United Church of God, ia
Portland and Hood River Oregon

Preaching the Gospel, Preparing a People

The Great Battle for God Part 2

Let's face squarely this fact. A battle is being fought today to remove God and the Bible from all public discussion. In spite of the truth that religion still thrives in America and other parts of the world, there is growing public and cultural pressure to erode the knowledge of God in the public mind. God is being systematically dismantled in modern popular culture.

There is a reason for the ongoing problems in our world. It's that we do not acknowledge nor fully understand God. Without proper recognition and understanding of the true God, the world will see strife and suffering without end. This is the crux of the problem in our world.

But this is a battle that has been fought for thousands of years, though it will not succeed. Ever since Adam and Eve hid themselves from the presence of God in the Garden in Eden, people have challenged God's guiding presence in the world He created.

The good news is that God's eternal desire to share His glory will be realized. No human or spiritual obstacle will prevent it. Notice again from Ephesians 1:10 what God says:

"And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth" (NLT).

We are approaching that time. God's plan, His great eternal purpose to share eternal life, will be fulfilled. Everything in this physical creation will be brought under the authority of His Son, Jesus Christ. This is wonderfully encouraging and comforting. God is in control. Life is not just random. The suffering and uncertainty of life is not all there is.

Coming to know this begins with understanding God—who He is and what He is.

Mankind refuses to accept God

But the knowledge of God is not well received in many places today. Let's read what the apostle Paul said about this in his letter to the Romans:

"But God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful, wicked people who suppress the truth by their wickedness. They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing god" (Romans 1:18-20, NLT)

As Paul demonstrated, we human beings have every reason to believe that God exists. A detailed and long look at what science knows about the universe inspires awe and wonder and realization that it could not exist apart from special creation by the great mind and act of God. Many scientists admit this obvious truth when they look at the heavens and see the immense scope and design of creation.

Yet atheism continues to grow in numbers and influence. In our day, like that of Paul, people will go to great lengths to deny God.

"Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn't worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas fo what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles" (verses 21-23, NLT).

Here the Bible shows mankind's obstinate refusal to worship God in truth. Idolatry in the ancient world took the form of stone, clay and wooden idols that could neither see, hear not speak. Our modern world has idols of different forms, not the least of which is man himself. We worship ourselves, our powers, intellect and abilities more than we do God.

Reaping what we have sown

Paul continues:

"So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other's bodies, They traded the truth about God for a lie" (Verses 24-25, NLT).

One key truth of the Bible is that god has given this world over to its own ends. He allows human beings to go their own way in religion, government, philosophy and culture and to choose from both the good and evil fruits of physical existence.

This is why we have seen the huge swings in human progress through the ages. Today we have created a marvelous global world with the greatest achievements of science and technology. We've made great strides in lengthening and improving the quality of life. We live in the most prosperous period of human history. Yet the condition of mankind's spiritual dimension exposes flaws that could quickly escalate to the point that human existence would be threatened with extinction. Spiritual truth is sadly lacking.

"That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved" (Verses 26-27, NLT).

The biblical definition of marriage and family is being challenged before our eyes. With each passing year, morality is redefined, and even people who profess faith in the teachings of the Bible are willing to accept behavior and lifestyles the Bible defines as sinful. In fact, "sin" has all but disappeared from the discussion of morality in the public realm!

When Scripture says "they traded the truth about God for a lie," you must understand this impacts the deepest spiritual truth about God. God is building a family. Through the human creation God is reproducing Himself.

"Since they thought it foolish to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their foolish thinking and let them do things that should never be done. Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. They are back stabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful . . . They know God's justice requires that those who do these things deserve to die, yet they do them anyway. Worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too" (verses 28-32, NLT).

This description of the first-century world of Rome is remarkably similar to that of ours today. What is unnerving to consider is this: Pual here describes a completely pagan world that did not know the God of the Bible—the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We might expect such a world to develop, apart from Christianity or without the aid of revelation from the Bible.

But look at our modern "Christian" culture today. It mirrors in many ways the first-century pagan world of Rome! We still live in a pagan world like Rome, but with modern conveniences!

The "civilized" Western world is on a path desperately trying to push God out the door, along with the Bible. It is at the heart of what we see in today's ongoing culture wars. The question comes down to whether we will accept God into our knowledge and life and base our lives on His Word.

Part 3 next week...

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