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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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Keeping the Wolves at Bay

Wolf in Sheep's ClothingPay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; (Acts 20:28-29 ESV)

I believe that many will agree with me that Christianity has lost much of its influence on our modern culture. It has even become politically incorrect to mention it in the history books of our nation, unless it is portrayed in a negative context. Only 150 years ago, Christian influence was obvious in American education. Most of the early colleges, such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Dartmouth were founded by Christians who believed there was no true knowledge or wisdom without Jesus Christ (see “Harvard’s Rules and Precepts”). The first 106 out of 108 colleges in the US were started as Christian schools primarily to ensure the availability of an educated clergy. University of Houston researchers, Donald Lutz and Charles Hyneman, have concluded that 34% of the quotes used by the Founding Fathers of our country between 1760 and 1805 were from the Bible. This certainly indicates that the Bible and Christianity were a major influence on these men and the early history of America. However, this is certainly not true of our leaders and the culture in general today.

How has it happened then, that Christianity has lost its prominent position of influence on American culture and modern society in the Western nations? At the core of it, I think the primary reason is that the “fear of God” has been replaced by the “fear of man”. Modern civilization has become self-absorbed. We are like a man who constantly checks the mirror to see what he thinks others see in him. It is the pride of life, which drives a man to desire independence from God while chaining himself to the ungodly opinions of others.

The sacred writings of the modern world are founded upon the wisdom of men, self-help books, psychology texts, and the latest People Magazine. The authority of Scripture is denied, if not out-rightly – then by neglect. The Bible is seen as providing “a” way, not “the” way. All men are seen as basically “good” without ever defining what “good” is.

Too many ministers today see their work as a job rather than a calling. They lack spiritual knowledge and personal holiness. Many are like the priests described by Ezekiel, “Her priests have done violence to my law and have profaned my holy things. They have made no distinction between the holy and the common, neither have they taught the difference between the unclean and the clean, and they have disregarded my Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them. Her princes in her midst are like wolves tearing the prey, shedding blood, destroying lives to get dishonest gain. And her prophets have smeared whitewash for them, seeing false visions and divining lies for them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD,’ when the LORD has not spoken.” (Ezekiel 22:26-28 ESV) The essential good news of salvation is lost in trying to make the church meet the world’s standard of success.

Therefore, increasingly – as time has passed, parents and children have passed through Sunday Schools and worship services without being given a firm foundation in the Christian faith. Is it any wonder that so many of our youth, who have attended church all their lives, go off to the modern university and promptly lose what faith they have?

When the doctrines of the church and personal beliefs are allowed to become poles apart, is it any wonder that the definition of sin becomes uncertain and “salvation by death” the acceptable conclusion of a life? The underlying wish that everyone goes to heaven has sent too many to hell.

As the clergy has become weaker by submitting itself to the bonds of public opinion, the church and its members have lost their purpose of being “salt and light”. Indeed, how can they be salt and light when the world has become the standard by which the modern church measures all things? God has not changed. The Bible has not changed. Therefore, if the church has lost much of its influence for good in society, it is because the men and women who make up the church have chosen to ride the whirlwind of public approval rather than honor God.

We would do well to follow God’s instructions: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.” (Jeremiah 6:16 ESV) God is speaking here to His people about using good judgment and not blindly following false prophets and priests. The Bible is our way mark to direct us which way to take. The ways of the world will never direct us to fulfill God’s purpose.

Samuel at Gilgal

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