TITLE: Then and Now
DATE: January 14, 2020
Christ is risen. He is risen, indeed.
TEXT: John 17:17 - ESV - 17 Sanctify them[a] in the truth; your word is truth.
Years ago, a Lutheran pastor entered a tavern, (it wasn't a place where he went very often), where a man, wishing to embarrass him, rose and suddenly shouted, "Es gibt keinen Gott." For those whose German is rusty, that means, "There is no God."
The pastor, rather than getting really ticked off, calmly went over to the man, laid a hand on his shoulder and said, "My friend, what you just said isn't new. The Bible said, "There is no God" over 2,000 years ago."
The drunk, taken aback, said, "Uh, uh, I didn't know the Bible said there was no God!"
"Absolutely," continued the pastor, "Psalm 14, verse 1., 'The fool says in his heart, there is no God.' But there is a great difference between that fool and yourself. The fool the Bible talks about was modest. He said, 'there is no God' only in his heart; he didn't go around yelling it in a tavern."
Iris our modern misfortune, our time's tragedy, that it isn’t just drunks in taverns who say, 'There is no God.".
An Arlington, Virginia minister said, "We have closed our minds to such trivial things as the resurrection of Christ. If you want to believe that nonsense, we have no objections, but we have more important things to preach than an empty tomb that is 20 centuries old."
It would be great if that minister were an exception, but he is not so unusual.
A survey taken of 521 clergy and laity who attended a National Council of Churches General Assembly in Miami Beach, showed that only about 1/2 believed Jesus was Divine; only 1/4 thought the miracles of the Bible really happened; 1/3 said the Devil "Definitely does not exist"; and less than 2/3 were completely certain of any kind of life after death.
That is the way it is in many places, in many churches, with many congregations and a high percentage of individuals who call themselves Christians.
Sin is not poison. It is an indiscretion. The result is that much of the church has become cold and lifeless. Even with fine schools and wondrous buildings and lofty-sounding liturgies, souls are being left desolate, uncomforted and unsaved.
But there was a time, in the early history of the church when Christianity spread dramatically. It was no false boast when a 2nd century Christian writer said, "We Christians are everywhere. We are in your towns and in your cities; we are in your army and navy; we are in your palaces; we are in the senate, we are more numerous than anyone."
But times have changed, and not for the good.
What has made the difference? The early Christians believed, goodness, THEY KNEW they were dealing with truth. Not just opinion, not just feeling, but the truth. They had received the truth of God that saves, the truth of God that says God sent His Son into this world to take our place, to live under the law, to die on a cross and on the third day rise again so that all who believe on Him might have salvation. That is truth!
The early Christians shared the wonders of God's love, long foretold by ancient writers, by prophet and king alike. They shared God's entire truth, from beginning to end: that Jesus Christ who had been crucified by the will of sinful men had been raised to life again by the power of God. They shared God's entire truth, from beginning to end. In short, they declared the truth of God.
THE PRAYER: Lord, in a world of doubt and denial, may we boldly proclaim Your truth which alone can save. In Your holy Name I pray it. Amen.
The music which introduces and concludes our devotions was written by Guy Baumann. He along with three of his brothers perform on the album: The Baumann Brothers which may be ordered here: http://thebaumannbrothers.com/index.html