Journal August 9, 2020
Dominion Baptist Church
August 9, 2020 AD
22 Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.
2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Vs. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, Paul starts off with the Greek word syschematizo from which we get the English word scheme, which coupled with the Greek aion meaning age (world) gives us do not be conformed to this world. Literally: do not let the age in which you live force you into its scheme of thinking and behaving. In his translation of this verse, J. B. Phillips paraphrases it very well in “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold.” Now lets take a look at what Paul is talking about when he tells us not to be conformed to the world or worldliness. There are those fundamentalists who think this means no smoking, drinking, dancing, and playing cards, and that is the sum and substance of it. I have heard some brag that I don’t drink or smoke or chew and have nothing to do with them that do. Every one of us has opinions regarding how things ought to be done, some are trivial like those I just listed. But our world view begins right here. As we grow older, we start developing ways of thinking and see there is more to life than just behaving in a certain manner. Some of you are not old enough to remember back in 1969 when the song “Is that all there is?” was made popular by Peggy Lee. The lyrics had three verses, a house burning down and the occupants escaping, going to a circus and seeing everything happening, and of course falling in love and the man being a bum that ran off and left her. Then the chorus followed each of the verses: “if that’s all there is than break out the booze and keep on dancing and have a ball. The song ended with putting off the greatest disappointment of all—death.” In other words what this world sees is just the here and now—nothing else matters. You only go around once, so get all the gusto you can. What we are to get out of this is that the world has its way of thinking and doing things and is putting pressure on Christians to conform to their way of thinking. But instead of being conformed, Christians are to be changed from within to be increasingly like the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the work of God the Holy Spirit in our sanctification.
As Christians we are not to think as the worldthinks but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Therefore, we are to have a distinct different and growing Christian world view. Now this does not mean what most people think a Christian world view is, that is thinking about Christian subjects as opposed to thinking about the world. A Christian world view is to think in a Christian way about everything, which means having a Christian mind. Now by contrast it is possible to think in a worldly way about religious things. If we consider the Lord’s Supper—for most Christians the Lord’s Supper is probably the most spiritual of all spiritual matters, yet it is possible to think about it in a worldly manner. For example, someone may be looking at the deacons as they handle the bread and the wine, saying to themselves, look at those clumsy men handling these elements so poorly. There so awkward, we ought to replace them with ladies, they would do a better job. Another person might observe the religious ceremony and think this is good for the people—a few examples of worldly thoughts regarding spiritual matters. When we partake of the Lord’s Supper, we are to observe it in remembrance of the Lord Jesus Christ’s sacrifice. I have observed professing Christians from different assemblies argue over which pastor was the best speaker, this is not God honoring. If we stop to consider, there is nothing in our experience, be it trivial, worldly or evil which cannot be thought about Christianity, by the same consideration there is nothing in our experience, be it ever so sacred, which cannot be thought about as worldly. So, where do we begin? How does one start thinking and acting as a Christian? There is a sense that we could begin at any point, inasmuch as truth is always truth. But today everything is viewed in terms of the visible world and the here and now. Therefore, the best starting place is the doctrine of God for God alone is above and beyond the world and is eternal. Also, the doctrine of God is necessary and unavoidable if we are going to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. Being a Christian means you believe in such a thing as the supernatural. Supernatural means over, above, or in addition to nature, it is some force beyond scientific understanding or the laws of nature: God is a supernatural being, He exists whether we acknowledge Him or not. In fact, without God there would be nothing, for what you can see with your eyes could not have come into being by itself. Everything that exists must have an inevitable, self-existent, uncaused first cause that stands behind it. Professor John H Gerstner, in his book, ‘Man as God made him,’ writes, “What is nothing?” He follows this with, “Nothing eludes (escapes) definition. It even defies conception. For as soon as you say, nothing is. . .nothing ceases to be nothing and becomes something.” Gerstner referred to