feast: The Thinking Mind
Martin G. Collins
Given 29-Sep-15; Sermon #FT15-02; 79 minutes
In the current toxic socio-cultural milieu, God's called-out ones have been warned not to be conformed to the world, but to become transformed into the glorious likeness of Christ. The world view of God's church and the world's view are antagonistic toward each other. The secularist progressive humanist proponents are highly narcissistic, placing human pride and achievement over God's sovereignty, introducing relativism, a philosophical belief that all truth and standards of morality are relative. The consequences of the humanistic mindset has enervated and sickened the helpless inhabitants of the earth, subjecting them to war, degenerative diseases, and an insane reprobate mind. The entire creation groans for the Millennial Harvest, when God's resurrected saints will assist in administering God's standards of mercy, justice, and peace. When God's Holy Spirit will be poured out on mankind, mankind will rejoice.
Yesterday morning, on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles, Satan introduced a major push toward setting up his counterfeit global government. President Obama addressed the United Nations General Assembly, the representatives of the nations of the world, following the Pope’s speech to the same UN General Assembly earlier in the month.
In his speech to world leaders, President Obama stated that: “We cannot look backwards.” He used the terms: “international order” and “international community” and “international principles” many times in his speech to the world leaders. He suggested that is what is needed to bring about peace throughout the world.
Here are some other quotes from President Obama’s speech at the UN: “By building an international system that imposes a cost on those who choose conflict over cooperation.” We are not of the world and therefore we are part of that conflict that he is speaking of.
The next quote, “We have pressed forward, slowly, steadily, to make a system of international rules and norms that are better and stronger and more consistent [I add to that: than the U. S. Constitution]. It is this international order that has underwritten unparalleled advances in human liberty and prosperity. It is this collective [code word for communism] endeavor that’s brought about diplomatic cooperation between the world’s major powers.”
Next quote: “It is these international principles that helped constrain bigger countries from imposing our [United States] will on smaller ones.” Another quote: “unless we work with other nations under the mantle of international norms and principles and law that offer legitimacy to our efforts, we will not succeed.”
“And strong nations, above all, have a responsibility to uphold this international order.” “That same fidelity to international order guides our responses to other challenges around the world.” “Now, if it is in the interest of major powers to uphold international standards, it is even more true for the rest of the community of nations. And finally, “Nowhere is our commitment to international order more tested than in Syria.”
Now is it not interesting that this official call for Satan’s counterfeit of God’s global government was announced on the first day of the Feast of Tabernacles, a day that pictures the beginning of the establishment of God’s global government on earth? This is no coincidence!
The pope was addressing President Obama as well in his speech to the UN and his agenda was immigration and climate change. Immigration does away with international borders, and climate change is the world’s new religion of environmentalism. So that was expressed both to Obama and all the leaders of the world.
Part of the thinking mind of members of God’s church is the God-given discernment that we receive through the power of the Holy Spirit. We are able to anticipate the direction of the world by noticing the motives and tendencies of its leaders. The apostle Paul warns us to not be conformed to any deceptive agendas of the world.
Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Some verses in the Bible are enriched when we read them in several different translations, and Romans 12:2 is one of them.
Romans 12:2 (NIV) Do not conform to the pattern of this world [or you could say, “the worldview.”] but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing, and perfect will.
Now this verse has two key words: “world,” which in the Greek is literally ‘age.’ Greek word Aioen,meaning this present age, in contrast to “the age to come.” The second word is “conform,” which is a compound having at its root the word scheme.
So the verse means: “Do not let the age in which you live force you into its scheme of thinking and behaving.” This is what some of the translations try to bring out.
Romans 12:2 (Jerusalem Bible) “Do not model yourselves on the behavior of the world around you.”
I will ask you young adults and young people, do you look any different than those in the world your age?
Romans 12:2 (TLB) Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but be a new and different person with a fresh newness in all you do and think. Then you will learn from your own experience how his ways will really satisfy you.
Best known of all is the paraphrase of J. B. Phillips, which states:
Romans 12:2 (Phillips) Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold, but let God re-mold your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands, and moves towards the goal of true maturity.
That is what it does, it forcibly tries to squeeze you into its own image. The idea in each one of these renderings is that the world has its ways of thinking and doing things, and is exerting pressure on Christians to conform to them. But instead of being conformed, Christians are to be changed from within to be increasingly like Jesus Christ.
Now even Christians sometimes struggle with the answer to the question: What is worldliness? The first phrase of verse 2 is a warning against worldliness. But as soon as we say “worldly,” we have to stop and make clear what real worldliness is. We are in the world, but we are not of the world.
