Daily Light – Jan 29, 2021

God Has Chosen Us in Him Before the Foundation of the Earth 

Assurance of Salvation 

God’s Desire for Our Full Assurance 

From the Apostle Paul’s writing in Hebrews 6:11 which go like this: “We desire each one of you to show the same earnestness in realizing the full assurance of hope until the end.” In other words, God’s will for us is that we live in the liberty and the joy and the power of full assurance. He means for us to know assuredly that we are bound for heaven and that we will not fail to get there. 

It is possible for true Christians, with genuine saving faith, to go through periods of time in which they do not have the full assurance of hope. John said in 1 John 5:13, “I write this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.” In other words, the heart’s true allegiance to Christ and true union with Christ are not completely identical with strong feelings of assurance. Faith can be real when the feelings of assurance are weak. 

But God commands us to be earnest and zealous in our pursuit of full assurance. Because that is where the joy and freedom and power are found. 

Two Ways to Pursue Assurance 

Now there are two ways to pursue assurance. One is by examining ourselves and seeing the evidences that the dominion of sin has been broken and that we have new desires and disciplines. This is what Peter meant when he said, “Therefore brethren, be the more zealous to confirm your call and election” (2 Peter 1:10). And what Paul meant when he said, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith. Prove yourselves. Or do you not know yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you? If you are not disqualified” (2 Corinthians 13:5). 

Thomas Watson put it this way 350 years ago, 

If a malefactor be in prison, how shall he know that his prince hath pardoned him? If a jailer come and knock off his chains and fetters, and lets him out of prison, then he may know he is pardoned; so how shall we know God hath pardoned us? If the fetters of sin be broken off, and we walk at liberty in the ways of God, this is a blessed sign we are pardoned. (A Puritan Golden Treasury, p. 25) 

But there is another way to pursue assurance. And for people who are given to excessive self-examination and doubt this is surely the more hopeful path. The book of Hebrews puts it very simply like this: “Consider Jesus” (Hebrews 3:1). Or: “Look to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). In other words, do not dwell on yourself, dwell on what God has done in Jesus Christ. 

There is a paradox here. For many people—most people, I think—the more we focus on the subjective inner workings of our own soul and the relative purity or impurity of our own attitudes and behavior, the more uncertain we become of our own assessment of our authenticity. Paradoxically the path to assurance is to shift our focus off of ourselves and onto God. Off of the subjective and onto the objective. 

An Illustration in the Life of William Cowper 

Some of you remember William Cowper. He is an example of how this paradox works. He was melancholy and introspective, and considered himself beyond hope. Christianity was true he said, but he was not capable of faith. He was rejected. 

Then one afternoon in the garden of St. Alban’s Asylum he picked up a Bible. God focused his attention not primarily on the subjective reality of his own condition, but on the objective reality of God’s work in Christ. He read Romans 3:25: “God put Christ forward as a propitiation by his blood to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.” This is what Cowper later wrote about that moment: 

Immediately I received the strength to believe it, and the full beams of the Sun of Righteousness shone upon me. I saw the sufficiency of the atonement He had made, my pardon sealed in His blood, and all the fullness and completeness of His justification. In a moment I believed, and received the gospel . . . Unless the Almighty arm had been under me, I think I should have died with gratitude and joy. My eyes filled with tears, and my voice choked with transport; I could only look up to heaven in silent fear, overwhelmed with love and wonder. (Gilbert Thomas, William Cowper and the Eighteenth Century, p. 132) 

The Conviction Behind This Truth

In other words, in this second way of pursuing assurance we focus our attention not on what we are doing to prove that we are saved (neither faith, nor the obedience of faith), but we focus on what God has done to save his people. And our confidence is this: as we focus on the great objective work of God, God himself will glorify that work in us by creating faith and assurance and joy and freedom and obedience and power. 

God has an unstoppable, undefeatable, invincible purpose to save his people, and the more we dwell on what he has done to infallibly achieve his purpose, the more deep and lively will be our assurance. God loves to glorify the worth of his objective work by making it the basis of our subjective assurance. 

God’s Invincible Purpose in Our Salvation  

We begin where Paul begins in Ephesians 1:3–4

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world . . . 

Paul begins by blessing God. He blesses him as one who has blessed us with every blessing that heaven can give. And the first foundation that Paul mentions for this assured fact is that “God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world.” 

God’s Choice of Individuals for Salvation 

So that is my first message: God’s purpose in the salvation of his people is invincible—it cannot fail—because it is based first not on our choosing God but on God’s choosing us. Verse 4: “He [God] chose us in him [Christ] before the foundation of the world.” 

Your salvation did not begin with your choice to believe in Christ—a choice which was real and necessary. Your salvation began before the creation of the universe when God planned the history of redemption, ordained the death and the resurrection of his Son, and chose you to be his own through Christ. This is a great objective ground for assurance. And we should consider it deeply. 

Many Deny That God Elects Individuals 

There are many, many people who do not believe this. They do not believe that God chose who will be saved and who will be passed over and left to unbelief and rebellion. They insist that this text only teaches that God chose Christ and an undefined number of those who choose to be in Christ by faith. They say that Ephesians 1:4 is not an election or choosing of individuals, but an election of Christ and the church; but what individuals are part of the church, God does not decide. It’s like the Super Bowl. The national officials don’t choose a specific team of men to go to the Super Bowl; they choose that the winners of the playoffs go, whoever they are. God does not choose who will be in Christ and who will be saved. That lies ultimately in the power of man’s autonomous will, which God does not rule. 

“Chose Us in Him” 

They say that the wording of verse 4 proves this interpretation: “God chose us in him.” But this wording will not settle the issue. If anything the wording points the other way: it says he chose us. Not an undefined mass of people, but us, you and me personally. He chose us. The word means select from a larger group. And the way he did it was in relation to Christ. Christ was not an afterthought to election. God chose us to come to salvation in Christ, not apart from Christ. But it was us that he chose. These words are not strained at all in carrying this meaning that God chose particular people to be his children through their union with Christ. 

But I say the words of verse 4 alone will probably not settle this issue. But if we look at what Paul says elsewhere about this, we can be sure about what he means, namely, that God chose his people individually and personally before the foundation of the world to be saved; and he chose them to be saved through union with Christ. 

1 Corinthians 1:27–30 

First notice what the point of God’s choosing is in 1 Corinthians 1:27–30

27 God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 

What this text says very clearly is that God chose particular kinds of people to be in the church. He did not just choose the church and leave its composition to man. He chose foolish individuals and called them into Christ. He chose some weak individuals and called them into Christ. He chose some low and despised individuals and called them into Christ. So that no one might boast in anyone but the Lord. 

