The following is a hypothetical discourse in which a die-hard “Christian libertarian” is challenged by the biblical standard…
My dear friend! It’s always good to see you, but as you can plainly see, you caught me in the middle of doing one of my favorite things in the world. Of course, I can tell by the troubled look on your face that you’re spiritually grieved by what I’m doing, but frankly it can’t be helped. As a Christian, my conscience is clear in this matter, so I’m completely free to do this. And I don’t have to stop doing it just because you are positioned from a vantage point that sees it as detrimental or sinful in some way.
You don’t believe I have this liberty? Doesn’t it say as much in the Bible? As a Christian, I’m a “free man” (I Corinthians 9:19; I Peter 2:16; Galatians 5:13), and “all things are lawful” for me (I Corinthians 6:12; 10:23). Nobody can put me under some “yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1). When I indulge in more worldly activities, I just make sure I do it “in the name of Jesus” or “for the honor and glory of God,” and then it’s completely blessed. (Colossians 3:17; I Corinthians 10:31). The only law I have to worry about is the Christian “law of liberty” (James 2:12), and not your personal rules and regulations.
See? There are numerous passages in the New Testament that prove that I have an exemption from your contrary preference concerning my behavior.
Funny thing, though. You still look… skeptical.
“A grave, wherever found, preaches a short and pithy sermon to the soul.” ― Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Look for a minute into the grave….
Each one of you must die. If I were addressing an assembly of the sages of the world, I should say, “All your combined wisdom cannot lengthen the days of one of you even a single minute. You may reckon the distance of the stars and weigh worlds, but you cannot tell me when one of you will die, nor how many grains of sand are left behind in the hourglass of time which shows the exit of each spirit from the world.”
Now you have so many days and in one of those days there will be the poison of death. I do not know which one. It may be tomorrow. It may not be until many days have gone by. Is it not foolish, therefore, to be living in this world without a thought of what you will do at last?
A man goes into an inn and as soon as he sits down he begins to order his wine, his dinner, his bed. There is no delicacy in season which he forgets to request. There is no luxury which he denies himself. He stays at the inn for some time. By-and-by there comes the bill and he says, “Oh, I never thought of that… I never thought of that!”
I’m sure you’ve seen the phenomenon before. You’re sitting there watching a baseball game on TV when all of a sudden a large sign pops up in the stands behind the batter’s box reading, “JOHN 3:16.” It’s a well-known technique of stealth evangelism and quick-strike Gospel proclamation that’s been around for decades at various televised sporting events. As soon as that sign appears, no doubt thousands of unsaved viewers are sent scrambling for a Bible to see what the hubbub is all about.
But do they really?
It makes me wonder what would happen if someone decided to really shake things up by holding a sign that read (for no particular reason), “HABAKKUK 3:8.” Hoo, boy, I bet a good number of folks would be suddenly Googling THAT peculiar reference on their smartphones — just to get some sort of informational closure. A “John 3:16” sign? Not so much.
The fact is, most folks know the basic gist of John 3:16 because they’ve seen it constantly promoted as Christianity’s go-to catchphrase. They know it’s an advertisement slogan for Jesus as much as “Just Do It” is a pithy salute to Nike. And therein lies the problem. In some ways, “John 3:16” has become just another billboard cliché in a sea of American consumerism that has blended into the cluttered landscape as a benign symbol of conventional Christianity.
How important is it for the believer to cultivate his or her mind through regular, prayerful study of God’s word? Well, this is what the apostle Paul taught the Church way back when:
Do not be conformed to this present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God — what is good and well-pleasing and perfect (Romans 12:2). …For we have the mind of Christ (I Corinthians 2:16).
Surely now more than ever, the apostle’s exhortation must be heeded by professing Christians. It is the only way to ward off the deterioration of thought that comes from repeated exposure to the buffeting of the Enemy and the toxic indoctrination of the controlling world mechanisms. The current dark forces against us appear more energized in this age of digital dementia where minds are becoming conformable to machines. We must be both mentally and spiritually equipped to defend against these mechanized attempts to subvert the mind of Christ. Paganism, once thought antiquated and impotent in civilized society, has arisen again, now perfectly joined with the world’s postmodern sensibilities, digital imagery and technological advancements. From that breeding ground we now see new counterfeit belief systems like scientism and transhumanism making inroads into the visible Church with the intent to promote man’s high-tech wonders and marginalize God’s holy word.
“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” — Matthew 5:4
Of all the beatitudes of our Savior, perhaps one of the most accessible pronouncements given to His hearers is on the topic of mourning and our great need of comfort in that low state. Indeed, the death of a loved one is a tragic thing for everyone, and a brutal reminder of man’s fleeting mortality. We are immediately shaken to our core at the loss of dear souls taken from our immediate senses, much more aware at that very moment that “all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass,” which withers and falls away (I Peter 1:24). And thus, we all mourn.
But is the object and quality of one’s mourning truly a blessing?
“For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many. “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or ‘There He is,’ do not believe him. For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:5-26).
When Jesus warned of false Christs appearing here and there to mislead with great signs and wonders, the general consensus was that we should look out for those individuals throughout the physical world that proclaim themselves to be the true savior of man with all the manifest powers of deity, yet are liars. Such a myopic view, however, forgets to take into account that the appearance of false Christs could also come through the written word of man. Surely if the written word of God testifies of Jesus as the true Christ and Son of God (in fact the Word Himself), then ungodly men might similarly use their creative energies to set down in writ a facsimile of Jesus within the framework of a fantastical story with all the signs and wonders that the human mind can imagine.
Indeed such is the case with some of our most beloved fictional literature in Christendom.
Don’t you absolutely hate it when a person lies about you in some way? No doubt over the course of your life you have felt the rising rage and indignation against such vile misrepresentation by another. Lies, even small ones, can be so devastating to your reputation that you become emotionally and physically shaken. In fact, such an assassination of your character is so devious and criminal in nature that you can easily view it as an attack from the very pit of hell and even Satan himself, can you not?
How much more egregious, then, is it when someone spreads falsehoods about God even when He has clearly revealed Himself to the world through inspired Scripture? Certainly God has given us the truth about Himself in the Bible which we have no claim to change. As John MacArthur rightly states:
“Truth is that which is consistent with the mind, will, character, glory, and being of God. Even more to the point: truth is the self-expression of God…. Therefore God is the author, source, determiner, governor, arbiter, ultimate standard, and final judge of all truth.”