The knee-jerk reaction to this question is that worldliness is following such “worldly” pursuits as: smoking, over-drinking, cursing, lying, stealing, and fighting. However, that is not what Romans 12:2 is talking about. To think of worldliness only in those terms is to limit what is a far more serious and far more subtle problem.
The clue to what is in view here is that in the next phrase. Paul argues that as an alternative to being “conformed” to this world, we should be “transformed by the renewing of your mind.” This means that he is concerned about a way of thinking rather than mere action.
Right behavior will follow naturally if our thinking is set straight. If we are thinking like the world, then we will be acting like the world and that is what he is warning against here.
In other words, the worldliness we are to break away from and repudiate is the world’s worldview, a systematic way of looking at all things. We are to break out of the world’s way of thinking and instead let our minds be molded by the Word of God. For example, a person who supports social justice, which is a politically correct term for socialism and communism, is supporting an anti-God worldview.
Sadly, most of the mainstream Christian churches support social justice, and are some of the biggest promoters of it, but they do it under the moral, religious, theological angle. In our day, Christians have not done this very well, and that is the reason why they are so often worldly.
In fact, it is a sad commentary on our time, verified by surveys, that American Christians in general have mostly the same values and behavior patterns as the world around them. People in the mainstream churches mirror the world, except that they claim to be under the banner of Christ.
If, in this context, worldliness is not smoking, drinking, and cursing, then what is it? If it is a way of thinking, then what is a worldly worldview? There is no single word, other than the word “get” that perfectly describes how the world thinks, but secularism is a proper term for the general purposes of this sermon.
Secularism is an umbrella term that covers a number of other “isms,” like: humanism, relativism, pragmatism, pluralism, hedonism, progressivism, and materialism.
Secularism, more than any other single word, aptly describes the mental framework and value structure of the people of our time. The word secular also comes closest to what Paul says when he refers to “the pattern of this world.”
Secular is derived from the Latin word saeculum, which means age. The word found in Paul’s phrase in verse 2 is the exact Greek equivalent. The NIV uses the word world, but the Greek actually says, “Do not be conformed to this age.” So this is looking beyond the scope of this world, it is looking at the history that precedes what this world thinks.
In other words, do not be a secularist in your worldview. However, there is a right way to be secular. Christians live in the world and are therefore rightly concerned about the world’s affairs. We have legitimate secular concerns. But secularism is more than this. It is a philosophy that does not look beyond this world but instead operates as if this age is all there is.
Secularism is bound up entirely by the limits of the material universe, by what we can see and touch and weigh and measure. Already we are seeing a major difference between the members of God’s church and the world’s worldview.
If we think in terms of our existence here, it means operating within the limits of life on earth. If we are thinking in terms of time, it means disregarding the eternal and thinking only of the now.
In our lifetime, this has been expressed in popular advertising slogans such as Pepsi’s “Now Generation!” or like the expression “you only live once! [YOLO]” These types of slogans dominate our culture and express an outlook that has become increasingly harmful, even destructive to our entire society.
R. C. Sproul writes this: “For secularism, all life, every human value, every human activity must be understood in light of this present time. What matters is now and only now. All access to the above and the beyond is blocked. There is no exit from the confines of this present world. The secular is all that we have. We must make our decisions, live our lives, make our plans, all within the closed arena of this time—the here and now.”
Basically what it is saying here is that this is the world, it has its blinders on and only sees what is in front of them and is incapable of looking back or looking forward to a great future. They only see death in their view.
Now each of us should understand that description instantly, because it is the viewpoint we are surrounded with every single day of our lives and in every conceivable place and circumstance. Yet that is the outlook to which we must refuse to be conformed.
Instead of being conformed to this world, as if that is all there is, we are to see all things as relating to God and to eternity. Here is the contrast, as expressed by Harry Blamires: “To think secularly is to think within a frame of reference bounded by the limits of our life on earth; it is to keep one’s calculations rooted in this worldly criteria. To think Christianly is to accept all things with the mind as related, directly or indirectly, to man’s eternal destiny as the redeemed and chosen child of God.”
There is the difference between secular thinking and Christian thinking. So there is a proper kind of humanitarianism, meaning a proper concern for human beings. People who care for other people are humanitarians. But there is also a philosophical humanism, which is a way of looking at people, particularly ourselves, apart from God, and this is wrong and harmful. This is a secular way of looking at them, which is why we so often speak not just of humanism, but of secular humanism.
One of the best examples of secular humanism is in the book of Daniel. One day, Nebuchadnezzar, the great king of Babylon, was on the roof of his palace looking out over his splendid hanging gardens to the prosperous city beyond. He was impressed with his handiwork.
