The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and discipline.
Proverbs 1:7 CSB
Do you remember the story of Pharaoh and the Ten Plagues of Egypt? There is a fascinating element that is revealed to us throughout the narrative about the heart of Pharaoh. Exodus 5 begins telling us about the interaction between Moses and Aaron with Pharaoh. Now, Pharaoh didn’t start from a great position. He didn’t know the Lord, the true God. Here are his own words, “Who is the Lord that I should obey him by letting Israel go? I don’t know the Lord, and besides, I will not let Israel go. (Ex. 5:2 CSB)” What Pharaoh didn’t know will hurt him later in the account.
Look at Proverbs 1:7 above. Is the fear of the Lord what we think of when we think about having knowledge or wisdom? When we hear the word fear nowadays, we tend to minimize the part about being terrified as if one is in a dangerous place. Instead, we define it with words like awe and reverence. Now, to be sure, awe and reverence are a part of this instruction, but the word is not limited to just a reverential awe. By Pharaoh not knowing the Lord or regarding Him as the one, true God, he put himself in an incredibly terrifying and dangerous position. Only, he didn’t know it at first.
We are told at least six times that Pharaoh’s heart was hard or he hardened his heart and would not let the Israelites leave Egypt. Amazingly, the Lord (the knower of hearts), predicted that Pharaoh would harden his heart. After these events, we see that the Lord hardens the heart of Pharaoh to accomplish His good plan and to bring light to His unmatched power. The final hardening of his heart led to Pharaoh losing his firstborn son followed by losing his own life in the Red Sea as he relentlessly pursued the Israelites. He truly was in a dangerous place by not having fear of the Lord.
Though God intervened and hardened Pharaoh’s heart towards the end of the account, there were many opportunities for Pharaoh to humble himself before God and pursue wisdom and knowledge. The plagues that God sent on Egypt can be seen as multiple gracious warnings to Pharaoh to begin fearing the Lord. Can you imagine experiencing some of the plagues that the Egyptians suffered and still not recognize God as powerful and holy?
According to Proverbs 1:7, Pharaoh was a fool by refusing to seek or even fear the Lord, and it cost him dearly. As we consider what it means to have a biblical worldview, we must start with the fear of the Lord. Understanding God’s holiness and justice is just as important as understanding His grace and compassion. Our position in light of God’s holiness and justice (apart from being in Christ) is a dangerous one. Similarly, every other human exists in the same terrifying place because of sin. If there were no God, there would be no sin, no violation of moral law. Yet, it is precisely because there is a God, a holy one, we know there is an objective standard by which we should live and by which He measures us.
Knowing that God measures us by a righteous standard is part of our biblical worldview. See, we don’t simply decide to do what is “right” because it is the most convenient or the most logical for our situation, that would be an evolutionary based, relativistic mindset. Someone with a biblical worldview will aim to do what is “right” by God’s standards because He put those standards in place. A biblical worldview understands that because God is God, He gets to make the rules. We also trust that His rules are intended for our good even though we may not understand how or why.
This fear of God we are describing influences any topic even from current headlines. How should we think about our culture’s swing to no longer differentiate between male and female for instance? In the fear of the Lord (pursuing Him through His Word), we discover that God created us and that he created two sexes, male and female. He had a good purpose for doing so. His purpose, in part, reflects our image-of-God bearing nature. The world may be unwilling to acknowledge God’s right to govern over us, but that doesn’t mean we ought to acquiesce to the pressures of those who want to rebel against God. We must hold to what the Scriptures reveal to be true.
In our situation, we might be tempted to cave to the pressure from those who have no fear of God. Because they are loud and threatening and may cost us jobs or create legal troubles for us, we might find ourselves fearing these people. Our fear of the Lord needs to be greater than our fear of any person or group on this earth. Otherwise, we’ll cave to the pressure weighing down on us to “accept” and “tolerate” everybody’s position.
May we be gracious in our response to those around us, yet firm on our foundation. We ought not hate those who are pressing or believing these anti-God messages. We do not need to rail loudly against them, attacking their character, their grandma, and their dog. We ought to lovingly speak truth as we have the opportunity, and hold on to the convictions that are based on the teaching of Scripture. We also ought to patiently teach others. Don’t be surprised when the world doesn’t want to listen. Don’t be afraid of them either. Fear God.
Do you want to be a knowledgeable and wise person knowing how to conduct yourself in a really strange time (2021)? Then pursue God. Start from a place of terror of what God can do to you because of what your sins against Him deserve. Move to a place of reverential awe at His power, integrity, and holiness. Come to adore Him for His indescribable grace towards us. As we look at the world around us and figure out how we should interact with it, let’s always keep a biblical perspective in mind.
Greetings church family!
If there was ever a time in our lives as 21st century Americans where we needed to be reminded of God’s goodness and control over all things, the time is now. If there was ever a time where we needed to be reminded of what our “worldview” ought to be, the time may be right now. Usually we have one or two national events going on each year that draw our attention and notice. This last year, we have had more than normal, to say the least. From the pandemic, to the quarantine, this has been a challenging time. Surprisingly, we have had a level of governmental oversight the likes of which we haven’t seen in a long time and then on the opposite side a seeming lack of governmental oversight in our major cities with riots and violence that we also haven’t seen in a long time. We sure have seen some things over the course of the last year!
We may well have seen the sharpest division and clash between political ideologies in our lives this last November and the results have been shocking to many of us. And as Christians who are citizens of this country, we look around and are drawn by the voices and the calls for action on both sides. We are pulled hard by the side that calls out to us and its specific call for action. Our worldview is challenged by these voices especially in these uncertain and unprecedented times.