And then to make this crystal clear he said in verse 30 (literally): “From him [God] you are in Christ Jesus.” Or as the NASB says, “By his doing you are in Christ Jesus.” Or the NIV: “It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus.” In other words, it is just as though Paul knew that someone would come along some day and say that God does not choose who is in Christ, but only chooses Christ and any who put themselves in Christ. So he says, in verses 27–29, that God chose the individuals who would make up the church in Christ. And he says in verse 30 that it is by God’s doing that they are put in Christ. 

The glorious, unshakable, objective foundation of your being a Christian is that God chose you to be one. God put you in Christ. So I say with Paul (in verse 26) “Consider your calling!” Consider how you came to be in Christ! Think about it. It will take all boasting off of man and put it all on God. So verse 31 ends the section: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” This is the boast of assurance. This is the exultation of considering our calling and our election, and seeing that it’s all of God, and feeling a tremendous peace and confidence and courage and strength and love well up inside to keep us going in the face any opposition. Because “who can bring any charge against God’s elect!” (Romans 8:33). 

James 2:5 

James (2:5) teaches the very same thing from a slightly different angle: God chose the poor to come to faith and be in the church, so be careful that you not discriminate against him. 

Listen, my beloved brethren. Has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which he has promised to those who love him? But you have dishonored the poor man. 

Here again God has chosen not an undefined mass of people, but particular poor individuals to be rich in faith and to be treated a certain way. The personal, individual nature of election has very practical consequences. If God has chosen to bring the poor into Christ, don’t dishonor them! 

Closing Confession of Faith  

So I come back to Ephesians 1:4, “God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world.” And I close with my own personal confession of faith in this great biblical truth of election. 

Before the creation of the universe God thought of me. He fixed his gaze on me and chose me for himself. He did not choose me because I was already in Christ of my own doing, but that I might be in Christ. He did not choose me because he saw me as a believer, but so that I might become a believer. He did not choose me because I chose him, but so that I might choose him. He did not choose me because I was holy or good but so that I might become holy and good. 

Everything I am and all I hope to be is rooted in God’s freely choosing me. My faith, my hope, my work are not the ground of electing grace but only its effect. And so there is no ground for boasting except in God. And in the face of fear and loss of assurance and all my own defect, I speak this word of trust: “Who shall bring any charge against the Lord’s elect!” (Romans 8:33). 

John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books, including Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist and most recently Providence

Daily Light – Jan 28, 2021

Relativism: Does It Contain Any Truth? 

Taken from Josh and Sean McDowell’s revised apologetics classic, Evidence That Demands a Verdict.  

Does our personal version of “truth” (relativism) trump God’s objective truth? 

In our current “Truth is what I say it is” culture, we have to ask if the issue of truth really matters. I mean, we all seem to be doing okay in life with our own version of truth, right? 

Actually, no. When a society embraces a slippery slope of “truth,” its foundation turns from firm to shaky. A culture’s attack on truth ultimately affects the culture itself. People may hate the supposed strictness of God’s objective truth, but we have only to look around to see that societal morals that were once black and white have muddied to endless shades of gray. To ignore the negative side effects of this is to certainly put one’s head in the sand. 

Like Neo in the Sci-Fi thriller The Matrix, our human nature prompts us to choose the pill that gains us a truthful reality. We’re hard-wired to seek out truth. And we instinctively know when we’re deviating from God’s objective truth, even if we ignore it or try to erase it as the standard to which we should be living. 

Let’s look at three truths about truth, and why the assertion that “truth is relative” is completely wrong. Real, objective truth matters. In every area of our lives.  

~ The Truths About Truth ~ 

Truth Is Logical 

Logic presupposes that truth is real, and that “first principles” are truths that cannot be denied, because they are self-evident. Logic applied to reality is a key example of a first principle. All logic can be reduced to a single axiom: the law of noncontradiction. This law says that no two opposite statements can both be true at the same time in the same sense. Logic must apply to reality. And because of that, we can use logic to test truth claims about reality. 

Truth Is Objective 

Though we can make subjective claims based on personal preferences — for example, “Chocolate ice cream is the best flavor in the world!” — this makes the claims only “true” for us and anyone who agrees with us. The statement is only true because we believe it to be true. These statements of “truth” can easily change, based on our current preferences. 

But objective truths are true no matter what we believe about them. They do not change because of our thoughts of whims. They are mind-independent and depend on the object itself.  

“Objective truths, as opposed to subjective preferences, are based on the external world,” states apologist Sean McDowell. “They are related to the world independently of how we think or feel. For example, the sentences ‘1+2=3’ and ‘George Washington was the first president of the United States,’ and ‘Sacramento is the capital of California’ are all objective truths, that is, they are accurate statements even if we don’t believe them.” 

Truth Is NOT Relative 

We are free to have all the subjective preferences we want — from religion to politics to morality — but objective truth is not swayed by our personal views or even the collective view of society. So those who argue that all truth is subjective are espousing a form of relativism

Relativism creeps into our vocabulary in statements like, “Well, that’s true for you, but not for me.” Unfortunately for those who champion relativism, the concept fails for two main reasons, which I outline below. 

~ The Failure of Relativism ~ 

The first failure of relativism is that it is self-defeating. The second is that relativism leads to absurd logical outcomes. 

To be consistent, the relativist must say, “Nothing is objectively true — including my own position. So you’re free to accept my view or reject it.” But here’s the reality: when a relativist asserts, “Everything is relative,” he expects his listeners to embrace HIS view of reality. And he expects his statement to pertain to all statements EXCEPT his own. 

Norman Geisler puts it this way: “The only way the relativist can avoid the painful dilemma of relativism is to admit that there are at least some absolute truths. As noted, most relativists believe that relativism is absolutely true and that everyone should be a relativist. Therein lies the self-destructive nature of relativism. The relativist stands on the pinnacle of an absolute truth and wants to relativize everything else.” 

The point not to miss: One can’t hold to relativism and insist that others do so as well. It’s a contradiction. 

Relativism is a popular idea because, on the surface, it sounds accepting, inclusive, and easy-going. But it is only when we think through its implications, and apply them rigorously to life, do we see the pitfalls of being so accommodating. 

As philosopher Paul Copan notes: 

“Truth’s elusiveness in some areas of life is a major reason people believe something can be ‘true for you, but not for me.’ Looking around, the relativist comes to one firm conclusion: Too many people genuinely disagree about too many things for use to know truth. Significant — almost irreconcilable — differences in vital dimensions like religion, morality, politics, and philosophy can make it seem rash or even arrogant to say one’s perspective is true or mostly true and others are totally or partially wrong. Supposedly, then, the sensible conclusion to draw is that relativism must be true.” 