Daniel 4:30 The king [Nebuchadnezzar] spoke, saying, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?”
This is written as a warning for us. In this statement everything he saw was of him, by him, and for the glory of his majesty, which is the definition of humanism. Humanism says that everything revolves around man and exists for man’s glory. The extreme case of this is narcissism.
God would not tolerate this arrogance. So He judged Nebuchadnezzar with insanity, indicating that this is a crazy philosophy. Nebuchadnezzar was then driven out to live with the beasts and acted like a beast until at last he acknowledged that God alone is the true ruler of the universe and that everything exists for His glory rather than man’s. Now let us continue reading here.
Daniel 4:34-35 And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever: for His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation. All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand or say to Him, “What have You done?”
No one will question God and in a sense this is exactly, perhaps even word for word, what people will say at the at the beginning of the Millennium. How exciting that time will be!
Humanism is opposed to God and hostile to Christianity. This has always been so, but it is especially evident in the public statements of modern humanism. We have been hearing a little bit about this in John Ritenbaugh’s commentaries through the months.
Some of those publications about modern humanism are: A Humanist Manifesto, published in 1933; The Humanist Manifesto II, published in 1973; and The Secularist Humanist Declaration, published in 1980. We can see that there has been a progression and a continual programming of society with these things.
The first of these publications, the 1933 document, said: “Traditional theism, especially faith in the prayer-hearing God [you can hear the sarcasm in that], assumed to love and care for persons, to hear and understand their prayers, and to be able to do something about them, is an unproved and outmoded faith. Salvationism, based on mere affirmation, still appears as harmful, diverting people with false hopes of heaven hereafter. Reasonable minds look to other means for survival.”
That is what has been taught in our education system for decades. Actually this started back in the 1800’s, so that programing has been taught for generations.
The 1973 Humanist Manifesto II said: “We find insufficient evidence for belief in the existence of a supernatural” and, “There is no credible evidence that life survives the death of the body.” That is their mindset. Humanism leads to a deification of self and, contrary to what it professes, to an utter disregard for other people.
It is an attitude of: “if it feels good do it, even if it hurts someone else.” In deifying self, humanism actually deifies nearly everything but God. Humanism has made a god of history, riches, nature, power, religion, and of course, humanity itself.
Remember, too, that this is the philosophy, some would say the religion, underlying public school education. This is ironic, of course, since humanism is an irrational philosophy. How so? Because it is impossible to establish humanistic or any other values or goals without a supreme point of reference. And it is precisely that divine point that is being repudiated by the humanists.
Frighteningly, the irrationalism of humanism is appearing in the chaos of the schools, where students are killing other students and threatening teachers.
For humanism as well as for secularism, the word for Christians is “do not conform any longer,” meaning that at one time or another we have conformed to such a worldly worldview.
The first expression of humanism was not the Humanist Manifesto of 1933, or even the arrogant words of Nebuchadnezzar spoken about 600 years before Christ, but rather it was the words Satan spoke to Eve in the Garden of Eden, all the way back to the beginning of the history of man.
Genesis 3:5 [Satan speaking here] For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
While we are talking about humanism we also have to talk briefly about relativism, because if man is the focal point of everything, then there are no substitutes in any area of life and everything is up for grabs. That is exactly the way society is actually living.
Isaiah 5:20-21 Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!
Some years ago Professor Allan Bloom of the University of Chicago wrote a book called The Closing of the American Mind, in which he said on the very first page, “There is one thing a professor can be absolutely certain of: almost every student entering the university believes, or says he believes, that truth is relative.”
What that book set out to prove is that education is impossible in such a climate. People can learn skills, of course. You can learn to drive a truck, work a computer, handle financial transactions, and do dozens of other things. But real education, which means learning to sift through error to discover what is true, good, and beautiful, is impossible, because the goals of real education—truth, goodness, and beauty—do not exist in our public schools.
It requires absolutes. Even to discover absolutes requires such absolutes as the laws of logic. For example, is it any wonder that with such an underlying destructive philosophy as relativism, not to mention secularism and humanism, America has become morally, ethically, and spiritually bankrupt?
Now the final “ism” to which Christians are not to be conformed is materialism. There are two kinds of materialism: a philosophical materialism, like that of communism, which today is called progressivism, and a practical materialism, that is most characteristic of the Western World.
Most people in this society embrace a practical materialism that warps our minds, stunts our spiritual growth, and hinders the advance of God’s truth in our time. The ultimate choice in life lies between pleasing oneself and pleasing God. A world in which people’s first aim is to please themselves is a battleground of savagery, division, and exhaustion. Just look at the world, it is mentally exhausted because their minds are so chaotic. And who is the author of confusion?
