This is the eighth and final part of my take on the results of the Virginia’s General Election (November 7, 2017). Here are the seventh previous posts.
- HINDSIGHT ISN’T 20/20 — PART 1
- HINDSIGHT ISN’T 20/20 — PART 2
- HINDSIGHT ISN’T 20/20 — PART 3
- HINDSIGHT ISN’T 20/20 — PART 4
- HINDSIGHT ISN’T 20/20 — PART 5
- HINDSIGHT ISN’T 20/20 — PART 6
- HINDSIGHT ISN’T 20/20 — PART 7
I suppose after this big, huge, buildup I am suppose to say something profound and earthshaking. However, the object here is pause and think, to focus on the fundamentals before we act.
Defining The Problem
There has been lots of talk among Christians about the need for a revival or an awakening. We could discuss the matter further, but does the solution, a revival, fit the problem? Are we trying to deepen the faith of Christians who have neglected their faith or convert people who have never considered Jesus Christ as their Savior?
Imagine the Apostle Paul when he arrived in Athens. As he waited for a couple of friends to arrive, he observed the city. I suspect he would have a similar experience in many parts of the United States.
Acts 17:16-21 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Paul at Athens
16 Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols. 17 So he was reasoning in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place every day with those who happened to be present. 18 And also some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were conversing with him. Some were saying, “What would this idle babbler wish to say?” Others, “He seems to be a proclaimer of strange deities,”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. 19 And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is which you are proclaiming? 20 For you are bringing some strange things to our ears; so we want to know what these things mean.” 21 (Now all the Athenians and the strangers visiting there used to spend their time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new.)
Don’t we Americans love to tell or to hear something new? Don’t many of us idolize the joy of sex and the pleasure of the stuff we can have? Would not many of us be tempted to worship our government if our politicians could make our government do what many of them too often promise? Don’t we worship sex, stuff, and the state for the same reason the ancients worshiped idol. We worship our self, and we want a god we can placate and control. We want of deity who will give us what we want. Are we not living among a new generation of pagans, people who have never read the Bible?
Because the Athenians worshiped so many Gods, Paul began his sermon to them with these words.
Acts 17:22-23 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
22 So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. 23 For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you.
Instead of trying to revive a faith that they did not have, Paul told the people of Athens about the God they did not know.
The people of Athens were pagans. Are many of the people of United States now pagans? Perhaps. At least many behave like they think pagans would have behaved. Few know what the Bible says.
Let me set about making the matter clear. There is one broad fact about the relations of Christianity and Paganism which is so simple that many will smile at it, but which is so important that all moderns forget it. The primary fact about Christianity and Paganism is that one came after the other. Mr. Lowes Dickinson speaks of them as if they were parallel ideals—even speaks as if Paganism were the newer of the two, and the more fitted for a new age. He suggests that the Pagan ideal will be the ultimate good of man; but if that is so, we must at least ask with more curiosity than he allows for, why it was that man actually found his ultimate good on earth under the stars, and threw it away again. It is this extraordinary enigma to which I propose to attempt an answer.
There is only one thing in the modern world that has been face to face with Paganism; there is only one thing in the modern world which in that sense knows anything about Paganism: and that is Christianity. That fact is really the weak point in the whole of that hedonistic neo-Paganism of which I have spoken. All that genuinely remains of the ancient hymns or the ancient dances of Europe, all that has honestly come to us from the festivals of Phoebus or Pan, is to be found in the festivals of the Christian Church. If any one wants to hold the end of a chain which really goes back to the heathen mysteries, he had better take hold of a festoon of flowers at Easter or a string of sausages at Christmas. Everything else in the modern world is of Christian origin, even everything that seems most anti-Christian. The French Revolution is of Christian origin. The newspaper is of Christian origin. The anarchists are of Christian origin. Physical science is of Christian origin. The attack on Christianity is of Christian origin. There is one thing, and one thing only, in existence at the present day which can in any sense accurately be said to be of pagan origin, and that is Christianity.
The real difference between Paganism and Christianity is perfectly summed up in the difference between the pagan, or natural, virtues, and those three virtues of Christianity which the Church of Rome calls virtues of grace. The pagan, or rational, virtues are such things as justice and temperance, and Christianity has adopted them. The three mystical virtues which Christianity has not adopted, but invented, are faith, hope, and charity. Now much easy and foolish Christian rhetoric could easily be poured out upon those three words, but I desire to confine myself to the two facts which are evident about them. The first evident fact (in marked contrast to the delusion of the dancing pagan)—the first evident fact, I say, is that the pagan virtues, such as justice and temperance, are the sad virtues, and that the mystical virtues of faith, hope, and charity are the gay and exuberant virtues. And the second evident fact, which is even more evident, is the fact that the pagan virtues are the reasonable virtues, and that the Christian virtues of faith, hope, and charity are in their essence as unreasonable as they can be. (from here)
As the last post pointed out, we need three things for a revival.
- Repentance for our sins.
- Faith in the salvation offered by Jesus Christ.
- To hear and hearken to the Word of God.
However, as Chesterton observed, there is also joy. Knowledge of the UNKNOWN GOD brings us faith, hope, and charity.
So what is this revival we need? If we are Christians we need to perk up our ears. We need to study the UNKNOWN GOD, the God spoken of in the Bible. We need to heed the words of the author of Hebrews.
Hebrews 5:11-14 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
11 Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.
How do we spread the Gospel to those who do not know Jesus Christ? We heed the advice of Apostle Peter.
1 Peter 3:13-17 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
13 Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, 15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; 16 and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. 17 For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.
Because we are Christians, people will ask us why we are hopeful. Then we need to have a ready answer.
So what about the election? How we vote is symptomatic of a bigger problem. We spread the Gospel to save souls. When people vote for things God abhors, we are not getting the job done. We need to consider what the Bible says. Then we need to consider how we should vote.