In actuality, however, the only part of relativism that is true is that our perspectives do change the way we view events. 

So while social and personal relationships do tend to define what people take to be true and false, these influences do NOT determine what is true or false with respect to objective reality. We may not see the truth correctly, but this does not diminish that the actual reality of truth exists. 

Skeptics can cry, “God doesn’t exist!”, and personally believe it to be true. But God’s existence, in no way, is determined by our view of it. 

~ Conclusion ~ 

As philosopher and author Steward E. Kelly says, an attempt to deny that truth exists is hopeless. “If there were, hypothetically speaking,” he adds, “no such thing as truth, then would it be true that there is no truth?” Apologist Ravi Zacharias puts a finer point on this when he says, “Truth by definition is exclusive.” 

If truth were all-inclusive, he adds, “nothing would be false. And if nothing were false, what would be the meaning of true? Moreover, if nothing were false, would it be true to say that everything is false? It quickly becomes evident that the denial of truth as an absolute either ends up denying itself or else in effect not making any truthful assertion about truth.” 

When we choose to view “truth” as subjective, we make it impossible to argue for any sort of binding morality or ethics. Bottom line: when real, objective truth dies, ethics die, too. Relativism undermines even the value of humanity.  

Apologist Gregory Koukl puts it this way: 

“If truth can’t be known, then the concept of moral truth becomes incoherent. Ethics become relative, right and wrong matters of individual opinion. This may seem a moral liberty, but it ultimately rings hollow. “The death of truth in our society has created a moral decay in which ‘every debate ends with a barroom question, ‘Says, who?’ When we abandon the idea that one set of laws applies to every human being, all that remains is subjective, personal opinion.” 

But the Bible draws a clear contrast between truth and error; the Bible does not present truth as a cultural creation. When Jesus drove a stake into the ground by claiming, “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” He did so to give us a clear standard of truth to follow.  

Imagine if God continually changed His mind, and kept us guessing as to His nature and what he wants/expects from us. Sounds like the petulant Greek gods, if you ask me. Fortunately, God is NOT like that. His loving character never changes. And neither do the truths He has chosen to share with us via His Word. 

From what influence are you determining “truth”? From the world, or from God’s Word? Because only the latter offers the real thing. 

Daily Light – Jan 27, 2021

The Search for Meaning and Existence 

On an infrequent schedule, per se, over the next few months, we will begin to look at and think about the secular or modern ideas that have relationship to “The Search for Meaning and Existence”.  We will be looking at world views in relationship to accurate theological Christianity.  It is my premise that ‘all’ worldviews that do not center on the supremacy of Christ as the beginning and end reason for all meaning to existence can only lead to various levels of despair.  Accurate Christian theology contains the truth to meaning and existence and is the only reality that produces eternal peace and joy.  All others views are shadows and not substance.  Many versions of modern thinking as to meaning of existence do provide pieces and parts of truth.  But they do not provide full or complete truth and thus they can only come to some version of less than the truth of meaning to existence and can only lead to some level of continuing despair.  

This message from J Ligon Duncan, PhD, is a good place for us to start.  He captures the essence of the worldviews of ‘nihilism’ and ‘existentialism’.   dh

This will need to be provided in 3 consecutive parts:   

Part 3  (final part)

4. History as model or type or myth or story or sage, but not as reality
Existentialism is not concerned about history as expressive of fact and reality. Existentialism uses history as a model, or a type, or a myth, or a story which invests meaning in life.  Who cares about the factuality of it! The issue is, “Is there a message, is there a myth, is there a model, is there a saga or a story from which we can deploy meaning in this life, totally apart from the factual nature of the historical claim?” 

One example of this, by the way, is in a book by Lloyd Geering called, Resurrection: A Symbol of Hope, in which he had argued that the resurrection itself was not a historical fact to be believed in, but it was a symbol. It was a myth to invest life with meaning. And the very savvy reviewer in the Times literary supplement, who reviewed Lloyd Geering’s book, said this: “How can a non-event…” (a resurrection which didn’t occur) “…be regarded as a symbol of hope, or indeed of anything else? If something has happened, we try to see what it means. If it has not happened, the question cannot arise. We are driven back to the need for something to have happened at Easter.” Point well taken. And Existentialism doesn’t have a very good answer to that particular question. 

One way one of my professors illustrated this was to say, “Let’s look at the Exodus story, and the children of Israel coming out of Egypt and crossing the Red Sea. And let’s look at this from three perspectives: the old liberal perspective, the existentialist…” (There’s another word for Christian Existentialism that many of you know very well. It’s called Neo-orthodoxy. That’s all Christian Existentialism is, is Neo-orthodoxy.)“So let’s look at the Exodus story from the liberal perspective; the Neo-orthodox perspective; and the biblical perspective.” 

The liberal perspective. Some of you have heard this taught in classrooms. It basically says the Exodus never happened. This is a story that was fabricated, and whatever did happen can be explained away through naturalistic phenomenon. You’ll find liberal commentaries going on and on about how there were low-tide seasons in the Sea of Reeds, and strong winds to come in off of the desert and dry out the sea bed, and perhaps that this could be part of the myth that eventually grew into the parting of the Red Sea, and et cetera, et cetera. But the liberal perspective is to deny all of the miraculous and to deny all of the factuality of biblical truth claims, like the Exodus and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

The Neo-orthodox perspective. The Existentialist perspective, says “Oh, no, no! Something happened there, but we just don’t know what it is. But the important thing is not what happened, it’s the Exodus event provides us with a model, a myth, a story which invests meaning into our lives.”  Well…ah….how? What…this thing that we don’t’ know what it was, how is that going to invest meaning into my life? 

The biblical position is to say, “No, the Exodus happened, and God explained to us what the significance of that historic act is. And He explained it both beforehand and afterwards in His word.” And so in this way you can see a contrast between these three approaches to Scripture. 

Let me get right up on the line and suggest another way that Existentialism has impacted Christian thought. Existentialism, because of its emphasis on making an ‘existential’ decision in the face of this alien reality, to create meaning and life and joy in what could otherwise be a very bleak experience, has twisted something of the Christian view of man and of the Christian life. 

Now, don’t think about the personality when I mention this illustration. Just think about the point. I’m not even going to mention the personality, but you’re going to know who I’m talking about immediately. Some of you have heard a commercial on 1180 AM for many years that goes like this: “People are the only creatures that God didn’t finish. Each day we create ourselves with the choices that we make.” Perfect existential theology! Not derived from Scripture, but you see how pervasive this kind of teaching can be, even in Christian circles. 

