As I have talked with people concerning their views about God, a question like this will often arise during our conversation. It sure isn’t hard to see that Americans are a bit of an independent lot aren’t we? But the truth is, as much as we might not want to hear it, your opinion and my opinion–though as free moral agents we are certainly entitled to have them–our opinions really don’t mean much when it comes to what to believe about God.

What Difference Does It Make What Someone Believes?

How many times have you ever heard comments like these: “My friend is a really nice person. He’s got his religion and I’ve got mine. Does it really matter what we believe about God as long as we believe in Him?” How about –“Oh sure; I believe in God but I don’t like churches so I just worship in my own way. What difference does it make?” Or maybe this one – “Yeah, I’m a Christian, and I go to church every week, does it really matter what I believe?”

As I have talked with people concerning their views about God, a question like this will often arise during our conversation. Frankly, these actual comments do quite nicely represent the prevailing philosophies of these crazy times. It sure isn’t hard to see that Americans are a bit of an independent lot aren’t we? But the truth is, as much as we might not want to hear it, your opinion and my opinion–though as free moral agents we are certainly entitled to have them–our opinions really don’t mean much when it comes to what to believe about God. As the Christian should already know, the fact is, that mankind has a fallen and corrupt human nature due to sin. And no matter what we believe on our own, or even how hard we might try, we simply cannot know God by our own efforts.

To Think Like God

In this postmodern culture we live in, people will often need to be reminded that God is truly beyond our comprehension, as He transcends knowledge, time, and space by infinity. We must help people to understand that God is an all-powerful, disembodied, ultra-dimensional Spirit–Who exists outside any continuum that we can access. In other words, the Creator of the entire universe is way bigger, smarter, and more powerful than we can ever be. You may have heard the old saying: “You ain’t from around here are ya?” Well, not only is God not from around here, the fact is He’s not even anything like us at all!

It’s important for us to understand that all we are capable of knowing about God, besides coming to the realization that we can’t know Him on our own, is what He’s chosen to let us know of Himself by one of His two revelations. Those would be His written Word, the Bible, and His living Word–Jesus of Nazareth, Who is the Christ. The absolute truth is that we can only come to know our Creator God on His own terms is confirmed in the Bible where the Lord tells us through His prophet Isaiah:

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).

So even if your intellect happens to be as massive as the entire Swiss Alps you simply cannot understand the ways of God without being regenerated, or born again, by making a personal decision to surrender to Jesus Christ as your Lord, and having God the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Holy Trinity, living inside of you. For the Bible is unmistakable when it says – The man without the [Holy] Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 2:14). This of course would even include the Bible itself, which was written by the Person of God the Holy Spirit through human authors of His choosing.

Wrongly Dividing the Word of Truth

These verses we’ve looked at so far also explain why so many non-Christian cults like The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society; the cult of Liberal Theology and the cult-like apostate Roman Catholic Church, who all use the Bible, are in existence. These are people who by and large have not been regenerated by God the Holy Spirit, and so they cannot possibly rightly understand the Bible in the first place. It’s a sad fact; but it is one that we will all do well to remember, if we have any hope in reaching these people for Christ.

Now let’s look at the whole of verse 1 Corinthians 2:14 – The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. You see, many things that God does make no sense to us, because on our own we just are not capable of thinking like He does. The deadly effects of sin have warped our perceptions so much that essentially we go through this life much like a horse with blinders on. God gives us enough knowledge about Himself through His creation and the Bible to see clearly straight ahead, but then we must trust Him by faith for what we cannot see off to either side of our narrow road.

It’s very important that we all understand how this works for ourselves, but it has become even more imperative that we also learn how to share this truth with others around us. You must realize that our nation is largely inhabited by an increasingly hedonistic society, which has been conditioned by relativism to think that there is no such thing as absolute truth. That is, if they even believe that there is such a thing as truth in the first place. The trouble comes as the plethora of false teachers roaming the country-side attempt to walk off the narrow path onto “side” roads and claim to have answers to things that God does not wish man to know. In actually however, they are nothing more than odious professors of things taught by demons, and Christ Jesus says to those who are following these counterfeit teachers – Leave them; they are blind guides. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit (Matthew 15:14).

The truth is, we don’t need any new revelations about God. Instead, what we need to do is to seek the Lord for the power to live for Him, as He wants us to. The time has come where the Body of Christ must return to biblical principles and to truly become more like Jesus. The time has arrived for us fall at our Lord’s feet and ask Him to forgive us for being so selfish for so long, and to ask God to fill us a-fresh with His Holy Spirit. Then we can finally begin making an impact for the Lord Jesus Christ in this backward world we live in. That’s what’s been missing in the Christian witness in America. And that’s exactly why this country is in the disgusting spiritual shape it’s in right now. Things have gotten so bad that it’s virtually impossible for the Christian to go anywhere, or do anything, without running smack into crud and rubbish!

Some Important Questions

Does it really matter what someone believes about God? That is an extremely important question, and what I’ll do now is to give you a sound answer by turning to the Bible to see what the Lord has to say the subject. Another vital question we should be asking today is: When is the Church going to stop letting the world tell us how to live? Sure the Willow Creeks and the Lakewoods and the Saddlebacks have many people in them. But the truly discerning Christian rather be concerned about whether or not these people have actually found the Christ of the Bible and been born again amidst all the worldly din of these seeker-sensitive churches?

