Saturday, March 29, 2008

My Lunch with Six Mormon Missionaries

I have written the following account because it will be helpful to have the reader witness a Mormon/Christian dialogue as if they were there first hand. Talking with Mormons can be intimidating for some people because they aren't exactly sure what to say when a Mormon appears to speak Biblically. I have attempted to be as accurate as I could, while at the same time condensing the entire conversation. Be blessed as you see how the truth of God prevails against the lies of the devil.


Bob walked into the bookstore with a determined look on his face.

"You won't believe what I've discovered!", he said with a grin. Brad and I looked up from our Bibles and awaited the interesting news.

"I just had breakfast with a friend at great little place over in Richmond... it's a real find, their breakfasts are to die for!... but that's besides the point... Well get this: as we were finishing up our meal and enjoying pleasant conversation, about half a dozen Mormon missionaries came walking through the door! Of course, I couldn't resist making a comment: 'What's this? General Conference?' They laughed and told me that there were even more of them coming. No sooner had they said that, three more missionaries followed through the door."

"Really...", I exclaimed, "What's was the occasion?"

Bob smiled, "Well that's what I had to find out. It turns out that every Thursday at this place the owners give the missionaries a free lunch, and they come, and I don't blame them!"

My eyes shot over to meet Brad's. We were both thinking the same thing.

"Do you suppose they will be back next week?" I asked.

"I don't see why not...", Bob's eyebrows gave an inquisitive look, "Why?"

"Bob, would you like to have lunch with me next Thursday...", I grinned, "with a group of Mormon missionaries?"

Both Bob and Brad perceived the opportunity. We proceeded to plan going back to the restaurant about the same time next week to see if we could engage the Mormon missionaries in discussion. It was decided, and Bob and I agreed to meet next week to take an expeditionary trip to Richmond.


The restaurant was classic Americana. It was small enough to feel like a house visit, and old fashioned enough that I felt like I took a step back into the 1950's. Bob and I arrived early and ate our lunch, enjoying each others company. Some time went by and it looked like the missionaries were not going to show.

"Regardless, it was a nice time spent...", I started to say, but before I could finish saying it the door pushed open and in strolled four missionaries, dressed to kill. My heart jumped, and I saw a smile come across Bob's face. The the door opened again and two more walked in. As they saluted the owners, I thought to myself, 'So we will indeed get our chance to talk with them; now how are we going to get in conversation?' I was aggressively turning it over in my mind.

"Eli, you think to much", Bob said with a laugh, "Don't worry. It's all about spontaneity. Follow me!" Without warning, Bob stood up and made a move for their table. 'Oh no', I thought to myself, 'What is Bob going to do...'

Bob approached the missionaries who had just given the waitress their order. With a loud voice that only a retired L.A. deputy could have, for all the restaurant to hear, Bob boomed. "So what are you guys up to?" They looked up surprised. "We are missionaries with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints", the first missionary answered smoothly. Bob nodded, "So you're here to fill up the tank, huh?" They laughed, and Bob continued to break the ice with his light-hearted humor. At last he became serious and asked them, "Well guys, we have some questions that we'd like to ask you. Would it be too much trouble to meet with you after you're done eating, to talk?" The missionaries smiled pleasantly and unanimously replied, "Pull up some chairs and talk with us now, we don't mind!" We couldn't resist the invitation.


After the introductions I decided to pick it up from there.

"So how long have you guys been on your missions?" I asked. Most of the six had been on their mission for 20 months of the prescribed 24, which meant they were nearly finished, and that we had stumbled upon some 'veterans'. One of them was nine months in. They told me that they were representatives of the Church of Jesus Christ, and traveled about sharing the gospel and encouraging the faith of the faithful.

My first question came as a bit of a surprise to them: "Do you believe that Jesus Christ was perfect; that He never sinned?"

"Oh yes!", one elder quickly responded. "Jesus Christ was the only one who was perfect, because He fully obeyed the Father in all things."

"That's right", I replied, "and would you agree therefore that Christ was the very embodiment of the law, since He fulfilled it perfectly and never broke any of God's commands? That is, if we were to look at Jesus, we would see what it actually looks like for a man to obey God?"

They all nodded thoughtfully, "Yes, I suppose that is definitely true. He is our greatest example."

