Help for Today — Hope for Tomorrow
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[Gary Petty] If you believe that there are absolute truths, determined by God and revealed in the Bible, you're not only a minority in society you are a minority among Christians.
Remember the stories coming out of Nigeria a few years ago about Christians being killed because of their religion? I remember seeing the reports in the news and like most people I was horrified, but I'm ashamed to say, I eventually went on with everyday life. Like most of you, I have a mortgage to pay and grandchildren to play with and a church to attend filled with really nice people. You know, almost daily we hear of Christians being persecuted in far away countries but it is easy to get caught up in the details of life, not think about, you know, the tragedies going on in the lives of other people. You know lately I've had a sense, just sort of a vague sense of uneasiness. I mean, you and I live in a country where it feels like as a Christian that we're under verbal attack because of our biblical Christianity and values like marriage, sexuality, abortion, gender, the purpose of the Christian life and the uniqueness of Jesus Christ. I know many of you have felt this same sense of uneasiness.
In this country as well as the Western countries, no one's being killed for being a Christian, but there's a real movement to reeducate Christians with a new set of values. You've read about the changing landscape of our long held beliefs. Our moral foundation is being questioned and that's when we begin to feel this uneasiness. Let me give you an example. Schools in California passed a new curriculum that deals with Christian "theocide," which means the killing of the gods. As part of their education students will clap and chant to various Aztec gods who, by the way, were worshiped in the past by human sacrifice. How can you remain faithful to biblical teachings when society around you is increasingly secular and sometimes even hostile towards the God of the Bible? Well today we're going to look at what biblical Christians must do, not only to survive, but to thrive in a non-Christian world.
Now this secular reeducation of Christians has been going on for years, trying to eradicate Christian values and morals. That's the goal. It's been sort of subtle. It's not subtle anymore. How much has this secular, and actually it's not only that it's pagan reeducation, affected Christians. Well Barna research shows that the majority of the members of the old established Protestant churches accept two beliefs. Now this is the majority. One is truth and morality are determined by the individual, not by God or the Bible. I want you to think about that. Truth and morality are determined by the individual, not by God or the Bible, and that's coming from old mainline Protestants. And the second one is life has no inherent value or purpose, but we can make the most of it by doing things that produce personal happiness or satisfaction. These two attitudes aren't just in the old established Protestant churches. In fact, Barna showed that a majority of people and all four of the major Christian groups, Evangelical Pentecostal, Mainline, and Catholic, believe that happiness is the sole purpose for life. And most agree with this statement. "There are no absolute moral truths that apply to everyone, all of the time." You know what this really means, because you need to think about this.
The majority of Christians reject the Bible as the word of God, having absolute authority in their lives. That's the majority. I mean if you believe that there are absolute truths determined by God and revealed in the Bible, you're not only a minority in society you are a minority among Christians. For those who believe in the God of the Bible, let's face it, that's a little unsettling. So what's a biblical Christian to do?
One thing a biblical Christian must do in a non-Christian society, you're going to have to come to grips with a new reality. And that is politics has become a kind of religion. Political parties have become religious movements with their own messiahs, their own ideologues who serve as priests and they all promise utopia. The political religion is a faith based in a lie and that lie is that human beings can solve our own problems. Biblical Christians must confront this lie because we know that the answers to all basic human problems are not political or economic. The answers are spiritual and so human beings will always, no matter how best of intentions that people have, human beings will always create conflict and chaos. That's what we do.
So what can you do to prepare to live in an increasingly chaotic and non-Christian society? Well the gospel of John records a situation where Jesus was talking to a group of religious leaders and He told them, "If you abide in my word, you are My disciples." Jesus said that His true followers must abide. It means "continue" or actually "live in" His word. And He then told them, "And you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free." The religious leaders of the day were quite upset. They were indignant. They had total confidence in their religious beliefs and they believed that God was on their side. And Jesus taught that true freedom can only come through living by His words. And as I said before, Jesus is either unique in all history or He was mentally ill. And this brings us to today's main point. To thrive as a Christian in a non-Christian society, you must become a disciple of Jesus Christ. You must know who the real Jesus is, and I'm not talking about the "woke" Jesus or the "capitalist" Jesus or the socialist Jesus, or the Jesus who was terribly flawed because He was a sexist, or the Jesus who loves you so much He doesn't care about your lifestyle. That's not the real Jesus. This means that you must know and live by the truth He taught. What I want to do is just look at one truth to begin the program here with, just one of His basic teachings and see how that affects the view you have of Jesus.
