“How Shall We Then Live?”

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Forty years ago (1976), Christian apologist Francis Schaeffer wrote, “How Shall We Then Live?” In this brilliant book he analyzed the reasons for modern society's state of affairs and presented the only viable alternative: living by the Christian ethic, joyful acceptance of God's revelation, and a total affirmation of the Bible's morals, values, and meaning.

Today (in our postmodern world), we must continue this mission, especially, as many are predicting an impending time of great national and global trial (spiritually, morally, and economically). Of course, our Lord Jesus Christ, and His half-brother James, both taught us, that normal life as we know it, would always ebb and flow with this uncertainty (Matthew 6:34; John 16:33; James 1:2-4). Why? Because God’s people must be constantly reminded that this world is not their home! Our root-system must always be shallow here, and our desire for Heaven must constantly be increasingly our focus (Psalm 73:25), and not upon trying to create and maintain some kind of earthly utopia! Just as the apostles Peter and John succinctly instructed and warned us (1 Peter 5:7; 1 John 2:15-17). Recently, I have noticed the frequent Internet warnings of our nation’s imminent financial collapse (just one among the many other predicted crises on the horizon). One of their pundits recently said, “The way you live, work, travel, retire, and invest in America … is soon going to change. Some of it in ways most people do not expect. This period is going to be particularly tough on seniors and anyone relying on a fixed income, or money from the government. Trouble is coming — please make sure you, your family, and anyone you care about are prepared.” Another warning read, “… there will be a 100% collapse of the US Dollar on September 27th 2016. This collapse will be global and it will bring down not only the dollar but all other fiat currencies, as they are fundamentally no different. The collapse of currencies will lead to the collapse of all paper assets. The repercussions to this will have incredible results worldwide.” So, what should a Christian do with these (and many other different) kinds of statements? Or how shall we then live? Well, for one thing, we should not be surprised if these prophets of doom are wrong or if they happen to partially get one right (1 Peter 4:12). Either way, the Christian should not live naively in this fallen world. He should always “cheer up and expect trouble.” And while doing so, he should aim to live each day to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31), as he’s praying at all times about everything (Ephesians 6:18)! This will keep us humble as we do what we can to wisely prepare for any potential trials that will come our way as we seek to live our lives in reality. However, our main preparation should always be through prayer and the study of Scripture. In doing so, we will learn from Ecclesiastes 9:12, “Moreover, man does not know his time: like fish caught in a treacherous net, and birds trapped in a snare, so the sons of men are ensnared at an evil time when it suddenly falls on them.” In other words, we will learn that man knows about as much about what lies ahead for him in his earthly future as a fish or bird does. Any denial of this verity reveals his Scriptural ignorance. Elsewhere, we would discover James 4:14 echoes similar words of agreement, “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow — for you are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away” (cf. Psalm 39:4, 5, 11). Thankfully, the maturing Christian understands daily that it is God who has planned, controls, and therefore knows, the intimate details of what might await him in this earthly life (Psalm 139:16; Isaiah 46:9-11; Jeremiah 29:11). So then, he is always able to rest his future in God’s loving hands. But to do so, does not mean, “let go and let God, but trust God and get going.” It also means that trusting God will require that we also prepare for our hurricane season with at least two weeks’ worth of food, water, and candles; because wise preparation should greatly help us to protect our family (and that of our neighbor) against potential disaster. Finally, we should remember the conduct of Christians during the Black Plague and Great Fire of London during the 17th century. What was their conduct like? Were they seeking to save their own skin? Were they running for the hills? No! Puritan pastor Thomas Vincent said that they preached the gospel to the dying, terror-stricken multitudes who hung with breathless eagerness upon their lips to drink in salvation before the dreaded pestilence swept them away into the tomb! O brethren, let us not forget the words of the psalmist (in Psalm 33:18-19), “Behold, the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him, on those who hope for His loving-kindness to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.” Therefore, whatever our earthly future may hold, we know by faith, who holds the future! For our God is a merciful, mighty, and loving God!! Dear friend, this kind of thinking begins with our preparation today, to encounter the living God tomorrow morning, in our public Worship, through the praises and prayers of His people, and through the reading and preaching of His Holy Word! Soli Deo Gloria!

 

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