in "a one-word worldview: ’whatever.’ The result is a mentality that esteems pluralism, relativism, tolerance and diversity without critical reflection of the implications of particular views and actions."

You know what the problem with relativism is?  It breaks down when someone else exercises their freedom and it has consequences to me that I do not want.  We do not often measure our own freedom by the consequences that it brings to others but we are quick to question our own belief system when it does not protect us from the encroachment of others doing the same things that we do.

 

J. P. Moreland, in his book Apologetic Reasoning and the Christian Mind, tells of an experience that illustrates the importance of truth: “One afternoon I was sharing the gospel in a student’s dorm room at the University of Vermont. The student began to espouse ethical relativism: ‘Whatever is true for you is true for you and whatever is true for me is true for me. . . . But no one should force his or her views on other people since everything is relative.’” Moreland says,

“I knew that if I allowed him to get away with ethical relativism, there could be for him no such thing as real, objective sin measured against the objective moral command of God, and thus no need of a Savior. I thanked the student for his time and began to leave his room. On the way out, I picked up his small stereo and started out the door with it. ‘Hey, what are you doing?’ he shouted. . . . ‘I am leaving your room with your stereo.’ ‘You can’t do that,’ he gushed.” But Moreland said, “I happen to think it is permissible to steal stereos if it will help a person’s religious devotions, and I myself could use a stereo to listen to Christian music in my morning devotions. Now I would never try to force you to accept my moral beliefs in this regard because, as you said, everything is relative and we shouldn’t force our ideas on others. But surely you aren’t going to force on me your belief that it is wrong to steal your stereo, are you?” Moreland looked at him and continued: “You know what I think? I think that you espouse relativism in areas of your life where it’s convenient , say in sexual morality, or in areas about which you do not care, but when it comes to someone stealing your stereo or criticizing your own moral hobbyhorses, I suspect that you become a moral absolutist pretty quickly, don’t you?” The story has a happy ending, for Moreland says, “Believe it or not, the student honestly saw the inconsistency of his behavior and, a few weeks later, I was able to lead him to Jesus Christ.”...

q       Deconstructionism - During the last few decades, building on the skepticism about objective truth, a viewpoint known as deconstructionism has flourished on college campuses.  If there is no objective truth, there is no reason for objective interpretation of history, law, or politics. 

Deconstructionists contend therefore, that past events or writings have no intrinsic meaning.  What authors intended in literature, for example, is irrelevant.  What matters is what we think of what they wrote.  Authorial intent in historical documents suffers the same fate.  So we freely revise the past to conform to current politically correct values. 

(Deconstruction is literally the dismantling of language, texts,  discourse.  It began in the realm of language and has since spread to other disciplines.  It first manifested itself in English literature departments.  If language, discourse, and thus the intention of the author can be called into question and doubted, then other realms can fall like dominoes.  History, law, and politics proceed from an undermining of language, not vice versa.)

q       Subjectivism – Based on experience and circumstance.  How do I personally experience truth?  The problem is that we have spent too much time listening to ourselves, and too little time talking to ourselves.

 

Stanford Research Institute was studying the differences in vocational perceptions. They devised a short but succinct test. The first to be tested was an engineer. The researchers asked him: “

What does two plus two make?” The engineer simply said, “In absolute terms: four.” After making their notes and dismissing him, they called an architect. To the same question, he responded, “Well, there are several possibilities: two and two make four, but so does three and one -- or two point five and one
point five -- they also make four. So, it is all a matter of choosing the right option.” The researchers thanked him and made their notes. Finally, they called an attorney. When he heard the question, he looked around slyly, asked if he could close the door for privacy, and then came over close, leaned toward them and said, “Well, tell me, what would you like it to be

Why is “truth” essential for the Christian?

q       It is a part of the armor of God.  Paul mentions the “belt of truth” as the first piece of the armor of the Christian.  It is vital to our ability stand successfully in this world. 

I am not down on life.  I enjoy every day that I wake and breathe.  I am thankful for my family, my friends, and my church.  I love running, Tae Kwon Do, golfing.  I’d rather see the Grand Canyon than Las Vegas.  God was responsible for the first and as far as I understand, the mob created the second.  I love life here and now so much that I dread to see its end.  I know that God has promised something far better and based on the fact that I trust Him, I have no fear of death and no doubt that what waits will be better than what we now see.  If you told me that I was going to be able to go back to the GC, I would look forward to it – I’d love to take my wife there someday.  But I’ve never been to heaven and so I want to stay here for awhile until I can see heaven more clearly.

But as much as I love life here and now, I realize something else.  This is not a place where the spirit grows freely.  It is not a place where the spiritual life grows naturally.  People have to look definitely and deliberately for God if they are to find Him.  And if you choose to live by His will, you will find yourself at variance with the system that governs and controls this world.  There is a system in place that strains against the governance of God.  People who cooperate with this system will reap the greatest rewards.  If we play by the non-rules then we will more readily flourish.  This is not to say that all success in life is ungodly or that godly people will not experience material blessing.  Just to say that it is more likely that we will be blessed by everything that the world has to offer if we play by those rules.

Sometimes it is difficult to know when 

q       We do have an enemy.  As we believe in God, we need to understand that we have an enemy who is active in our lives today.

Blessed are they who are too tired and too busy to go to church on Sunday, for they are my best workers.

Blessed are they who are bored with the minister's mannerisms and mistakes, for they get nothing out of the sermon.

Blessed is the church member who expects to be invited to his own church for he is part of the problem instead of the solution.

