What do we say to our self-indulgence, our sloth, our love of ease, our avoidance of hardship, our luxury, our pampering of the body, our costly feasts, our silken couches, our brilliant furniture, our snappy clothing, our braided hair, our jeweled fingers, our idle mirth, our voluptuous music, our jovial tables, loaded with every variety of wine and rich foods? Are we Christians? Or are we worldlings? Where is the self-denial of primitive days? Where is the separation from a self-pleasing luxurious world? Where is the cross, the true badge of discipleship, to be seen except in useless religious ornaments for the body, or worse than useless decorations for the sanctuary?
“Woe to those who are at ease in Zion!” Is this not the description of multitudes who name the name of Christ? They may not always be “living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry.” But even where these are absent, there is “high living,”—luxury of the table or the wardrobe—in conformity to “this present evil world.”
“Little children, keep yourselves from idols,” was the injunction of the loving apostle John, and he wrote thus in love, because he knew that, if God sees us making idols of anything, he will either break our idols or break us.
This is the one easily besetting sin of our nature—to turn aside from the living God and to make unto ourselves idols in some fashion or another; for the essence of idolatry is this—to love anything better than God, to trust anything more than God, to wish to have a God other than we have, or to have some signs and wonders by which we may see him, some outward symbol or manifestation that can be seen with the eye or heard with the ear rather than to rest in an invisible God and believe the faithful promise of Him whom eye hath not seen nor ear heard.
Is it possible the Bible is gathering dust on most shelves today because society can no longer take the time to comprehend the deep beauty and power of its words? In his scathing analysis of the fickleness of our postmodern times, author/historian Michael Hoffman argues that we as a civilization need to once again dwell inside the great books of history, beginning with the greatest of all: the Bible. Yet sadly, he observes, we have set it aside because we have lost the aptitude for critical reading with deep concentration because of our near-total immersion in electronic media…
The one thing the world tries to shun is mourning; its whole organization is based on the supposition that this is something to avoid. The philosophy of the world is, Forget your troubles, turn your back upon them, do everything you can not to face them. Things are bad enough without you going to look for troubles, says the world; therefore be as happy as you can. The whole organization of life, the pleasure mania, the money, the energy and enthusiasm that are expended in entertaining people, are all just an expression of the great aim of the world to get away from this idea of mourning and this spirit of mourning. But the gospel says, “Happy are they that mourn.” Indeed they are the only ones who are happy! (…)
According to A.W. Tozer, “Probably the most widespread and persistent problem to be found among Christians is the problem of retarded spiritual progress.” Hard to believe this was written about the visible Church over sixty years ago when it seems even more relevant today…
“One of the great tragedies in the church in our day is how Revelation has been so narrowly and incorrectly interpreted with an obsessive focus on the future end time, with the result that we have missed the fact that it contains many profound truths and encouragements concerning Christian life and discipleship. The prophetic visions of Revelation can easily disguise the point that it was written as a letter to the churches, and a letter which is pastoral in nature. The goal of Revelation is to bring encouragement to believers of all ages that God is working out His purposes even in the midst of tragedy, suffering, and apparent Satanic domination. It is the Bible’s battle cry of victory of God over all forces of evil. As such, it is an encouragement to God’s people to persevere in the assurance that their final reward is certain and to worship and glorify God despite trials and despite temptations to march to the world’s drumbeat.”
— G.K. Beale, “Revelation, A Shorter Commentary”
Concerning The Gospel And Our Glad Response:
EVANGELION (that we call the gospel) is a Greek word; and signifieth good, merry, glad and joyful tidings, that maketh a man’s heart glad, and maketh him sing, dance, and leap for joy: as when David had killed Goliath the giant, came glad tidings unto the Jews, that their fearful and cruel enemy was slain, and were delivered out of all danger: for gladness whereof, they sung, danced, and were joyful.
In like manner is the EVANGELION OF GOD (which we call gospel, and the New Testament) joyful tidings; and, as some say, a good hearing published by the apostles throughout all the world, of Christ the right David; how that He hath fought with sin, with death, and the devil, and overcame them: whereby all men that were in bondage to sin, wounded with death, overcome of the devil, are, without their own merits or deservings, LOOSED, JUSTIFIED, RESTORED to life and SAVED, brought to LIBERTY and RECONCILED unto the favour of God, and set at one with Him again: which tidings as many believe laud, praise, and thank God; are glad, sing and dance for joy. (more…)