By Jeff Ziegler
Published May 1, 2002
I am not quite sure what the problem is – a renaissance of Gnostic thought, the corporate effects of positive thinking seminars, selective hearing, the sin nature dulling the senses, or our inbred Pollyanna optimism – but American Christendom is infected with an unbalanced, unrealistic, and utopian view of life. How is it that we so often ignore the vast quantity of Scriptures which depict temptation, tumult, tribulation, pain, and suffering? The Apostle Paul makes more than a few references to the fightings that are within and without. Job, the suffering servant, whose book is perhaps the oldest in Holy Writ, is also the least quoted from the modern pulpit. Any gains of the Hebrew Commonwealth and the Kingdom of Israel were not without great sacrifice and upheaval. The Book of the Acts is replete with dramatic conversions, miracles, persecutions, martyrdom, political infighting, and intrigue—no evidence here of the peaceful mundane. The Master Himself said that “in this world, you will have tribulation.” Such tribulation is not confined to physical persecution, imprisonment, or political tyranny. In fact, Scripture places far more weight and stress on our battles with sin, being sinned against, heartbreak, loss, and emotional hardship than it does on political oppression.
In this light, two principles beg to be considered.
Life does not revolve around you. Surprise! It wasn’t too long ago that most people, both Christian and non-Christian, understood this salient fact. I’m quite sure that our grandparents, who knew the deprivations of the Great Depression, and the boys on Omaha Beach comprehended this certainty. However, our generation, driven by caprice and selfishness, along with a cult of victimization, seems to believe that every pleasure in life is “owed to them” and that all sorrow, disease, or calamity, should be kept far from them. To compound this problematic childishness, when the modern churchman doesn’t get what he wants, he shifts the blame of his every failure to the clergy or to his church. Such whining is reprehensible but is still an obnoxious fact of the moderns. These actions are in the grand tradition of Adam’s infamous reference to Eve in Genesis 3:12, wherein all blame for his sin is shifted to the weaker vessel. Yet, it is the “Adamic sin nature” that is remembered and not Eve. To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, life on planet Earth will never b e so good so as to forget the promise of heaven. It’s time to grow up and reaffirm this truth.
Faith is more than confession. A cursory glance at Hebrews chapter 11 (the Hall of Fame of Faith) denotes not a litany of confessions, but, instead, a catalog of actions. As James declares, “faith without works is dead.” It is too easy to complain and curse the darkness. No faith is required to recognize evil or chafe under its influence. But making a stand, even as a sinful man, this requires faith. Faith is not comprised of false bravado brandished by those who boast in their prowess in a yet future “no-holds-barred” calamity (these are exceedingly rare). Faith, and the acts of faith, are more generally played out in what might be termed “holy monotony.” That is, doing your duty—in the church, the workplace, and the community—with consistency and expectation, no matter how difficult or heartbreaking it may be.
Staying on course without immediate reward or recompense was the great signal testimony of the “Father of Faith,” even faithful Abraham. He saw the promise far off; yet, it was never fully realized in his lifetime. Such overarching vision guards the heart from selfishness, bitterness, and childish protest.
Certainly, there is nothing profound in these principles. They are part and parcel of a very basic and rudimentary understanding of Christianity. Unfortunately, the longer I spend in the ministry, the more I realize just how great our cultural, social, and moral deprivation is. What was once basic has somehow become enigmatic. I’m reminded of a World War II ballad, “We are poor little lambs who have lost our way…baa baa black sheep.”
Clearly, such an immature testimony falls far below the royal pedigree that the Master has secured for us in His own blood. Therefore, we must strive for maturity, shame cowardice, expose the ignoble, agitate against the dishonorable, upbraid the unchivalrous, and put away childish things. That is, life on planet Earth is, at minimum, difficult. It stings! Sometimes beyond imagination. Life is designed by God with a sharp edge, and only the eyes of faith, undergirded by hope, can produce a godly deportment, mature and fully functional, that will give honor to God and eclipse the wailing of victimization or the illusory hope of a pain-free existence.