"So really," I said, "the moral standard of Christ is equivalent to the moral standard of the law. They are one and the same thing. If you are keeping God's commandments then you will look like Jesus, since He is the picture of obedience."

"Very true." One missionary mused. "I hadn't thought of it like that before."

By this time their food had arrived and they were all munching happily. My second question then followed.

"What would you guys say is the Biblical definition of sin?"

They paused for a moment, then one missionary who hadn't yet said anything answered. "I would say sin is anything that is contrary to God's commands." The rest of the group gave their approval. "We sin when we don't do what God wants us to do, or when we do something that God doesn't want us to do."

"Yes," I agreed, "the Bible says in 1 John 3:4 that sin is transgression of God's law, and since Jesus never sinned, He never transgressed God's law. Do you guys think that you have sinned? Do you think that you are like Jesus?"

"Of course not," one quickly remarked. "Everybody sins, and nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes, and God knows that. But He sees our hearts... He knows we try to do good but fail."

"Ah, but why do we sin?" I asked.

A missionary sitting to my left flipped open the Book of Mormon and turned to a passage. "The Book of Mormon says that 'the natural man is an enemy of God, and has been since the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit.'"

"Interesting," I said, "The Bible also speaks of the natural man, and that he is an enemy of God, but it says in 1 Corinthians 2:14 that 'the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, neither can he' by the very fact that he is an enemy of God. Have you ever thought of yourselves as enemies of God?"

I pressed further. "The Bible doesn't say that we are mistakers... it says that we are sinners; enemies of God who have chosen to sin and disobey God because we only love ourselves and actually hate God."

The missionaries looked a little stunned.

"Doesn't even the Book of Mormon say that God does not give us any commandments unless we are able to fulfill them?" They nodded. "Then according to the Book of Mormon, the only deciding factor as to whether you sin or not is your own willful choice. A sin is a sin, not a mistake."

They had to agree. "Yes, but this is why Jesus came and gave us the atonement," said a missionary who was looking a bit uncomfortable. "Through the atonement we can be made right with God again."

I concurred, but my next question was pointed: "Tell me, how does a person receive the atonement?"


The missionary sitting right next to me smiled and gladly began to expound the Mormon 'plan of salvation'. "Well first, "he said, "you have to have faith. Then, through faith you must repent of all your sins, be baptized, receive the Holy Spirit through the laying on of hands, and endure to the end. If you do all these you will receive forgiveness of sins."

I noticed there wasn't anything about Jesus in his plan of salvation, but I proceeded to ask him, "Could you define repentance?"

He went on to explain how repentance was a multi-step process. First, you must feel sorry for your sin. Second, you must make full restitution for that sin. Third, you must promise never to sin that sin again. And lastly, you must forsake that sin and never do it again.

"So," I inferred, "unless all steps are completed, repentance has not been accomplished."

"Correct," he replied, "If you only do steps 1-3 but you don't do step 4, you have not repented at all."

The next question was obvious. I turned to the whole group of six missionaries sitting there and asked them all plainly, "Guys, have you repented of all your sins, as your plan of salvation requires?" The silence at the table was painful.

"Well... no." One said, looking downward. "But I'm trying... and it's a process."

At this I remarked, "Elder F., did you know that the idea of 'trying' is nowhere to be found in the Bible? Trying has to do with what you do; salvation is all about what Christ did. Neither does the Bible speak of salvation as a process, but as an event. 2 Corinthians 6:2 says this: "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation." Salvation is something you receive as a gift, not something you work for."

"In Ephesians 2:8, 9 and 10, it tells us that "by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works." If we could earn our salvation, then we would have something to boast about, but God has ordained that salvation is by grace, which means it is something that none of us can merit."

"If I were to give a birthday gift to Elder B. here, what would happen if I told him he had to help me pay for it? Why, it would cease to be a gift! A gift is free... but not because it didn't cost anything. A gift costs the receiver nothing, but it costs the giver something. Salvation cost the sinner nothing, but it cost God everything: the death of His only begotten Son. All we have to do is receive God's gift of forgiveness and new life by faith: simply believing it to be so."

Suddenly one of the missionaries objected: "But faith without works is dead!"

"Okay," I replied, "then have you repented?"

He had nothing to say in response. Clearly he had not repented, and therefore, by his own admission, his 'faith' was dead.

