CategoryGuest Posts

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry … For Today We Have Grace and Tomorrow We Have Heaven

(Today’s post was written by a guest writer, my dad, Ken Lengel. Enjoy!)

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This article has been in the works in my heart and mind for some time now.

I have been thinking about how believing Christians: evangelicals, fundamentalists, and non-affiliated believers alike, have become more and more like the world in their behavior.

I have been struggling with this issue as I raise my two teenage sons. We have been working thru the concepts of worldliness and being separated unto God.

But before we get to far along, let’s start with a definition from Webster’s on the meaning of worldly.

Worldly is commonly defined as “of, relating to, or devoted to this world and its pursuits rather than to religion or spiritual affairs.”

This is a vital building block of defining what being worldly is and how one ought to view the many liberties taken by believers in the name of grace and Christ.

This article can hardly cover the topic of worldliness in any great depth, but I will attempt to summarize one of the more pressing arguments used by believers to promote and live worldly lives while declaring their actions acceptable under grace and before a holy God.

Straw Man Argument #1 – The Bible doesn’t say I can’t (fill in the blank).

Many believers use this argument to support different behaviors.  Rather than falling into the trap of mentioning a specific behavior, I want you to consider the following.

If the Bible doesn’t say you can’t (fill in the blank again), Does it say that you can?

If you can’t answer in the affirmative, it means that the choices you make in these cases require you to follow principles in the Scriptures to determine if an activity helps you to relate to God or to the world.

People mistakenly think that because we are under grace and not the Mosaic Law, that we no longer are responsible to follow principles on how to live our lives. They believe that because there is not a specific command against doing a specific thing, allowance of the behavior is left up solely to a person’s conscience.

However, the law of Christ is what governs how believers ought to live and behave. In the New Testament alone, there are over 1100 commands given to believers. In them can be found many principles that can be applied to the choices we make.

Let me challenge you with this… How much time have you spent searching the Scriptural commands in the New Testament to determine how to avoid sin?

Paul stated when discussing grace: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid.”  I believe that all of us, myself included, can spend more time making sure our lives are not a reason for grace to abound.

It is much easier for believers to simply say that they are under grace, so they can do what they want, as long as their conscience does not bother them. (more on that in another article.)

This straw argument is one that is commonly used by believers to justify certain behaviors because God didn’t specifically mention all things directly related to future cultures. Because of this, believers have taken it upon themselves to use this argument to justify many behaviors not pleasing to God.

In addition, we live in a time and culture where the nuancing words is preferred rather than discussing the exact truth of a matter.  People find ways to cover their tracks as a defense mechanism. They use the Word of God to deceive or mislead people by asking them “to believe all things”, when in their hearts they know that they have not revealed the entire truth to us.

So, after all this, why is this important?

Let me close with this.

Those who live apart from God, separated from Him, have stated: Eat, Drink, and Be Merry, for tomorrow we die.

Believers who are worldly have slightly altered the statement to: Eat, Drink and Be Merry, for today we have grace and tomorrow we have Heaven.

It’s time to ask ourselves, (behavior announcement alert – go to your safe space if you need it) if we listen to the worlds’ music, watch the worlds’ entertainment, and participate in the worlds’ behaviors, how are we able to be the salt of the earth? How are we different from unbelievers? How are we then separated from the world?

Is it only by love whereby non-believers should know we are His?

Shouldn’t our behaviors and actions scream from the hilltops, “this world is not my home”.

Or perhaps, maybe it is.

Perhaps you aren’t seeing people repenting of their sins any longer.

Did you ever think that no one seems to know what is sin any more?

Do you?

I fear we, as salt, have lost our influence in a lost and dying world, because there is very little that differentiates our lives from theirs.

How are you different from those you know without Christ?

Are you?

Can that difference be attributed to being a believer?

May the answers open our eyes.

Principles Are Not Preferences

Principles are not preferences

In Wednesday’s post, I discussed the fact that God’s Words are Timeless. The purpose of that article was to emphasize the need for believers to recognize that the Bible is relevant today for how we live our lives before God, thousands of years after its inspiration.

We started to discuss how the Bible has more than direct commands such as “Thou shalt not steal”, and “Honor thy father and the mother”. For God’s words to be timeless, He had to provide principles in the Scriptures that would dictate how we should live and how we would bring glory to Him who created us.

For many centuries, principles from Scripture took different forms. In this short essay, we will not have time to discuss the past, but only a small glimpse into the present.

Let’s start by discussing definitions of these two words, principles and preferences.

Here’s a helpful definition for principle: “a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning.”

As you can see, it is called a fundamental truth. So why is a principle described as fundamental?

We cannot live our lives within acknowledging principles. If we ignore them, we often do it at our own peril, (and perhaps the peril of others.)

For example, if you jump off a mountain top cliff into the air, the law of (also a principle) gravity will insure that you will fall some distance down the side of the mountain.

However, when we take this into consideration for how we ought to live our lives, to be holy, like God is Holy, we often rationalize about our ability to determine “true” principles that should govern our lives, as foundational to our beliefs.

