By Pastor Oliver W. Price
In times of moral breakdown and spiritual backsliding the church desperately needs leaders whose life and ministry are controlled by the vision of the absolute power, authority and holiness of God. The early church arose in a world every bit apostles who had seen the glory of Christ. Christ is the absolute God who became man. Peter, James and John saw His glory on the mount of transfiguration. Paul saw His glory on the Damascus road.
Their message always reflected the absolute power and authority of God. This was liked with the absolute holiness of God who dwells in light no man can approach unto. In the light of God's glory they saw how sinful man is. Man's sin is his failure to glorify God as God (Romans 1:18-21). Refusal to give God the glory due His name is crime worthy of everlasting fire. Furthermore, this sin reduces life from the high plane of honor and commits man to live in dishonor. This in turn leaves him unrestrained in his plunge toward utter degradation (Romans 1:18-32).
With Paul, sin was not a theological technicality. It was a dreadful reality. He was as careful to avoid sinning as we are to avoid eating poison. Paul strived to maintain a conscience void of offence. He realized the glory of God establishes man's responsibility to honor God through willing obedience. He saw this responsibility as of the utmost importance. No other duty compares with this one.
Absolute responsibility to God rests on the truth that God made us and therefore owns us. In facts, He owns and controls all things. As Paul explains, "For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things; to whom be glory forever. Amen." (Romans 11:36).
Now it is significant that Paul's exposition of salvation by faith begins with man's responsibility to glorify God as God, and give Him thanks (Romans 1:21). Faith sees the invisible realities that man must simply learn to live with. You live in a world owned and controlled by the absolute God. Faith opens our eyes to see and know this God.
The beginning of knowledge of god is like the look of recognition in a tiny tot's eye as he says, "Da, Da" for the first time to his father. In due time, that little child will discover his small world is owned and controlled by his parents.
Usually a little fellow three or four years old comes to accept this power and authority structure. He may not always appreciate it, but he accepts the fact that he has to live under it. He is not capable of escaping and establishing an independent existence. Little people learn early what life's boundaries are and what the penalties for violation are. They even know whether you can get by with a few things or not.
In a good home, the child lives with a dependable authority and power structure. The more he accepts this, the fewer collisions he has with the rest of the family. He soon knows what his parents consider to be right or wrong. This dictates what is a wise course for his activities.
Wise parents help their children develop toward maturity. They realize this is a necessity. The adult world demands maturity. To reach the age of an adult without maturity is a disaster. The immature adult is an easy prey for ruthless, heartless people. He is simply not ready to cope with the world.
Spiritual maturity is an absolute necessity, too. The knowledge of God demands increasing maturity. We must obey God in terms of each increasing insight into His nature and character. Such knowledge always brings another level of responsibility to us as members of the family of God. Let me illustrate this. A little tot may not be ready to feed himself. The wise parent would not expect it. But as he grows older his responsibilities increase for each age and stage. He cannot be allowed the luxury of babyhood all through his childhood. The parent knows he must prepare the child for the responsibilities of later life.
God knows He must prepare us to be spiritual adults in this world and advance us toward perfection in the world to come. The perfect God cannot require less. But that brings us to an important aspect of maturity. A little child may obey his parents only because they are bigger that he is. They can make him behave. Wise parents, however, want him to mature beyond that. They want him to learn to appreciate their wisdom and goodness. Then he will obey from the heart. God wants that kind of progress from His children, too.
The God-fearing person realizes God has both the right and the power to require obedience. The worshipping believer is thankful for such a wise, holy and good God to obey. Suppose absolute power were in weaker hands that are far less noble? To glorify God as God we must not only humbly bow before His superior power, we must also gratefully praise Him that power belongs to a person so holy and good as He is.
The man of faith lives as a grateful child who belongs to the household of the Almighty Father. Faith operates within that realm. Faith sees God and serves Him sacrificially.
Faith usually begins with some desperate need that drives us to God. A crushing load of guilt and the fear of hell brought me to my knees before Him. My faith rejoiced in the God who came down to deliver me. But faith cannot stop there. Such baby faith sees only the fringes of God.
Job lost his family, his wealth and his health. But he cried out, "Though he slay me, yet will I trust him." That is mature faith. It approaches unlimited faith in the unlimited God. Such faith will be needed more than ever as the end of the age draws near.