60 seconds with the general director Aug/Sep 1975
This editorial is being written aboard a plane taking me to a series of preaching assignments and meetings with some of our missionaries. Looking out the window, I can see several ships bobbing like corks in the sea below. Having served on an aircraft carrier for two years, I was reminded that a ship in the sea is a normal sight. The sea in the ship signals abnormality and danger.
In the spiritual realm, a Christian in the world should be a normal sight, but the world in the Christian signals abnormality and danger. The beloved Apostle John admonishes believers to,
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” 1 John 2:15.
The Apostle Paul wrote,
“. . . be not conformed to this world . . .” Romans 12:2
The “world” in these verses has reference to THAT ORDERED SYSTEM HEADED BY SATAN WHICH LEAVES GOD OUT OF THE PICTURE.
The believer has been redeemed out of this world’s system, as Israel was redeemed out of Egyptian slavery. But, as many of the Israelites did not want to leave behind the leeks, onions and garlic of Egypt (Numbers 11:5), many believers do not want to leave behind some of the temporal pleasures of this world which hinder spiritual progress.
All too often we forget that we are “ambassadors”, and set up permanent residence. We forget that we are “citizens of Heaven”, and live like citizens of this world. Abraham looked for a city which hath foundations whose Maker and builder is God – we sometimes act as though we have found that city here on – earth.
Positionally, Christ has delivered us from the power of this world’s system, but experientially we can still be allowing Satan to manipulate our lives. Worldliness may be defined as “participation in this world’s system headed by Satan, which leaves God out of the picture.”
Buying a home can be worldly if it is purchased outside of the will of God. Marrying can be worldly if it is not God’s choice for a life partner. Changing jobs can be worldly if it is a decision made independently of God.
Even evangelism can become worldly when our methods and message are influenced by any sources other than the revealed will of God. METHODS of evangelism are FLEXIBLE – but that does not make all methods acceptable. There is nothing wrong with genuine promotion until it becomes slick distortion. There is nothing wrong with incentive (the Bible offers a great deal of it) until the incentive becomes an end in itself.
The MESSAGE of evangelism is FIXED – there is no latitude for change. Tactfulness in witnessing is to be encouraged, but compromise to make the message more palatable and to engender greater external results is blatant worldliness.
Humanism has infiltrated conservative, Bible-believing Christianity. In our eagerness to evangelize the world, QUESTIONABLE METHODS are being used by some, and a DILUTED MESSAGE proclaimed by others. ‘Pragmatism’ (what works) has become the standard of methodology and ‘experience’ the basis of the theology of others. When either our methods of evangelism or our message of evangelism cannot stand a scrutinizing exposure to the Word of God, we may call it service for God, but in actuality it is participation in this world’s system headed by Satan, which leaves God out of the picture.
Bible-believing Christianity needs desperately to return to the doctrine of the sovereignty of God and the fundamental Christian tenet that the supreme purpose for man’s existence is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. The supreme purpose of man is not to win souls, notwithstanding that lofty endeavor.
Every Christian is being influenced either by Satan, as we submit to the world’s system he heads or by God, as we submit our lives to the indwelling Spirit of God.
WHO’S MANIPULATING YOU?
Marvin J. Rosenthal