We suggest that following such principles are optional, open to liberty, a matter of grace, or some other such notion. Or, we simply change the discussion to refer to these principles now as preferences.

Here, then is a helpful definition of a preference:  “a greater liking for one alternative over another or others.”

I find that this definition gives us great insight into why people choose certain principles to be preferences.

If we make principles from the Scriptures into preferences, we have changed the dynamic of a propositional truth (principle) into a subjective object that we like more than another choice (preference).

To take this one step further, if a believer chooses to uphold and live by the principle, others who now maintain that the principle is actually a preference, might consider you a legalist because of your standing by the principle.

Said another way, if a believer decides to hold a propositional truth, others may say that you simply like that choice better than another.

Here is ultimately where the rubber meets the road. In the postmodern age in which we live, it is a well known fact that civilized cultures see truth as unknowable beyond a reasonable doubt. Because truth is so “unattainable”, a society or a group within society must agree on how they ought to live.

The deep challenge with such thinking (and really there are a plurality of challenges) is that mankind and the culture are now the driver of “accepted truth”, rather than the Scriptures.

In Christian circles, our “internal culture” of leaders have done the same thing as the world. We have labeled truths (which indeed are principles) as essential or non-essential.

So, is any truth really non-essential? Let’s put this another way. If principles are propositional truths which are foundational to our beliefs, are any really non-essential? I humbly say, No.

Unfortunately, we have taken Scriptural principles, God’s timeless words from His revelation to us, and made them into preferences. Following the truths of God has been replaced with “What do I prefer?” based mostly on our own desires and fancy, not God’s Word.

I understand that the world rejects the notion of the “certainty” of principles.

But we are believers. We are certain. By our very nature, true believers of Christ are outspokenly counter cultural in that we are certain of our beliefs.

Or are we?

You be the judge.

Or is there another who is better fit to show us the way?

God’s principles are not preferences, and calling them such just blinds us from His revelation and will for our lives.

Are God’s Words Timeless?

(I am filling in this week for my son, as he is off at Camp Barnabas at Ambassador Baptist College; I will be posting Wednesday and Saturday and his careful and insightful posts will return next week)

Are God’s Words Timeless?

In considering what to post today, I gave some thought to some of the challenges we face in knowing how the words of God are to be understood today in 2017.

Many would agree that there are clear and obvious statements to define who we are, what we are to believe about God, and about ourselves.

“Thou shalt not steal”, is easy enough for most anyone. (apart from our human weakness and tendency to rationalize almost any behavior and justify ourselves.)

It gets a little more difficult when we look at words from God that do not declare or pronounce exactly what we should do or think.

But if God’s words to us are indeed timeless, we need to carefully examine the Scriptures for all the principles by which we should steward our lives for Him.

These principles are often debated; mostly things around dress, entertainment, and activities always come to the forefront of discussions and often make for heated conversations. Words like liberty, license, and legalist seem to always create a dense fog over the truths being honestly sought by many.

One disturbing trend I have heard numerous times from even learned men of God, is the following straw man: “God didn’t say I couldn’t do [fill in the blank]”

Some of you might ask why is this a straw man… Why is it a false argument?

First, I can proclaim easily that the opposite argument can always be made in cases such as these.

For example, what if I was crazy enough to say “ipads are sinful and no good believer should use one.” (all analogies brake down but bear with me for a few moments)

Your response could be: “Well, God didn’t say I couldn’t use an ipad”

In return, I could reply with: “Ok, but God didn’t say you COULD use an ipad either!”

Second, it is a false argument that often is used to simply support a humanistic line of reasoning to justify behavior that does not bring glory to God.

Whether it’s music listened to, clothes worn (or not worn), or even activities people participate in, this argument has become fashionably acceptable to some in justifying behavior which in previous generations would have been considered inappropriate based on principles found in Scriptures.

Finally, it is a false argument because it ultimately puts the choice of the legitimacy of behaviors on the mind of man, of you and of me, rather than God above all else.

You have (maybe unintentionally) now made yourself Judge of right and wrong. You have abolished the ability of the Scriptures to address the concepts of music, dress, entertainment, etc. By using this argument, you have denied the timelessness of the Word of God and its ability to meet the needs of believers for all generations.

I know determining these principles from Scriptures is work. I am a father raising two boys in a world that has always been at odds with our Creator.

That said, I want to encourage you to study the Scriptures, and know this. Since God desires to reveal Himself to us, and He does so thru His Word, we must seek to know the His truth in His Scriptures. When we use such a false argument as mentioned earlier above, we inadvertently make ourselves the arbiters of right and wrong.

God’s words will last forever. His truths are timeless. The Word of God was written so all men throughout all of time could be reconciled to their Creator.  Don’t take the easy way out. Surrender your liberty and license to Christ. Abhor your legalism for the truths found in His Word.

Let me close with these words from God as written by Paul. . .

Philippians 4:8-9 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”

Kenneth M. Lengel

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