Thursday, November 29, 2012
Karl Marx famously stated that "religion is the opiate of the masses." I'm not sure if Marx ever realized how upside down his famous statement was. It is actually when many of his socialist ideals get put into practice, for an extended time, that you get to see a general populace that is both sedated and pacified. This is strongly evident in my former home of Denmark where the state has taken on the role of a gigantic national nanny (does that sound familiar my Obamanation friends?). Never in my life have I encountered so many passive and indifferent men who have been sedated under the narcotic of a massive welfare system. What is breathtaking about this video is that the young man is not even embarrassed or ashamed of his conduct. He actually seems to think the whole interrogation is going well. When it comes to the opiate of socialized welfare, this young man definitely inhaled!
During my five years in Denmark, I discovered that work is an option that someone may take should he find the place of employment that meets his specific requirements. And why be entrepreneurial and visionary when the state circles your profitability like a vulture with its ravenous claws of taxation. Mediocrity is the happy middle road winding its way through this socialist landscape.
Options abound for those who get their fix from the state. You can take a job and work at your own pace. No worries, the union will make sure that you cannot get fired . . . that is unless you want to take a two year holiday courtesy of your employment insurance. Why have initiative, why be industrious, why care for your neighbor - when the government can do it all for you.
Marx never understood that it is actually a biblical worldview flowing out of a genuine Christian conversion that generates a sense of drive and destiny in the individual. A willingness to risk one's life for the sake of a transcendent and worthy cause. Indeed it was Paul who said:
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith — that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained. Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us (Phillipians 3:7-17).
Paul even admonished the Christians at Thessalonica that if a man does not work then he should not be fed (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Christians are a people so enraptured with the ultimate sacrifice of their Savior that they joyously enter in to a life of self sacrifice and labor that they may be salt and light in an evil generation.
But the worst thing about socialism is an issue that slides under the radar of most professing Christians. And that is the fact that socialism is an ideology that directly attacks the biblical doctrine of man. Whereas socialism teaches us that we have rights and entitlements, Christianity preaches the glorious Gospel of God's grace - and what is grace? Grace is unmerited favor! In other words, grace is favor bestowed on an individual that he does not deserve. This raises the question as to why we don't deserve God's favor? It is because all men are desperately wicked sinners - the biblical doctrine of man!
Scripture teaches mans depravity on many occasions - here are some examples:
The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (Genesis 6:5)
As it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one." "Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive." "The venom of asps is under their lips." "Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness." "Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known." "There is no fear of God before their eyes." Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it - the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:10-23)
Ok, so maybe Paul could say something so brutal to our fragile self esteem, but surely not Jesus . . . then check the verses that immediately follow John 3:16:
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. (John 3:17-20)
Does the natural man know he is a sinner (as Joel Osteen suggests) therefore nullifying our need to preach on sin and define it. Absolutely not. Mr Osteen clearly hasn't visited any prisons recently because if he did he would have found a building full of self professed wrongly convicted people. Indeed the Scripture teaches that "every man proclaims his own goodness" (Proverbs 20:6) and is "clean in his own eyes" (Proverbs 16:2). That he "suppresses the truth in unrighteousness" (Romans 1:18) and has a heart that is "deceitfully wicked" (Jeremiah 17:9).
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (1 John 1:8)
If we are to teach that Christ died for our sins then we must define what sin is:
Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. (1 John 3:4)
And how do we come to a knowledge of our sin:
if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, "You shall not covet." (Romans 7:7b)
A faithful proclamation of the Gospel, therefore, must present men as sinners and bring this knowledge by the use of God's law.
So the law functions first of all to kill me, to end my self creation - all attempts to write my own life movie and reinvent my character. The gospel inserts me into a new script: "alive in Christ" (Michael Horton - Christless Christianity p129).