In fact, when I went to seminary in the 1980’s and was sitting under teachers like Palmer Robertson and others, we were looking at some of these very kinds of philosophies and the way they were impacting Christian teaching. I had friends who I graduated with from Furman University, who were at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in the battle days before Al Mohler came and cleaned out the liberals and turned things around, and we would meet in December during the break, and they would be rattling on and on about this wonderful theology that they were reading. And I said, “Well, tell me some of the names of the people that you’re reading.” And they said, “Oh! Well, there’s this wonderful theologian named Rudolf Bultmann…” And I said, “You’ve got to be kidding! Southern Baptists reading Rudolf Bultmann…I don’t get it. A liberal German Lutheran Southern Baptist…help me here. What’s the connection?” 

Well, you see, it dawned upon me the connection was this: my Southern Baptist friends had grown up hearing that a decision was important. And then they picked up Rudolf Bultmann and they hear him talking about making an ‘existential’ decision, and unfortunately, they equated the two, and the two are in entirely different universes. The decision that their Baptist pastor was talking about had no more to do with what Rudolf Bultmann was talking about than a goose! But it sounded like something that they could incorporate into their teaching, and they were. And you can see that done over and over in Christian theology. 

So, when we are talking to the Existentialists, let’s remember to ask ourselves, “What question is this person trying to answer with the answer of Existentialism?” And then let’s ask ourselves, ‘How has Existentialism contributed to their view of the Bible, and what have they drawn from Existentialism and incorporated in their Christian theology, as opposed to drawn from the Bible and viewed Existentialism from the standpoint of the teaching of Scripture.’ 

Let’s stand and pray together. 

Heavenly Father, we thank You for the meaning that You have invested in our life, and we thank You that the only way out of our sin and idolatry is through Jesus Christ. We pray as we talk with friends who have been enmeshed in false thinking and philosophies, that we would understand the plight that they feel; that we would empathize with them as fellow human beings; but that we would boldly and clearly, and with love, show them the light which You have shown to us in Your word and in Jesus Christ, bearing faithful witness to Him and to the gospel, that they might be filled with the joy that only Your children know. We ask these things in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

Dr. J. Ligon Duncan III   Ligon Duncan (MDiv, Covenant Theological Seminary; PhD, University of Edinburgh) is the Chancellor & CEO of Reformed Theological Seminary and the John E. Richards Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology. He has authored, co-authored, edited, or contributed to numerous books. You can follow him on Twitter

Daily Light – Jan 26, 2021

The Search for Meaning and Existence 

On an infrequent schedule, per say, over the next few months, we will begin to look at and think about the secular or modern ideas that have relationship to “The Search for Meaning and Existence”.  We will be looking at world views in relationship to accurate theological Christianity.  It is my premise that ‘all’ worldviews that do not center on the supremacy of Christ as the beginning and end reason for all meaning to existence can only lead to various levels of despair.  Accurate Christian theology contains the truth to meaning and existence and is the only reality that produces eternal peace and joy.  All others views are shadows and not substance.  Many versions of modern thinking as to meaning of existence do provide pieces and parts of truth.  But they do not provide full or complete truth and thus they can only come to some version of less than the truth of meaning to existence and can only lead to some level of continuing despair.  

This message from J Ligon Duncan, PhD, is a good place for us to start.  He captures the essence of the worldviews of ‘nihilism’ and ‘existentialism’.   dh

This will need to be provided in 3 consecutive parts:   

Part 2 

The second thing I want you to see has to do with your own embrace of biblical Christianity. And that is to see how Existentialism has impacted even many people who call themselves Christians. In fact, our denomination in large measure was forged out of a controversy, a theological controversy that had to do with people who were existentialists in their philosophy and worldview and theology. They claimed to be Christians, undermining the doctrine of Scripture and of Christ and the foundations of The Apostles’ Creed, the biblical Christian faith. So I want you to see, maybe, some of the sources of this kind of thinking in existentialism. 

Atheistic Existentialism.
Some of you have read the material of atheistic existentialism. Some of you have read John Paul Sartre, or Albert Camus, or Martin Heidegger. Atheistic Existentialism begins by agreeing with Nihilism. Atheistic Existentialism says, “Yes, matter exists eternally, and matter is all there is. God does not exist. The cosmos exists as a uniformity of natural causes in a closed system. This world is a big machine. History is a string of linear events linked by cause and effect, but you can’t discern any overarching purpose in it. Ethics. That’s just something that human beings invent.” It’s not rooted in objective reality. And so, Atheistic Existentialism starts off by saying “Yep, the Nihilists have described the world correctly. It’s just a big blob that you can’t make any sense of out there. It’s absurd, and the more you think about it, the more absurd it is.” 

But, then the Atheistic Existentialist says, “Here’s how we’re going to respond to this. We’re going to respond by saying that existence precedes essence.” Existence precedes essence. In other words, we exist, and then we supply the meaning of life. We exist, and then we supply the answer to the essence of life. In other words, mankind makes itself. We invent ourselves. We invent meaning. We come into a world which has no meaning, and the job of the Existentialist in this meaningless world is to do what? To create meaning. To create what we are as human beings. 

The idea of the Existentialist is that people make themselves who they are. The Existentialist, over against the Nihilist who said people are robots, the Existentialist says, “No. This world is a big machine, but I am not a cog in this wheel. I have a free will. I determine myself. My decisions make who I am.” The Existentialist says each person is totally free as regards to their nature and destiny, and the job of the Existentialist over against this world is to revolt against the object of this world, and create meaning out of meaninglessness, and to create value out of valueless-ness. It’s a very heroic sort of worldview. 

This afternoon I decided I ought to visit some Existentialist web sites so that I could see it from their perspective. And they were all going way out of their way to say, “Now, this is not a bleak, depressing worldview.” You’ve heard of whistling in the dark? They say this is a very positive, joyful, life-affirming humankind-affirming worldview. Hmmmm…. I guess so, from one perspective, compared to Nihilism. But, this is the task, the Atheistic Existentialist says, of humanity: to revolt against this world, this meaningless world, and to create value. People make themselves who they are. 

Theistic Existentialism
Now, Theistic Existentialism is a little bit different. It has existed, actually, longer than Atheistic Existentialism. You know, the great Atheistic Existentialist writers that perhaps you read in high school or in college were writing, by and large, in the middle of the twentieth century. But Theistic Existentialism actually began in the nineteenth century with a Danish theologian named Soren Kierkegaard reacting against dead orthodoxy in the Lutheran churches in which he had grown up. And following Kierkegaard had been a series of modern theologians. Maybe the two names that you know best would be the names of Rudolph Bultmann and Karl Barth. Both of these were influenced by existentialism. Theistic Existentialism says, “Yes, God exists; He’s infinite, He’s personal, He’s triune. He’s transcendent, He’s imminent, He’s everything–He’s sovereign, He’s good. He creates the cosmos out of nothing to operate in accordance with natural causes, and human beings are created in the image of God. And God can and does communicate with us. And we were created good, but we’re now fallen and need to be restored by God through Christ. For human beings death is either the gate to life with God and His people forever, or a life separated from God.” 