I don’t think that I speak for myself alone when I say that I need to be snapped (maybe even slapped) back to what is eternally true. I need to have my mind brought into conformity with the Word of God daily as I hear the national and local news and see what is going on around me. I need a reminder of what my worldview is to be shaped by.
Therefore, over the course of the next 8 weeks or so, Pastor Justin and I will be sending out a weekly Scripture passage along with a few thoughts that we hope will help us all be “snapped back” to what is eternal, what is absolutely true, and what it is that our lives are to be consumed by.
Today in our first installment, I have a passage that is truly “the cure all” for any difficulty that we may be facing as Christians who are citizens of America. I believe that this is the truth that we have to start with if we are going to be snapped back into conformity to what is true and what is eternally joyful to know and cling to.
Therefore, here is the question for us to answer today? “Where does a biblical worldview begin and end?”
Here is the passage for today that will frame our answer: Acts 17:24-31
The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘for we also are His children.’ Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because he has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”
Paul arrives in Athens, sees all of these statues to false gods lining the street and as he is looking at these, he notices one that is a statue that is titled “to an unknown god.” Bingo! Paul has his opportunity to go up to the Areopagus, the place where all of the local philosophers would come and try to teach and persuade men about their pagan ideologies. Paul uses their own statue to preach Christ!
Let us briefly walk through this text and as we do this, I encourage you to have your joy restored as your worldview is refashioned when thinking of the beauty of our great God.
Verse 24, Paul begins by telling them that it is God, the one and only Yahweh who created the world and all things in it. This in and of itself should shape our worldview! God is the creator of all things! There is nothing that was made or that has come into existence without it emanating from the very breath of His mouth! God speaks and life is created.
Verse 25, God speaks and by His breath all things and I mean all things are created. People and trees, rocks and rodents, cells and DNA, all created by Him. This crushes the idea of their gods on that hill in Athens since this is the only God who speaks (this also crushes all false gods today). Their worldview and ideologies are challenged by their new (albeit limited) knowledge of the sovereign and everlasting creator of all things.
Is that how we see the world? Do we look at the divisions in America knowing that God is sovereign over all things? Do we realize that God is not contained by human hands nor manmade structures? Do we realize that every nation and people (even if they don’t agree with us) have been made by God?
And if that doesn’t help shape how you view the world and its current events, look again at verse 26. God has appointed the lifespan of each person and in that lifespan He has even appointed the time in history in which they will exist. God has chosen you specifically to be born in this time in history as He numbered your days! God has chosen the boundaries of our habitation right now where we are at.
Two days ago, a new president was inaugurated in America. Now, we can say all day long that it was a vote of the people or we can say that it was not a vote of the people because it was stolen. I want to tell you to put both of those things behind you and simply recognize that our president(s) all throughout our history were all inaugurated by God and God alone and this is accomplished by His sovereign will, including this last one (Romans 13:1 says “established by God,” not on their merits but for His sovereign purposes. One glance at the Democratic platform of abortion on demand tells us it had nothing to do with the goodness of the candidate).
Now, that doesn’t mean that we don’t vote or advocate for reform or change as citizens since God is sovereign and enacting His sovereign purposes, but what that does mean is that we find joy either way. Why? Because God’s sovereign hand caused this to take place. He is the inaugurator for His sovereign purposes, which brings about our good and His glory.
Let that thrill and encourage you even if it didn’t go the way you would have wanted it to!
Verse 27 teaches us another worldview truth that is stunning. That this God who is not bound by the confines of creation and time is not far from us. This is shocking! He is God! He is all-powerful! He is the universe creating artist who crafted the stars and the sun in a day! And yet He is not far from us and ready to commune with us through the blood of His Son. We are all children of His by the nature of our birth as humans, but He is even willing to be our God and Savior in an incredibly intimate way through Jesus Christ His only Son. He is a personal God to His worshipers, even as the sovereign creator.
Verse 29, let us always remember that this great God is not some chunk of wood, or even a precious metal that we fight over, nor is He a mere figment of our imagination. He is Divine! He is all-glorious and powerful, and His declaration both then and now is a call for all men to repent of their sins in light of who He is and His divine will and Word.
This is not a mere request, this is a command! All men, all people of the earth are commanded to repent, commanded to turn from their sins and to turn to the one true God in faith. Now that is a worldview that transforms the rioters into servants of God. It turns the slanderous and politically motivated colleague into a righteous tongued worshiper at the feet of the cross. It turns the heart of the Christian back to realize that it is not merely in America in which they exist and live and move, but that it is in the gospel and in your great God in which the Christian does all things in his or her temporal existence.
As you reflect upon the day and age in which we live with all its current events, never forget that God is sovereign over every single thing that happens. He is the creator! He is the sustainer! He is the one who appoints how all things shall go. Trust His sovereign goodness in all areas of life. In politics and pandemic, in chaos and carnage, in tension and trial, it is truly all in the palm of His hand and sustained by the word of His power. Cling to a worldview that says, “my God is sovereign over this, and in this I will rejoice!”
Those who riot, those who speak maliciously, those who have lost hope are those who have a worldview that begins and ends with the things of this earth. Whether that is people, laws, freedoms, or stuff, their worldview starts and ends with things going the way that they want them to. The biblical worldview on the other hand, begins and ends with what God has spoken in His Word. His Word shapes our thoughts and reactions in life. Never forget dear Christian, His word transcends not only cultures, presidencies, laws, political movements, and pandemics, but it transcends even time itself.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us that God has placed eternity in our hearts. Our sovereign God has placed eternity in all our hearts. Let our eternal condition as believers shape our worldview and our response to the culture at hand in light of who we serve.
So, to answer the question that we started with, let us say this… we have but one Judge and King! The One and only risen Jesus Christ (verse 31)! A biblical worldview begins and ends with the sovereign purposes of the great and mighty God. Find joy in it all my brothers and sisters!