James 4:1-3 Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.
This consuming drive by lust is destructive to say the least. We have to be careful of that, especially during the Feast when we have extra money. The Feast is a test to see how well we will spend our money in a Christian way, by God’s standard. Lusts of objects of desire are inward sins, and they lead to falling away from God. But the real ground of this falling away is in the human will.
Lust, the first step of sin, has its place in the heart, not of necessity, but because it is the center of all moral forces and impulses, and of spiritual activity. Lust is also the cause of over-consumption.
Over-consumption has derogatorily affected our society today. It is the result of careless waste and selfish hoarding of material things. In the 1800s, the word “consumption” meant to exhaust, pillage, or destroy. Even in the early 1900s, the disease tuberculosis was known as consumption.
One-fifth of the world's population lives in dire poverty, slowly dying of hunger and disease. Millions of others desperately need more basic material goods for their survival. Yet, were they to consume as Americans do, the result would be an environmental disaster, totally destroying the earth.
Americans consume and waste as a way of life. It has become the banner of this society. Americans throw away more than seven million cars a year, two million plastic bottles every hour, and enough aluminum cans annually to make six thousand DC-10 airliners. Over-consumption is the result of careless consumers who are self-centered and greedy. Everyone of us falls into this trap.
We can do our part. We can recycle, not to become obsessed with it, but we can do our part to help. Sadly, there will come a time when this nation will recycle everything because it will become so desperate for anything to eat, drink, use etc, before the great tribulation will arise.
In James 4:1-3, James is setting before God’s people a basic question: What is your goal in life? To submit to the will of God? Or to gratify your own desires for the pleasures of this world?
Smart phones have been taking the world by storm. Cell phones are changing the whole physique of the nation. They are showing that the youth are having curved spines and have other back/neck issues due to the constant use of their phones.
The root cause of this unceasing and bitter conflict is desire. It is interesting that within the Ten Commandments is the forbidding of covetousness, which is wrong desire. God probably designed it to be last to hang in our minds because, your own desire is one of the toughest precursors to sin to recognize and resist.
James 1:14-16 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren.
The philosophies of the world are the epitome of enmity against God and His revelations in Deuteronomy. The world’s worldview is the direct opposite with what Deuteronomy teaches us. We can see vividly why God wants it repeated.
Since Christians are called to mind renewal the apostle Paul says again in Romans 12,
Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
This cultural mindlessness is a major aspect of the pattern of this world, and we are to recognize, understand, repudiate, and overcome it. We are to be many things as Christians, but we are especially to be thinking people. We are not to be mindlessly going around following the trends of the world. We are to possess a Christian mind. A Christian has the mind of Christ and we have to remember every day that we are citizens of heaven with the mind of Christ.
In addition to Western materialism, speaking of society as a whole, there are a number of causes for our present mindlessness, such as the fast pace of modern life and philosophical skepticism, to name just few, but another major negative influence is television. Television has been a cultural problem since its invention. It is just technology and it is not inherently wrong, but it is used wrongly.
Another area of bad influence is politics. United States President Ronald Reagan once said, “Politics is just like show business.” But if this is so, then the object of politics on television is not to pursue excellence, clarity, or honesty, or any other generally recognized virtue, but rather to appear as if you are pursuing these things.
Another area of bad influence is religion. Religion is on television primarily in an entertainment format. The religious television stars are mostly entertainers. One is a master of ceremonies, another is a piano playing, singing, bubbly, and entertaining speaker. Even televised church services contain their requisite musical numbers and pop testimonies, just like variety shows on secular television.
The proper descriptive terms for many of them are: vaudeville, burlesque, cabaret entertainers. On these shows, the preacher receives top billing. God comes out as the second act. Because our relationship with God exists in our minds, TV preachers often are there to be seen, admired, and adored, which is why they are the star of the show. There is a terrifying word for this and it is blasphemy.
So pervasive and normalizing is the impact of television that pressures have inevitably come to make the world’s church services as irrelevant and entertaining as television. Many preachers today are told to be personable; to relate funny stories; to smile, and above all to stay away from topics that might cause people to become offended or unhappy with the church and leave it.
However, we know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that God calls people into the church. So we see a direct contrast between God’s true church Christianity and the mainstream and Catholic “Christianity.” They preach to felt needs, not necessarily real needs, which generally means that they tell people only what they want to hear. What a contrast these worldly preachers are to Jesus Christ Himself! In Matthew 8 He said of Himself:
Matthew 8:20 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” [He shows humility there.]
John 18 records that at His trial before Pilate He said:
John 18:36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.”