From a political perspective, the utopian always rides the “back of the tiger” named envy. This has given rise to the cult of victimization leading to Communism, Fascism, and other statist designs. Unless the church first begins the eradication of such thoughts along with the accompanying fads, programs, and pandering, little will be done to rid the political culture of these insidious designs. It was Gen. Douglas MacArthur in his address to Congress who said; “…the political problems of our day are chiefly theological in nature. Only a spiritual revolution can blunt and tame man’s passions.” Indeed, in order for a new generation of Christian statesmen to arise, pulpits and churchman alike will have to exchange the epistemology of the “belly” for the glory of Christ’s Crown. Only then will true national renovation take place.
Rev. Jeffrey A. Ziegler, the president of the National Reform Association, is also founder and president of Christian Endeavors and Reformation Bible Institute, and host of “Christian Statesman Radio.” Jeff is also president of The Continental Group, a think tank for political activism, and a Pastor at Shiloh Christian Church in Leroy Township, Ohio. He can be reached at 35155 Beachpark Drive, Eastlake, Ohio 44095. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your comments are welcome!
Who is the Real Jesus?
Ever since the dawn of modern rationalism, skeptics have sought to use textual criticism, archeology and historical reconstructions to uncover the “historical Jesus” — a wise teacher who said many wonderful things, but fulfilled no prophecies, performed no miracles and certainly did not rise from the dead in triumph over sin.
Over the past 100 years, however, startling discoveries in biblical archeology and scholarship have all but vanquished the faulty assumptions of these doubting modernists. Regrettably, these discoveries have often been ignored by the skeptics as well as by the popular media. As a result, the liberal view still holds sway in universities and impacts the culture and even much of the church.
The Real Jesus explodes the myths of these critics and the movies, books and television programs that have popularized their views. Presented in ten parts — perfect for individual, family and classroom study — viewers will be challenged to go deeper in their knowledge of Christ in order to be able to defend their faith and present the truth to a skeptical modern world – that the Jesus of the Gospels is the Jesus of history — “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He is the real Jesus.
Speakers include: George Grant, Ted Baehr, Stephen Mansfield, Raymond Ortlund, Phil Kayser, David Lutzweiler, Jay Grimstead, J.P. Holding, and Eric Holmberg.
Ten parts, over two hours of instruction!
Running Time: 130 minutes
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With “preaching to the lost” being such a basic foundation of Christianity, why do many in the church seem to be apathetic on this issue of preaching in highways and byways of towns and cities?
Is it biblical to stand in the public places of the world and proclaim the gospel, regardless if people want to hear it or not?
Does the Bible really call church pastors, leaders and evangelists to proclaim the gospel in the public square as part of obedience to the Great Commission, or is public preaching something that is outdated and not applicable for our day and age?
These any many other questions are answered in this documentary.
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Foundations in Biblical Eschatology
By Jay Rogers, Larry Waugh, Rodney Stortz, Joseph Meiring. High quality paperback, 167 pages.
All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?
These and many more questions are dealt with by four authors as they present the four views on the millennium. Each view is then critiqued by the other three authors.
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High Quality Paperback — 219 pages
Foundations in Biblical Orthodoxy
Driving down a country road sometime, you might see a church with a sign proudly proclaiming: “No book but the Bible — No creed but Christ.” The problem with this statement is that the word creed (from the Latin: credo) simply means “belief.” All Christians have beliefs, regardless of whether they are written.
Yet a single book containing the actual texts of the most important creeds of the early Church will not often be found. Out of the multitude of works on the evangelical Christian book market today, those dealing with the creeds of the Church are scarce.
Why Creeds and Confessions? provides a foundation of biblical orthodoxy as a defense against the false and truly heretical doctrines advanced by the spirit of this age.
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