Good News for Christians

Worldview 3  For the Christian, I think one of the most important verses in the entire New Testament is Romans 12:2: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” The reason for this is that we are not saved just so we can continue living, breathing, and thinking like we always have. We are saved for a purpose and with the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit our discernment and understanding grow and we experience radical change in our attitudes and our thinking. In other words, the Christian life is a life of transformation.

Paul instructs us, in his letter to the Philippians: “Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” (Philippians 2:12,13) And again we are taught: “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) There are plenty of Bible verses with similar messages, the bottom line of which is the call to be more than just saved, we are to be disciples, living to serve and to please God.

One of the most important transformations we undergo, as Christians, is in the area of our worldview. A worldview is the way we understand the world around us. If you have watched the evening news, read a newspaper, or surfed on-line news sources within the last few years, then you probably have heard the term and are aware that there are a few competing worldviews out there. But whether or not you have given much thought to your worldview; you can be confident in one thing: everyone has one.

Prior to becoming a Christian, my worldview would have been most closely associated with what is called “secular humanism”. Secular humanism is most easily defined as the worldview in which humans are the primary source of our values and understanding of the world. It is the worldview that is presented in public schools, certain science journals, and so on. Many new Christians may hold on to this worldview at first, but as we study God’s Word, get involved in our churches, and experience the power of the Holy Spirit, God starts to transform our thinking and we begin to understand differently. We start to be transformed.

The Christian worldview, of course, is quite different from the humanist view and that of other religions. Space in this blog doesn’t allow me to dig to deeply into all the facts and information on the Christian worldview, but at the bottom you will find some links to assist you with further study. For now, I would like to address four basic areas in which our worldview is so very vital. Again, due to space constraints, I can only present a basic overview here. There is much more information available by clicking the links at the bottom.

1) Origins

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1) Human beings are a special creation of God, in his likeness, with special purpose and special relationship to our Creator. “So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27) We are created beings and not the result of evolution from some primordial ooze or lower life form. It is only when we understand our true origin that we understand the special value that human life has and we comprehend that we are much more than the result of random molecular mutations. “Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good!” (Genesis 1:31)

2) Purpose

So we are God’s special creation and, therefore, we must have purpose. But just what is that purpose? Simply put, our primary purpose is to glorify God.  We see this in many verses but I’ll just list a few of my favorites:

“What are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them? Yet you made them only a little lower than God and crowned them with glory and honor. You gave them charge of everything you made, putting all things under their authority.” (Psalm 8:4-6)

“Honor the Lord for the glory of his name. Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.” (Psalm 29:2)

“So that they will believe and obey him, bringing glory to his name.” (Romans 1:5b)

“The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.” (Ephesians 1:14)

It is our status as God’s special creation and this purpose that highlights the inherent value in human life.

3) Morality

This is the area that is maybe the easiest to understand in concept, but often is the hardest to fully embrace in practice. The concept: that God created us and everything around us so, therefore, he establishes the rules, is clear enough. But the Bible is chock full of examples of disobedience, which should tell us something about the difficulty of obedience. Still, lack of obedience does not disqualify truth. Nor do our opinions about the rules.

In the secular worldview, society makes the rules; there is no eternity to consider and no true higher authority, so we are free to do whatever we feel is right. The rules society sets for itself are always subject to change based on the whims of the majority, or the minority if they have garnered for themselves enough power. There are no absolutes and no absolute authority.

In the Christian worldview, however, we have the Bible as our absolute authority, and we have a Living God as the ultimate judge. God made the rules and, like a loving parent, he established them in accordance with his purpose for us and to provide the best chance for our happiness. Psalm 119 speaks of living by God’s commandments; verses 1 & 2 say: “Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord. Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts.”

The bottom line: Joyful are those who follow God’s instruction!

4) Destiny

Christians realize they are sinners and believe there is a God who will judge the world and, therefore, they recognize people are without hope apart from the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Romans 8:1 says: “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” The eternal destiny of the forgiven is, perhaps, the first element of a Christian worldview that a Christian grasps. And we understand the opposite is also true; those who do not have Christ are perishing. As it is written in 1 John 5:12: “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life.”