And so we must also ask: Why is it that the Christian is even attempting to walk in ways of harmony with this evil world system? At this point we will do well to keep in mind that the Bible does emphatically state – Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think the Scripture says without reason that the Spirit He caused to live in us envies intensely? (James 4:5-6)

Let’s turn to Acts 17 as we mull over the above questions, and focus specifically now on our main question in this article–Does It Really Matter What I Believe?

While Paul was waiting for [Silas and Timothy] in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to dispute with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we want to know what they mean.” (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.) Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with the inscription: To An Unknown God. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.” (Acts 17:16-23)

The events described here in God’s Word took place historically during Paul’s second missionary journey about 49 to 52 AD. At one time Greece was a mighty empire and Athens a great city known for its art, philosophy, and literature. However by the time of Paul’s arrival Athens had faded considerably, though it did still maintain a leading university and was still well known for being the center of classic philosophical discussion. In fact the great Bible commentator Matthew Henry informs us:

A scholar that is in love with the learning of the ancients would think he should be very happy if he were where Paul now was, at Athens, but Paul though bred a scholar, does not make this any of his business at Athens. He has other work to mind: his business is, in God’s name, to turn them from the service of idols to the service of the true and living God in Christ” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary, Dr. Leslie Church, Ed., p.1705, emphasis original).

The Reactions of a Wise Man

Our Lord in His infinite wisdom sent a scholar of His own, the Apostle Paul, right into the very seat of contemporary scholarship in the ancient world, the city of Athens. A common misconception today is that in Paul’s time man was not all that intellectual, but this was actually a time of great learning. It is interesting note here that so-called “modern” man fancies himself as so much wiser than these poor ignorant people in the first century. I wonder then, why is it that our western world is still so heavily influenced by these ancient Greek philosophers like Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle? And why is it that our leading intellectuals bow before them still in worship before their sacred cow of philosophy?

As all this relates to the text in Acts 17 – here’s how the New American Standard reads in verse 16 – Now while Paul was waiting for [Silas and Timothy] at Athens, his spirit was being provoked within him as he was observing the city full of idols. The NIV– we have already seen–says that [Paul] was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols (emphasis added). The Greek word translated here as “greatly distressed” is paroxuno and carries with it the meaning of “provoked, pained, to stir to anger.” The theological term itself comes down to us from the Latin: really-ticked-off-i-cus. In other words, Paul was angry over the rampant idolatry and the prevailing philosophy of the day – “eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow you may die.”

Does that sound familiar? Well now, maybe you’ve heard it expressed this way: You only go around once in life–so go for the gusto! Or, how about: Just Do It; No Fear, Go For It. Or maybe you’re familiar with this one: Life Is Short-Play Hard, and other like phrases in so many of our contemporary ad campaigns from our would-be postmodern philosophers on Madison Avenue.

E.H. Trenchard informs us that the ancient city of Athens was “a city notorious for its liking for ‘intellectual chat’… The Epicureans formed a philosophical school which thought of pleasure as the greatest good,…” (New International Bible Commentary, p.1298). And then there’s this further bit of wisdom from Dr. Henry Morris, whose numerous writings about the creation/evolution debate earned him the title “The Father of Modern Creationism.” Dr. Morris insightfully points out that, “In Paul’s day, the dominant humanistic philosophies were Gnosticism, Stoicism, Epicureanism, and others–all based on evolution” (The Biblical Basis for Modern Science, p.114, emphasis added). Do you happen to remember what I pointed out a moment ago about modern man thinking he is somehow superior to the “ignorant” people who lived in the first century?

Again I find myself wondering if we really are so much more intelligent and sophisticated now, then how is it we are raising a whole generation of internet junkies addicted to “cyber-chat,” and our society has now become enslaved by the pursuit of the very same things that caused the great civilization of Greece itself to implode? Do you seriously think that the inevitable “success” of the powerful homosexual lobby is not have devastating consequences upon this nation? The truly wise person would be prudent to give this subject some very serious prayerful consideration. As the words of this classic adage have never rung truer than for this sorry generation: Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

One final key comment on Acts 17:16 by Matthew Henry – “[Paul] was filled with concern for the glory of God, which he saw given to idols, and with compassion to the souls of men, which he saw thus enslaved to Satan” (ibid.). A few pertinent questions spring to mind: Why aren’t we as concerned for the glory of God today? Where is our compassion for the lost? And why is it today that we can see this country so obviously following the “idols” of the theory of evolution and sexual immorality, and yet we ourselves are not greatly distressed or feeling our spirits being provoked within?

Who Speaks for our Creator?

But today, while in the throes of a growing apostasy within the Evangelical community, the ever-increasing number of Christians being swallowed up by the seeker-sensitive Church Growth Movement, perhaps too busy with their own Purpose Driven Life, say nothing. In his book The Battle For The Beginning Dr. John MacArthur begins to expose a major part of the reason why. So many who would claim to be Christian are losing their faith regarding the fact that God has directly created us in the first place. If we can come to understand this problem–then we will then be see how the whole creation/evolution debate has eroded belief in God to such a point that even professing Christians are losing their faith to be willing to stand for what the Bible actually says. It seems ridiculous to say what I’m about to say, but it rings true in the Spirit, and in our hearts, so we dare to admit it: The Church of our Lord here in America has now become afraid of the world.

