Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Who Do You Say That I Am

Who Do You Say That I Am
By Brenda Black

“Who do you say I am,” Jesus asked his disciple. Peter passed the exam with flying colors, but I wonder how modern-day disciples might answer. It seems the farther we advance in history from the cross, the faster the facts about Christ get altered. There have always been false religions and misinformation dispensed concerning Jesus. But in my lifetime, I've never seen more disregard for the truth. I have a theory: some people still think that ignorance is bliss. Not necessarily.

Current research says that only 9% of American adults hold a biblical worldview. Even among born again Christians, evidence reveals that many have indoctrinated their own version of absolute truth. How have we wandered so far from knowledge? However we arrived at this dubious place, the danger of losing more ground with each generation leaves Christianity in America hanging precariously by a thread. The less we know about the Word of God, the more blurred the lines of right and wrong become. Now, more than ever, it is time to know what you truly believe, who you honestly serve and be able to clearly define God's principles. As Jesus said, "It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God’" (Luke 4:4)

Daniel Webster, the great American statesman, offered this warning concerning the importance of biblical knowledge: "If there is anything in my thoughts or style to commend, the credit is due to my parents for instilling in me an early love of the Scriptures. If we abide by the principles taught in the Bible, our country will go on prospering and to prosper; but if we and our posterity neglect its instructions and authority, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us and bury all our glory in profound obscurity" (Halley’s Bible Handbook, p. 18)

George Washington, the nation’s first President, preceded Webster with his own succinct observance: "It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible" (Halley’s Bible Handbook, p. 18)

A young man came to Jesus and asked Him, "Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?" Did Christ flippantly say, "You don’t have to do a thing"? No! Jesus said to him, "‘Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.’ He said to Him, ‘Which ones?’ Jesus said, ‘"You shall not murder,’ ‘You shall not commit adultery,’ ‘You shall not steal,’ ‘You shall not bear false witness,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’" (Matthew 19:16–19).

I contend that Jesus knew best. How blessed we are that we still have his thoughts and examples after which to pattern our lives. And it is by those standards that we weigh the world's advice. When ignorance and indifference encourage false arguments and say the Bible is archaic or hatefully intolerant, do you believe the loud enemies of God. When powerful politicians down to the peanut and beer man at the ball park say the commandments are not valid for modern, cynical society, will you follow their lead. Jesus Christ was nailed to the cross—His commandments were not! The commandments continue to define the sin that put him there and provide our measuring rod.

It is not the first time in history, mankind has forsaken the Scriptures. Time and again, the Israelite nation fell away and followed pagan gods. For one generation, it took the strength of youth and strong conviction to stand up for the truth. Josiah was a mere child when placed on the throne in Judah. His father certainly had not provided a good example for godly living, but this youngster somehow found his way back to holiness. By the age of 26 his mission to rid the territory of Assyrian idols, unearthed the secret to righteous living.

“Then the king called together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. He went up to the temple of the Lord with the men of Judah, the people of Jerusalem, the priests and the prophets – all the people from the least to the greatest. He read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant, which had been found in the temple of the Lord. The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the Lord – to follow the Lord and keep his commands, regulations and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, thus confirming the words of the covenant written in this book. Then all the people pledged themselves to the covenant.” (2 Kings 23:1-3)

Almost 200 years later, after the hot-then-cold, then hot-again faith of the Israelite nation, Ezra the priest introduced the key to life once again. “Ezra opened the book...and as he opened it, the people all stood up. Ezra praised the Lord, the great God; and all the people lifted their hands and responded, 'Amen! Amen!' Then they bowed down and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.” (Nehemiah 8:5-6)

Here we are, a fickle nation with the history of an ebb and flow faith that strengthens and wanes. We're running out of time to impart God's promises and warn of his pending vengeance. Who do you say that Jesus is? Answer that question based on truth, then teach the Bible to the next generation so they can do the same.

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