And you say, well, that sounds pretty good. And of course, Existentialism in Christian garb can sound pretty good. But the so-called Christian Existentialist goes on to say four other things that are not so good. 

Problems with Christian Existentialism
1. Believing in God is a matter of faith.
The first thing is to say this: We humans live in an alien universe, and the matter of the existence of God is not something which is a matter of knowledge and reason; it’s a matter of faith.  And a hard divide is made between faith and reason, so that, for instance, beginning with Kierkegaard the idea was [that] in order to transcend and arrive at an understanding of who God is, you had to take a leap of faith. Anybody seen Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade? The one was where he was after the Holy Grail? He’s out there on the cliff edge, and there’s nothing in front of him, and he has to get across to the Grail Room, and he takes a leap of faith? Well, thank you, Soren Kierkegaard for that reference that clearly Stephen Spielberg and his scriptwriters had worked up. That’s a very un-Christian idea, you understand. God in the Scriptures never asks you to take a “leap of faith.” 

Faith is our response to a promise of God. There’s nothing dodgy about a promise from God. There’s no throwing caution to the wind. That is a very, very wise thing to do–to believe something that God tells you. It has nothing to do with checking your brains at the door. 

But for Kierkegaard and for those who have followed him, there is this very hard divide between faith and reason. Faith is an anti-rational thing. It’s a supra-rational thing. It doesn’t correlate with reason and fact. And this is a theme that runs through Existentialist “Christian teaching.” 

2. Only the personal and relational are important — the logical is not.
Secondly, for the Existentialist the personal and the relational is the primary dimension of life, and the rational, and the logical, and the propositional is not important.  The rational, and the logical and the propositional relates to this material reality; it is the relational and the personal that transcends it. 

So, whereas historic Christian theology sees sin as breaking God’s law, so-called Christian Existentialism says, “No, sin is betraying a relationship, not breaking a rule.” Whereas historic Christian theology sees repentance as confessing guilt, Existentialism says, “No, it’s sorrow over personal betrayal.” Whereas historic Christian theology says forgiveness involves canceling a penalty, Existentialism says, “No, it is renewing fellowship.” Whereas historic Christianity says that faith is receiving the promises of God given to us in sentences and propositions in His word, Existentialism says, “No, faith is committing yourself to a person.” Whereas historic Christian theology recognizes that part of the Christian life is obeying God’s word, Existentialism says, “The Christian life isn’t about obeying rules, it’s about relating to a person.” 

Now, if you will have noticed closely, all of these things are false dichotomies. Whereas historic Christianity affirms all of those personal dimensions of the Christian faith, but it doesn’t set them over against the propositional teachings of God’s word. And so the Existentialist will consistently put before you this kind of dilemma: Are we going to believe a person or a proposition? 

Let me illustrate it to you this way. There was a debate at the Southern Baptist Convention not long ago about whether a statement in The Baptist Faith and Message would be changed, which affirmed Jesus as ‘the hermeneutical rule for understanding Scripture.’ Now, that statement had been put into The Baptist Faith and Message by Existentialist theologians in the 1920’s who wanted to relativize the teaching of Scripture. If there was anything that they didn’t like, they could say, “Well, that’s not in accord with Jesus and therefore we reject it even though it’s in the Scripture.” What they had done, they had pitted Jesus versus the Scripture; the person of Jesus versus the word of Jesus. 

Well, of course God will never let you get by with that kind of thing. Can you imagine saying to your mother, when she tells you to take out the trash, “Mother, while I venerate your person, I reject your words as mere propositions which……” —After receiving her corrective response, you have recognized that that dichotomy between person and proposition won’t work in real life. If you venerate the person, you’ll pay attention to what they say in their words. 3. Knowledge is subjective. Truth is paradoxical.
And so, Existentialist theologians will pit the personal versus the propositional. They will also argue that all truth is subjective, and it’s paradoxical. Truth is found in paradox, in seeming contradiction; and knowledge is subjective. It is existential thinking which is the root of the ethical system that many of you heard expounded in the 1960’s and ‘70’s by Joseph Fletcher, called “situational ethics,” which basically is you make it up as you go. And that’s Existentialism; that’s the root of that kind of ethical system.  
Part 3, end, tomorrow

Daily Light – Jan 25, 2021

The Search for Meaning and Existence 

On an infrequent schedule, per say, over the next few months, we will begin to look at and think about the secular or modern ideas that have relationship to “The Search for Meaning and Existence”.  We will be looking at world views in relationship to accurate theological Christianity.  It is my premise that ‘all’ worldviews that do not center on the supremacy of Christ as the beginning and end reason for all meaning to existence can only lead to various levels of despair.  Accurate Christian theology contains the truth to meaning and existence and is the only reality that produces eternal peace and joy.  All others views are shadows and not substance.  Many versions of modern thinking as to meaning of existence do provide pieces and parts of truth.  But they do not provide full or complete truth and thus they can only come to some version of less than the truth of meaning to existence and can only lead to some level of continuing despair.  

This message from J Ligon Duncan, PhD, is a good place for us to start.  He captures the essence of the worldviews of ‘nihilism’ and ‘existentialism’.   dh

This will be provided in 3 consecutive parts:   

Part I 

Psalm 8:3-9 “Christian World View” – Existentialism 

J. Ligon Duncan III, PhD 

If you have your Bibles, I’d invite you to turn with me to Psalm 8. Last week as we looked at Nihilism, we saw a worldview, a philosophy, if you want to call it that, that argues that there is no meaning to life, meaning cannot be found in this world. We also said last week, and we’ll say it again tonight, that every secular philosophy since this worldview of Nihilism came into the world in the third quarter of the nineteenth century, every secular philosophy that has risen in the Western world since, has tried to give an answer to Nihilism; that is, has tried to find meaning in an otherwise meaningless existence. And I want to contrast that —Brister gave a beautiful introduction to the hymns that we sang tonight, which are so filled with the fullness of joy and meaning which belongs to those who are in Christ Jesus, and I want to go right to Psalm 8, because Psalm 8 anchors for the Christian the source of the fullness and the joy and the meaning of life as God has given it to us. 

