Know Your Bible

VOL. 11                                                                                                                                                                                August 12, 2012                                                                                                                                                                                NO. 29



How would you react if you lived in a society in which no one believed in God or Jesus Christ or an afterlife? How would you picture such a society in your mind, in which no one believed there was a heaven or hell? Philip Yancey drew a picture of such a society in his book, “I Was Just Wondering.” He named his society “Acirema.” Here are some of the characteristics of his imaginary Acirema.

The Aciremans placed great emphasis on youth. The idea of growing old and eventually dying was so traumatic that there was no hope for the future. Therefore, preserving their youth became such an obsession that old age and anything associated with aging was shunned and devalued. In this way, the rest of society could continue the charade of denying the facts of aging. Every kind of cosmetic and chemical treatment that could possibly be developed was utilized to try and keep people young.

Appearances were all that mattered. Inner beauty, characterized by such things as integrity, compassion, decorum and respect for the rights of others would no longer matter. People who did not look attractive, young, and healthy faced great discrimination by others in society. Scientists tried to figure out how to eliminate death. People used all types of euphemisms to describe someone who died. Religion for the Aciremans consisted of philosophies that helped them make the most of the here and now. Eternal rewards didn’t exist in the Aceriman belief system. Their religion taught that one should be fully gratified and rewarded in this lifetime. Therefore, Aciremans were told to “grab all the gusto they can get” to build up riches and satisfy their every whim and desire as soon as possible. Does such a society sound familiar to anyone? Let me give you a hint. Spell the word Acirema backward.

The society Yancey described was supposed to be imaginary, but I suspect his vision was not so far-fetched when one takes time to examine the attitudes and actions of Americans today.

At one time our country was considered an example to other countries because its citizens generally held to a high standard of morality, decency and justice. The reason for this standard was that the nation’s founders were men who held strong religious and moral convictions, thus the Constitution written to govern the country was based on Biblical principles. Once it was ratified it was considered as absolute, not subject to revision or deletion by any earthly potentate or Supreme Court. Even people who did not accept the Bible as final authority in religious matters respected its ethical principles of right and wrong. This ethical system is known as the Judeo-Christian ethic. But today times are a changing. The universal, timeless principles of right and wrong have been cast aside for a permissive society in which anything goes.

2000 years ago the apostle Peter called his generation a “perverse (crooked–KJV, untoward-ASV) generation” Acts 2:40. The people lived in rebellion to God’s way of righteousness. They were like the serpent that never crawled a straight line. They were like a wild beast that refused to be driven. They were like the drunkard that reeled and staggered from side to side. Yes, they were perverse. They were the drunkards, the unchaste, the irreligious, the swearers, the thieves, the covenant breakers, anyone who chose to hold the truth of God in unrighteousness. Paul later referred to them as those who “were without Christ, being aliens…having no hope and without God in the world” Eph.2:12.  

Today America, in many ways, is no different than the “perverse society” Peter and Paul referred to, a people just as sin-laden, self-serving and decadent, aptly described in such passages as Rom.1:20-32; 1.Tim.3:1-8. No, we are not living in a godly society, as some claim, rather the opposite. We are living in an age when righteousness is winked at and the law is defied. Material blessings have made America into a proud, arrogant, defiant nation of godless, unrighteous, wicked people. Crimes such as thievery, aggravated assault, mayhem, forcible rape and murder are commonplace. Oftimes, after arrests are made in such cases, the criminals are likely to be set free and their lawyers put the victims or policemen on trial. Homosexuality, illegitimacy, abortion, and other forms of illicit sexual activity are winked at by an unconcerned public. Sex is greatly emphasized on TV, in the movies and in magazines. Addicts of pornography find easy access on the internet. According to some there are more liquor stores and taverns than all the church buildings, temples and synagogues combined. God, prayer and the Bible have been banned from many public places including schools, but are allowed in the jails where the criminals are incarcerated.

As we face these cold, brutal facts we need to remember, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” Prov.14:34. “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God” Ps.9:17. If America doesn’t wake up and lets this wickedness continue it may not be much longer before God will bring this nation down. History shows that God has destroyed every nation that reached a certain point of wickedness, and He will do the same for this country.  

  By this time you may be thinking, under such condition what are we to do as Christians. Listen to Paul as he writes, “Therefore my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Do all things without murmuring and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, (recall Peter in Acts 2:40) among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding forth the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain” Phil.2:12-16. 

---Tommy Thornhill

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There may be a gap between what we think we are and what we really are. I may think I am young, gorgeous, brilliant and wealthy. If I feed this self image long enough, and if I get a little help from flattering friends, I may deceive myself into thinking this is real. Doesn’t change reality does it?

This is common, and especially in regard to religious profession. We may think we are religious over such a long period of time, we deceive ourselves into believing everything is all right. We do what we have always done and say what we have always said, carrying through life the assumption that we are saved. What we think doesn’t change contrary reality.

If your heart hasn’t been changed by the gospel of Christ; if your life is not really being lived in Him and according to His teaching, there is a gap between what you think (“I’m saved”) and how you are living (the contrary reality).

Or as James said: “If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless,” and “…someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works.’ Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works,” (Jas. 1:26 & 2:18).

---Warren E. Berkley

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