(From a recent radio broadcast.)
Good morning everyone. Welcome to the program sponsored by your friends at the Grand Blanc Church of Christ. I say friends because these people love you and are concerned about your eternal destiny.
Have you ever thought how much we’re influenced by the way people think? Philosophies have influenced people for centuries. It is said Alexander the Great was tutored by a philosopher, Aristotle. Philosophers, like John Locke were at the heart of the creation of the American democracy.
Hollywood has more influence on us than we know. The fruit of this is being seen with how many people are relating their understanding of ethics and morality on the basis of what they’ve seen in movies. Understanding this, actors have been taking center stage to share their philosophies and they’re trying to influence the world.
The most evil king and queen of Israel influenced the tiny nation of Judah. It was Ahab and Jezebel who were responsible for bringing the worship of Baal into Judah. They influenced Jehoshaphat, king of Judah to help in a losing battle against Syria over Ramoth-Gilead in 1 Kings 20-22. Even though Ahab, Jezebel and their children were destroyed, their influence was felt in Israel and Judah for years and years.
In the 22nd chapter of second Kings, there is the story of good King Josiah and how he repaired the temple of God. The craftsmen and scribes went into the temple and discovered the book of God’s law inside. It had been lost. Think of it. The law of the Lord had been lost IN THE VERY HOUSE OF GOD! It had been covered with debris and the rubbish of the crumbling walls. It had been lost to the Levites and the priests — the very ones who should have kept the word of God alive and at the forefront of the people’s minds and conscience. If any institution should have kept the law of God alive, it should have been the House of the Lord.
The youthful king wept as the law was read because he realized the law of God had been neglected and the Lord’s commands had been disobeyed. He called the people together and had the law of God read to the people.
If living in this world teaches us anything, it is that the MAJORITY OF THIS WORLD HAS LOST SIGHT OF THE WORD OF GOD. Most people, including members of the Lord’s church, only consult God’s word in DIRE EMERGENCY. Preachers of the word, just as in the days of Elijah, Elisha, Michaiah and Jeremiah, are considered only to be consulted in time of need, much as a fire hose is kept coiled in disuse behind a glass that says, “Break only in case of fire.”
In this world, we pay professional athletes millions of dollars to put a stupid little ball into a stupid little hole, or hit a stupid ball out of a baseball park and consign those who teach the word of God to almost the status of paupers.
I say this to draw to our minds the CONTRAST of WHAT PLACE THE WORD OF GOD HAS IN OUR LIVES. In many ways, we have lost the word of God and consigned it to a dust heap INSIDE THE VERY CHURCHES WE ATTEND. Our Bibles are used, not as a guide for our lives, not as a path for our feet in this world, not as the truth to lead us to heaven, but rather as an adornment or an ornament on a coffee table. It is a catcher of dust.
The pity is that the word of God, which is God’s power to save, is LOST INSIDE STRUCTURES CALLED CHURCHES.
As we look at what is called Christianity in this world, we see the law of the Lord is lost again. Just as in Josiah’s day and the influence of Ahab caused the word of God to be lost in the temple, the influence of the world is causing the word of God to be put into last place among those who say they are God’s people.
Think about it. Why are there so many churches? Why is division, the very thing the apostle Paul condemned in 1 Corinthians 1, the most prevalent thing in the world? All division is contrary to God’s plan. Jesus prayed in John 17, “That they all may be one…” Jesus wanted us to be one that the world might know “that thou hast sent me.” He called upon us in John 13:34, “Love one another as I have loved you that you also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one for another.”
Why are we not one? Why do we not speak the same thing, as Paul exhorted the Corinthians? Why do we not all practice the same thing?
The law of the Lord is lost. That’s why. The law of God is covered with the debris of man’s philosophy, man-made ideas and doctrines. Just as Judah left God under the influence of Ahab, the influence of the world has caused the division of the body of Christ.
Think of it. The word of God was sufficient in the first century to guide the early church, wasn’t it? Someone might say, “Well, they didn’t have a Bible.” Of course they did. They had the writings of the apostles and there were teachers in the churches who possessed the word of God.
What happened? Man decided he could direct his steps as well as God does. So, creeds, manuals, disciplines and articles of faith replaced the word of God. What happened is that man substituted himself for the objective standard of God’s word in religion. The final authority of God’s word was rejected.
In time, instead of insisting people conduct themselves according to the will of God, the authority of the Bible has been lost, just as surely as the text of the law was lost in the days of Josiah’s reign. What can reunite all people under the name of Jesus Christ? Only obeying the gospel as written in the book of God’s law can do that. Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No man cometh unto the Father but by me.” God’s word must be the final authority in everything done is faith and practice. It must be the final authority in our life and in the church, it must be the ONLY RULE TO BE FOLLOWED.
When the law was found and read to Josiah, he wept because he realized he and his people had not been keeping God’s commandments. In other words, he knew and realized he was living in sin. There’s a lot of levity regarding the use of that phrase today. People laugh when they hear there are those living in sin because they believe living for sinful pleasure is like living in the lap of luxury. Sin is no laughing matter. There are people living in the destructive influence of sin every day. It is tearing their lives, their marriages, their families and their world apart. Living in sin may seem like living in pleasure, but that is the lie sin wants us to believe.
Several years ago, I covered the police and the courts for a daily newspaper. Each week I sat and watched families torn apart by sin. It was a sorrowful sight. I watched as a man and his mother signed an order of protection because they couldn’t live together without getting angry and trying to hurt one another. I watched another man in chains because he couldn’t have a relationship with a woman without pointing a gun at her. I watched as a man was sentenced to life in prison for killing his wife and children. Just look at what sin has done to people! Just look what listening to the influence of the world has done to us! The word of God is hidden and the only thing left to people is the sadness of living in a world filled with sin!
What we desperately need is to return to the word of God and seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness first, as Jesus said in Matthew 6:33. What we need is to realize OUR VERY PURPOSE IN THIS LIFE is only to glorify God and serve him. Paul wrote in Romans 12:1, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God which is your reasonable service.”
Are we seeking God’s kingdom first? Are we presenting ourselves to God as a living sacrifice? Lost souls are dying every day, lost because the word of God is LOST, just as the word of God was lost in Josiah’s day.
Let us turn to the word of God as Josiah and the people did.