For hundreds of years the definition of marriage and family in the Western world was traditionally based in biblical principles. Those definitions are being radically redefined. These new definitions are being promoted in schools by much of the media, and even by corporations like businesses determine our morals. As disciples of Jesus we have to ask ourselves, did Jesus actually teach anything about marriage and family? Well, let's look at something that He actually taught. Let's go to His words. Jesus said, "Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning, made them male and female." Jesus goes clear back to the book of Genesis and says that God created the first man, the first woman, and He ordained marriage.
Now someone is going to say, well the Jesus I believe in wouldn't say that. He did. And others will say that Jesus was just a sexist. Don't say you know what Jesus taught or don't judge Jesus Christ until you have read what He actually taught. You know if you disagree with Him, you disagree with Him. Not because you've been told something that's not what He actually said. Jesus continues, let me read this. And this, and He said, "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh." So they're no longer two, but one. Now the real Jesus taught that God created marriage when He first created human beings. And let's be honest, okay, let's be honest about this. To redefine marriage in a way that Jesus taught it means to reject Jesus Christ. It means you're not truly a Christian.
You know it's time to stop playing this dishonest game. Either become a Christian by following Jesus or stop claiming to be a Christian. This game's got to stop. Jesus' disciples follow His teaching about marriage. To survive by the way, in a non-Christian society, we're going to have to build strong Christian marriages and families. There are certain, what they call, "family scientists". They're sociologists and psychologists are re-engineering marriage and family in an attempt to eradicate what Jesus taught. Have you ever heard of family privilege? It's a social philosophy stating that all definitions of family must be accepted as equal. It's based in the belief that children raised by a man and a woman in a lifelong marriage produces, now listen to this, an unfair society.
Now I will say this. I know there are Christians out there who don't live in a nuclear family, right? Maybe there was a divorce, the death of a spouse, a child born out of wedlock. If you live in that situation you know how hard it is to raise children with Christian standards by yourself. And I just want to say I have known many amazing people who do that as single parents. But what we're talking about here is the pinnacle of what God wants us to do and what He wants are families. We just read it from the Bible. Biblical Christians must strive to create stable marriages and families.
Society's attack on the family is only going to get worse. You need to understand that. It's only going to get worse and it's time for Christians to get their heads out of the sand and to renew your marriage vows because they were bound by God. That is why you need to order your free study guide “Jesus Christ: The Real Story.” You can't be a real disciple of Jesus Christ unless you understand who He is and He was more than a man. He made this audacious claim to have been alive before He was born. His followers believed that He was the fulfillment of dozens of prophecies from what we call the Old Testament. Discover the real Jesus by reading the writings of the people who knew Him when He walked the earth. You can order your free copy by calling the number on your screen, or going to beyondtoday.tv where you can download a copy or read it online and this 100 page study guide is absolutely free.
You know the earliest followers of Jesus lived in a non-Christian society, not a whole lot different than ours in certain ways and worse than others. I mean, they found themselves marginalized and sometimes violently persecuted. For us in the United States we're not facing that. Now they could have avoided persecution by simply getting along with the rest of society. You see the Roman world accepted almost any form of religion. Public religion was filled with pomp and ceremonies. There are many festivals and sacrifices to implore the gods and goddesses to promote the public good. Now privately people had household gods or in some cases worshiped their ancestors. Christians were ostracized because they didn't accept all religions as equal. They claimed that they worship the only true God and that Jesus Christ was the only way to salvation. So Christians were seen as antisocial and as believers in the only one God, they were seen as prejudiced against other religions. The people of that world would have easily considered Christians of trying to commit "theocide."
The New Testament is filled with stories about how the followers of Jesus not only survived but thrived in a hostile society. There's one instance where the Apostle Peter was imprisoned for teaching the Bible and God sent an angel who freed him from the prison and once out of prison, where do you think Peter would go? Back home? Maybe flee the city, you know, get out of there? Peter went to a house where other disciples were gathered in prayer and there's sort of a humorous side to this story. When Peter knocked at the door a young girl glanced outside and ran back to tell everyone there was a ghost and fortunately someone went and opened the door and let Peter in. Now notice that the Christians, even in difficult times of that era, did not give up being a community.
We're going to have to build strong marriages and families and just as important, if you want to thrive in a non-Christian society, you must participate in a biblically based community. You must share your experiences, your faith, your life, with a community that supports each other. Knowing and living by the truth required to be a disciple. Having strong Christian homes and being part of a biblical community will help you face the pressures of living in a non-Christian society. It's going to try to be forced upon you and these pressures can be as simple as friends trying to convince you on social media. Attacking you on social media because of your close mindedness and your belief in the Bible. Or the accusation that you're guilty of hate speech because you believe there are actions and lifestyles condemned by the almighty God, the author of the Bible.
Now these pressures may come from the form of diversity oaths at work, where you may be required to deny a teaching of Jesus Christ. I've actually talked with people who are facing this kind of situation. You must determine the spiritual truth you can't compromise even if it involves losing friends or a job. Peter and John were arrested and dragged before the Jewish court and commanded not to publicly preach about Jesus Christ. Peter's response was we ought to obey God rather than men. Now this doesn't mean that Christians are to go around trying to pick a fight or be violent. Jesus actually taught His disciples to love your enemies. He said to bless those who curse you and do good to those who hate you and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you. Now, this goes against everything that we think about when someone is hurting us, right, and mean to us. But throughout history followers of Jesus Christ had been persecuted, marginalized, sometimes violently attacked. And let me ask you this. If you're a disciple of Jesus Christ why do you think this couldn't happen to you? Now all this means that being a true Christian means to be miserable and happy and resigned to not being liked. No, it means finding the real key to happiness.
Now how to experience happiness while living in a society that rejects you is part of Jesus' message and in “Jesus Christ: The Real Story” this study guide will help you understand how Christianity isn't just a belief or a profession of faith. It's a way of life. When you understand why Jesus died for you and how He now lives to do God's work in you, you can discover how to be free from the anger and the hatred, the anxiety and confusion that controls your life. You can order your free copy by calling the number on your screen or going to beyondtoday.tv
So far, we've looked at how in order to thrive as a Christian in a non-Christian society you must know and live by truth, the truth of what Jesus Christ taught. Develop strong Christian homes and be part of a biblical based community and you must determine the spiritual truths you can't compromise with. What is really important is that Christians who recognize that they may be marginalized from society doesn't mean you become fatalistic. You don't live in constant fear and anxiety. That's not what we're supposed to do. And here's part of the problem, we have to be honest with it. Part of our problem is that in the Western world, you and I have lived in a wealthy society with all of its distractions and too many times we've bought into the idea that the only purpose of life is to seek constant happiness and instant gratification.
Remember what we read just a little bit ago from Barna? That for a majority of old mainline Protestants life has no inherent values or purposes, but we can make the most of it by doing things that produce personal happiness or satisfaction. I want to ask you a question. What did Jesus teach about happiness? Interesting question. Part of what is called the Sermon on the Mount is called the Beatitudes, which means to be extremely blessed and it's in Matthew five. And I'm just going to pick out a couple verses from Matthew five, because I want you to read it. I want you to go to Matthew five and read it. Here's what Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Most people think that happiness is forcing everyone to do what you want, getting what you want at all cost. And Jesus said that humility, poor in spirit, is the way to happiness. And this starts with humility before God. You have to accept your spiritual poverty without God.
In this passage Jesus gives eight spiritual keys to happiness and they are totally different than what's sort of the normal human reaction. We live in a society where everyone is concerned with my rights, with pride, with winning at all costs, forcing what you want and other people. It's part of the fabric of the world we live in. Jesus said that His followers would be poor in spirit and this approach leads to being blessed by God. And what we just read too, the reward isn't just calmness and joy in this life but there's an eternal reward.
In verse six, Jesus said, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be filled." Have you ever been so hungry or thirsty that all you could think about was food or water? I have a few times in life. God gives happiness to those who experience intense, spiritual desire to seek to be right with Him. And this desire becomes more important than any physical thing you can have or experience. Now Jesus said that people who experienced this kind of spiritual hunger and thirst will receive fulfillment from God. Then later down in the list, Jesus says, "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Wait a minute. There's a blessing from God when we suffer for the sake of being a disciple of Jesus Christ? Yes. He said it's going to happen. It's a difficult saying, God will give happiness, an internal thing that happens, not just from external things, internal help from God who suffer as a disciple of Jesus Christ.
