A series of developments, in which reason won the day, gave unique shape to Western culture and institutions. And the most important of those victories occurred within Christianity. While the other world religions emphasized mystery and intuition, Christianity alone embraced reason and logic as the primary guides to religious truth. Christian faith in reason was influenced by Greek philosophy. But the more important fact is that Greek philosophy had little impact on Greek religions. Those remained typical mystery cults, in which ambiguity and logical contradictions were taken as hallmarks of sacred origins. Similar assumptions concerning the fundamental inexplicability of the gods and the intellectual superiority of introspection dominated all of the other major world religions.
But, from early days, the church fathers taught that reason was the supreme gift from God and the means to progressively increase understanding of Scripture and revelation. Consequently Christianity was oriented to the future, while the other major religions asserted the superiority of the past. At least in principle, if not always in fact, Christian doctrines could always be modified in the name of progress, as demonstrated by reason. Encouraged by the scholastics and embodied in the great medieval universities founded by the church, faith in the power of reason infused Western culture, stimulating the pursuit of science and the evolution of democratic theory and practice. The rise of capitalism also was a victory for church-inspired reason, since capitalism is, in essence, the systematic and sustained application of reason to commerce-something that first took place within the great monastic estates.
“I am a Christian. I believe only in the Scriptures, and in Jesus Christ my Savior.” (Secretary of the Continental Congress; Designer of the Great Seal of the United States; Signed the initial Draft of the Declaration of Independence approved by Congress)
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“For He satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness” (Psalm 107:9).
It is well to have longings, and the more intense they are the better. The LORD will satisfy soul-longings, however great and all-absorbing they may be. Let us greatly long, for God will greatly give. We are never in a right state of mind when we are contented with ourselves and are free from longings. Desires for more grace and groanings which cannot be uttered are growing pains, and we should wish to feel them more and more. Blessed Spirit, make us sigh and cry after better things and for more of the best things!
Hunger is by no means a pleasant sensation. Yet blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness. Such persons shall not only have their hunger relieved with a little food, but they shall be filled. They shall not be filled with any sort of rough stuff, but their diet shall be worthy of their good LORD, for they shall be filled with goodness by Jehovah Himself.
Come, let us not fret because we long and hunger, but let us hear the voice of the psalmist as he also longs and hungers to see God magnified. “Oh, that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men.”
Quoting Ronald Reagan:
“There is no question that we have failed to live up to the dreams of the Founding Fathers many times and in many places. Sometimes we do better than others. But all in all, the one thing we must be on guard against is thinking that because of this, the system has failed. The system has not failed. Some human beings have failed the system.”
“But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship Him.” (John 4:23)
In practicing our Christian faith, we too often begin to live religiously and neglect the wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit which is given to the believer by God. Our practice of worship, in particular, is sorely hindered by the lack of the Holy Spirit’s influence. God seeks those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth. The Holy Spirit gives us ears to hear the truth in God-centered preaching.
Preaching is indispensable to Christian spiritual worship. Without preaching, truth does not go forth and is lost. The Word of God is life to the believer. The Christian leans heavily upon those called to preach God’s Word for the truth of living in Christ. The Holy Spirit uses the preached Word to conform the believer’s heart and mind to Christ.
The Christian, however, must prepare himself for worship and to listen to God’s Word. If the night before Sunday service we are doing all the things that the rest of the world does, how can we expect our spiritual life to be strong? It is no wonder that our worship seems so shallow and we cannot remember the main points of the sermon.
Christian preaching/worship proclaims Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. Our Lord did not die on a cross in order for us to feel better about ourselves. He did not preach 12 steps to becoming financially wealthy and healthy all our lives. He died for us because we were already dead in sins. We had traded life for death. We had given away our peace with God in order to fulfill our passions and desires. If we have properly prepared ourselves for worship, the Holy Spirit will remind us of how great a salvation we have truly experienced through the grace of God. Such a perspective compels us to hang on the preacher’s every word that we might know Christ.
We must pray for the Holy Spirit to help us worship in such a manner. We must repent in prayer for the many the many times we have entered the House of God to worship and have not properly prepared our hearts and minds to benefit from the experience. We must pray for Jesus to be exalted and sin to be exposed in our hearts as we hear God’s Word. We must turn to God to wipe away all of our sins that we may worship Him in spirit and truth.