"Elder F., according to your own doctrine, you are still a natural man and have not repented of your sins. The desires of your heart are not pure, but are corrupt and sinful. According to your own words, you don't even have faith, because had you had faith, you would have repented long ago."

"The LDS 'plan of salvation' has no power in it because the very solution it offers is the whole reason for the problem! You say that no one is perfect, no one is like Jesus, and that all have sinned because they are natural men who are enemies of God. You say that this is why Jesus gave us the atonement. Then you say that in order to receive the atonement, we must repent of all our sins and become perfect like Jesus. So to be forgiven, you must do that which you can not nor could not do, which is the very cause of our fall in the first place! It's an impossible circle that cannot be broken."

The missionaries looked anxiously at one another for something to say.

"Guys, let me tell you this. You will never repent of your sins, because the Bible says you cannot. You are telling others to do something that you yourselves haven't even done."

"God's way is free undeserved grace. God is saying to you that right now He is willing to give you total forgiveness from all your sins, absolutely free. You don't have to work for it, perform for it, or pay Him back. He bought it and it's yours. He did this for you because you can't repent of your sins that enslave you. To be saved can only mean that you can't save yourself."

At this point the missionaries were becoming uneasy and told us that they had to leave in order to make an engagement. Then one missionary who was sitting near the back wall chimed in for the grande finale.

"Eli, have you ever prayed about this?" I knew immediately where he was going.

"Elder B., are you referring to James 1:5, which says, 'If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally'?" I said, looking at him.

"Yes, actually!" he answered, a bit surprised.

Then as kindly and as graciously as I could, I answered his question like this, "Elder B., in this matter I don't need to ask God about it, because I don't lack wisdom about it." And at that his face crumpled like a wrinkled bulldog, having lost his finest missionary aphorism. They were stunned.

We stood up, shook hands, and departed ways very cordially. The entire conversation from beginning to end lasted about an hour and half, and remained polite and gracious throughout its whole duration. As Bob and I left, we rejoiced in God's faithfulness in providing this opportunity, and left them in God's hands to finish the work in the lives of those six men. God alone can open blind eyes, and may He do so very soon for these missionaries who have been trapped in Mormonism from the day they were born.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Parable of the Marriage Feast

"And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for His son." - Matthew 22:1-2

I thought it would be both instructive and helpful to write a short commentary upon this parable of Christ's, found in the 22nd chapter of Matthew just days before His crucifixion; and there is a great possibility that this parable was uttered earlier on the very same day that the Olivet Discourse was delivered (the Olivet Discourse given after he left the temple that evening, probably Monday). This particular day, which fell two days before the Passover, was one of the most intensive engagements our Lord entered into with the Pharisees, who, because of parables like this one, were filled with anger and sought to catch Jesus in His words that they might condemn Him to death.

What was it about Jesus that the Pharisees despised so much? Was it because He had exposed their hearts so precisely and shamed them publicly before the crowds? Was it because He had rode triumphantly into Jerusalem and had not restrained the people from declaring Him to be the Christ of Israel? Or, was it because Jesus was to them so evidently the Son of God, that the very prospect of this truth threatened the very core of their personal 'kingdoms' and 'autarchies', contesting that sacred place where dwelt their blackest pride, and manifested the deepest and vilest undertones of man's inherent hatred and envy against God and everything God?

It is into this setting that we turn to our study, and into this hostility that Jesus brought this parable.


"The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son." (v. 2)

This parable is about a king, and that king is God. God is the supreme personality in the kingdom of heaven; he is its architect, artisan and administrator all at the same time. The kingdom of heaven is also called the kingdom of God, because that's exactly what it is: the dominion, the authority and power of God.

Now what does this king do? Jesus says that the king makes a marriage for his son. The Father makes a marriage for the Son, and what a mystery this is! By divine revelation we have learned that God is complex unity, that three persons make up the Godhead of God, but what is this marriage? What would compel God, who lacks nothing and needs nothing, to, first of all, form the earth, and then call out a people for His own? The mystery of the marriage is the mystery of the Church, the ekklesia, the "called out ones". "To make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: to the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, according to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Ephesians 3:9-11) There are some things we may not fully understand now, but we will understand them later. There are mysteries that from the beginning of the world have been hid unto man, and who can sound the depths of the wisdom of God? That the infinite God should choose to manifest His wisdom to heavenly bodies by creating the universe and preparing a people for His own eternal purposes is not for us to decide. God has done this, and He knows perfectly. He has prepared a marriage for His Son; He has called out a people for Himself.