MacArthur reveals a terrifying outlook for the future of this nation, and Christ’s Church within it:

As humanity enters the twenty-first century, an even more frightening prospect looms. Now even the church seems to be losing the will to defend what Scripture teaches about human origins (p.17).

Now we would expect this denial of the Word of God from those who are nonbelievers. We really aren’t even all that surprised when professing Christians in dying mainline denominations like the Congregational Church; the Episcopal Church; and the United Methodist Church, all of which apostatized long ago, deny the clear text of the Bible. Because, as MacArthur tells us, the sinister Cult of Liberal Theology has:

long espoused theistic evolution. They have never been reluctant to deny the literal truth of Scripture on any issue. [But a destructive] new trend has also influenced some evangelicals who contend that it is possible to harmonize Genesis 1-3 with the theories of [evolution and] modern naturalism without doing violence to any essential doctrine of Christianity” (ibid.).

However, did you know that even most Bible colleges and seminaries in this country have already compromised the Scriptures they say they believe in just to be compatible with the theory of evolution? And what a grave mistake we are making! To paraphrase Tertullian, the great second century Church Father: There will never be; there can never be; any agreement between Athens and Jerusalem. Tertullian uses Athens here as representing the zenith of man’s wisdom, contrasting it with Jerusalem, which represents the wisdom of Almighty God. MacArthur then states a sad fact when he says, “More and more [evangelicals] are embracing the view known as ‘old-earth creationism,’ which blends some of the principles of biblical creationism with naturalistic and evolutionary theories, seeking to reconcile two opposing world-views” (ibid., p.18).

So what are we saying? Bottom line: Any way you slice it this is a compromise of what God clearly said in the Bible. Now I ask you to carefully consider this: Can you think of one time in the history of His dealings with mankind–just one time that the Lord Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth, the God of biblical revelation ever–ever blessed men when they compromised His Word? And do we seriously think that He’s about to start now? A couple of very significant questions to which men who have been aligned with the Church Growth Movement such as Donald McGavran, C. Peter Wagner, Bill Hybels, and Rick Warren had best give much prayerful thought.

And let me share one last thing from The Battle For The Beginning. MacArthur hit’s the issue dead on when he writes –

It is therefore a serious mistake to imagine that modern scientists can speak more authoritatively than Scripture on the subject of origins… Scripture is God’s own eyewitness account of what happened in the beginning” (ibid., p. 23).

Thinking Isn’t Illegal–Yet

Can you see why this gross compromise and acquiescence to our fickle postmodern culture has had such a profound impact upon the historic orthodox Christian faith in this nation? The fact is that the average someone today who visits one of these pragmatic Purpose Driven churches in the Church Growth Movement has already been affected, in varying degrees, by the false notion that science falsely so called (see-1 Timothy 6:20, KJV) has somehow proven that the Bible is an unreliable source to base one’s entire life upon. And, if the Body of Christ no longer has the intestinal fortitude that’s required to defend Holy Scripture against this eternally fatal and erroneous belief, then people are never going to find Christ in these user-friendly social clubs no matter how “cool” and seeker-sensitive the church services may be!

And then there is the repugnant idol of sexual immorality that our sin-sick society so reverently bows before? It has now become so bad that the true Christian can’t even go somewhere as innocuous as the local supermarket without being bombarded with nauseating exhibits of its worship! Further, as Bill Maier of Focus On The Family has pointed out, now this kind of trash even infiltrates our own homes via television, radio, and the Internet. Can’t you see that the only way for a follower of our Lord to avoid being disturbed by this aggressive onslaught from these idols from Hell is to “adjust” your standards as a Christian downward (think of what is “down there”) and to compromise your Christian principles so they will be more in line with the values of this world. And just how desensitized to sin the Church of Jesus Christ in America has become!

Our unwillingness to combat secular humanism is a major reason why Christian standards are fast eroding as relativism, one of its deadly tentacles, wraps itself around more and more of our church leaders. Christians have been told for so long now by shallow one-dimensional pastors not to ask any questions and to just take everything by “faith” that the Church in this so-called One Nation Under God has all but lost our ability to think things through. For various reasons–which still make no sense to me–the Church in America long ago stopped using its God-given reasoning skills and began to just blindly accept any teacher who claimed to have a “word from God.” And this deadly decision not to test everything that is taught, by the Bible (see–1 Thessalonians 5:21), is what allowed the aberrant pragmatism of PDL/CGM to gain a foothold within orthodox Christianity in the first place.

This unwillingness to heed the warnings in Holy Scripture to test the spirits (1 John 4:1) and to do our best to present [ourselves] to God (2 Timothy 2:15) is also the very cause for the appalling lack of discernment within the Body of Christ. As you combine these two huge problems, one can easily see why we have nearly lost an entire generation of young people to apathy. People in their late teens are looking for reasons “why” things are the way they are, and they’re also looking for something to commit their lives to. Intuitively they can see that beneath the shallow Christian veneer of these sinner-sensitive mega-churches there is no real promise for any kind of meaningful lives for them.