Our citizenship is in heaven as Christ’s is. Now if there was ever an individual who operated on the basis of values above and beyond the world in which we live, it was Jesus Christ. He was the direct opposite of materialism, even though He has the universe at His fingertips.
But at the same time no one has ever affected this world for good as much as Jesus. It is into His image that we are to be transformed rather than being forced into the mold of this world’s sinful and destructive “isms”: secularism, humanism, relativism, and materialism, and so on.
Now let us explore another aspect of the problem presented by today’s world and begin to look at the solution proposed in Romans 12:2. What does the apostle Paul say we must do? “Do not be conformed, but be transformed by the renewing of our minds.”
There is a deliberate distinction between those two words. Conformity is something that happens to you outwardly. Transformation happens inwardly. The Greek word translated “transformed” is metamorpho, from which we get metamorphosis, which is what happens to the lowly caterpillar when it turns into a beautiful butterfly.
This Greek word is found four times in the New Testament: Romans 12:2; in II Corinthians 3:18 to describe our being transformed into the glorious likeness of Jesus Christ; it is mentioned twice in the gospels of the transfiguration of Jesus on the mountain where He had gone with Peter, James, and John.
Matthew 17:2 and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.
Mark 9:2 Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up on a high mountain apart by themselves; and He was transfigured before them.
The same word used by Paul to describe our transformation by the renewing of our minds, so that we will not be conformed to this world, is used by the gospel writers to describe the transfiguration of Jesus from the form of his earthly humiliation to the radiance that Peter, James, and John were privileged to witness for a time. And that is why Paul writes as he does in II Corinthians, saying:
II Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.
In II Corinthians Paul says, “it is happening.” In Romans 12 he says, “let it happen,” thus putting the responsibility, though not the power to accomplish this necessary transformation, upon us. How does it happen?
Through the renewing of our minds and the way our minds become renewed is by study of the life giving and renewing Word of God. Without that study we will remain in the world’s mold, unable to think, and therefore also unable to act as Christians. We cannot neglect our Bible study. If we do not use God’s Spirit according to His will, we may lose it. In Psalm 51 it tells us:
Psalm 51:10-12 Create in me a clean heart, O God [this is a request we must ask], and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me by your generous Spirit.
Neglect of Bible study, neglect of prayer, neglect of living God’s way of life leads to straying away from God. God can erase people’s minds when they turn from Him and that should be a terrifying thought to us. So, we must ask God to renew a steadfast, a faithful spirit within us.
Our lives, how we act at the Feast for example, is our witness and people can see the difference. Do not underestimate your witness. With balanced study, as we are empowered by God’s Spirit, we will begin to take on something of the glorious glow of Jesus Christ and become increasingly like Him.
Every year at the Feast I have people come up to me and ask what church we are with because they can see something different about the way we act, they admire it. We are a witness to these people. So, do not underestimate your example to the people around you.
Now this is the point at which we need to talk about genuine mind renewal for Christians. Romans 12:2 once again, just to keep it clear in our minds.
Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Our thinking is not to be determined by the culture of the world around us but rather that we are to have a distinctly different and growing Christian worldview. Thinking Christianly does not mean what most people probably assume it does. People think that it means to start thinking mainly about Christian things, which is true to a certain degree. It is from that base of revealed doctrine and its applications to life that we can begin to think Christianly about other matters.
To think about Christianity itself is not a matter of thinking about Christian subjects as opposed to thinking about secular subjects, but rather to think in a Christian way about everything. It means to have a Christian mind, the mind of Christ as we view and think, and as we think about every aspect of our lives and every action we take.
This is because, by contrast, it is possible to think in a secular way even about religious things. Take the Passover, for instance. For most of us the Passover is the most spiritual of all spiritual matters, and it is possible to think about it even it in a worldly manner.
For example, a deacon of the church might be thinking that he forgot to warm the water for the foot washing. That is a secular thought, it is not wrong or a sin, but that just goes to show you how easy it is for religious subjects to be thought of in a secular way. Still another person might be reflecting on how sloppy some people dress for such a serious religious ceremony. Each of these persons is thinking secularly about the most sacred of Christian practices.
On the other hand, it is possible to think Christianly about even the most mundane matters. For example, we might do this at a gasoline station while we are waiting for our tank to fill with gas. We might be reflecting on how a mechanized world with cars and other machines tend to make God seem unnecessary to people.
Or we might be thinking about how a fast-paced world in which we use our cars to race from one appointment to another makes it difficult to think deeply about or even care for other people. Even further, we might be wondering, do material things like cars serve us, or are we enslaved to them? Do they cause us to covet and therefore break the tenth commandment? How do they impact the environment over which God has made us stewards?
