Archive for the ‘ Biblical Principles ’ Category

Principle: Sowing & Reaping (Part IV)

I ended the last post with this question from Psalms 11:3:

If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?

The answer is actually quite simple: rebuild.

Now, I know that is easy to say and considerably harder to do. But there is no other choice.

Nehemiah followed God’s call to return to Israel from Persia. His task? Rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. What he saw could have led him to despair, yet he had faith that the Lord had given him this job/ministry. He was going to have to get others to join him; he couldn’t do it alone. So he addressed the citizens of Jerusalem in this way:

Then I [Nehemiah] said to them, “You see the bad situation we are in, that Jerusalem is desolate and its gates burned by fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem that we may no longer be a reproach.” And I told them how the hand of my God had been favorable to me. . . . Then they said, “Let us arise and build.” So they put their hands to the good work.

Not one of us alone can rebuild what has been destroyed in this nation. We must work together. Our tasks will be different since we are all made with specific and unique talents. Yet if we do the part God has called us to do, the culture can change for the better, and the government can be restored to its original purpose.

This is why I teach. It’s why I accepted the invitation to chair a department at my university. I believe that the Lord can work through the teaching of history to provide a clearer perspective on His purposes. The new public policy degree can be the vehicle for training students for service in the government and in agencies that influence what the government’s policies will be.

This is why I blog. If my few words on a daily basis can help anyone understand better what the Lord wants of His people, then the time it takes to think and write is not wasted.

Those who name His name are called. They are chosen. They are to be about their Father’s business. His promise is that we will reap what we sow, so let’s get busy sowing. The foundations need to be reestablished. The walls need to be rebuilt.

Principle: Sowing & Reaping (Part III)

I’ve spent two days talking about how important it is to sow Biblical principles in our society. Yesterday, I noted that no matter how well we sow, there will always be those who refuse to accept God’s truths. Sowing the right seeds will not automatically result in reaping the right harvest. The soil/heart in which they are sown must receive them. Yet there is the promise from God that sowing the right seeds generally will bring a good harvest.

In early America, many Biblical seeds were sown. That’s not to say that everything was Biblical or that everyone was Christian, but a consensus did exist in that society, a consensus that accepted the Biblical framework of thinking.

Critics will point to problems such as slavery to try to question this assertion, but all I’m saying is that people generally agreed on the Biblical basis for understanding how society should function. This agreement led to some rather positive developments, not the least of which was our federal republic form of government. Marriage was a respected institution, established by God. Moral values were based on Biblical concepts. Yes, people violated them, but the violations were noted and disapproved.

About the middle of the nineteenth century, with the ascendance of Darwinian thought, the seeds that were being sown began to change. Today, the elites of society—in government, the media, and education—have pretty much accepted the new consensus: man is not a special being made in the image of God.

These new seeds have led to disastrous changes: abortion is now commonplace, the push is on for same-sex marriage, we have a mania for saving “Mother Earth” (a pagan idea), and the government is moving ever more relentlessly toward socialist control of every aspect of our lives. We have adopted the idea that our Constitution is a “living document” that can be altered by any judge with a desire to place his or her stamp on the future. The state now controls most education. We will learn whatever the state deems appropriate.

Psalms 11:3 declares:

If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?

I will comment on that in the next post.

Principle: Sowing & Reaping (Part II)

Jesus related the following parable to His disciples:

A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up.

In my last post, I noted that Christians are to be sowing the seeds of God’s principles. As we sow, people respond differently to the truths we are sharing. Some people are so closed off against the truth, the principles/seeds bounce off the hard ground of their hearts and disappear.

He continued:

Some fell on rock, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture.

This is one degree better, but still unproductive. The principles might get an initial hearing, and the hearers may even receive them with joy, but, as Jesus later explains, the truths never take root. The hearers may believe for a while, then fall away. 

As the sower continued sowing, he came to another type of soil:

Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants.

Jesus describes these people as those who do genuinely hear the principles and want to accept them, but they allow life’s worries, riches, and pleasures to crowd them out. They do not mature, He says. I think that lack of maturity applies both to the principles and to the people themselves.

Finally, though, there is success:

Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.

Those are the people, Jesus notes, who have what He calls “good and noble” hearts, people “who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.”

The world is filled with all four types of soils, or hearts. I see each type in class on a daily basis. Some students, no matter how hard you try, are not open at all to what you are saying. Others find it interesting and they perk up when they hear, but it never takes root. Still others understand, but they allow the cares of life to keep them from becoming productive for God.

Yet there are the good, noble, and open hearts who recognize God’s truth when they hear it, they rejoice in what they hear, and they flourish as they take His principles and apply them to their lives. The “crop” they will produce in the future will make all the effort of sowing worthwhile.

Being a sower/teacher is not always immediately rewarding, but the Lord provides encouragement along the way. As I said in the last post, the promise of Galatians 6:7-9 is that we shall reap if we do not grow weary. Continue on—the Lord will show you that the promise is real.