Look at verse three of Psalm 8, and consider how the psalmist responds to this massive world. The Nihilist looks at this world and he says this world is hostile, it is absurd, and it has no meaning. 

And the psalmist looks at this world and he wonders, too. Look at his words: 

(3) “When I consider the heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained; (4) what is man, that Thou dost take thought of him? And the son of man, that Thou dost care for him?” 

(In other words, he looks at this huge, glorious, beautiful creation made by God and he says ‘Man is so small, Lord, compared to this gigantic creation that You’ve made.’ But then look what he deduces from this. It’s not meaninglessness, not hopelessness. It’s not unimportant.) 

(5)“Yet Thou hast made him a little lower than God, and dost crown him with glory and majesty! (6)Thou dost make him to rule over the works of Thy hands; Thou has put all things under his feet, (7) all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, (8) the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes through the paths of the seas. (9) O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!” 

Contrast between Christianity and other worldviews.
Now what’s the difference? What’s the difference between the Nihilist looking at this big world and finding that it’s absurd, and declaring that everything’s meaningless, and the psalmist looking at this big world and seeing little man compared to this big world, and yet praising God. What’s the difference? The doctrine of the image of God in man. Did you notice where he was quoting from there? He’s taking you right back to Genesis 1 and 2, where God tells us in His word that man was created in His image. The Creator suffused meaning into man’s existence in the very way that He created us. It’s one of His blessings that the Creator has given to His creation. And the psalmist celebrates that reality in Psalm 8, and it’s such a different view of reality than the view of Nihilism. 

Well, tonight we’re going to look at the first great attempt at answering Nihilism without resorting to the Christian historic, biblical worldview. And that first attempt at answering Nihilism has been called Existentialism.  Tonight we’re going to look at the search for meaning in Existentialism. Nihilism, you remember, says matter exists, but God doesn’t. This universe is a closed system. Everything is determined. Human beings don’t have real choices, we’re just cogs in a wheel, and the system is going and we’re part of it, and our choices don’t matter, and what we think doesn’t matter. Nothing matters. We’re just cogs in the wheel, to quote a popular rock-and-roll group, “we’re just another brick in the wall.” Nihilism goes on to say that humans are just complex machines; that’s what we are. And we’re part of a bigger and more complex machine. So the idea of true knowledge–it’s meaningless. Ethics are impossible. There is no meaning in life. 

Now, as you can imagine, there are very few people in the world who can rest in that. Nietzsche had suggested that there would need to be a race of what he called “super men” who would be able to endure this kind of view of the world until it could be transcended. But there are very few super men and women around who can live with a view of life like this. And so, the secular worldview makers, the philosophers, attempted to come up with their own answers, and one of the very popular answers that was given to Nihilism has been coined as Existentialism. 

Remember, we said that Deism replaced Theism as a worldview in the time of The Enlightenment because it was thought that Theism, on the one hand, was responsible for the internecine wars in Europe, and perhaps a more refined and rational view of God in the world could produce peace and tranquility in human life. 

And then, along behind Deism came Naturalism that says, look, Deism predicates a first cause, a divine maker who made this world like a clock and set it running and then let it go to go and do whatever he was interested in doing, and he no longer interacts in this world. The laws he set in motion are still in motion, so Naturalism says, look, we can take everything that Deism gives and remove the idea of this God who created things, this first cause, and the philosophy works just fine. 

And then came a view which said, well, why do you have to assume that this world is rational, and can be made sense of? So Nihilism came along behind Naturalism. In other words, Nihilism saw all of the presuppositions of Naturalism and said Naturalism’s assumption that we are in a rational world that can be understood and that meaning can be constructed out of is wrong. 

Existentialism
And then behind Nihilism comes Existentialism, saying, no, we can make meaning in this world, but that meaning doesn’t come from the objective reality. There’s no objective meaning out there. The only meaning that can be had in life is produced by us. 

And so we see a slide down in these progressive worldviews, as they continue to take one another to their logical conclusions and expose their weaknesses. But, as we said, every philosophy after Nihilism was attempting to answer the problems that Nihilism created. Albert Camus, the great twentieth-century existentialist said this: “In the darkest depths of our nihilism, I have sought only for the means to transcend nihilism.” In other words, he’s saying ‘my goal in all my philosophizing and living has been to try to find an answer to the meaninglessness which has been predicated by Nihilism. 

Now interestingly, there are two forms of Existentialism that are on the market. There is one form of Existentialism that is atheistic. It doesn’t believe in God. But there’s another form of Existentialism that is theistic. It does believe in God. And sometimes it even calls itself “Christian Existentialism”–if ever there was a contradiction in terms, that’s one of them. But these two forms of existentialism have had their impact. 

Now, what I’m going to do tonight is describing these two avenues. I’ve got a couple of goals in mind.  First, I want to remind you that as you are talking with friends who do not embrace the Scriptures, they do not embrace Christ, they have not been found savingly by the Lord Jesus Christ and drawn into a saving relationship with the Living God through Him, who are wrapped up into other kinds of worldviews, wittingly or unwittingly, it is important for you to understand that it’s not simply that they lack the right answers to the right questions. I want you to remember that sometimes they lack the right questions. 

And so if you’re dealing with people who are on a search for meaning, it is not only your job to give them the right answer, it is your job to make sure they’re asking the right question in the first place, because according to the Scripture our big problem is not meaning. If we are created in the image of God, the problem in the world is not that there is a lack of meaning. There’s plenty of meaning to go around. 

The problem which is upon us is sin; our sin, and our alienation from the God who made us to be fulfilled in everlasting relationship with Him. And therefore, if you’re talking to someone who’s on a quest for meaning, your job isn’t just to do something like this: “Jesus can give you meaning.” That is true, Jesus can. But if they are conceiving the problem of man and the problem of this world in terms of the Nihilist view of meaninglessness, they need to understand that that’s not their biggest problem. Their biggest problem is idolatry and sin. And they need to be saved from that idolatry and sin. So you have to work with them on the question, and that’s one thing I want you to see tonight. It’s not just the answers, it’s the right question. And when you’re working with people that are coming from other worldviews, sometimes their whole lives have been spent in the pursuit of finding the answer to the wrong question. That’s so important for us to remember.   (Part 2 Tomorrow)

Daily Light – Jan 22, 2021

First pray… 

David Niednagel, studying in Timothy.  David is a Pastor/Teacher, Evansville, IN.  David uses the S.O.A.P. method for his morning devotional time (study, observe, apply, pray). 

