Instagram started in 2010. For most of human history, people lived without it. You could say they were missing nothing, except that instagram isn’t nothing. In general, I’d say that it causes problems. In and of itself it’s not wrong, like a piece of paper isn’t wrong—it depends on how it is used. Social networking sites like Instagram have become little Towers of Babel, bringing people together very often in a bad way. In 2012 Facebook and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg paid $1,000,000,000 for Instagram, which amounted to 25% of Facebook’s cash at hand. In 2013, Instagram grew by 23%, while it’s parent company, Facebook, grew by only 3%. It has grown to 150 million users. Like anything else, the morality of Instagram depends on its user. Like what scripture tells us, if it isn’t about Jesus Christ, then it is about Satan. There is no middle ground. There is no neutrality. You either love or hate Jesus with anything in your life, as far as He is concerned. And what He says is the truth.
Bethel Baptist Church ~ El Sobrante, CA
What’s the main point of the Bible? This is a common discussion among Christians, church leaders, and theologians. The Bible has a unified meaning if it is not a hodge-podge of literature culled from disparate sources, and it is not. It has a central theme, unified around its one Author, God Himself. Nothing in scripture contradicts anything else in it. As you read it, you see an ultimate end to which subordinate ends serve to highlight. Judgment is a theme. Salvation or redemption is a theme. The end is the glory of God. God will be glorified through salvation, which comes by means of judgment. Everyone is judged by His standard and those who are saved are those who submit to His judgment. God will judge sin. When we stand before God, justice must be done. Jesus died for us so that justice for sin would be done and redemption still could be paid. He receives the glory through this in many different ways, but in general for His holiness and for His love.
I was listening to a question and answer with prominent conservative pundit, Ben Shapiro. He is an orthodox Jew. He was asked a question about religious freedom. In talking about the attack on religion in America today, he said the following, word for word, in his answer to a question: “When they say that you are a fool for believing in God, the truth is that belief in God is belief. Right? You have to take a leap of faith. It can’t be proved. It’s not something you can make a scientific hypothesis and then fulfill that hypothesis. But atheism can’t be proved either. There’s no way to prove these sorts of intangibles.” I’m writing this short essay, because he is so wrong. Faith is not the absence of proof. Faith is scientific. Hebrews 11:1 says that “faith is the evidence of things not seen.” The Bible does not describe faith as a leap. Scripture is certain, having itself been proven to be true. Our faith comes from scripture. We believe it, because it is true, so we are certain. It isn’t a leap.
The English word, “worship,” in its various forms occurs over 198 times in the King James Version. It’s obviously a theme of scripture, something important. Everyone worships something. If you are not worshiping the true God, it doesn’t mean that you are worshiping nothing. You are still worshiping. Exodus 34:14 is the first time the English word appears, and it says, “For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” God is jealous if something or someone is worshiped beside Himself. Romans 1:25 says that you worship and serve the creature, if not the Creator. In the same context of Romans 1 and then in the epistle of 2 Peter, we see people want what they want. They don’t want a boss. They don’t want anyone telling them what to do. In the word “worship” is the word, “worth.” God is not being valued. He is not being feared. He is not being recognized for the goodness He supplies. All of that relates to not giving God what He wants and deserves.
The unbelieving religious leaders of Jesus’ day asked Him what was the greatest commandment in the law, and He said, love the Lord thy God, first, and, second, love thy neighbor as thyself. Jesus wasn’t saying that no other commands or teachings mattered. There were prohibitions punishable by death in God’s law. Those were serious. When Nadab and Abhi offered strange fire unto the Lord, they were both killed. You can’t get all of the commandments, words, and sayings obeyed, if you won’t start with at least minimum objectives. I hesitate anymore to talk about minimum objectives, because someone might think it is permissible to do only the minimum. I’m saying the minimum is a benchmark. My wife and I know that we have certain benchmarks in our marriage. If I didn’t do those things, I would assess myself as failing at loving my wife. For awhile, I’ve listed minimum objectives as Bible study, prayer, evangelism, and faithful church attendance. Do those every week.
Jesus said to Nicodemus in John 3:19-20, “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” If you are breathing, you have noticed an extreme uptick in the United States in severe, radical, crude, loud, threatening, violent, and dangerous behavior as protest and opposition. Why? These are discontent people, who can’t be happy, without a standard or means of civility. If they don’t get their way, they feel justified to throw a fit like they are. You see this portrayed in 2 Peter 2, a lot of the description there a perfect explanation of what we see in our culture. They must have their way and without condemnation or opposition. They don’t want opposition even spoken, warning of punishment for that. This is the trend we see today, growing like it hasn’t in decades. “Be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled,” 1 Peter 3:14.
Is God doing great things today? Should we expect more from God than what Christians expect from Him? I’m not sure what was the context of his quote, but the famous British Baptist missionary to India, William Carey, said, “Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God.” I don’t know what Carey meant by “great things,” but people often quote Carey in this instance like his quote was some type of equivalent to scripture. The idea or thought here seems to be, if you aren’t expecting “great things” and you aren’t attempting “great things” then you are disobedient to God. If great things are just obedience to scripture, then those applications of the Word of God are great enough. God is doing great enough things. He never stops doing them. People very often so much want to report that they saw something of a supernatural nature that they start seeking these types of events. God wants you to enjoy and thank Him for the great things that He already does on an every day basis.
Perhaps you’ve said the words, “It’s not worth my time,” demeaning whatever toward which someone points those words. Maybe we can turn the question around and ask then, “What is worth your time?” The question speaks to what is valuable. We look to God for those priorities, because God tells us what is the most value. On the top of that list is God Himself, because God Himself is most valuable. If you don’t put your time into God, then your values are out of whack. If you don’t value what is most valuable, you can’t look at anything in the right way. You won’t use your time properly because you will be spending it on something of lesser value. Your time becomes of less value. By its nature, what is most valuable is most worth your time. Having God of the greatest value to you and your life doesn’t mean that you won’t do any other kind of work. You’ll think about your work, however, as it relates to God. You do it for God. God is pleased by this.
Romans 5:2b-5a say, “[We] rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed.” Life has tribulations in it, which proceed from the sin curse on the world. Those having peace with God and a standing in God’s grace through justification by faith also have a hope of glory that takes them through tribulations. With hope of the glory of God, tribulations take on a purpose. They strengthen us in the sanctification process that brings patience or endurance. The more believers endure through tribulations with the hope of glory, they gain experience, and all of this brings more hope. More hope brings greater strength in tribulations to endure and then even greater experience, which results in even greater hope. It is a cycle that guarantees that we will conform to the image of Jesus Christ by the power of His grace, fulfilling God’s promise.
Whatever goal we might see for the earth, it will be limited by certain realities. In the beginning, God said to subdue His creation and have dominion over it, expanded upon by his instruction to Adam, to dress it and keep it. We’re still doing those things, but with the new reality of sin, that curses this earth. We can’t succeed at God’s mandate without the gospel, first for ourselves and then for others. We can’t do what God directed without others and others can’t fulfill their part without the gospel either. Hence, we must evangelize. Evangelism then becomes part of the work. Man can’t obey God as a lifestyle without conversion. The other reality is that this planet isn’t going to survive as it is. Every man who will complete God’s plan will do it in the kingdom of Jesus Christ. No one enters that kingdom without salvation. Except a man be born again, He cannot see the kingdom of God. It’s our goal then to build the kingdom to accomplish God’s plan.