"And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come." (v. 3)

By this, "his servants", it is understood to be God's servants, the prophets, but who are these people who were bidden to the wedding; this choice few, this elect of God? Those here bidden are not all mankind, but friends and relatives of the bridegroom. It is plain to see. This is Israel, God's chosen people, the very ones who were listening to Jesus speak this parable, to whom pertains "the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came." (Romans 9:4-5) This is the people to whom God disclosed Himself, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and to Moses, to bring the true knowledge of God into the earth. This is the people who rightly had a place at the wedding, and who were so called: but they would not come.

"Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise."
(v. 4-5)

What wrong had the king committed, that would instigate such a reaction? He had done nothing wrong! He had made everything ready; he had prepared the dinner and killed the fatted calf, he had made ready a feast for joy and gladness and invited his friends to share in His joy. This was to be a jubilant occasion and a happy time! "But they would not come". What more could God have done for Israel? He had 'formed them in the womb' and had caused them to grow strong. He delivered them out of Egypt and from the house of severe bondage, he had brought them into a land flowing with milk and honey, with fields that they did not plant and cities that they did not build! He had given them His Law to be a lamp unto their feet in a world that was dark with wicked paganism and unspeakable idolatry. He had risen up unto them prophets, judges and kings to care for the flock and lead them into His perfect pastures. "What could have been done more... that I have not done it?" (Isaiah 5:4) But Israel "made light of it" and "went their ways".

"And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them." (v. 6)

One cannot but marvel at the folly of the nation! What foolishness of those bidden! They scorned the grace of God, they mocked His mercy, and made light of His salvation. To presumptuously despise the goodness of Him who cares and provides for you, to bite the hand that feeds, is the ultimate expression of contempt. What would be the motive for such a reaction? What would fuel such evil treatment of God's gracious prophets, as history so strikingly records, that would inevitably climax in the crucifixion of the Son of God Himself? There is no explanation but one, and this one, by its very nature, we reject. And that is: that man hates God because of the pride of his heart; and oh, how we are loath the admit it! And though we marvel at Israel for their treatment of the One who gave them such divine blessings, we cannot marvel at their folly without immediately applying the same to our own vile hearts. "What then? Are we better than they?" (Romans 3:9) No: if God had chosen the Sumerians, or anyone else, the parable would have still turned out the same. Therefore let us look upon Israel and fall on our faces as men.


"But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city." (v. 7)

We have here a most significant prophetic Scripture. It does not say that the king himself came to destroy, but that he "sent forth his armies", which prophecy was fulfilled precisely 40 years after the death and resurrection of Jesus, when three Roman legions, commanded by Emperor Titus, "the rod of mine anger", besieged and utterly destroyed Jerusalem. They burned the city and the temple as a frightening token of God's righteous anger and judgment against the nation. "Seest thou these great buildings? There shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down." (Mark 13:2) The crucifixion of Christ, followed by the destruction of the Jewish temple, marked the beginning of a new dispensation in the unfolding of the mystery of God.

"Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid them to the marriage." (v. 8-9)

In accordance with the divine mystery which was hidden since the world began, God foreknew the rejection that He would experience by the Jewish nation. Jesus stood only a few days away from the cross, and yet He had been telling His disciples all along exactly what things He must suffer in Jerusalem. The king's command was not a second plan, nor a fall back position: "Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid them to the marriage." This was not some hasty proclamation given to save a reputation, but this was the great unveiling and opening of the kingdom of God unto all men, the broadest invitation of grace to a world now finally prepared to receive His grace, having beheld Israel's unsuccessful history with God. If Israel proved "unworthy" of God's covenant, who had had so much divine care invested into them by God, how much more the Gentiles, who had neither sought Him nor knew Him? "Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles..." (Romans 11:12) The falling of the nation of Israel is the conclusive statement to mankind that no one can attain the righteousness of God that is by law because the heart of man is desperately wicked and will not be subject to God's law and authority. Thus the necessity of the cross and the necessity of grace, which gospel alone has the power to transform the heart. This is the true wisdom of God, "which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel." (Ephesians 3:5-6)