There is nothing in our experience, however trivial, worldly, or even evil, which cannot be thought about Christianly or godly. There is likewise nothing in our experience, however sacred, which cannot be thought about secularly, that is to say, simply in its relationship to the passing existence of bodies and minds in a time-locked universe.
Where do we start? How do we begin to think and act as Christians? There is a sense in which we could begin at any point, since truth is a whole and truth in any area will inevitably lead to truth in every other area. If you only have partial truth, you do not have the truth.
If the dominant philosophy of our day is secularism, which means viewing all of life only in terms of the visible world and in terms of the “here and now,” then the best of all possible starting places is with the will of God, because God alone is above and beyond the world and is eternal.
Even more, God’s truth is a necessary and inevitable starting place if we are to produce a genuinely Christian response to secularism. What does that mean for our thinking? Well, if there is a God, that very fact means that there is literally such a thing as the supernatural. “Supernatural” means over, above, or in addition to, nature.
Although he is a worldly man, Carl Sagan understood the most basic essential fact. He said: “The cosmos is not all there is, or was, or ever will be. God is. God exists. He is there, whether we acknowledge it or not, and he stands behind the cosmos. In fact, it is only because there is a God that there is a cosmos, since without God nothing else could possibly have come to be. If anything exists, there must be an inevitable, self-existent, un-caused, first cause that stands behind it.”
If we ask the question, “why is there something rather than nothing?” Is that even a true question? It poses an alternative, something rather than nothing, but what is nothing? Nothing eludes definition. It even defies conception. Because as soon as you say, “nothing is,” “nothing” ceases to be nothing and becomes something.
As soon as you ask, “Why is there something rather than nothing?” the alternative vanishes, you are left with something. The only possible explanation for that something is: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” which is what Christianity teaches. The very reasons that humanism uses are absolutely insane logic, because they claim that nothing created something.
The God who exists has revealed Himself. God is there, and He has not kept Himself hidden from us or even the world, because His attributes are clearly seen in His creation. He has revealed Himself, in nature, in history, and especially in the Scriptures.
If God has spoken, then what He has said is truthful and can be trusted absolutely, since God is truthful. This gives us absolutes in an otherwise relative and therefore ultimately chaotic universe. The fact that God has spoken and that God’s Word to us can be trusted has always been the conviction of the church, at least until relatively modern times.
Today the truthfulness of the Bible has been challenged, but with disastrous results. Because without a sure word from God all words are equally valid, and Christianity is neither more certain nor more compelling than any other merely human word or philosophy.
But notice this. If God has spoken, there will always be a certain firmness and inflexibility about God’s truth and Christians. I do not mean that we will be tough on others or insensitive to them, but rather there will be a certain unyielding quality to our convictions.
Is your belief in God’s truth and what the Bible says a truth a preference or a conviction? Are you here at the Feast because you are convicted of it, or are you home because it was a preference rather than a conviction? For one thing, we will insist on truth and we will not bow to the idea, however strongly it is forced upon us, “that is just your opinion” about us living God’s way of life.
A worldly person who is out of the relativistic mold will shrug off what we have to say about God’s truth, Jesus Christ, the Bible and, as such, will merely dismiss it as just our opinion. It may be our own opinion, but that is not really what matters. What matters is if it is true.
Another thing the doctrine of revelation will mean for us is that we will not back down or compromise on moral issues. You know how it is whenever you speak out against some particularly bad act. People are likely to attack you personally, saying things like, “you would do the same thing if you were in her situation” or “do you think you are better than he is?” We must learn to shrug off such attacks, because it does not matter. The world is insane and what they say does not matter to us. Sadly the world believes in nothing.
Silence about a flagrant sin is almost always viewed as an acceptance or approval of such conduct. This is true globally, nationally, locally, and between two people. What the secular mind is ill-equipped to grasp is that God’s truth leaves Christians with no choice at all on many matters of this kind. We are people under God’s authority and that authority is expressed for us in God’s inspired written Word, the Bible.
Now let us return to some implications of God’s truth. First, if there is a God and if He has made us to have eternal fellowship with Him, then we are going to look at failure, suffering, pain, and even death differently than non-Christians do.
As Christians we look at suffering as a challenge that God is helping us with. The world does not look at it that way, they are alone in their suffering.
For the Christian, sufferings are never the greatest of all tragedies. They are bad, and death is an enemy, but they are overbalanced by eternal matters.
I Corinthians 15:22-26 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. [There is our guarantee there.] But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.
