Summary: In times of upheaval, as the Christian Faith is attacked by unbelievers and scoffers, we Christians must separate ourselves from those that deny and defy the Lord God but we wholeheartedly embrace Christ as King and Lord.
IN TIMES LIKE THESE . . . CHRISTIANS EMBRACE THE DISTINCTIVENESS OF CHRIST AS KING
Statistically, what’s true of Christianity worldwide is not true of Christianity in the USA. It is without a doubt true that our nation is like the rest of the world in that all have sinned and need a Savior. However, whereas Christianity is professed or preferred by a third of the world’s population, Christianity in the USA is professed or preferred by four-fifths of our population.
Those who study religious adherence find that within each of the major religions, doctrinal differences are greater than similarities - which should not surprise any of us who spent most of our lives working with people. Wherever people are --- there are differences.
Show any gathering of adults a half glass of water and you will find that some see it as half-empty while others see it as half-full.
In pre-marital counseling, a little test helps a couple to understand that they may see things differently. Showing them an artist’s sketch and asking them to describe what they see rarely elicits the same response. One of them sees a beautiful young lady, while the other sees an old hag – a matter of perspective --- but also can serve as an indicator of one’s outlook on life – whether positive or negative.
Bring that propensity to see things differently over into the realm of religion, especially in America where denominational differences surface anytime there’s a discussion of doctrine, and what do you have? Disagreements. Differences of interpretation. Enough to boggle minds of ministers and converts just starting their journey within a church or denomination.
Typical of this dilemma faced by young ministers was a frustration I expressed at the age of 35 to a mentor: “I understand Baptist beliefs, but do not understood Baptist behavior.”
Whereupon he, the president of a local college, responded, “Come over to the college, enroll in the study of human behavior, and you will learn about Baptist behavior.”
Thus, after seven years of studying human behavior, Christian Counseling became a part of my ministry for the next forty years.
Now that our experiences have brought us to a higher level of maturity, perhaps you are as prone as I am to say, “Nothing surprises me anymore”!
Let me hasten to say, however, that what does surprise me is the fact that we are being challenged, by the authors of this current series of Bible studies and also by actual events which led us to the conclusion: We need to be more assertive in defending our Christian Faith!
At first glance, looking at a chart showing the number of Americans who profess or prefer Christianity, it would seem reasonable to ask, “Why does our faith need defending?”
THEN reality kicks in --- and soon we realize that an obvious disconnect exists between belief and behavior! Folks don’t always act in accordance with what they say they believe!
There was a time when my frustration was due to a lack of my understanding behavior, but now that I understand human tendencies better than ever --- it’s beliefs that baffle me!
Now hear this: All belief systems are not the same. All religions are not the same! All “Christians” are not the same! So . . .
At our current stage of learning about and living for Jesus . . . of speaking and spreading the truth in love . . . of assessing and reaffirming essential Christian beliefs - hoping to present ourselves as “blameless” as possible on the Day of our Lord Jesus Christ ---
Of utmost importance to us is the need to separate ourselves from religions that DENY the LORD as the one and only God and DEFY His commandments. . . DENY the Lordship of Christ as the one and only Savior and DEFY His teachings. Now:
As children of God --- our need for differentiation, our need for separation from false religions is pronounced by the LORD God Himself --- Isaiah 44:6-11 . . .
This message from the LORD is clear: There is only one God! We have this brief but powerful oracle by Isaiah as a defense of the Lord’s pronouncement of Who He is: “The LORD” – a derivative of the Hebrew word “Yahweh”, which was God’s personal name revealed to Moses at Sinai. You recall, however, that:
God’s people in those days considered the name to be so sacred that they would not say it; so, they substituted the Hebrew word for “lord” -- Adonai -- and to distinguish God’s personal name from everyday uses of the word “lord”, Bible translators used small capital letters to make sure readers understood that the One speaking or referenced is none other than the one and only God – the True God.