ASK Newsletter - First Quarter 1995



John H. Stoll, Ph.D.
Executive Director, ASK, Inc.

The world appears to be reeling from one catastrophe after another. Each evening on the news there seems to be upheaval in one part of our country or another, and if not here then somewhere in the world. The news is constantly filled with problems and despair. What is going on, and can we stem the tide? Will 1995 be better or worse than 1994?

There are many forces pulling on the world today. In the political arena is seen a conservative-liberal tension; then there are economic forces that bring turmoil of various sorts; in the church the upheaval is over women preachers/priests, contraception, priests marrying, subjective criticism of the Bible, etc.; then the social issues over the family, abortion, and the school, not to mention crime everywhere and in all aspects of life.

Coupled with all these are the natural disturbances worldwide; tornadoes, floods, drought, fire, earthquakes, at any time and in every place. Certainly one might wonder if there are unknown forces behind the consternation going on in the world today, that we did not have previously? Can the world survive, and is there anything we can do about it?

In the first thousand years AD, there were approximately five recorded major earthquakes. Since then the trend has been on the increase: in the 14th century there were 157 major earthquakes; 15th century - 174; 16th century - 253; 17th century - 278; 18th century - 640; 19th century - 2119; and thus far in the 20th century - nearly 90,000.

Though these figures are frightening, and other disturbances are alarming, yet there is a parallel positive aspect that is emerging today. People are becoming more spiritually aware and responsive to their spiritual needs, as the only area of peace and security in an insecure world today. Fathers are realizing their responsibility more, as witnessed by the explosion of Promise Keepers nationwide. Stay at home Mothers are not downgraded as they once were, since we recognize the needs of pre-school children to have parental guidance. Being a patriotic American is not frowned upon as being politically incorrect as previous, and patriotism is on the rise.

Along with all these positive trends there is the uniting of Christians through the unifying principle of the Lordship of Jesus Christ, over against the fracturing and barriers brought on by past denominationalism. Foundational elements in the principles of the Bible are being stressed, rather than the fracturing over secondary issues that have separated Christians in the past. Christians are working together more to fight the common enemy, Satan, rather than fighting each other. This is gratifying to the work of God in today's world.

If the foundational issue is that between what is right and what is wrong, where do we find the standard, and how can Christians exercise their duty to God to right the wrongs, and be the salt and light that God expects of us? (Matt. 5:13; Col. 4:6).

Since the Christian world accepts the tenants of the Bible, follows its principles, and marches to its orders, then it is incumbent upon us to see what it says. In Matthew 28:19,20 we have the great commission to go into all the world and help people to become disciples of Jesus Christ. Becoming a follower of Him not only brings eternal life, but peace to the Christian in a troubled world. This is foundational, and is the marching order for Christians.

In order for a Christian to know how to be God's ambassador to the world, one must first have understanding of the principles in the Bible. This is why we are commanded to "grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (II Peter 3:18). Spiritual maturity is the primary responsibility of the Christian. This is for one's own welfare as well as being able to communicate the responsibility he has as God's ambassador.

In I Peter 3:15 it states, "Be ready always to give an answer to every person that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with balance and Godly reverence". Too many Christians are Biblically illiterate, and therefore do not carry out their responsibility of the great commission because they are afraid of not knowing what to do. Thus the responsibility rests upon the individual to become spiritually mature, so that one has knowledge and understanding to be able to answer the inquiries of the searching person.

Personal Bible study, individual prayer, attendance at a church where the Word of God is taught and Christ is honored, plus personal fellowship with other Christians, and a daily commitment to allowing the Holy Spirit to control one's life, are all the ingredients to become a balanced, mature Christian. This helps one to be able to do what is right in a wicked world, and be a positive influence for righteousness.

Since God is sovereign, it is important to recognize that He is in control in the world, and His plan is on course. Christ Himself noted in Matthew 24: 4-22, that all these upheavals we see today would come upon the world before He would return, to insure righteousness and peace in the world. Our place is not to try to bring in righteousness, though we can help through right living and being an influence for righteousness in many ways (i.e. voting, speaking out, etc.), and to leave the ultimate righteousness in this world to God Himself.

This element is well expressed in the following illustration. Many years ago Max Jukes and Jonathan Edwards lived in the same state. Of 1,206 descendants of Jukes it is reported that 300 spent time in prison, 190 were prostitutes, and 860 were alcoholics. Of 929 descendants of Edwards, 430 became ministers, 86 were university professors, 13 wrote books, 7 became politicians, and one became Vice President of the nation.

What made the difference? For one thing, Jukes knew nothing of the love of God, and refused to take his children to church even when they asked to go. Edwards not only understood the love of God, but ensured that his family was in church every Sunday, and he served God to the best of his ability, as a model to his family. Such is the life changing power of God's love expressed through the Gospel message.

In our country today, the politicians try to bring safety and security to our streets, through passing more laws against crime, putting more policemen on the streets, and building bigger prisons. All of this will be to no avail, for as Jesus stated, "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornication, thefts, false witness, blasphemies; these are the things which defile the person" (Matt. 15:19,20; see Jeremiah 17:9). Right living must begin in the mind and heart, and this can only come through a commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. The only way the person of the world can know this, is through another Christian's witness. This can change things in the world today if Christians will carry out our commission.