Second, success and pleasure will not be the greatest of all things for us. They can be good, but they will never compare with salvation from sin or knowing God. Jesus said it clearly in Matthew 16.
Matthew 16:26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
Or from another perspective,
Matthew 10:28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
Now let us contrast the world today and the vastly superior soon-coming Kingdom of God. Today, people are proud of their powerful computers, satellites, cell phones, modern scientific labs, and medical discoveries. Man is proud of his belief systems: secularism, humanism, relativism, and materialism, also there are the innumerable false religious beliefs which includes environmentalism (worship of man and his surroundings).
In spite of this, people fight with nature and other human beings. Crime, drug abuse, sexual perversions, and all sorts of other evils escalate. The deaf and blind go unhealed. People pollute the air, water, and soil because they do not know how to manage a civilization. With all their technological advances, people cannot get along with their neighbors or their families or even themselves.
In contrast, what will life be like under the rulership of Christ? We get a picture of what God’s Kingdom will be like by the world under Jesus Christ’s rule as King of kings in the Millennium. We will read Isaiah 11.
Isaiah 11:1-5 There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots. The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him [speaking of Christ], the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord. His delight is in the fear of the Lord, and He shall not judge by the sight of His eyes, nor decide by the hearing of His ears; but with righteousness He shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; he shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt of His loins, and faithfulness the belt of His waist.
Isaiah 11:9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
The earth being “full of the knowledge of the Lord,” means far more than everyone will go to the right church. God's knowledge is vast, He knows how to make a civilization work, even a high-tech one, if He wanted.
Remember at the beginning of my sermon I was telling you about how politicians believe that an international order will bring about peace. Only God can bring that kind of peace, not man. Because the knowledge of the Lord will be so prevalent on earth in the Millennium, people will be at peace.
Nations, neighbors, and spouses will not fight; the animal kingdom will peacefully co-exist with humanity. All this will be the result of an unprecedented explosion of the knowledge in how to do things right, plus the removal of Satan.
The Spirit of God is going to be available. Salvation is going to be given to everyone all during the Millennium. It is going to be the greatest time for humanity there has ever been, excluding perhaps the one hundred year period that follows when Satan is unleashed for a time.
Isaiah 32:15 Until the Spirit is poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness becomes a fruitful field, and the fruitful field is counted as a forest.
That sounds just like what happened initially to the church on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2, when the Holy Spirit came. Well, the Holy Spirit is going to be available to all people during the Millennium. Then peace will immediately begin to spread throughout the earth as justice and righteousness quickly proliferate. Continuing on here, we read about the peace of God’s reign:
Isaiah 32:16-17 Then justice will dwell in the wilderness, and righteousness remain in the fruitful field. The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever.
You cannot have peace without righteousness. Here it is not just talking about the physical place, it is talking about the work of conversion all during the Millennium. This is talking about the spiritual harvest that is going to take place. It is saying that it is a universal salvation that is going out to everyone.
Now notice the effect of righteousness here. No more fear; no more violence; no more crime.
Isaiah 32:18-20 My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places, though hail comes down on the forest, and the city is brought low in humiliation. Blessed are you who sow beside all waters, who send out freely the feet of the ox and the donkey.
It is interesting to note that Psalm 1, where it talks about “the way of the righteous and the end of the ungodly,” ties in nicely with what we have been talking about.
Psalm 1:1-3 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful [that is another way of saying not being conformed to the world]; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.
How many things do we do in this life that we do not prosper at because we just did not use wisdom, or did not go the right route, or just flat out did the wrong thing? Eventually, during the Millennium, everyone is going to bring forth good fruit, spiritually speaking.
It is going to be the greatest harvest, the greatest thing that has happened since the creation of the world. This involves a spiritual creation. Just think how many billions of people will be converted and added to the Kingdom of God during that time!
The more scientists learn about the universe as technology continues to advance, enabling them to see farther and clearer, the larger, greater, and more powerfully superior it is. God created all of that and far more, not by accident, but for a purpose. He has revealed His purpose to us and we are going to share in the rulership with all of that.
So God is going to need many billions of His family members to produce what He wants to produce with the massiveness of the universe. Because we mostly think in finite terms, it is impossible for us to fathom the infinite and eternal magnitude of God’s plans. We cannot even fathom the universe, let alone God’s plans for it. Our minds cannot comprehend all the things yet to come.
The period of the Millennium is going to be really quite a wonderful time for everything, and here is what God is going to do for everyone.
Isaiah 25:6 And in this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all people a feast of choice pieces, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of well-refined wines on the lees.
I find it interesting that he mentioned wine more than once there, knowing what man likes in life. There will be an abundance, however with God’s Holy Spirit and having the mind of God, we will be able to handle it in perfect balance.
