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Dust in the Wind

Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.

— Ecclesiastes 1:2

It was left to that mournful Dane, Søren Kierkegaard, the father of existentialism, to say that all is vain and the quest has ended in utter despair; rationalism is dead and human reason has failed in its great effort to grasp and comprehend the universe in which we live.

It was at the time of the bloody First World War that Kierkegaard’s ideas began to take root, slowly at first, until today existentialism is without question the regnant, the dominant philosophy of our time in the world. Existentialism teaches that because of the finiteness of man and his understanding, he will never be able to grasp ultimate reality—that there is nothingness out there. The world is unintelligible, the cosmos cannot be comprehended, and ultimately all things are without meaning and significance. This has been the great contribution of existentialism to our time.

It is a philosophy of despair.

A young woman told me that when she was in college she embraced the existential philosophy. Certain pressures then came upon her and she endeavored to take her life. She ended up in a mental institution having shock treatments. All this because existentialism had robbed her of any meaning to life and ripped from her grasp any hold she had upon transcendental significance or purpose in this world. She knew the blackness and emptiness that the worldview of existentialism offers.

Question to ponder:
Can you be a Christian existentialist? Is there such a thing as meaninglessness with God?

“Looking for Loopholes”

Do you think, O man, who judges those who do such things, and who does the same thing, that you will escape the judgment of God?

— Romans 2:3

W. C. Fields, the old-time comedian who in his professional persona seemed to be in a continual state of inebriation, came to the final illness of his life. He was in the hospital and neither he nor his friends or doctors gave him much hope. One of his friends, who had known him for many years and had seen his disdain for religion and everything godly and moral, walked into the hospital room. He stopped as if he had run into a pane of glass, because there before his eyes was W. C. Fields in his hospital bed reading the Bible. His friend said in utter amazement, “W. C., what in the world are you doing?” And he replied, “I’m looking for a loophole … looking for a loophole.”

It seems that there are lots of people who are looking for loopholes—who are trying to find some way to escape the just consequences of their sins.

There is no way around God’s judgment, but there is one who went under it and has promised a way of escape.

Question to ponder:
What would your response be if you could have talked to W. C. Fields?

Words Without Knowledge

Who is this who darkens counsel by words without knowledge?

— Job 38:2

People believe what they want to believe whether they have studied the particular issue or not. When it comes to origins (creation-evolution), more and more scientists and respectable scholars see the flaws of evolution and draw different conclusions.

A group of scientists studying the human genome are now claiming that Neo-Darwinism “ignores much contemporary molecular evidence and invokes a set of unsupported assumptions about the accidental nature of hereditary variation.”

The great philosopher of science, Dr. Karl R. Popper, said, “I have come to the conclusion that Darwinism is not a testable scientific theory, but a metaphysical research program—a possible framework for testable scientific theories.”

In a sense, some evolutionists are saying, “Don’t confuse me with the facts.” Facts like the missing links that are completely missing, or the improbability against life just arising by chance, or how mutations are virtually always harmful, but according to the evolutionary scheme they proved beneficial, and so on.

Question to ponder:
How can we stand up for the truth in a world of lies?

Christian Stewardship

Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing, that there will not be room enough to receive it.

— Malachi 3:10

What an incredible promise we see here in Malachi. If you have never “tried” the Lord in this, you have missed probably the greatest temporal blessing you can know in this life … a deliverance from all anxiety and worry and concern about your own finances. All of those things are encapsulated in that marvelous promise and the provision for all of your needs. “My God shall supply your every need,” cried the Apostle Paul, “according to His riches in glory.”

God owns all things—the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. He gives them to us as a stewardship to be used for His glory and our testing as to our faith. The tithe is not just God’s way of raising money for His work; it is also His way of raising Christians in His image. God commands that a tenth or the tithe, be returned unto Him. The word “tithe,” whether in Hebrew, Greek, old Anglo-Saxon, or modern English, means the same thing. It means a tenth—a tenth of our income is the tithe. And God says that it belongs to Him, and we are not to touch it, but to give generously.

As we become more generous in all ways, including with our tithes and offerings, we become more like Jesus.

Question to ponder:
Are you pleased with the level of your giving to the Lord?

Overcoming Selfishness

… those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them …

— 2 Corinthians 5:15

Selfishness is the universal form of human depravity; it lies at the base of all of our sins. Every sin that can be named is only a modification of it. What is avarice, but selfishness decorating and indulging itself—a man sacrificing to himself as his own god? What is sloth, but that same god asleep, and refusing to attend to the calls of duty? And what is idolatry, but that god enshrined—man worshipping the reflection of his own image?

Sensuality—indeed, all the sins of the flesh—is only selfishness setting itself above law and gratifying itself at the expense of all restraint. And all the sins of the spirit, are only the same principle impatient of contradiction, and refusing to acknowledge superiority, or to bend to any will but its own. What is egotism, but selfishness speaking? Or crime, but selfishness without its mask, in earnest and in action? Or offensive war, but selfishness confederated, armed and bent on aggrandizing itself by violence and blood?

Indeed selfishness is the universal form of all sin. Jesus Christ said, “Beware of covetousness.” It is covetousness and unbelief combined that keep people from obeying many of God’s commands to their own hurt. But God rewards obedience to His Word.

We are called to live for Christ and not ourselves. It is by focusing on Jesus that we can overcome selfishness.

Question to ponder:
Are you as selfish now as you were before Christ came into your life?