And now we add one more of the prevailing philosophies of our day into this insipid mix. Constantly the Christian is bombarded with this idea that we “shouldn’t be telling other people what to believe,” because no one has the right to “force” his or her views on someone else. If you think about it for a minute, you’ll see just how much this flawed line of reasoning is affecting our witness for Jesus Christ. Christians, uneasy at the work place, or in the neighborhood, want to share Christ with people, but become afraid that it is going to be considered “pushy” to do so. However, what is missed here is that this view itself is being forced upon the Christian by the world. And whoever said the true Christian Church was forcing any views on anyone?

The Shrinking Christian World-View

What has happened, as direct result of succumbing to this false philosophy, is that we’ve had a whole generation of Christian parents so conditioned by it; they have raised their children with sub-minimal biblical standards so as not to “force” a world-view on them. And now that we have had years of watered down psychologically oriented theology–through the enormous influence of Robert Schuller–far too many of these professing Christian parents have duped into trusting our public school systems to do it instead. Sadly, what they got for this huge indiscretion is a generation of young people who have been thoroughly indoctrinated with a humanistic world-view. And guess where many of the young pastors of these user-friendly churches in the current Church Growth Movement–and most particularly the aberrant Emergent Church–have initially developed their world-views?

Things of this nature are what prompted leading Christian apologist, professor and theologian, Dr. William Lane Craig to write, concerning the young people in his classes, in his book Hard Questions, Real Answers:

It became clear to me that Christian students have not been able to rise above the dark undertow in our educational system at the primary and secondary levels. This level of ignorance presents a real crisis for Christian colleges and seminaries (p.12).

Beloved, this is a critical subject, which is now directly impacting the Church in America. These by and large shallow seeker-sensitive churches now have thousands of young men and women in their fellowships that are most certainly capable of going on to colleges and universities. This growing problem of ignorance among our youth in general has now compounded by so many of our country’s consumer-friendly churches which are almost less than apathetic about teaching them a proper Christian world-view. Dr. Craig warns us just how devastating the effect of this neglect will be on the faith of Jesus Christ in America will be when he tells us:

an even more terrible fear began to dawn on me as I [thought about the level of ignorance]. If Christian students are [don’t know] the general facts of history and geography, I thought, then the chances are that they, and Christians in general, are equally or even more ignorant of the facts of our own Christian heritage and doctrine (ibid., italics in original).

Let’s take a moment to think this through and come to see the bigger picture here? What Dr. Craig is talking about directly, the hugely detrimental effects that secular humanism has had on the youth of this nation, has undoubtedly been exacerbated in the Christian world by the lukewarm (at best) witness of many of these PDL/ECM seeker-sensitive social clubs of the misguided modern Church Growth Movement. Today we find ourselves at a perilous time in our nation where we must return to the most crucial issue there is in this world, and that is: What is the truth about where we come from?

As followers of our Lord Jesus Christ, we have to help people see that this is the heart of the matter, and not whether someone has the right to share their views about that truth. No true Christian would deny that everyone has the right to their own opinions, or that all people have the right to share their views. However, we who make up the Body of Christ have the moral obligation as God’s true spokesmen to correct that which is wrong. The Lord has clearly told us that: We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us (2 Corinthians 5:20). We also have a mandate from Christ Jesus to work together to try and correct wrongs wherever possible, and particularly when it involves beliefs about Who He is and His Gospel, which is the only way that God has chosen to save men from their sin.

The View of an Apostle

As we return to our biblical example here in Acts 17, let’s see how the Apostle Paul reacted when he saw things that were wrong in the culture he was among. Did he just say: Well, you know what they say, to each his own. You just do your own thing, and we’ll just let God sort it all out. It’s ok, as long as you don’t hurt anyone else. Did he just repeat those tired old phrases, which have become so ingrained in our demented and sin-sick society? Look at verse 17 – So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks – [those were Gentile converts to Judaism] – he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. The Greek word here for “reasoned” is where we get our English word dialogue.

Did the Lord’s servant just walk away afraid of being accused of “forcing” his opinions on others? No! The great Apostle Paul strongly exchanged ideas and beliefs with them. What he believed mattered to him because he was a Christian, an ambassador of the Lord Jesus Christ–our Creator God in human flesh–and the only Savior of hopelessly lost mankind! Paul’s righteous indignation, his godly anger, provoked him and stirred him to confront the errors of this peoples’ thinking. God the Holy Spirit living inside Paul moved His Apostle to lovingly point out that what people believe matters a great deal–to God. So much so that He endured being crucified. Jesus Christ of Nazareth was nailed to that old rugged Roman cross to save us from our wrong beliefs, and we must never let people forget this!

You see this whole matter does go straight to the very core of our faith in Christ Jesus. How you approach your witness for Christ today will depend on how you view the Bible. Permit me to explain. Today we are living in a time of “license” – as in licentiousness–masquerading under the guise of tolerance. By license here I mean a freedom that is used with irresponsibility, a blatant disregard for acceptable standards of personal conduct. And you should know, this isn’t really a new idea at all. God has seen it all before. The Bible says, The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time (Genesis 6:5). And concerning the times of the Judges in Israel–In those days…every man did that which was right in his own eyes – (Jud. 21:25). But we don’t see anything like this today…do we?