1 Timothy 2:1 

2:1   First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. ESV 

After warning in the previous verses about some not dealing with sin and turning away from the Lord, Paul urges first of all to pray for people – and probably pray what he just wrote in the verses above, that they would cling to their faith in the Lord Jesus, no matter how bad things got, and they would keep a clear conscience by confessing and repenting of sin. That is certainly a good way to pray for all believers. If we keep our eyes on Christ, we will sin much less, and if we are committed to confession and repentance, the sins we do commit will have much less effect. 

When he calls for “supplication, prayers, intercessions” he means all kinds of prayers all the time. There is always some appropriate prayer for the Holy Spirit to protect the hearts of God’s people. Paul adds that when we make requests, we should also express thanks for God’s wisdom to know how to answer, and His power to accomplish what no one else can. Even desperate prayers should include thanks to God, recognizing His perfect wisdom and capability. But Paul makes it clear that these prayers are not only for believers, but for all people, including people who were like he had been, belligerent and arrogant. God wants us to pray for hard hearts, including Kings, and people in authority. Then and now, the people with the most power depend on their own power and use it to get their way. But God can break and humble them, so pray for that.  

The specific prayer Paul mentions is for Kings and people in positions of power to protect and promote stability and peace in the realm. Pray they will not be corrupt and weaken the nation for their own advantage. Public peace is so important for the stability of its people. 

Lord, I asked you to work in the hearts of Barak Obama and Donald Trump, but I did not see the evidence in either case that I was hoping for. But I will continue to ask You to work in President Biden, because You want this for all rulers. I pray for genuine faith, and freedom from the fear of men, so he will have a good conscience without hidden sin. May he care for the oppressed, and shun bribes and corruption. I pray he will set a good example for our country, and for the world. Thank You that this is Your will and You will honor Your name through our leaders. Thank You for every day we have peace and stability. I pray You would work against the plans of evil people, and that the gospel would spread because of the lives, the words and the prayers of Your people. Amen 

Daily Light – Jan 21, 2021

The COVID Vaccine and Christian Unity 

Article by Keith Kaufmann, Science Researcher

The sin of Adam brought a devastating curse to all creation. The ground would no longer cooperate in his agricultural pursuits. His God-ordained work of tending the garden would now be filled with pain and difficulty. Man’s rule over creation—because he had obeyed that creation instead of obeying the Creator—was now broken, damaged, and incomplete. 

Yet God’s grace in the midst of the curse is still plainly evident; with work and knowledge, Adam could still gain what he needed from the ground. He would often experience failure, but the successes would still come. God didn’t step away and allow a fallen creation to overwhelm and suffocate our first forefather and mother. Rather, he permitted humanity to get the necessary sustenance and knowledge from that ground that we need to survive. 

Perhaps you’ve never thought about the goodness of biomedical research or the goodness of vaccines. In his grace, God allows our knowledge and experience to make life more endurable. Technology and medicine are good things, insofar as they are used unto the glory of God and the benefit of others. And saving lives with medicine and technology is certainly God-honoring, since the Bible upholds the sanctity of every human life. 

Vaccines as Gift 

Vaccines, then, are a good gift from God brought about by the proper application of biomedical research to the human immune system and how it responds to dangerous pathogens. God has given our bodies the ability to recognize dangerous foreign organisms and to remember them in case they return for another battle. A vaccine simply gives the patient a non-dangerous amount or piece of that organism, so that the body can create immunological memory before it ever encounters the actual dangerous organism. Your immune system hasn’t just received the playbook of that enemy; it knows every play it will try to carry out. 

The immune system is a truly wonderful gift of God. And just like earlier humans learned agricultural techniques to bring better yield from their crops, researchers have learned the usefulness of vaccines in protecting us from another aspect of the fall. 

Yet, just like every other human attempt to push back against the fall’s effects, it’s not always a perfect endeavor. Biomedical research has seen many dark days. Vaccinology has sometimes caused unnecessary deaths. And this is why people sometimes choose to forego a particular vaccine, or sometimes every vaccine. 

In the past year, we have seen leaders of major political parties publicly question the validity of a COVID vaccine. Many of us are left wondering what to do. Should we take a vaccine that has been publicly questioned? Was this vaccine rushed? Were shortcuts taken that may make it dangerous? Since it uses a different type of vaccine technology, is it going to do something unexpected to our bodies? Are there any bioethical concerns that should make us wary, such as the use of stem cells or tissues from aborted babies? 

As a COVID researcher, I can answer some of these questions for you. I can even tell you what I will do. But before I do that, let me share something even more important. 

Divisions 

Of utmost importance within the body of Christ, we must not let such decisions divide us. Make no mistake: disunity is a real possibility and temptation. If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that many of us take our health seriously, and we get upset when others don’t take personal health as seriously as we do. 

For example, if I choose to take the vaccine, but another church member chooses not to, it would be easy for me to be uncharitable toward that person. I may even feel they are endangering my health, as viral mutations could render my vaccine ineffective. 

Conversely, if I choose not to be vaccinated due to a conviction that some aspect of the vaccine conflicts with biblical principles, I could judge the decision of a brother or sister to vaccinate as wrong or sinful. Judgmentalism is a distinct and dangerous sin when it comes to conscience issues like this. We know that the Spirit gives more grace, but we often do not. 

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, whatever you decide, our Christian witness is often borne out in how we continue to love those who don’t hold the exact same positions we do. We all serve a sovereign God who decides where every viral particle floats when it’s expelled from an infected person. 

Our Christian unity isn’t built on a set of common attitudes, pursuits, convictions, experiences, or political beliefs, but wholly on the shed blood of Jesus Christ, to whom we are united by faith and thus united to one another. 

We are not the Lions Club, the VA, the Red Cross, or the Salvation Army. We are the body of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Vaccines offer temporal solutions; the gospel brings eternal ones. 

Answers to Common Questions 

1. Is this vaccine unsafe because it was pushed through so quickly? 

The speed with which the COVID-19 vaccines were developed was truly breathtaking, but no shortcuts were taken. The development speed was expedient for several reasons. 

First, every vaccine goes through multiple clinical trial stages. Usually, companies don’t start a Phase 2 trial before the Phase 1 is completed, as they want to know the results of the first phase before they invest millions of dollars into the next. But the influx of money from Congress and the reduced restrictions in trial timing allowed companies to start multiple phase trials at once. This meant companies could complete all the necessary clinical trial phases within months, instead of the typical years. 

Second, finding volunteers who have the disease of interest can sometimes be a difficult process for researchers. Some diseases are so rare that it can take years to find enough volunteers to complete a trial. For COVID-19, however, this was not a problem. It took only weeks or months to get enough volunteers to fill up a large clinical trial. 