The mountain of the Lord is in Jerusalem on Mount Zion. The Lord of hosts will make a feast with all the good things you can imagine. This is a time when the best of everything will be produced. Also, everyone attending this feast will be converted. However, sinners are not going to be allowed at this feast. They are either going to repent, or they are going to face the consequences.
Isaiah 25:7-8 And He will destroy on this mountain the surface of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces; the rebuke of His people He will take away from all the earth; for the Lord has spoken.
They are going to have their blindness removed. That is what will happen all during the Millennium.
We do not know for sure about the resurrections. We know for a fact that there are at least three resurrections, but we do not know if God will decide to resurrect people all through the Millennium or not. I think that we suspect that there are more than just three resurrections, however we are told in Scripture of at least three.
Isaiah 25:9 And it will be said in that day: “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for Him; we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation.”
It is said twice there that “we have waited for Him.” So waiting is important. Waiting patiently for Christ to return is important, but it is not just kicking up your feet and doing nothing. It is waiting patiently with all the effort you can muster to work on your own selves and be Christ-like.
This attitude will be a wonderful thing to behold. Good and pure and beautiful things will be taught; God will produce and have an increase. The world will learn and we are going to be the ones who will teach God’s way of life to them. But we are learning to live God’s way of life as firstfruits of His Kingdom now.
Anyone not learning it now will not be given the opportunity and blessing because they will not be prepared. God is going to have us active and busy during the Millennium, during the hundred-year period, and all during the rest of the ages of eternity, and we will never wear out. So God has called us to an amazing, breathtaking calling. Whereas the religions of the world have little to offer, vague hope, and lame rewards, we have an amazing opportunity.
The philosophies of the world, such as: humanism, relativism, and progressivism are egocentric, confusing, and produce nothing good. The governments of the world, such as: communism, socialism, and fascism lead their subjects to war and destruction, violence and famine. The financial institutions of the world, such as: materialism are driven by greed, encouraging covetousness and crime.
Those are the characteristics of the world under Satan. What a contrast! The world is diabolically opposed to God’s Kingdom, but God’s government is going to make this present insane world look like an absolute hodgepodge of foolish simpletons.
The Millennium will bring with it prosperity on a grand scale for those nations who obey and fear God, and whose nations are represented at the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem each year. The millennial picture in Zechariah 3:10 of every person hosting “his neighbor under his vine and under his fig tree,” is an indication of balanced prosperity.
The deserts will produce bountiful harvests. True prosperity will be a major characteristic of the Millennium, not only in a limited way, with material wealth, but even more so in spiritual and physical health. Cancer, diabetes, heart disease, blindness, and deafness will be eradicated by living by God’s health laws.
Contentment and faithfulness with regard to wealth will be necessary for the proper use of prosperity, which is what we are learning how to do here at the Feast. Prosperity must be received with contentment for what God has given us.
I Timothy 6:6-8 Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.
Being content is knowing that God gives us our needs. God does not owe us anything, not even our needs, but He guarantees us our needs and blesses us far more than we deserve when we follow Him and do as He says. When we speak of spiritual blessings, we have to add the word abundance to it, because He gives us an abundance of spiritual blessings. Faithfulness in the use of wealth will be necessary in handling the prosperity of the Millennium.
Luke 16:10-11 He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon [material goods], who will commit to your trust the true riches?
As spirit beings in the Kingdom of God, we will not be interested in material wealth. Material wealth rusts, rots, and fades away, but the true riches from above—true prosperity—is the wonderful blessing of salvation and eternal life. The wisdom to righteously and faithfully use whatever God commits to our trust.
The Kingdom of God will always prosper and what a wonderful place it will be, existing with beings who have the mind of Christ and who use that prosperity in a giving and loving way to the benefit of those whom they rule.
I want end here with Deuteronomy 30:11-16 which is a very familiar section on choosing life.
Deuteronomy 30:11-16 “For this commandment which I command you today is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it. See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess.”
So for us, it is here and now, we have the opportunity and we must use it. This is the same thing that will happen in the Millennium. It is promised right from the very beginning.
As King of kings, Christ will appoint His faithful followers as kings and priests over the earth and they will have abilities similar to what God has today. If a person considers an action that would hurt himself or someone else, the glorified children of God (hopefully you and I) will teach them to choose a better course.
Isaiah 11:9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
So we must be preparing now to learn and practice God's laws and His way of life so that we will be able to teach these things to a world under Christ's soon-coming benevolent world government, in direct contrast to that international order that was given a boost at the U. N. May God guide and protect you!