Oh no, this decadence certainly isn’t new, and it surely isn’t tolerance. As we can see here from this text in Acts 17, these times in which we live are an interesting parallel to the first century Paul lived in. It does make you wonder. Could it be that mankind is coming full circle back to how things were around the first time Christ came? And could it possibly be that God the Holy Spirit is trying to alert us to be preparing all the more for the second coming of Jesus Christ because He truly is coming soon? It is an intriguing idea, and a little something for us to chew on.

The Importance of Correct Doctrine about the Bible

At this point someone will say: Yes maybe so; but what does this have to do with how I personally “view the Bible?” When I say how you approach your witness for Christ today will depend on how you view the Bible, I mean to say, if you read the Bible literally you are going to see one thing. Then, if you take a more liberal view, which is much more common than you think, you can “spiritualize” in another thing entirely. In point of fact, this second view of the Bible is actually the way the vast majority of those who would call themselves Christians today do treat their reading of Scripture, though they probably don’t even realize they are doing so. In their approach to the Bible, they simply end up reading into it what they want it to say, instead of really being willing to think God’s thoughts after Him, no matter how unseeker-friendly they may be. One need only listen to a Brian McLaren or a Rob Bell of the Emergent Church to come to understand how dangerous this lack of regard for the Bible will be on this generation of our impressionable young. That this is true is beyond question to those who have ears to hear.

For how else did this idea that we are to just leave people alone in their sin and false beliefs because we don’t want to risk “offending” them ever find its way into our Evangelical churches? It seems to me that when Christ Jesus our Lord confronted the false religious system of His day–if you read the Bible literally–the Master was just a bit critical in what He had to say. And I quote:

Woe to you teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice the son of hell as you are (Matthew 23:14-15).

You may correct me if I’m wrong, but observations such as this landed Jesus Christ of Nazareth upon a bloody cross–did it not? And I do believe that it was our Lord said, I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him (John 13:16).

Be Careful How You Read God’s Word

This is what our Bible, the Word of God we Christians profess to believe in, literally says. And no amount of man-centered user-friendly and seeker-sensitive jargon can possibly do away with it. The only way the Christian–so-called–can come up with the idea that we are here for a life of comfort, and/or that love doesn’t confront the evil of its time, is to spiritualize away verses like we just read. It is also to willingly ignore passages such as our text here in Acts 17–the historical account of the Apostle Paul’s willingness to go out into the marketplace to tell people about Jesus Christ–no matter what the cost. And elsewhere in Acts, we see him go right into another’s place of worship, in order to create opportunities to witness to them.

Not everyone is comfortable doing that, but how much wiser it would be for us to actually do what God tells us to do, to study the Bible and to learn to think as He does. For Scripture says – Do not let this book of law –[the Bible]– depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything in it (Joshua 1:8). While using this verse in his message Thinking God’s Thoughts A.W. Tozer said – “To think God’s thoughts requires much prayer. If you do not read your Bible much and often and reverently, you are not thinking God’s thoughts…” (Tozer On Christian Leadership, January 12).

Truth Is Not Something You Feel

We have now uncovered why we live in such a messed up culture with such misguided views about God. Postmodern America has now become such an extremely ill-advised society with so many wrong ideas about how the Creator wants His creatures to live. One wonders: Why do we even want to ask this pagan people what they want a church to be? You see, by not correctly handling the word of truth the Church has dropped the ball in our witness and instead we’ve actually helped the world conform us to its image. Through the PDL/ECM approach to church growth, we also have adapted too many of its mistaken ideas about God. And further, what we have been discussing also serves to explain just how we’ve arrived at this time in history where truth is now decided by how someone “feels.” You hear it all the time. “Well; this is how I feel about–this–or that.” Then the person you are talking to will go on and give you their opinion on whatever it might be that you are discussing with them.

But we must come to understand that truth is not based on something that you “feel.” In his book The Real Face Of Atheism Dr. Ravi Zacharias makes a couple of insightful observations about this subject: “this is a generation that listens with its eyes and thinks with its feelings…[and yet facts] are indispensable to justify [one’s] belief” (pp.13,14,167). It’s too bad Zacharias didn’t take his own advice and present more of these “indispensable” facts about the true Christ of the Bible to the Mormon people when he preached his message of compromise from the pulpit at the Mormon Tabernacle in front of so many members of the LDS Church.

He is right about this however, and that’s because something is either true, or not, based on actual evidence–and how you personally feel makes no difference at all. Ah, those nasty little things we call facts. We must remember that truth is never decided by someone’s speculative theories about what may be true. You know what a theory is anyway, don’t you? As Dr. Walter Martin used to say, “A theory is an outdated idea that has been ganged up on by a whole series of facts.” It cannot be emphasized enough: It makes no difference at all how someone might feel about those facts. And now we must help those who are ensnared by the PDL/ECM mentality of Church Growth Movement to see that one incontrovertible fact remains: Christ will never compromise His Gospel with any human culture–no matter how many of His ministers try and make us think that “the old, old story” is hopelessly outdated to the mind of the postmodern American.

I truly do think that the unbelieving world is actually right about one thing though. It isn’t good to be close-minded. Indeed, the wise person should keep an open mind to the discovery of truth to an extent. However, we should only keep an open mind to what the actual evidence has proven to be true. And Dr. Zacharias provides us with an apt quote from G.K. Chesterton, who once said:

an open mind, like an open mouth, does have a purpose: to close upon something solid. Otherwise, it could become like a city sewer, [swallowing everything and] rejecting nothing (ibid., p.14, emphasis added).

