Dear Associates, Students and Friends:
This month’s article is “The Dislocation of Time in Prophecies” by Dr. Ernest Martin was transcribed and edited from a 1983 taped lecture (not available for distribution). You will need your Bible open (and you will need to read it!) to follow the context of the longer passages as described in this article.
“Ho, ho, ho. Learn not the way of the heathen! Ho, ho, ho.”
This slight paraphrase of Jeremiah 10:2 reflects the attitude and actions of many people who know better than to practice the rituals and observances during the upcoming so-called ”holiday” season, yet they do so anyway. They know what they should do; they know what they shouldn’t do. They know what is right, but they compromise their beliefs for the sake of other people’s beliefs — supposedly.
This is true holiday madness. People compromise in family and social situations during the holidays because they do not want to cause tensions in relationships that probably are already tense. These same people then wonder why their beliefs are not taken seriously by family or friends, or why no one ever ask them about “the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15). Do people think your religious beliefs are your hobby?
When you think you are offending someone and you are tempted to compromise your beliefs for the sake of their beliefs and traditions, remember the words of San Francisco longshoreman philosopher Eric Hoffer who observed: “It is always safe to assume that people are more subtle and less sensitive than they seem.” (The Passionate State of Mind, 1954). Think about that next time you are tempted to compromise your understandings and beliefs to “get along with others.” Some people have been doing that for 40 years.
It is always surprising how offended people get at other people’s religious beliefs. Such reactions cannot be helped. They seldom can be prevented, but the damage can often be lessened. What you must strive to avoid is my experience when I unnecessarily deeply, deeply hurt someone I loved because I did the right thing in the wrong way.
Question what you do. Question why you do what you do. Then go and do it boldly, with vigor, living fully. Let me be blunt and offend some people: observing Christmas after you know better is stupid. It is an attempt to “go along to get along.” It is the wisdom of the world. Learn from the apostle Paul,
“Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seems to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, ‘He takes the wise in their own craftiness.’ And again, ‘The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise [of the world], that they are vain.’”
1 Corinthians 3:18–20
Of course Paul did not have Christmas in mind. But there were lots of holidays, festivals, rituals and practices that the formerly pagan Corinthian church members once observed. And I bet some of those revolved around the Winter Solstice that corresponded to our December. The Corinthian church suffered persecutions of shunning, persecution, beatings, exile, and even death for their beliefs. For us today, knowing the right thing to do is not an excuse for not doing the right thing.
“For your obedience is come abroad [is known] unto all men. I am glad therefore on your behalf: but yet I would have you wise unto that which is good, and simple concerning evil.
The freedom that Paul had in Christ (the same freedom that you have in Christ) should not be used as an excuse to compromise. We all know the passage of Paul being all things to all men. Paul had a reason:
“And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.
1 Corinthians 9:20–23
Paul’s actions were not to “go along to get along” with people. He did what he did for the express purpose of serving, teaching and to “save some.” Paul had a Commission. I don’t. You probably don’t either. But if you compromise with things like so-called “Christian” holidays to save yourself from embarrassment, if you keep your understanding to yourself alone so no one will know you are a biblical Christian, and if you have no intention of trying to save anyone (because, as we all know God will do that when He gets around to it), then do not be surprised if your compromises in life cause people to consider you a hypocrite.
To sum up, you have the full freedom in Christ to do what you want, but remember Paul’s admonition to the Corinthians:
“All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but
I will not be brought under the power of any.
1 Corinthians 6:12
At the end of the year we like to remind you that ASK gladly provides receipts for contributions for your tax purposes. Contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org to request them. While not everyone needs such a receipt, we are happy to provide them for you.
I want to remind all of you that ASK can only continue if we have sufficient contributions and funds to operate. God’s provision for ASK comes from you alone. Only in this way can we continue to produce the material of Dr. Ernest L. Martin that helps open up the Bible to you.
When you read and understand the Scriptures you are literally reading and understanding the thoughts of God — from His mind to your mind — direct and unfiltered. It is not an experience that you feel (and if it is, re-read last month’s article “The Corinthian Experience”), but it is a knowing, understanding and acting in wisdom that God provides through His grace to each of us, no matter what our situation, status, or station in life. God makes a direct promise to those who understand the Mystery:
“Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And [if you let your requests be made known] the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”
Paul states this in a direct cause-and-effect manner, if you do “A” then “B” will result. If you make your requests known to God in prayer and supplication (which means to petition, make a formal request) with thanksgiving, then God will give you peace that will “keep your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ.”
Thank you for letting us serve you.
David W. Sielaff
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