The World today looks like a disaster zone: Ring of Fire in the Middle East and North Africa + Libya + Japan + Afghanistan + Islam + world economy + note abstention of Russia and China and Germany from UN resolution on Libya (just a sign of alliances and of alliances to come, so says the Holy Spirit). Every where, almost, that we look we see evil, which is sin, and we see that sin manifest all around us!
What are we to do? How do we handle it? Do we go into hiding? Do we just climb in bed and pull the sheets over our heads? Do we retreat into communes of like-minded persons and endure til life passes around us? Do we go out and try to stop the tsunami tide of evil that sweeps over lives in the world today? Do we just ignore all this evil and just “eat, drink and be merry”? Do we trust God as we zealously work for our Lord’s harvest?
Our answer depends on our heart condition and attitude. It boils down to the answer to this question, “What do I think of Jesus?”
Not surprisingly, the Bible, i.e., Scripture, (II Timothy 3: 16- 17) offers much help, but we have to believe that Holy Scripture is the inerrant Word of God, that it has been “given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” When we focus on this passage, we see that the Word of God is profitable for a particular class of people: the Word of God is profitable for “the man of God”. The clear suggestion is that there are other classes of people for whom the Word of God is not profitable. Why is that? Is it not because, John 16: 13, 8, it is the job of the Holy Spirit to guide people to truth, and to convict them, to draw them to a determination – not just a feeling or opinion – of the distinctions between sin and righteousness and an understanding of the judgment that exists to separate the boundary of sin from the boundary of righteousness, like a property line? So, when the Holy Spirit has brought you to that truth, who is Jesus Himself (John 14: 6), then you are ready for the Word of God to be profitable for you, and you find this wonderful synthesis, this wonderful unity, for that same Jesus Himself is also the Word of God, incarnate, rather than in written form (John 1: 1-14).
So, the first answer to the question of What Do You Think of Jesus? is this: He is who He says He is, that He is the “I Am”, and that, John 1: 12, for “. . . as many as received Him, in them He gave the right to become the children of God . . . .”
And the second answer to that question is this: I am a Man of God, and God’s Word – incarnate in Jesus Christ, and written in the Holy Bible is profitable for me for doctrine (what I believe and therefore the principles on which I choose to live my life), and for reproof, correction and instruction, which are all elements of the same thing, that is the spiritual standards on which we determine our choices in life. So, as a Man of God, I cannot claim ignorance of the Word of God, because I know Jesus, the Word and the Truth, and I believe Him and in Him, and in addition to the unceasing work of the Holy Spirit in me, I have the reference work of God, the Holy Bible, for much of the history of mankind, and of God’s kind Grace, His unmerited favor, to mankind. So, even more so than those un-tutored in the reality of Jesus Christ, who (as Paul writes in Romans 1: 20), are without excuse, in that “ . . . since the creation of the world His (God’s) invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.”
Now that his foundation in us is assured, what are some of the clear suggestions in Scripture of how we face this World, how we shall choose to live in this World, so full of evil, which is sin? We have available to us, for our profit, some significant, but basic, principles from the examples of Scripture. Let’s take a look at them.
First, we are directed to the example of the old man, Simeon, of Jerusalem. We find his story in Luke 2, beginning in Verse 25. It reads, “And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, he (Simeon) took Him (Jesus) up in his (Simeon’s) arms and blessed God and said: ‘Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people, Israel.’”
In the testimony of Simeon, we find him as a Man of God, one of those mentioned in II Timothy 3: 16, for whom Scripture is profitable for doctrine and spiritual standards of life, a Man of God, who is “just and devout”. And we find Simeon with the Holy Spirit upon him, well before the Ascension of Jesus at the end of His earthly ministry, and that the Holy Spirit has not only been upon Simeon, but has informed Simeon of what the future holds, a prophetic insight into what is going to happen, not just in the arrival of a baby boy, Jesus, but the salvation that inheres in who Jesus Christ is, and that not only for the glory of God’s people, Israel, but also the revelation that inheres in who Jesus Christ is, for the Gentiles! Simeon knew all that was important, in a time when the Romans owned and occupied Israel and Jerusalem and much evil abounded. His priorities were built on the focus on Jesus and His salvation.
What did Simeon do when he encountered the parents with the baby Jesus? First of all, without fanfare and pronouncements and proclamations, Simeon knew, in his spirit, that of all the babies being brought forth in the temple according to the custom of the law, that this particular one, brought in by these un-named parents, was the One, the Holy One, and how did he get there at that precise time and place with that precise knowledge? He was led by the Holy Spirit!! Second of all, Simeon immediately recognized Jesus for who He is, the “I Am”, (Exodus 3: 14; John 10: 30) and Simeon embraced Jesus, taking Jesus up into his arms and, third of all, Simeon, blessed God and proclaimed the fulfillment of the prophetic revelation which the Holy Spirit had given to Simeon.