An Example of True Faith

A case in point, a minister once asked a youth leader, “Do you believe the Bible is true?”

“Well, of course I do”, the young man replied.

The minister then asked, “Why?”

The youth leader paused, thought about it, and then exclaimed, “I feel that the Bible is true because I have faith, and so I believe it.”

The older, wiser minister then said, “Well; that’s the difference between you and me. You believe the Bible is true because you have faith. But I have faith because the Bible is true.”

Can you see the difference? Though he doesn’t realize it, what this young man is actually saying is: How I feel about what I personally believe makes something true. Please understand, this is not nit-picking. If you want to win people to Christ today then it is imperative that you understand the logical fallacy here. This faulty reasoning is at the heart of one of the major lies with which Satan has gripped our nation. And in particular the enemy of men’s souls holds our youth captive by this hopelessly and eternally flawed view of truth.

For here we find the root cause for his smokescreen of relativism. This ridiculous idea that what is true for one person might not necessarily be true for another. What one needs to come to grips with here is that this clearly violates the law of non-contradiction. A cannot at the same time, and in the same sense be non-A. What is true is either true, or it is not true. Logic tells us that something just cannot be true for one person and then at same time then be false to someone else.

Faith in Christ–Not Faith in Faith

The Bible clearly teaches we are saved by faith. The true Gospel of Jesus Christ is–simply–that we are saved by grace alone; through faith alone. However there is one more part to this, do you remember? Faith itself doesn’t save us. We are saved by grace alone; through faith alone–in Who–in Christ alone. You see, our faith must be placed in Him Who is able to save. Let’s say you were in a plane that was going to crash, and you grabbed a parachute in order to try and save yourself. You’d most likely have the faith to believe that if you jumped out of the plane this parachute would be able to help you fall slowly enough to the ground to spare your life. However, none of that faith is going to do any good if you don’t jump out of that plane, or if that parachute itself isn’t able to slow your fall to the ground. So, what you personally “believe” doesn’t change the reality that you must act on that faith and trust that the parachute can save your life.

And this is how we must also approach the issue of truth about God. Something doesn’t become true because “I believe it with all my heart.” Something is either true–or it isn’t–and it makes no difference at all what someone believes about that truth. This is what Jesus is trying to get us to understand when He says things like, For out of the heart–[which is to say–the inner nature of man]–out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander (Matt. 15:19). And when He says, Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it (Matt. 7:13).

Don’t you know that there are scores of people out there who believe with all their heart that man is basically good? Well, may the reader understand, they are the many Jesus is talking about. Many believe with all their hearts, and they do sincerely “feel” that the path of religion they are following leads them to God. I don’t doubt there were many members of the Sanhedrin who sincerely felt that Jesus of Nazareth should have been crucified. Certainly they wouldn’t have had the faith to make that decision unless they truly believed it with all their hearts.

However, does all that faith in the world change the reality that God Himself just said – broad is the road that leads to destruction. You can believe with all your heart that sincere people are basically “nice” people, with so-called “good” hearts, and many “redeeming qualities.” Absolutely no one has the right to tell you that you can’t believe this. But but the wise man will think back to what Christ just said, and the Christian knows the absolute truth–that all the faith of all the belief in the world will never be able to change what the Lord God told us thousands of years ago about the heart of man. Every inclination of [man’s] heart is evil from childhood (Genesis 8:21).

The Bible further says, The heart [of man] is deceitful above all things and beyond cure (Jeremiah 17:9). As for the person sincerely believing with all their heart that all religions will lead people to God, we need to help them to understand that the Lord would have them know, There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death (Proverbs 14:12).

You should also know one other thing about this verse of Holy Scripture as well. There is a way that seems right to a man is that way in which someone does sincerely believe in. Don’t you see; these people do feel that they are right, and they truly are sincere in that faith. However that sincere belief, or that sincere faith, must be based on the historic Person of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, and in His Word the Bible. Because if it is not based in the Savior, then clearly in the end it leads to [spiritual] death.

The Apostle Matthew is one of our eyewitnesses to the earthly life of Christ Jesus. And he quotes Yahweh Elohim El Shaddai–the LORD God Almighty Himself in human flesh–as the Master says broad is the road that leads to destruction. And this is the broad road of religion that actually leads to a place Jesus calls Hell, and many a user-friendly and seeker-sensitive “Christian” church has already been built upon it.

Tell People the Truth

In addition, this is what Dr. Larry Dixon meant when he called his valuable book about the after-life The Other Side Of The Good News. As has been well stated elsewhere: Of course we need to tell people that God loves them. But if all you have is empty Christian terminology with all its meaning vacuumed out, and a phony smile on your face as you go – “Jesus loves you; Jesus loves you” – then you haven’t done your job as His witness. We must get people to understand that if they don’t accept the love God has for them in Jesus Christ, then He is going to judge them. Those who reject Christ need to be told in no uncertain terms that the one true and living LORD God Almighty is going to judge them with full righteousness–and–without mercy.

