December 2015 Mind of the Missionary

Is the celebration of Thanksgiving Day a victim of the secularization of our society?  It seems as though the media and many merchants sped from Halloween to Christmas. The origin and the purpose of Thanksgiving is to give thanks to God for His bounty, His provision, His care, His providence, His blessing—personal, family, community, and nation. Seemingly family, food, and football have become the focus of the celebration. While this trinity is good, it is neither as good or as great as God.

It seems that faith in God is under attack from some fanatics—ISIS, militant atheism, and cults. A fourth enemy is the classic afterwhile group. For years we have had to deal with this fourth threat—those who seem to think that they can delay commitment to God until near the end of their lives.  They seem to want to be the sovereigns of their lives until near the end, when, just in time, they will “accept Jesus”. They, to their minds, will get to avoid Hell. While many experience death in ways where this option in not available, others may find their understanding of salvation to be flawed when death comes to them. Truth is, God, not us, is in charge.  He expects us to live for Him now. Matthew 25 teaches God is not to be controlled by us, but us by HIM.

A common error of the cults is to not know Jesus as the unique Son of the Triune God who came as the Lamb of God to save those who trust in His work on the cross. Jesus was truly human and truly divine. Mormonism, Jehovah Witnesses, Adventists and other false cults do not have a true understanding of who Jesus is and what He has done, is doing, and will do. Read the book of Hebrews.

Islam also fails to understand who Jesus is and thus it too is a false religion. It also does not understand or practice love which is so central to the Christian faith. Among the benefits of the Baptist way has been the belief that God can take care of Himself.  We contend that there must be freedom of religion. This is because each of us is accountable to God for what we believe and how we behave. Unlike us, Islam has a history of forcing persons to accept their religion.

Sociologists are telling us that atheism is growing here in our country. More and more persons are declaring that they do not believe in God. Their reasons vary. Some have had a bad theology and when God has failed to answer their prayers as they wished, they decided that God does not exist. Others have wanted to be the “captains of their fate” and thus have refused to acknowledge the lordship of God. Still others have wanted to sin and have killed God, in their minds, so that they would not be accountable for it. The basic issue, in my mind, is that so few in our country have truly embraced the Christian lifestyle.  Some who have taken on the label of atheist are not so much rejecting God as they are the misrepresentation of God by some Christians. They do not know God and His will. They are arrogantly asserting their reasoning power to be greater than that of God.

The Bible clearly teaches: 1. God is the Sovereign Lord of History. 2. He has a general will for all persons which is outlined in the Ten Commandments and the Great Commandment to love God and our neighbors. 3. He has a specific will for the life of every human being. Those who fail to see this are condemning themselves to an eternity of suffering.

So, let’s reclaim this season.  Let us express our gratitude to God for His blessings, material and spiritual. And let us celebrate the birth of the Messiah.  It is He who came to reveal the ultimate truth, to win the victory over Satan, sin and death.  It is He who provides forgiveness and invites us to participate in His victory and enjoy life eternal. And it is He who gives meaning to our individual lives and to history.

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