"So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guest." (v. 10)

So it is that the gospel is preached today, which was first preached by the apostles of Christ and has since extended to "the uttermost parts of the earth." The message is "Come!" "Come to God through the Lord Jesus Christ! for no one can come to the Father but by Him." "Come! for you are a sinner, worthy of death, and unworthy of such an invitation, but God has grace for you." "Come! Come and drink freely from the waters of eternal life. Come and draw joyfully from the wells of salvation!" "Come to God! for Christ has died, the just for the unjust, and has purchased your redemption with the blood of His cross. There stands nothing now between you and God." "Come! and find forgiveness for all of your sins, for God declares peace on earth, and goodwill toward men." "Come! for Christ has risen and invites you to His wedding feast. You have been cordially invited, by this gracious invitation, which was bought by the precious blood of Jesus."

"The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it." (Luke 16:16) Thus the house is being filled, with "both bad and good", for wherever men hear the gospel invitation they rush toward the gate. But just as God has sowed His seed, and has sent forth His invitation, so has an enemy sowed his seed, and has sent forth his invitation, speaking falsely, blinding men's eyes to the truth of grace and righteousness which is by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Many shall come to the wedding saying 'Lord, Lord', who, by trusting in their own righteousnesses, have not been instructed in the wisdom of God.  
"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." (Matthew 7:21)


"And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there was a man which had not on a wedding garment: and he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king unto the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few are chosen." (v. 11-14)

At last the king comes! At the end of the age, when the "fulness of the Gentiles be come in", when the "gospel of the kingdom shall have been preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations", when all things have been made ready and the end shall have fully come, "then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory" (Mark 13:26), and then Jesus Christ shall ride forth out of heaven, with the name written on His vesture for all the world to see: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. Our blessed hope, and the consummation of the mystery of the kingdom of God, is bound upon the second coming of our Royal Bridegroom, Jesus Christ. Christ shall take His place at the head of the feast, and the Church, the Bride of Christ, shall present herself before Him.

"Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints." (Revelation 19:7-8) Who is this man who is not wearing wedding garments? "Friend, how camest thou in hither?" What right do you have to be here? Why would you come to the feast not wearing a wedding garment? You are not a saint, for you have not upon you the righteousness of saints, which "righteousness is of Me". You have not believed in My cross, and yet you have believed that you were worthy enough to come in here? Did you not know that Israel, My people, had proved unworthy of this marriage, and did you think that you were better than they? You wicked, unbelieving presumer. Who told to come here without a wedding garment? Servants! Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. "For many are called but few are chosen."

My dear reader, have you yet confessed yourself unworthy to appear before God, and have you admitted yourself unfit to attend the marriage feast of His Son? Have you understood the failure of Israel's history with God as a statement to all mankind of the sin and wretchedness of our own vile hearts? Have you beheld the cross of Jesus Christ and laid hold of the righteousness of God that is by faith in His blood? Have you cast your pride to the dust and humbled yourself under the mighty hand of God? There is no other way. Your garments will not do, but God has invited you to take off your filthy rags of sin and self-righteousness and be clothed with the priceless wedding garments of His grace. Many are called, but will you be chosen? Will you appear before the King "holy and unblameable in His sight"?

Even now the house is filling up and the King is almost here. Will you accept His invitation?

"And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God." (Revelation 19:9)

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Modernism, Postmodernism and the Need of Our Hour

In the 18th century, the world experienced a subtle shift in its course through a rather misleading period labeled "the Age of Enlightenment". The so-called "Enlightenment" saw the rise of political and social optimism founded upon a promising new consideration that "reason" and "logic" were the ultimate basis of authority and knowledge. This period could also be characterized as the "Age of Reason", as men began to discard the transcendent authority of God, or the gods, for "a more civilized" and modern way of interpreting life. In retrospect, the foundation of Modernism, which was once thought infallible, could not have proved more destructive. Thus Modernism, which followed on the heels of the "Enlightenment" and extended into the early part of the 20th century, has degenerated into its mutilated and reprobate form, Postmodernism, which is where we are today.