Jonathan Edwards, who is not noted for being funny, but who was at least a slight bit humorous on one occasion when he said, “Nothing is what the sleeping rocks dream of.” So, said Gerstner, “Anyone who thinks he knows what nothing is must have those rocks in his head.” As soon as you ask, “Why is there something rather than nothing?” the alternative vanishes. You are left with something, and the only possible explanation for that something is “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen 1:1). Our great almighty God has revealed Himself to us in nature, history, and especially in the Scriptures. God has spoken through Scriptures, what He has said is the truth and can be trusted completely. The doctrine of God is the specific Christian answer to the world’s unbelief. This has been the church’s conviction since the first century, but in our day, we have the all-knowing self-appointed elite that challenge the truth. Our Lord told Peter (a little pebble) the church was built upon the Rock, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18). We take comfort in this unfailing promise, and we will not yield our convictions by God’s grace. We must learn to insist upon the truth, and not bow to the world’s faulty statement— ‘That’s just your opinion’—No, its God’s word and is truth. James Montgomery Boice in his commentary on Romans wrote, “Another thing the doctrine of revelation will mean for us is that we will not back down or compromise on moral issues. You know how it is whenever you speak out against some particularly bad act. If people do not say, ‘But that is just your opinion,’ they are likely to attack you personally, saying things like, ‘You’d do the same thing if you were in her situation’ or ‘Do you think you’re better than he is?’ We must not be put off by such attacks. Our response should be something like this: Please, I wasn’t talking about what I would do if I were in her shoes, I’m a sinner too. I might have acted much worse. I would probably have failed sooner. I wasn’t talking about that. I was talking about what is right, and I think that is what we need to talk about. None of us is ever going to do better than we are doing unless we talk about it and decide what’s right to do. What the worldly mind cannot grasp is that the Christian faith leaves Christians with no choice at all on many matters of this kind. We are people under God’s authority, and that authority is expressed for us in the Bible. Now let’s get back to some implications of the doctrine of God. First, there is a God and He has created us to have eternal fellowship with Him, then we are going to look at failure, suffering, pain, and even death differently than non-Christians do. For the Christian these can never be the greatest of all tragedies. They are bad. ‘Death is an enemy (1 Corinthians 15:26).’ But they are overbalanced by eternal matters. Second, success and pleasure will not be the greatest of all goods for the Christian. They are good, but they will never compare with salvation from sin or knowing God. Jesus said: what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Matthew 16:26). or from the other view, do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28). This is a Christian response to the world’s materialism. Most Americans have been raised with a system of false reasoning, it goes like this: we are not communists and communists are materialists; therefore, we are not materialists. But that is not necessarily true. Most of us embrace a practical materialism that warps our souls, stunts our spiritual growth, and hinders the advance of the gospel in our time.” I read of a revolution that occurred in Romania, an atheistic, communistic country where the people, who for years have undergone intense suffering have now achieved a spiritual development. After the suffering of decades of violence and oppression the human soul longs for things higher, warmer and purer and it will revolt. Some say the West has pursued physical well-being and the acquiring of material goods to the exclusion of almost everything spiritual. Are you willing to die for things without a physical presence? With a few exceptions, most everyone in America has enough material goods in such quantity as to guarantee in theory the achievement of happiness, in the morally inferior sense which has come into being in my lifetime. So, who is going to renounce this, or why should anyone be willing to risk his/her life to defend it? There is an answer—Christianity has the answer, and Christians in my lifetime have given their lives for that which is much better than things. It is that they might obtain a better resurrection! (Hebrews 11:35).
That you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Christians are on trial now, in this life in this world, and the matter of our testing is whether or not we will embrace the will of God for our lives, turn from the world and its ways, and embrace the perfect will of God.
Catechism Question 33
Q: How does the Spirit apply to us the redemption obtained by Christ?
A: The Spirit applies to us the redemption obtained by Christ, by working faith in us, and thereby uniting us to Christ, in our effectual calling.
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: