Thursday, November 12, 2009

Is There a Utopia Outside of Christ?

I was thinking the other day about the early 90’s, and being with Chuck Colson in Chicago when he was receiving The Templeton Award, and he talked about the enduring revolution of the cross. In his message and acceptance speech, he mentioned the myth of a coming Utopia. Of course, this is the myth that human nature can be perfected by government, that a New Jerusalem can be built using the tools of politics.

Chuck made it clear that from the birth of the twentieth century to the present age ruthless ideologies claimed history as their own. They’ve moved swiftly from nation to nation on the strength of a promised Utopia. They pledged to move the world but could only stain it with blood. Communism, Fascism, we’ve seen rulers who bear the Mark of Cain as a badge of honor. They pursue a savage virtue, a virtue devoid of humility and humanity.

We have seen more people killed in this century by their governments than all of histories wars combined. We have seen every Utopian experiment fail, exhausted from the pace of its own brutality. Utopian temptations, however, persist. Even in the world democracies, stripped of their terrors perhaps, but with none of their risks. The political allusion still deceives, whether it is called “The Great Society,” “The New Covenant,” or “The New World Order.” In each case, it promises government solutions to our deepest needs for security, peace, and meaning.

Now of course, we have the new socialism of our own age. The problem is that government has taken over for a failing church; a church today that labors under the allusion of a coming Utopia apart from the coming of Jesus Christ.

The false teachers continue to persist. They tell us that we are waiting for a great revival, because the leaders of that great revival have already emerged upon the scene. They are claiming to be greater than the Old Testament prophets. Moreover, should Old Testament or New Testament prophets appear today, then Moses, Abraham, and Paul would be standing in line to get the autographs of these new anointed leaders![1] We are told they will empty out hospitals and fill stadiums, that they will bring a healing Utopia to the land.[2]

We fall for the skin of the truth stuffed with a great big lie. To recognize the lie would be wise? And the only way to do it is to become so familiar with truth that when falsehoods loom on the horizon, you will be able to identify them immediately.

It is true that only in Christ and His coming will we have Utopia. Communism will not give it to us. Communism works in heaven; however, you don’t need it in heaven because in heaven there will not be a fallen human nature. As has been well said, Communism would also work well in hell, but they already have it there.[3]

The flawed and fallen human nature prevents a coming Utopia. It also prevents government to be able to do what Christians ought to be able to do, and that is to love and labor in the midst of sorrows. To bind each other wounds, to be the balm of Gilead in the lives of other people. We cannot promise panaceas, but we can give people peace in the midst of the storm.

I pray—as we get closer and closer to Thanksgiving and Christmas—that each and every one of you will think carefully and clearly about how you can be involved in meeting the needs of the down trodden and the poor. Most of all how you can communicate the Gospel, to give a cup of cold water, the water of life to a thirsting soul and the only way you can do that is to be equipped.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Are You Ready to Reach the Masses?

Within my “Legacy Study Bible Reading Plan,” we are now in November and staring to read the book of Romans. You want to get into Romans, one of the great pieces of literature in general, but from the perspective of a Christian, this is the infallible repository of redemptive revelation.

You see in Romans chapter 1 Paul talks about the light of creation and demonstrates that all people everywhere have the light creation. Then in Romans chapter 2, he talks about the light of conscience, the fact that the knowledge of God is emblazoned on the tablet of our heart. So, on the one hand, in Romans chapter 1 we have an outer light, but on the other hand, in Romans chapter 2 we have an inner light.

If we respond to both the light from without and the light from within, we are assured by the Apostle Paul in Romans chapter 3 that we will receive the light of Jesus Christ. This is why Paul can say in the book of Acts, “From one man he made every nation of men that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.” (17:26-27).

I am often times comforted by those words from the Apostle Paul, for recently I was in Asia. I visited to Korea, Taiwan, and mainland China, and there I often times saw the teeming masses beguiled by ancestral worship or folk religions. I stood in Shanghai and watched the faces as they went by, and I wondered do they know the Lord? How can they come to know Christ? Again, I was comforted by the knowledge that they have the light of creation, and that God has placed within them the light of conscience, and if they love light as opposed to darkness, God will give them the light of Christ.

God can do this supernaturally, He doesn’t need human agency, but in God’s economy He is determined that we are the agents of Good News in a normative fashion of salvation. In other words, we have the privilege of having the Holy Spirit move through us in the process of communicating the grace, peace, and love that only Jesus Christ can bring to the human heart.

Now the question is “are we ready to seize the opportunity or are we consumed by apathy?” We stand in Western Christianity on the precipice of a great divide. Are we going to continue conforming our selves to the culture or are we going to conform ourselves to Christ, take up His cross and follow Him? If we are we can turn things around in Western Civilization, we need to get back to the basics that made Western Civilization great. Western Civilization became great because it was built on the DNA of Western Christianity.

If we fail to do so, we may well watch a shift of power, not power in terms of military power (although that is possible as well) but in terms of an economic resurgence of power in Pacific Rim nations that is unprecedented, which something we are seeing today. We are also seeing a resurgence of authentic New Testament Christianity growing at such a rate that—quite frankly—the Communist Chinese government doesn’t know what to do with it. If you have a 1,000, 10,000, or even 100,000 Christians, you can imprison and persecute them, but when it comes to numbers like 100 million, perhaps now you have a force so great that it can turn an empire upside down, very much like what happened in the first century.

So we see a balance of powers that is shifting and changing in a very dynamic fashion before our eyes. The question the West faces is, “are we going to go back to the Cross or are we going to be consumed by the culture?”

The mission of the Christian Research Institute is to equip committed Christians to go back to authentic New Testament Christianity, to take up their cross, follow Christ, to become ambassadors for Christ, as opposed to secret agents who are unwilling or unable to communicate the Gospel but haven never blown their cover before an unregenerate world. So secularism, hedonism, and humanism are on the march and Christianity is on the decline. We can change things, if we will get back to basics. Again, our mission is to equip people, and we want to equip literally hundreds of millions to think Christianly and therefore not be conformed to the culture but rather be transforming agents in the culture.