"If any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know." (1 Corinthians 8:2) Modernism inevitably leads to Postmodernism. While Modernism gloats that "everything can be known by reason", Postmodernism answers in exhausted defeat, "I don't know, and nobody can know." It only took the world approximately 200 years to discover that by reason alone, and without God, knowledge is an impossible vapor to grab. The pursuit of truth, devoid of God, is a hopeless venture. It was Solomon who wrote, "I gave my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all things that are done under heaven... and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit." (Ecclesiastes 1:13,14) "Vanity of vanities" was his final conclusion for those who would know truth apart from God, or as he put it, "under the sun." Unless there is an absolute reference-point for knowledge and truth, there can be no basis for knowledge or truth upon which man can build. Without God, anything goes. It was only a matter of time until men realized they could not retain truth without first retaining the preeminence of God, but rather than return to God, men have opted for insanity.

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction." (Proverbs 1:7) Today, people are swimming in non-truth because of the devastating effect of Modernism: mankind's attempt to run away from God and exist self-sufficiently. It was Nietzsche who said, "God is dead", but he couldn't be further from the truth! It is man who is truly dead: we are dead spiritually, we are dead morally, we are dead mentally, we are going to die physically, and it is God alone Who can give man the Life that he so desperately needs and desires. Why does man not come to God, the Source and Giver of Life? It is because of his miserable sinfulness and wretched pride! Has the world actually improved since it has been, so-called, "Enlightened"? In the 20th century the world witnessed horrors that have eclipsed all previous horrors since ever there was a history recorded. Our Postmodern society has produced child killers and killer children who cannot think rationally because there's no one to tell them that bringing a gun to school and shooting your classmates is wrong. Since the "Age of Reason", there have been an estimated 47,241,423 million abortions in the United States of America alone. Have we eliminated war? Have we decreased crime? Are we more peaceful? Are we more content? Are we happier people? Most assuredly not. I am not suggesting that the earth was not sinful in the past, but that the modern world has not improved it, and has only made it worse. Evil is more sophisticated, and by denying God, has every place to hide. Unless we return to God with earnest confession and repentance, the destructive results of Modernism will continue to leaven the earth until it is thoroughly overtaken.

There is indeed a true enlightenment. Jesus Christ said of Himself, "I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life." (John 8:12) The man who knows Christ is the truly enlightened man: he is no longer 'in the dark' about who he is and what life is all about. The knowledge of God has given him clear understanding, and he knows the truth, and the truth has set him free. Such knowledge does not come through mere reason, but by the revelation of the Spirit. "That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling." (Ephesians 1:17-18)

It is the Spirit of God that convinces the world of sin, righteousness and judgment. (John 16:8) "Ye were illuminated." (Hebrews 10:32) The first thing a man realizes when he is illuminated is that God is a Holy God, and he, as a sinful man, is the utter opposite of that. A true knowledge of sin comes from a true knowledge of God, because in seeing who He is, we see who we are. We see our tremendous need for atonement; our sheer incapability of approaching Him "Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see." (1 Timothy 6:16) Only the Spirit can produce such a vision as this.

The second thing a man sees when he is enlightened is the unfathomable love of God. God's love cannot be measured with carnal instrumentation. It has no comparison: "For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:7-8) God does not love men for what they can give back to Him. Christ died for the ungodly who deserved nothing less than justice, and He gave His own life that those who were dead might receive His life. This is the decisive point of transformation. A man without Christ is dead in his sins, but a man in whom Christ lives is a new creation, alive and safe in the arms of God!

The tendency of Christians in our day is to water down the truth of God and tread around the real issue because we are afraid of what a Postmodern society would think if we preached the Word of God with authority and certainty as Jesus did. The world says that there is no truth; Jesus said that He was the Truth. We are trying to merge Christianity and the philosophical thinking (or non-thinking) of our day. Impossible! They are antithetical and cannot be reconciled.

The greatest need of our hour is for Christian men and women, who have truly been enlightened by the light of the Gospel, to stand up courageously and proclaim the truth to a world that is lost in vanity. Postmodernism is essentially creating an inward vacuum that people are filling up with anything and everything they can lay their hands upon: sex, violence, money, power... There has never been a more perfect time to speak the Word of life in due season. Yes, the world will hate us for it, just as they hated the Lord, but can we love them the way that He loved them, enduring the reproach and shame for their sakes? Let us be brave and obedient to God. Let us love the world as Jesus loved it and give ourselves for the glory of God.