2. Why did some public officials question the vaccine? 

The political gamesmanship has been thick and heavy over the past year, with the pandemic as the hockey puck both teams have been trying to use to score on their opponent. It’s sad to watch. But it’s telling that the leaders of both major political parties have publicly taken the vaccine. 

3. I’ve heard this vaccine is different from other vaccines. What’s an mRNA vaccine? And is it dangerous? 

Most vaccines work by injecting either a weakened version of an organism or specific proteins from that organism, along with an adjuvant that helps to boost the immune response and make better memory. The Moderna and Pfizer vaccines work by injecting a piece of mRNA, which contains blueprints that tell cells how to make proteins. When your cells take up the mRNA, they make a specific protein from the organism that causes COVID. The immune system recognizes the invader, and memory is made. The mRNA degrades within the cell quickly and is gone from the body shortly after the vaccination. But the immunity lasts. Using mRNA for various research purposes has been happening for decades, and the biological results are generally well understood. 

4. Are there any Christian ethical concerns with this vaccine? 

The two largest Christian ethical considerations in biomedical research are the use of both stem cells and also tissues/cells from aborted babies. Much ink has been spilled on these topics; I won’t go into that here. But from what has been publicly disclosed––and it is still a law in the United States that researchers must disclose whenever they use tissues from aborted babies––the production of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines do not use cell lines from aborted babies. 

There are other vaccines under development that do use cell lines from aborted babies in production. I have seen good arguments on both sides of this issue. Many widely used vaccines (e.g., MMR, shingles, chickenpox) have been developed using these cell lines. 

5. So what will you do? 

I will be taking the vaccine when my time is allotted. The research seems solid, and I haven’t heard anything that would give me pause as a Christian. I know at least one person who is unable to get the vaccine for medical reasons, and I know this will also be true for others. I will do what I can to love them by helping stem the tide of this virus. 

Ultimately, God controls every single viral particle that spreads over the earth. It may be that he uses these vaccines to rid the world of this dangerous disease. He’s allowed us to do it with smallpox; I pray he allows it again with COVID-19. 

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this letter do not represent the views of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the National Institutes of Health, or the federal government of the United States of America. The opinions expressed are the sole opinions of the author and are intended for the purposes of church edification. For specific questions on whether you are able or eligible to receive a vaccine, consult your local and state health departments and your primary-care physician for further guidance and direction. 

Keith Kauffman is a researcher studying the immune response to tuberculosis and other infectious diseases. He earned a BS from the University of Maryland and an MDiv from Capital Bible Seminary. He is also adjunct science faculty at Lancaster Bible College. He serves as an elder at Greenbelt Baptist Church in Greenbelt, Maryland. He and his wife, Sara, have two daughters, Arielle and Talia. 

Daily Light – Jan 20, 2021

My Prayer, this morning, January 20, 2021

Heavenly Father….Creator and Sustainer of the universe.  Creator of all life, my Creator, my Father.  I know from reading your book and seeing the work of your hand in my life and the lives of your people, I know that only your way of living life holds the answer for true peace, hope, and love.  There is no other source or supply that can satisfy the human soul to the ‘full’…all other paths and ways only drain the tank to ‘empty’.   I know that you have all power in heaven and earth and have a perfect plan for the outcome of human history within what we mere mortals refer to as ‘time’ and ‘lifetime’.   I know that you control and shape all history…you make nations and you install kings, for good and bad.  I know that your eternal plan is perfect.  I know that it is beyond my human ability to understand the ‘all’ of what your purposes in all things are.  But I know by reading your book and seeing the work of your hand in my life and the lives of those that ‘know’ you…I have absolute assurance that your plan and way leads to peace and eternal life.  I thus do not place my hope in man or what the hands of man can do.  No.  I place my life, my eternal life, my hope, in you.  For me there is no other place of peace, no other refuge, no other source.  You alone are my strong rock, my place of safety.  I thank you that this day in time, in my lifetime, the lifetime of my children, that you are in control and that you are Lord and King.  You alone rule and reign.  I, this day, January 20, 2021, do pray for the new leaders of the United States of America.  I ask that you would draw their hearts and minds to you… and that they will seek your will and way in all things.  I pray that you will heal and forgive us…the people of this land.  We do not deserve your blessing…we have turned against you at so many levels.  I pray for your forgiveness and mercy and I pray your will be done…your kingdom come.   I specifically pray for the poor, the weak, the helpless, the sick, that you will especially have mercy on them and bless them.  Help us who are blessed and have strength show kindness and love to them to bring honor and glory to your great name.  Amen 

Daily Light – January 19, 2021

Matthew 22… Jesus said….

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38This is the great and first commandment. 39And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (ESV)

Friends:   

I am reminding you of your need, of your obligation as a Christian, to pray as we experience the next few days.  On every occasion that you think about the political and cultural tension that we are presently experiencing…pray.   

My personal prayer is that God’s ‘will’…will be manifest in my life and the life of my family.  That He will give us wisdom to know what to say and do and how to demonstrate His love…how to show and speak peace and love to the people in our circles.   I pray that this current climate of tension will provide increased opportunity to share the Gospel.   I pray that God will show mercy and hold-back those that are evil and seek to harm others and create division.  I pray for the weak and helpless and poor who are more-so affected by the acts of those who seek to create confusion, chaos, and disruption.   I pray that the Kingdom of God will come.  

I will simply repeat this message and prayer for most of this week.  When you see it or read it…pray.  God is our constant source of help.  He is our supply.   On Him, we depend.  

Amen

Daily Light – Jan 18, 2021

Proverbs 18:10

The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe.

Friends:   

As you know, today is January 18th, 2021. The inauguration of the 46th president of the United States occurs in our country at noon on Wednesday, January 20, 2021.

I am asking you to pray for our country as we experience the next few days.  On every occasion that you think about the political and cultural tension that we are presently experiencing…pray.   

I am also reminded to ask all of us to remember to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ who live in other countries. There is so much tension in the world in this present day..so much suffering and pain.

My personal prayer is that God’s ‘will’…will be manifest in my life and the life of my family.  That He will give us wisdom to know what to say and do and how to demonstrate His love…how to show and speak peace and love to those that are in our circle of relationships.   I pray that this current climate of tension will provide increased opportunity to share the Gospel.   I pray that God will show mercy and hold-back those that are evil and seek to harm others and create division.  I pray for the weak and helpless and poor who are more-so affected by the acts of those who seek to create confusion, chaos, and disruption.   I pray that the Kingdom of God will grow and expand in and through these times of tension and trouble. 

I will simply repeat this message and prayer for most of this week.  When you see it or read it…pray.  God is our constant source of help.  He is our supply.   On Him, we depend.   His will be done.

Amen