Why is this passage in Scripture? To show us how we get to Christ, like Simeon, through the Holy Spirit, and what we should do when we find Him! Amen! And to realize that Simeon was, in his heart, “just and devout” and waiting on the Lord to be revealed in his lifetime. He wasn’t running around trying to overthrow the Romans so the Israelites would be free, he was just waiting for the moment when, as he had been promised, this old devout Jew would meet Jesus as Savior! We could take a lesson from Simeon as we look at our World today.
Next, we are directed to the example of an old widow woman, Anna, a prophetess (not from the Levites, but from the tribe of Asher). She was a widow, after only seven years of marriage, of about 84 years, and she lived in the temple in Jerusalem, and was in the temple when Simeon met Jesus Christ. We found her story, also, in Luke 2, beginning in Verse 36, reading as follows: “Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She lived to a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.”
By what so-called “co-incidence” did Anna arrive “in that instant” when Simeon was embracing, lifting up, and proclaiming the salvation, glory and revelation inherent in Jesus, that little baby? It was not merely co-incidence, but a divine appointment scheduled and promoted by the Holy Spirit! And, as Simeon was “just and devout”, Anna fasted and prayed, night and day, and she was a prophetess, in constant contact with God, and when she found that little baby, at that divine appointment, she knew what and whom she beheld and she proclaimed Him, Jesus, to all who looked for redemption in Jerusalem – Jesus was and is that redemption!! Anna served God in a lifestyle of worship and loving attention, night and day – she was deeply in relationship with God – and she offers us another lesson as we look at the evil in the world around us.
Third, we are directed to the response of Jesus to His disciples, when they inquired as to the “End Times Signs”, Matthew 24, and we are not here today to say whether we are in those End Times are not – many generations before us have believed they were and they were not – but Jesus offered His disciples, and through Scripture, offers us a powerful admonition as we sort through the fog of battle in our lives, as we try to understand what is happening and as we strive to know what will happen in the future. In Matthew 24: 4, the very first thing that Jesus tells His disciples, in answer to their question (Verse 3, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?”}, “. . . Take heed that no one deceives you.” Satan is the Grand Deceiver, Revelation 12: 9, for he “. . . deceives the whole world . . . .” Indeed, Jesus named Satan, John 8:44, as “the Father of Lies”.
So, with the turmoil and conflicting opinions, and the often uncertain facts around us, and the constant deceptions and lies of Satan, how do we keep from being deceived? Well, that gets back to basics, back to answering that question, “What do you think of Jesus?” If we know Jesus as the Truth, and if we understand his earthly ministry as the Word of God incarnate, and if we have chosen to be people of God, then we find the Holy Scriptures profitable for doctrine and for our spiritual standards of life. Remember, the caution and encouragement in Jesus’ rebuke of the devil, while in the wilderness experience, Luke 4: 4, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.’” But, we need one more thing, and that is prophetic insight, and we have that available to us through the Holy Spirit, like Simeon and Anna. Do not forsake fasting and praying – be mindful of the testimony of Anna. The Holy Spirit will inform God’s people and His Prophets and Prophetesses.
With Jesus, God, the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Scriptures, we have all the tools to grow into maturity, that we may be empowered to sort out the wheat from the chaff in our lives, to discern (Hebrews 5: 14) both good and evil. Thus empowered, we should not be deceived!!
And, if not deceived, we can handle all that is coming at us, but if we are deceived, we will be fearful, panic-stricken and impotent of our times of trouble, with the evil/sin in our World. Knowledge of the Truth, of Jesus, and of the Word of God, and the leading and revelation of the Holy Spirit, are the keys to power. (II Timothy 1: 7) “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.”
Yes, our World is a mess, and not just in politics and economics, disasters of the elements of the earth and its physical properties, wars and rumors of wars, but it is a mess, morally, and spiritually. The divorce rate among evangelical Christians is virtually indistinguishable from non-believers, the Church, even as it evangelizes, does a poor job of discipling believers to maturity. And that is the challenge for every church and for every believer. We must decide that what we think about Jesus requires us to become believers and to become mature in that belief, so that we have not only the keys to heaven but also the keys to power on earth, in this World, based on knowledge, so we will know if, and when, we have done all we can do, Ephesians 6, but stand and pray. The World is a mess. God’s plan is not for world peace, in the short term, where we all “Cum-by-yah” come together and live without conflict or difficulty. It is not going to happen. We cannot defeat Satan without Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit, and therefore such hopeful results, as the utopians seek, cannot be attained. And when such hopeful results are attained, they will be in God’s Plan A, “Resurrection”, and in the New Jerusalem, when the old heavens and the old earth have passed away. Now, you know what I think of Jesus. What do YOU think of Jesus!?
God bless you and amen+