Principle: Sowing & Reaping (Part I)

We sow seeds in the natural, but we do the same spiritually. A dictionary definition of the word “sow” points to the natural side when it says:

To scatter seed in the ground for the purpose of growth.

What is “seed?” Again, according to the dictionary:

That from which anything springs.

But then it moves the definition from the natural to the spiritual, when it adds this one word: PRINCIPLES. Christians, therefore, should be about the business of sowing principles into minds and hearts. If we do so, according to the definition, they will be the source from which good things spring.

The Scripture deals directly with this in Galatians 6:7-9:

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh shall from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary.

This is a principle of cause and effect. Generally speaking, we will reap what we sow. That doesn’t mean that everything goes the way we would desire, but it does hold out the promise that God has set things up in such a way that we can be assured He will reward those who sow His truths.

The last part of the Scriptual passage is particularly appealing, promising that if we maintain our faith in sowing His principles, and do not give up, we will definitely reap according to His will. That promise brings hope in our current cultural and political situation. It means that no matter how difficult times may become, no matter how hypocritical men in power may be, no matter how the darkness may seem to overwhelm—God and His promises remain. We can always count on that.

Principle: Christian Character (Part III)

The Bible is replete with examples of godly character. I’m particularly drawn to those examples that show a person maintaining godly character while serving in public office. For instance, when the prophet Samuel steps down as judge over Israel, he challenges the people by stating,

“Here I stand. Testify against me in the presence of the Lord and His anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Whose donkey have I taken? Whom have I cheated? Whom have I oppressed? From whose hand have I accepted a bribe to make me shut my eyes. If I have done any of these, I will make it right.”

How many politicians today would dare raise such issues? How many would have clean consciences? In Samuel’s case, the people responded,

“You have not cheated or oppressed us,” they replied. “You have not taken anything from anyone’s hand.” Samuel said to them, “The Lord is witness against you, and also His anointed is witness this day, that you have not found anything in my hand.” “He is witness,” they said. (I Sam. 12:3-5)

What a testimony!

The prophet Daniel, serving in the godless kingdom of Babylon, continued to be faithful to God and to carry out his governmental duties honestly. His promotion led to jealousy on the part of other government officials.

At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. (Dan. 6:3-4)

The misdeeds of our elected officials sometimes cause us to become cynical about government. But there are those who carry out their responsibilities with the kind of character that reflects Christ. We need to support such people. Pray for them. Vote for them. Our government is only a reflection of who we are.

Principle: Christian Character (Part II)

The central Christian character trait that must be present in our lives is love. Of course it needs to be defined. Love is not a feeling. I prefer the definition given by Charles Finney:

It has been shown that the sum and spirit of the whole law is properly expressed in one word—love. It has also been shown that this love is benevolence or good willing; that it consists in choosing the highest good of God and of universal being, for its own intrinsic value, in a spirit of entire consecration to this as the ultimate end of existence.

I italicized one portion on purpose. The essence of love, according to Finney, and, I believe, according to the Scriptures, is a choice to do the right thing. We may have feelings when operating in love, but those feelings are not love. The choice to do what God calls us to do, even when we don’t feel like it, is what love is all about.

Love then manifests itself in many other traits—righteousness, mercy, humility, faithfulness—the list of character qualities is quite long. Yet they all are grounded in love.

If we love, and if we are committed to continuing in that love [the character trait of faithfulness], the result is holiness. Some people have trouble with that word. They think it means you must dress a certain way, not go to the movies, or many other external prohibitions. I believe, however, that holiness is merely acting in love and doing it consistently. Doesn’t that take all the dread out of the word?

The world isn’t too concerned about doing the right thing.

Yes, but righteousness, based on love, would prevail.

Principle: Christian Character (Part I)

We are all free moral agents made in the image of God. In order for His creation to operate the way He intended, we must reflect His character. If we don’t, everything falls apart [which is evident just by observing the world].

Noah Webster’s dictionary definition of character, distinct from the human aspect, was simply “a mark made by cutting, engraving, stamping, or pressing.” Like a typewriter—you remember those? Put in the paper, press the key, the arm jumps up and cuts, engraves, stamps, or presses on the paper, making a “mark.”

It works the same way with people. Our character is made by the various cuttings we must endure, the engravings that sometimes hurt, the stamping and pressing that oftentimes leaves us wondering how we are going to survive. Yet those very circumstances of life make us into what we are. They form our character.

Character is created within; it reveals itself externally. We cannot simply grit our teeth and determine we will have godly character; it must spring from a heart that is changed. The Apostle Paul alluded to this when he wrote to the Corinthian believers:

You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. (II Cor. 3:2-3)

The real change takes place in the heart. What is in the heart will be manifested. Some may not like this explanation:

Truth can disturb us—but that’s the nature of truth. Only when we face up to the truth and acknowledge it for what it is can we be set free.