Blessed are they who gossip, for they cause strife and divisions that please me.

Blessed are they who are easily offended, for they soon get angry and quit.

Blessed are they who do not give their offerings to carry on God's work for they are my best helpers.

Blessed is he who professes to love God but hates his brother and sister, for he shall be with me forever.

Blessed are the trouble makers, for they shall be called children of the devil.

Blessed is he who has no time to pray, for he will be easy prey.

   -- Douglas Parsons, Pulpit Helps

IF I WERE THE DEVIL by Paul Harvey

"If I were the Devil I would gain control of the most powerful nation in the world;

I would delude their minds into thinking that they had come from man's effort, instead of God's blessings;

I would promote an attitude of loving things and using people, nstead of the other way around;

I would dupe entire states into relying on gambling for their state revenue;

I would convince people that character is not an issue when it comes to leadership;

I would make it legal to take the life of unborn babies;

I would make it socially acceptable to take one's own life, and invent machines to make it convenient;

I would cheapen human life as much as possible so that the life of animals are valued more than human beings;

I would take God out of the schools, where even the mention of His name was grounds for a law suit;

I would come up with drugs that sedate the mind and target the young;

I would get sports heroes to take on the job to advertise them;

I would get control of the media, so that every night I could pollute the mind of every family, the backbone of any nation;

I would make divorce acceptable and easy, even fashionable.....If the family crumbles, so does the nation;

I would compel people to express their most depraved fantasies on canvas and movie screens, and I would call it art;

I would try to convince the people that right and wrong are determined by a few who call themselves authorities and refer to their agenda as politically correct;

I would persuade people that the church is irrelevant and out of date, and the Bible is for the naive;

I would dull the minds of Christians, and make them believe that prayer is not important, and that faithfulness and obedience are optional;

I guess I would leave things pretty much the way they are."

"Paul Harvey.............Good Day."

q       The nature of our enemy is to deceive. 

John 8:42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me.  43 Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say.  44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.  45 Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me!  46 Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me?  47 He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” [2]

Deception can easily result in a surprise ending:

      Shed a tear for Jimmy Brown

         Poor Jimmy is no more

      For what he thought was H2O

         Was H2SO4.

He loves to remain anonymous in his most damaging role and to sidetrack people with the things that they more readily associate with evil.  He is most content when he can steer people from God.  Whether he causes them to miss the truth by a mile or by mere inches, he has won.  He seems to be much more successful in allowing people to believe that they are all right with God by virtue of their goodness or their religious activities.  There will be many people who realize the terrible truth as they pass through the portal of death into the eternity.  I would have to believe that most people who find themselves in hell will be surprised.  Either that they are there or that there is such a place or that their belief systems were false and insufficient.

Among the great number of books authored by C.S. Lewis is the highly provocative The Screwtape Letters.  In it the profound Englishman had the devil brief his nephew, Wormwood, on the subtleties and techniques of tempting people.  The goal, he counsels, is not wickedness but indifference.  Satan cautions his nephew to keep the prospect, the patient, comfortable at all costs.  If he should become concerned about anything of importance, encourage him to think about his luncheon plans; not to worry, it could induce indigestion.  And then this definitive job description:  "I, the devil, will always see to it that there are bad people.  Your job, my dear Wormwood, is to provide me with the people who do not care."

How does truth protect us from the enemy?

q       The knowledge of the truth helps us to recognize error

People recognize what is counterfeit by becoming incredibly familiar with what is real.  People who produce currency go to great lengths to make something that cannot be replicated.  There are those who believe that we must become familiar with error to recognize it – in my mind the reverse is true – we are not told to become students of error but to become students of truth.

q       It brings confidence to the believer.  There are those many times when our emotions fail us and we have to walk by the truth that we have been given and claim it.

q       It prevents us from falling victim to the schemes of the devil. 

2 Corinthians 2:5 If anyone has caused grief, he has not so much grieved me as he has grieved all of you, to some extent—not to put it too severely.  6 The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient for him.  7 Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.  8 I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him.  9 The reason I wrote you was to see if you would stand the test and be obedient in everything.  10 If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven—if there was anything to forgive—I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake,  11 in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes.

[3]

q       It delivers us from bondage. 

John 8:31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.  32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” [4]

THE DISCIPLE

He that hath a gospel,

To loose upon mankind,

Though he serve it utterly---

Body, soul and mind---

Though he go to Calvary

Daily for it's gain---

It is his disciple

Shall make his labor vain.

He that hath a Gospel,

For all earth to own---

Though he etch it on the steel,

Or carve it on the stone---

Not to be misdoubted

Through the after-days---

It is His Disciple

Shall read it many ways.

It is His Disciple

(Ere those bones are dust)

Who shall change the Charter

Who split the trust---

Amplify distinctions,

 Rationalise the Claim,

Preaching that the Master

Would have done the same.

It is His Disciple

Who shall tell us how

Much the Master would have scrapped

Had he lived till now---

What he would have modified

Of what he said before---

It is His Disciple

Shall do this and more ......

He that hath a Gospel

Whereby heaven is won

(Carpenter or Cameleer,

Or Maya's dreaming son),

Many swords shall pierce Him,

Mingling blood with gall;

But His Own Disciple

Shall wound Him worst of all!

               Thoreau


----

[1]The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) . Zondervan: Grand Rapids

[2]The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) . Zondervan: Grand Rapids

[3]The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) (2 Co 2:5-11). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

[4]The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.) (Jn 8:31-32). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

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