This is why Jesus gave us the great commission (ie: Matthew 28:16-20). And it is why growing in our understanding and worldview is so vital. Because “if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it.” (1 Peter 3:15) Understanding the Christian worldview is important to being prepared to share our faith. And when we share our faith and live in obedience to Him; we fulfill our purpose of glorifying God. The truly good news for Christians is that we have the indwelling Holy Spirit to drive our desire to grow in our Christ-likeness and to give us discernment. And our understanding of the Christian worldview is certainly one barometer of our growth!

If you have not yet made the decision to repent and turn to Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, I appreciate that you have read this far. And since you have, why not make this the moment you claim the promise of Romans 8:1 and have all your sins forgiven. Just open your heart and talk to God, confess your wrongs, and ask his forgiveness. For… ”If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10)

For those of you wanting to know more about the Christian worldview, here are some resources:

Answers in Genesis

J Warner Wallace

Institute for Creation Research

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.

 

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An Honest Man

scales-36417_960_720 Among the impressive sites we saw on our recent trip to Arkansas is a magnolia tree that was planted 178 years ago. Located in Historic Washington State Park in Arkansas, the magnolia tree is so large it now occupies an area almost as large as the entire yard upon which sits your average home. The branches arch down to the ground and back upwards, forming a large canopy under which you could easily park your car. After nearly two centuries, it’s a really big tree – the oldest known to exist in Arkansas.

But that is not all we found in Historic Washington State Park. The park encompasses the entire town of Washington, Arkansas; a town of specific significance in our country’s history. For one, it is blacksmith James Black who made the first Bowie Knife. While there is some controversy surrounding the accuracy of this claim, Black’s knives are prized by collectors and to this day the American Bladesmith Society maintains a knife making college at the site. Secondly, Historic Washington was the Confederate State Capital of Arkansas from 1863-1865.

With my brother-in-law, Steve, as our knowledgeable guide, we toured the town and the many well-preserved and reconstructed buildings found there. While space doesn’t allow me to recite the full list of buildings, I will say that they include a recreation of James Black’s blacksmith shop, the old courthouse, circa 1874, that contains some truly gorgeous wood work and a museum, the Royston log house, and the B.W. Edwards Weapons Museum. There is also the oldest Methodist church in Arkansas and Williams Tavern, which is now a restaurant offering excellent food at very reasonable prices (including genuine southern style cornbread).

Among the things we saw was Pioneer Cemetery, which contains graves dating back as far as the Revolutionary War, but mostly is the final home to many of Washington’s earliest settlers. Among them, we found Ephraim Mirick and his wife, Mary (Belcher) Mirick. Now that big old magnolia tree was just a sapling when Ephraim and Mary were in their prime. Through a little research I found that Ephraim was a respected trader and land speculator who helped establish some of the trade routes in the area, especially between Camden and Washington, a portion of this route still exists as Nevada County Road 10. What most caught my interest about Ephraim and Mary Mirick, however, wasn’t the historical facts about them that I found, but the sayings preserved for all time on their respective grave markers.

Ephraim’s stone has the scales of justice on top and the words “an honest man” engraved on the bottom while Mary’s has the Bible on the top and the words “a Christian” on the bottom. Both epitaphs convey a decidedly positive message about the individual, but while being an honest man is certainly a good thing, it tells us nothing about Ephraim’s eternal fate. Mary’s, on the other hand, tells us all we need to know. She was a Christian and “there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.” (Romans 8:1) Mary as a Christian and we know that “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” So we know on October 7, 1877 at age 71 she entered the presence of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Ephraim’s fate, on the other hand, remains a mystery to us. We simply do not know. For the truth is, while people thought well-enough of him to inscribe “an honest man” on his stone, the Bible tells us we simply cannot be good enough to get into heaven based on how we lived our lives. “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” (Romans 3:23) The great prophet Isaiah said it this way, “We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.” (Isaiah 64:6) So old Ephraim may very well have been an honest man, he may have been generous and kind to many, but we know from Scripture that even the best of us have sinned, even Ephraim. And the penalty for sin is death. (Romans 6:23)

Now Ephraim may have been a Christian, and he may be in heaven right now with his wife, but based on his epitaph we just don’t know. But you can know what will happen to you when you die. It is very simple, we just have to believe the Bible and admit to God that we are sinners and we need him. As it says in Romans 10:9-10, “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.” So, if you haven’t already, won’t you take this step of faith today? Then you will know, with certainty, that you belong to Jesus and you will go to heaven when you die.

Want to know more about how to become a Christian? Please visit KnowGod.org

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Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.