The truth is, the most loving thing we can do for someone without Christ is to show them that the Bible says – Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it – [this would be Christ Jesus of Nazareth]. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne (Rev. 20:11,12)… If anyone’s name was not found in the book of life, he was thrown into [Hell] (Revelation 20, selected verses).

Perhaps we really are nearing the end of this Age of Grace and Christ really will return in our lifetime as so many are beginning to think. Then please allow me to point something else out to you. If the Bible is true–and it is–it means the nanosecond that God makes the decision to end the age of His mercy and grace eternal destinies are sealed. That would mean for me, for instance, that my dad–my mother already didn’t make it–both my brothers; my sister; both of my wife Donna’s brothers, and her two nephews–just to mention a few–will be lost for all eternity as they show no evidence of a saving relationship in Christ.

How about you? Any people in your family who will suffer a similar fate? Or how about this nearly lost generation of young people that you say you’re trying to reach with the Gospel of Jesus Christ through your Purpose Driven lives and your Emergent Church? Don’t you know that the vast majority of people around you at this moment are headed to an eternity of horror and suffering? I wonder; how often do we who belong to Jesus even think about this subject anymore. And how often do we who are the true Christians in this country really think about the certain fate of all those who die apart from Christ.

You and I live among a people who brazenly boast that they are that “One Nation Under God.” Many fools will still even go so far as to say that America is a “Christian” nation. But think about it; is that the truth no matter how hard we try to sincerely believe it with all our heart? Why even Ruth Graham, not exactly one known to be a rapid fundamentalist, said years ago – “If God doesn’t judge [and punish] America; then He will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.”

Truth Doesn’t Always Make Someone Feel Good

Now when God’s true spokesmen teach this way often the response is –“Well; this certainly isn’t uplifting. This doesn’t make me feel good.” We need to ask the person who feels this way: Whoever said it was supposed to make you feel good? Where does the Bible say that this is the job of the preacher? When have the prophets of God ever made people feel good? And most importantly, how do you think God Himself feels right now as He sees His beloved Church dividing over what are essentially minor issues all the while downplaying the essentials? As one Christian apologist so aptly put it–the whole world’s going to Hell and the Body of Christ is busy arguing about nothing!

Then, on the other hand, our Lord is watching an alarmingly growing number of Evangelical Protestant “pastors” openly turning to unbelievers to teach them their secular business methods for organizational growth. There is just no way to say it strongly enough–worldly methods will inevitably produce worldly results! I’ll tell you what. I’ll consider using Peter Drucker’s business methods as soon as he lets me into the corporate board room to teach him how to get his business executives saved. And, we can file that under the heading: Things That Will Never Happen.

Just think of it! How do you think our wonderful Savior feels as He watches droves of souls as they slide into Hell in our generation? I wonder if we realize that Jesus sees every abortion as it is performed–and that–with full sanction by the laws of these United States of America. He sees every type of abuse as it happens. And on top of that, God also hears every false teaching done in His name. There can be no doubt for those with eyes to see that there is absolutely no shortage of bad pragmatic/worldly doctrine at present infesting the American Church through this doomed purpose driven emerging church growth movement.

Let’s stop and give it some further thought. What kind of mood do you think our Lord is in toward this pathetic excuse for a “Christian” country that has the outrageous audacity to refer to itself as One Nation Under God? To tell you the truth, we might actually be better off voting to get that frivolous phrase taken completely out of any reference to America. Maybe God would have been more lenient if we could say we just didn’t know any better.

Now is the time that we who are truly Christians should really heed these words from the Apostle Peter –

Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude,…[the Christian] does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans chose to do (Pet. 4:1,2,3)… The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray (v.7)… For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, “if it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” (quotes Proverbs 11:31 in 1 Peter 4 (selected verses).

Heard much preaching like this lately? Well, you may have noticed, all I’ve done here is to simply show you some verses from the Bible. As you can see, all of this is already in God’s Word. And the idea behind this article is to show you that now those of us who truly are Christians need to make the time to pray, study the Bible, and to grow in Christ-likeness. Let us encourage one another to learn how we can be good spokesmen for the true historic, orthodox Christian faith here in this critical time in history. The time has come for us to really be ambassadors for the real Gospel of Jesus Christ. As the Scripture says – He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us (2 Corinthians 5:19b-20). You’ll see me remind you of this quite often–time is fast running out! So let us begin to boldly contend for faith that was once for all entrusted to the Saints (Jude 3).

We Must Stand Together

And now is the time for us to really do our best to present [ourselves] to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). In this time of such blatant worldly excess within the Church and the spiritually paralyzing moral relativism of postmodern America, more than ever, those of us who are Christ’s soldiers in the Church militant all need each other now. Together we must be aware that this bold stand for our Lord is not likely to go on without attracting Satan’s attention.

We need to remember that we are not alive at this very time in history by accident, nor we placed within our local churches by some coincidence. Because just a little further on in our text in the Book of Acts we would read – From one man [God] made every nation of men,…and He determined the times set for them and the exact places where they would live (Acts 17:26). It is my prayer that you will be encouraged and emboldened by what you’ve just read here, and that you will be willing to “unplug” yourself from the faulty reasoning of postmodern thought and the lie of the PDL/ECM. For this is a great time to be alive if you truly want to get to know God. So troops I exhort you to serve in the Spirit of those true Christians who have gone on before us. May we be willing to endure the hardship of serving God in this licentious society like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs–he wants to please his commanding officer (2 Timothy 2:3-4).

