A Peaceful and Quiet Life

This is something we all want. I was expecting it. I’m sure you were, too. However, it seems that it is not to be. The societal and cultural turmoil of the last few years has not abated. Laws and regulations are unfairly applied or not applied at all, all across the world. Likely, it will grow worse; especially if reasonable and kind-hearted people band together to oppose this exorable slide into chaos.

I don’t think we talk enough about this turmoil and slide. If we continue ignoring the problem, it will sneak up and overwhelm us. How, then, are we to understand our times?

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528,) Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The Lord Jesus Christ, in His wisdom, gave us an explanation. He said,

If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.

But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.

John 15:19-21 (English Standard Version)

After explaining to His disciples that they would all abandon Him when agents of the governmental and religious authorities took Him away, He told them,

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33 (ESV)

And we have this same assurance. He also said,

I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear:

Fear Him who, after He has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear Him!

Luke 12:4-5 (ESV)

How then should we fear Him? The scriptures say,

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart, one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in Him will not be put to shame.”

Romans 10:9-11 (ESV)

And, consequently, we have this promise,

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Romans 5:1-2 (ESV)

This is our hope: peace with God. In this, by the power of God, we may thrive, as the scripture says,

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13 (ESV)

But, simultaneously, we must suffer in tribulation,

Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. Revelation 14:12 (ESV)

Therefore, if we endure in doing His commandments and in our trust in Jesus, we will find rest for our souls. But, if we succumb to compromise with the world and deny our Lord and Savior, then we show ourselves to be earth dwellers who have no rest forever.

The world seeks to distract and deceive us from following the way. But it really is this simple to have peace.

What Does It Mean to Accept Jesus Christ? March 18, 2021, YouTube, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

Is He Fair?

I hope God’s not fair, and so should you. The scriptures say: by the works of the law, no one is justified.

For all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory.

But, He has not dealt with us as our sins deserve.

He saves us, not because of righteous works we have done, but according to His mercy.

But, as a result of His work in us, we must show our faith by our works.

God, through His apostles and prophets, is blunt:

Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is folly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” 1 Corinthians 3:18-20 English Standard Version (ESV)

Therefore, repent and trust Him for life.

Last Judgment, Michelangelo Buonarroti

Last Judgment, 1537–41, Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475–1564), public domain in US

Whose Side is He On?

We use the phrase: “With God on Our Side,” to justify our deadly decisions as morally right, especially when they’re not. Bob Dylan sings a song recounting how this phrase is used ignominiously in history.

Dylan Sings “With God On Our Side”

Before we go any further, let’s be clear, God gives the sword to rulers so that they act as His servant avenging wrong and carrying out His wrath. He will judge whether they have done this rightly. It is apparent that no government has yet lasted long.

In this context, CNN recently quoted a Ukrainian Priest: “We know how to fight a partisan (guerrilla) war. We know these forests and swamps like the back of our hand and it will be very hard to fight us. Truth will win. Truth is where God is and God is on our side.”

Nearer to home but longer ago, Lincoln said: “Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.” In his second inaugural, Lincoln said in part:

…Both [i.e., North and South] read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces; but let us judge not that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered; that of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!”

If we shall suppose that American Slavery is one of those offences which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South, this terrible war, as the woe due to those by whom the offence came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a Living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope — fervently do we pray — that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away.

Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond–man’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether”

Lincoln on east portico of U.S. Capitol

The second inaugural address of Abraham Lincoln, given on 4 March 1865 on the east portico of the U.S. Capitol, photographed by Alexander Gardner (1821 – 1882), Image created between 1910 and 1920, from photograph taken in 1865, in the public domain in the US.

But where does this sentiment we write about come from and in what context was it said? For the answer, we look to the book of psalms:

The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.
What can man do to me?

The Lord is on my side as my helper;
I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.

It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in man.

It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in princes.

Clearly, this is not a justification for princes to use. But, rather, it is an admission of their futility as protection and an admonition for fealty to the Lord of all.

But, is He really on one nation’s side versus that of another? In the following passage, He declares to us No (or Neither) in no uncertain terms. And this took place just prior to a key battle He Himself would use in conquering territory for Israel.

When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD. Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?” And the commander of the LORD’s army said to Joshua, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.

So, whether or not the Lord is on our side, nationally, is not a significant question with which to be occupied. The answer is: “Neither.” The most important question we must ask ourselves is: whose side am I on? We choose to serve the Lord.