The Great Deceiver

When he lies, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

— John 8:44

Satan is a great deceiver. He first blinds his victims before he binds and leads them unto destruction. The great and mighty Samson discovered that. Before he could be bound and set to grinding in the prison house, he first was blinded. Gehazi saw only the shiny Syrian raiment; he didn’t see the leprous scars that would cover his face. Achan saw only the goodly Babylonian garments; he didn’t hear the execrations of the people and the lamentations of his wife and children or the crackling of the fires of the funeral pyre that would consume him and all of his. Judas saw only the glitter of silver; he did not see the darkness of remorse or the blackness of the pit into which he plunged.

The deception can be very small at first. At Stone Mountain in Decatur, Georgia, there is a warning railing that keeps sightseers from getting anywhere near the edge of that great rock. So gradually does it slope downward that if one were to get within 75 or 100 feet of the edge, he would already find himself slipping toward the precipice and would be unable to recover himself. With no way to stop, he would continue to slide downward until he plunged over the edge to his death hundreds of feet below. Sin, like this same slippery slope, pulls us down into things that we never expected we would do.

Question to ponder:
How can we be alert to the deceptiveness of temptation?

Jesus in Isaiah

Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” He answered, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”

— Acts 8:37

As recorded in Acts 8, Philip was out in the desert and saw the Ethiopian eunuch in a chariot. The Holy Spirit said to him, “Go to this chariot and stay with it” (Acts 8:29). The eunuch was reading from Isaiah 53: “He was led as a sheep to slaughter; and as a lamb before its shearer is silent, so He opened not His mouth” (Acts 8:32). Philip asked him, “Do you understand what you are reading?” (v. 30).

Then the eunuch said to Philip, “I ask you, of whom does the prophet speak, of himself or of someone else?” (v. 34). Then we read: “Then Philip spoke, beginning with the same Scripture, and preached Jesus to him” (v. 35).

Beginning at that Scripture, Philip preached Jesus to him. So we see that the authoritative New Testament Scripture makes very clear that this passage is talking about Jesus Christ. Just the very content of it makes it absolutely plain—crystal clear, that that is what it is about.

This Ethiopian treasurer might have been the first person that we know of who was converted to Christ by the words of Isaiah 53, but millions have followed in his footsteps.

Question to ponder:
How has Isaiah 53 impacted you?

The Gospel According to Isaiah

Surely he has borne our grief and carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and by his stripes we are healed.

— Isaiah 53:4-5

Imagine, if you will, writing the details, the minute details, of the life of someone who would live in the 28th century a. d. What do you know about anyone? You know absolutely nothing whatsoever. But now, hear the Word of God, who knows the end from the beginning: “Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For he grew up before Him as a tender plant and as a root out of a dry ground.” (Isaiah 53:1–2a).

There is no way Isaiah 53 could be said to have been written after Christ was born. I have seen the actual Isaiah manuscript taken from the Dead Sea Scrolls—sealed and hidden before Christ was born.

Furthermore, in the Septuagint translation (begun in the third century b. c.), the Old Testament was translated into Greek and spread around the world. It would have been impossible to insert anything at a later date. This was, indeed, written seven centuries before Christ was born.

It is truly remarkable. It obviously proves that the Scriptures are inspired by God. There is no other way a writing such as this could exist.

Question to ponder:
How does the inspiration of Scripture make the reading and studying of it different from any other book?

The Dread Disease

Your eyes are too pure to look on evil, and You cannot look on wickedness.

— Habakkuk 1:13

How terrible is sin. We haven’t got a clue, however, for we live in it. We wallow in it. It’s up to our necks. Only those who live in a perfect world like Heaven would have the foggiest notion of how horrific sin really is. But when we look at this One who came all the way from Paradise to heal us of this dread disease, we begin to get a new view of just how terrible a thing sin really is. May we see in Christ a mirror of our own souls and stand amazed that such a one as He, the altogether perfect One, could love such ones as us.

We need to come to grips with what Christ endured—that this terrible thing called sin might be taken away because sin inevitably draws upon itself the wrath of God. May we never forget that even if we become complacent in the face of sin, even if we accept it broadly as a people, God is a God who is infinitely holy and has an infinite hatred for sin. He is of purer eyes than even to look upon iniquity and has promised that He will visit our transgressions with the rod, and that His wrath will inevitably fall upon our sins. So we stand in His presence, amazed that He could want us fallen creatures and that He found a way to make us cleansed, radiant, and free of sin.

Question to ponder:
What power is in the blood of Christ that it would be strong enough to cleanse us?

Horizontal Comparisons

Therefore be perfect, even as your Father who is in heaven is perfect.

— Matthew 5:48

Now it is clear that horizontally we can look around ourselves and we can see there are some people who, morally and ethically, stand head and shoulders above others. Therefore, we can see that they are superior. Some people are more righteous than others; they shine in comparison. However, vertically, it is different. There is one prayer you never want issued from your lips, one prayer you never want to utter, and that is: “Lord, give me what I deserve.”

God does not grade on the curve. He doesn’t say we are good compared to our neighbors. He judges by perfection. If you’re not perfect, then you can’t go to heaven. But then who could possibly get there, since no one’s perfect? No one. No, not one.

Martin Luther said the most damnable and pernicious idea that has ever plagued the minds of men is the idea that we sinful, fallen, depraved creatures could ever make ourselves good enough to stand in the presence of an all-holy, sin-hating God. But God has provided a way to get rid of our sin by punishing it on His own Son. The Old Testament tells that God has devised means by which His banished ones, who were expelled from the Garden because of their sin, should not ultimately and totally and finally be separated from Him. These means are called “the Gospel,” “the Good Tidings,” “the Good News” of the love of Christ and His death and resurrection.

Question to ponder:
How do we live with the goal of perfection in an imperfect and sinful world?