Ok–so what can each of us do? First the Bible says –

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will (Romans 12:1-2).

And secondly:

in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully (Romans 12:5-8).

You see, it’s all right here in God’s Word–the Bible. Now is the time for all of us who love the Lord to act together in the Spirit of Christ. We must show our faith to the unbelieving and increasingly pagan culture around us. We who belong to Jesus should begin to believe with all our hearts in the absolute truth of Holy Scripture. Remember, the heart of the Christian has been regenerated, for the Bible says if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17). Here is our own little pithy slogan for a bumper sticker. Try this sage advice for a true Purpose Driven Life: Read the Bible–Pray–And Do What It Says.

Lets each one of us seek our Lord as to what part we can play in this penetration of the Devil’s choke-hold on our Lord’s Church through this emerging PDL/ECM nonsense–which truly finds its actual roots in the modernism of the Cult of Liberal Theology. The Lord of all lords–Christ Jesus, our loving Master–the King of all kings has said: I will build my church and the gates of Hades will not overcome it (Matt. 16:18). I’m sorry, Who did Jesus say would build His Church? Certainly we know that God has always been ready to shove those gates back, but our Lord is only going to do it His way! People are only going to come out from behind those gates and join us in the glorious liberty of the true children of God when we humbly follow the methods of church growth that He has supplied in His Bible.

And like it or not, Christians must tell those who are still trapped behind those gates of Hell that Holy Scripture unquestionably says – if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the [Holy] Spirit you will put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live because those who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God (Rom. 8:13-14). How awesome is that! Once these people were trapped behind Hell’s very gates, but now they are set free! Today we are free to call Almighty God Himself–Abba, which is to say “dad.” And truly, this wonderful truth of inexpressible joy is far superior to any cool rocking band or watered-down “gospel” video on the ol’ big screen. Now here is an exhortation for those of us who already know God intimately as our Father, for those of us who already belong to Jesus. Beloved, let’s lift high the banner of our great God and Savior–Jesus Christ –and let us strive together to live lives worthy of this incredible honor. As the great old hymn of the Church goes:

Rise up, O men of God! Have done with lesser things.
Give heart and mind and soul and strength; To serve the King of kings.

Let the redeemed of the Lord serve together the rest of our days in such a way that one day soon each of one us will hear Jesus say – Well done, good and faithful servant!… Come and share your master’s happiness (Matthew 25:21).

The Conclusion of the Matter

And in the end: What He believed mattered to Jesus, and He was crucified. It mattered to Paul, and he was beheaded. It mattered to Peter, and he too was crucified–upside down after watching his own wife be crucified before him. What she believed also mattered to a young woman named Perpetua, around the year 200 AD, who was placed in the Roman Arena. As the beasts were loosed she called out to the other Christian martyrs – “You must all stand fast in the faith and love one another, and do not be weakened by what we have gone through.”

When the beasts failed to kill the women, soldiers were sent in to finish them off. But the soldier who came to Perpetua was trembling so much that she had to guide the sword to her throat, thereby indicating that she was giving her life for Christ willingly. And what they believed mattered to some Christians that Dr. Ron Carlson of Christian Ministries International met during a missionary journey. He tells the story:

I met the man who had been the Director of the National radio located in the capitol city of Laos. That man had spent the last five years in a Concentration Camp in Laos. He had just escaped across the border. The Communists came into the capitol city, where he had been playing Christian music on the radio station. They captured him, and they also took his family. And they told him to quit playing Christian music on the radio, to renounce Jesus Christ, and to become a communist. He told them, “Never.”

The man related to me how they took his family, and they lined he and his wife and his son up against a wall. He said they took a pistol to his son’s head, the young boy was just 12 years old. They said to him, “If you renounce Jesus Christ, we will let you live.”

And he said that his young son put his shoulders back, he said, “I will never renounce Jesus Christ.” The Communist soldier pulled the trigger and blew his son’s brains out–right in front of his mother and father! They then went to his wife and asked her to renounce Jesus Christ, and she also said, “Never.” And they killed her. But because he was an able bodied worker, they decided to put him in chains to work in the Concentration Camp, until he miraculously escaped.

I don’t know about you, but it makes me angry when I see Liberal theologians, Purpose Driven dramatists, egregious Emergent Church compromisers and the various cults and sects trying to take away our belief in the very things these people willingly gave their lives for–because it mattered to them. It makes me angry when I see the minority radicals like the ACLU attempt to make this country “One Nation Without God.” There is simply no doubt that this nation was founded by people who did believe in God. At this point, what they believed about Him is actually irrelevant as incontrovertible historical evidence proves the Founding Fathers of this nation did believe in a Deity. So why is it we let people who do not believe in a Creator silence those of us who profess to still believe in Him? If they would like to live in nation where there are no references to God, then they are more than welcome to leave the United States and to merrily go off to start their own country.

We must never, ever, forget that when we defend the doctrines and beliefs of historic, orthodox Christianity against the multitudinous attacks of Satan–no matter what people, or groups that he uses to attack Christ’s Church–we held these doctrines and beliefs first, and they used to matter. They were literally life and death to countless thousands down through the ages. The question then becomes: Do they matter to you?