Once again, all these sayings go against the common idea that so many people have. I've talked about this before in the program too, that common idea that God loves me. He wants me to be happy. So He wants me to do whatever I think will make me happy. That's not what Jesus taught. Just get out your Bibles and go to Matthew five and read the Beatitudes. Biblical Christians must remember something in all this, and this is hard too. This is not God's world. Its basic core values are not what Jesus Christ taught. Jesus Christ is going to return by the way, to save humanity. The Bible says that. And until then to be a Christian means that you must be a stranger in a strange land. And that's what Christians have been ever since the beginning, ever since Jesus called together that first group of people.
Now it wasn't just the 12 disciples. There were men, there were women, there were children. All became part of that early church. Ever since that time, they became strangers and pilgrims. That's the price you pay. To be a disciple of Jesus Christ, you become a stranger and Pilgrim on the earth. You don't really fit in, but you're happy. You're productive. You know when you really are a good Christian, people tend to like you even some who persecute you. Because why? Because you treat them right. It's the way you act that matters.
I really encourage you to take the time to order this study guide, “Jesus Christ: The Real Story” and when you get your copy, don't just read it. I really encourage you to read every scripture. Make this your primary daily study for a few weeks. Read every scripture. There's even a movement to dishonor Jesus by claiming that He sinned. In fact, it's surprising how many Christians actually believe that. He's insulted by politicians who throw out His name to get votes. He is proclaimed in weekly church services that are really more about entertainment and affirmation than discovering and following the real Jesus Christ. Seek to become an authentic disciple. And you can order your free copy of “Jesus Christ: The Real Story” by calling the number on your screen, or by going to beyondtoday.tv, you can download a copy or read it online.
Now I want to go back and just review quickly the points we talked about today. What you and I are going to have to do to thrive as Christians, biblical Christians. I want to stress biblical Christians in a non-Christian society. We have to know and live by the truth and this starts with knowing and living by Jesus Christ, knowing who He is, and that gives us context of the whole Bible, clear back to Genesis. He quoted Genesis. Remember that? We have to know and live by the truth and the truth will set us free. It gives us power because it comes from God. It comes from God. Now everybody will say too, I have my truth and you have your truth.
I don't want to know any more in my life, what my truth is. I'm not interested in that anymore. I really would like to discover God's truth because that's the only truth. I've made up a lot of things in my life that I found out later weren't true. Things I truly believed, found out no, they weren't true. How did I find out? Because of that book. Develop strong Christian homes. This is so important. How are our children going to survive living in a non-Christian world? Because their parents teach them, that's how. They learn because of what the parents do in their lives. Be part of a biblical community. I stress this so much that we must be part of, not just a church. You and I have to be part of a biblical community. Where not only you find the Bible being studied and read and Jesus Christ being honored the way that we're supposed to do that but what you find is help and support on an emotional level. You know, you may disagree on the details, but on the core issues you are one and you help each other through the mess. You carry each other, sometimes when the other person can't do it themselves.
Don't compromise on spiritual truth, and this is going to be the real thing. But if you just compromise a little, you keep your job. If you just compromise a little, you'll get a whole lot more likes, right? More people will push like, or you won't be attacked or you, you won't lose a job. That's going to become a reality. It's not like what's happening in persecution in other places where people are dying. This kind of persecution is going to be what they call soft persecution. It's going to be on an emotional level, relationship level and it will affect us job wise and in a number of other ways. And then find real happiness in God. God can give you something you can't do. God will give you something you don't have and they can only come from God. And you start with Beatitudes. You know, Christians have always been strangers in a strange land. We're promised the kingdom of God, and it is in the King of that kingdom, that we must give our loyalty and it is God who guides our lives. And this is how, this is how you'll know that we will survive but thrive and living as a Christian in a non-Christian society.
[Narrator] Call now for the free booklet offered on today's program, “Jesus Christ: The Real Story.” Many Christians who read through the gospels are surprised to find a different Jesus than the one they were taught. He presented Himself as a way to everlasting life for those who followed Him. But He also proclaimed the good news of the coming Kingdom of God right here on earth. Order now, call toll free 1-888-886-8632, or write to the address shown on your screen. When you order this free study aid we'll also send you a complimentary one year subscription to our Beyond Today magazine. Six times a year, you'll read about current world events in the light of Bible prophecy and godly principles to guide you toward a life that leads to peace. Call today to receive your free booklet, Jesus Christ: The Real Story. 1-888-886-8632, or go online to beyondtoday.tv.
[Gary Petty] Hi, I'm Gary Petty, a pastor with United Church of God. If you're looking for a church that encourages living what the word of God really teaches, you found the right place. Visit ucg.org to find a church near you. We're looking forward to meeting you soon.