part 2

Acts 26:12-18 "While so engaged as I was journeying to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests, at midday, O King, I saw on the way a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining all around me and those who were journeying with me. And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew dialect, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.' And I said, 'Who are You, Lord?' And the Lord said, 'I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you; rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.'"

Last Sunday evening we focused on the question, "What is a worldview?" I tried in practical ways to illustrate what a worldview is. I stressed: (1) A worldview is the way we look at life and the way we look at death. (2) From that personal view we determine how to use life, the purpose of life, and what to expect after death. (3) Our view of the world is a significant factor in every decision we make from how to work to who to marry, from how to maintain a marriage to how to be a parent, from how to live to how to die.

This evening I want to focus on the Christian worldview. The point I wish to make is this: the way Christians look at the world and the way people who are not Christians look at the world is distinctly different.

The Christian worldview involves too many concepts to cover in a single lesson. I want to consider only four major considerations.

  1. The Christian accepts God as the source of life and the world.
    1. The role of God as the Creator is a basic truth in the Bible.
      1. The Bible begins with God (1) creating the world and creating us and (2) declaring all He created was good. (Genesis 1)
      2. Moses said to Israel in Deuteronomy 4:32:
        Indeed, ask now concerning the former days which were before you, since the day that God created man on the earth, and inquire from one end of the heavens to the other. Has anything been done like this great thing, or has anything been heard like it?
      3. In a Psalm that called upon everything created to praise God, Psalms 148:5 says
        Let them praise the name of the Lord, For He commanded and they were created.
      4. The prophet Isaiah wrote in speaking of God's greatness:
        Isaiah 40:26 Lift up your eyes on high And see who has created these stars, The One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name; Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power, Not one of them is missing.
      5. Malachi called Israel to better conduct with these words:
        Malachi 2:10 Do we not all have one father? Has not one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously each against his brother so as to profane the covenant of our fathers?
      6. Paul wrote in Romans 8:38, 39:
        For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
      7. Paul also wrote in Ephesians 4:23, 24:
        ... that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.
      8. Paul wrote again in 1 Timothy 4:1-5:
        But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.
      9. So strong is the connection between God and His creative acts that several times the Bible refers to God simply as the Creator.
    2. For a moment, consider a perspective:
      1. From chaos God created the world and life.
      2. From Adam and Eve's failure, God created grace in God-human relationship.
      3. From the flood, God created a new beginning.
      4. From Abraham, God created Israel.
      5. From Israel, God created Jesus.
      6. From Jesus' death and resurrection, God created the savior.
      7. From the savior, God created our salvation.
      8. From our salvation, God created a new "me."
      9. From our physical deaths, God will create an eternal existence.
    3. While we look at God and see a Creator of good, the world does not believe in creation and blames God for the existence of evil.
      1. Those are two distinct worldviews.
      2. We will never share Jesus Christ with the world unless we understand the world does not look at God as we do.

  2. The Christian looks at the world through the concepts of a fall and a restoration.
    1. The Christian accepts these matters as fact:
      1. There was a period of time when there was no evil in human existence.
      2. The deception we know as "temptation" resulted in humans being deceived, willfully surrendering to evil, and thereby corrupting human life and God's good creation.
      3. The Bible is basically about God's efforts to reestablish relationship between Him and fallen humanity.
        1. The first two chapters of the Bible are about the period when there was no evil in our world.
        2. The third chapter of the Bible is about the deception that resulted in evil becoming a part of human life.
        3. The rest of the Bible (the huge bulk of it) is about God's determined efforts to reestablish relationship between Himself and humanity.
    2. For just a moment, let me challenge you to cultivate an insight.
      1. God understood that the defeat of evil is accomplished through humility.
        1. Adam and Eve failed, and God humbled Himself.
        2. Noah failed, and God humbled Himself.
        3. Isaac and Jacob failed, and God humbled Himself.
        4. Israel failed in the wilderness, and God humbled Himself.
        5. Israel failed repeatedly as a nation, and God humbled Himself.
        6. God sent Jesus, and in doing so God humbled Himself.
        7. Jesus was rejected and crucified, and God humbled Himself.
        8. God forgives us, and to do so God humbles Himself.
      2. It should be no surprise to Christians that if we are to defeat evil in our lives, we also must humble ourselves. Consider just two scriptures:
        1. (Jesus to a Jewish audience in the sermon on the mount) Matthew 5:43-48--You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
        2. (Paul to Jewish and gentile Christians) Romans 12:17-21--Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
    3. While the Christian looks at the world in the conviction that evil is defeated by doing good, most people in the world are convinced that evil will be defeated through acts of human justice.
      1. That is two distinctly different worldviews.
      2. We will never succeed in communicating Jesus Christ to the world unless we understand that mercy and not justice is the message of the gospel.

  3. The Christian understands that the purpose of life is, in the name of Christ, serving other people.
    1. I want to affirm this Christian view by citing three familiar scriptures.
      1. Jesus made this statement to his disciples in Matthew 20:25-28:
        But Jesus called them to Himself and said, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."
      2. Jesus also made this statement to his disciples in Matthew 10:24, 25:
        A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign the members of his household!
      3. The third is a statement by Paul to the Christians at Ephesus in Ephesians 2:8-10:
        For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
    2. The Christian says, "The purpose of my life given to me by Christ Jesus is to serve others."
      1. That is a very different worldview from the worldview held by many in this society or most in the majority of societies.
      2. We will never communicate Jesus Christ to the majority of people in our world if we do not understand we see life's purpose quite differently.

  4. I want to make one brief comment on the fact that Christians look at death differently.
    1. There is a very different worldview in regard to death.
      1. The Christian sees death as (1) a matter of accountability on how one used physical life and (2) a beginning of the "good life" with God.
      2. The person who is not a Christian rejects the concept of accountability and thinks the "good life" can be experienced only in physical existence.
    2. If we do not understand that many look at death quite differently than do we, we will never communicate Jesus Christ to them.

  5. I want to end with two examples.
    1. The first is found in Ephesians 4:28:
      He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need.
      1. Two things jump out at me.
        1. First, some of those converted had been thieves.
        2. The converted were to stop being thieves and get a job.
        3. Second, the purpose of Christian wages was to be able to share with the one who has need.
      2. What a striking change in worldviews!
        1. What you have is not mine.
        2. What I have is yours.
    2. The second is very personal.
      1. Since my health problems were diagnosed, my life situation has changed significantly, and with time it will change more.
      2. Are there moments I struggle? Yes!
        1. There are very frustrating moments.
        2. There have been moments I stood on the edge of despair.
        3. There are moments when I come face to face with depression.
      3. Has my life changed in ways I never expected? Yes!
        1. I planned to retire from here, probably make Fort Smith my home, and do short mission efforts here and abroad if the money was available.
        2. I have spent a significant portion of my life working in small congregations here and in mission fields in other nations.
      4. "What do you plan to do now?"
        1. I have no idea.
        2. I just know my voice and my balance will not let me do what I planned to do.
    3. "Then why do you continue to do what you do?"
      1. Very briefly, I do what I do because of the Christian worldview.
      2. I have no idea how God will use what happens, but I have no doubt God will use it.

We desperately need this understanding in the church: No matter what happens in the world or in our individual lives, God can and will use it for good if we cooperate with Him.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Evening Sermon, 12 February 2006

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