Monday, October 20, 2014
God's Solution to Our "Word" Problem
Pilipinas kong mahal (My beloved, Philippines): Three decades after EDSA Revolution we could have expected more honest and faithful politicians and public servants flood our country today. But that’s not the case. Not even in our churches: Evangelical Protestantism was started in 1898 in the Philippines. After 118 years of presence in the country we could have expected more solid, strong and faithful gospel-centered churches that are forerunners and pillars of truth. But our overall impact to the community and society as bearers and preachers of the truth and the gospel of Christ is not that much. Mas dumami pa yata ang bisyo kaysa mabuting asal at mas dumami pa ang masasamang tao kay sa mababait sa bansa (It seems like vices are more rampant than virtues and more wicked people thrive than good ones in our nation). Our country is crowded with dishonest, deceptive, immoral, and lawless people.
What’s the evidence? All you need to do is to listen to how people talk nowadays! Watch the news on TV or read it online in your FB newsfeed or in the paper and you’ll see. Nakaka-inis na! (It's very annoying!)
The kind of people that thrive in our world today is described in Psalm 12:2: "Everyone utters lies to his neighbor; with flattering lips and a double heart they speak." Three character traits are given about them: (1) they tell a lie, (2) they flatter, and (3) they deceive. The psalmist complains that people’s conversation is full of empty talk, smooth talk, and double talk, as one scholar put it. This is the analysis of the problem of society then from the perspective of heaven. In God's eyes our problem of corruption, rampant crime, increasing broken marriages and families, church fights and splits, and many other symptoms of disintegrating society are all related to our misuse or abuse of the tongue.
What is heaven's prescription in addressing this problem? Psalm 12:6: "The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times."
This is remarkable! On the one hand, our society’s problem can be diagnosed as disregard for the human word, while on the other hand, the only remedy turns out to be a high regard for the Word of the Lord which He himself promises to keep and preserve from generation to generation (v.7).
Many people who do not want to be told by the truth have many times attempted to eradicate the Bible in society. Liars and double-talkers do not want the Bible. If they do they only pay lip service to the Bible. Why? The written Word of God exposes their darkness.
One reason why churches do not have maximum impact in society today is because churches have disregarded the Bible and its essential teachings. Liberalism, tolerance, pragmatism, and emphasis on personal experience have been the pursuit of many congregations today. The essential teachings of God’s Word are now set aside by many. There’s no more teaching of sin and salvation in Jesus Christ alone. It's all salvation without reference to the heinousness of sin. No more teaching of holiness and justice of God which are the very character of God that sin and wickedness offend.
The emphasis on the love of God at the expense of the holiness and justice of God has been one of the causes of the church's impotence in our society today. The churches just want to fall in love with and want to be embraced by the world with her tolerance of evil in society. But God calls us to fight the world's lies and deception with the full armor of God which includes the belt of truth and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.
And that Word, mind you, is sure, true, and flawless. Anyone learning and living by it will soon have a new tongue along with a clean heart and mind, so that his “yes” may really, perhaps even painfully, be “yes,” and his “no” be genuinely “no.”
If you are always struggling to keep your word or promise because of the pressure around you, despair no longer. God promises to deliver you if you desperately call upon Him to save you from your perennial "word" problem. On your behalf and for your sake, God has sent His Word, His beloved Son, who became flesh and dwelt among us. He is the Way, the TRUTH, and the life. He is the ULTIMATE solution to your problem of lying lips and double tongue. He not only demonstrated the love of God toward us liars and deceivers, He also showed the justice of God upon our sin by identifying with us and paying for the penalty of our sin in His death as our representative and substitute.
Christ did this in our behalf so that we who were conceived and born in sin, by faith in him, will be set free from the power and penalty of sin. Then we who have been redeemed and cleansed by the Word of God can live freely in the truth and in accordance to His Word.
So God's prescribed solution to our "word" problem is not by disregarding or softening His holy Word but by upholding it and keeping it diligently and faithfully in spite of the world's and the devil's opposition to it.
(Thanks to Dr. Nelson Kloosterman for his insightful Bible study on Psalm 12 in his "Walking About Zion: Singing of Christ's Church in the Psalms". I've used some of his thoughts in this post.)