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Back to the Basics! Bibliology #3 Man’s Conscience!

In our study of revelation (God’s revealing Himself and His will to us), we are making the point that some of that communication is to all people at all times. This is called “natural revelation,” meaning that God speaks through creation, human nature, and human history.

Someone has said, “Pity the poor atheist who, upon seeing a glorious sunset, has no one to thank!” Nature and its beauties is one venue of God’s communicating information about Himself and His characteristics to all people everywhere.

Another avenue through which God speaks to everyone is man’s conscience. After speaking about the witness of creation in Romans 1, Paul touches on man’s conscience in Romans 2 where he writes: “They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them.” (v. 15).

We often know what is right and wrong based on that inner voice God implanted within us. James 4:17 says, “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” We can choose to ignore our conscience.

I’ve also noticed in my life that my conscience has also been tainted by sin. Sometimes I’m extremely sensitive to things that don’t matter — and insensitive to things that do. For that reason, I tell other Christians, “Don’t swallow the dictum ‘Let your conscience be your guide.’ Our consciences are also fallen. Rather follow this truth: ‘Let your conscience, shaped by the Word of God, be your guide!’”

God speaks to man through his conscience. C.S. Lewis’ masterful work Mere Christianity gets to the heart of this issue when he writes about right and wrong. He writes, “Human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea that they ought to behave in a certain way, and can not really get rid of it.” (Mere Christianity, Book 1, Chapter 1, paragraph 11). Lewis later writes, “It seems, then, we are forced to believe in a real Right and Wrong. People may be sometimes mistaken about them, just as people sometimes get their sums wrong; but they are not a matter of mere taste and opinion any more than the multiplication table. Now if we are agreed about that, I go on to my next point, which is this. None of us are really keeping the Law of Nature. If there are any exceptions among you, I apologise to them. They had much better read some other work, for nothing I am going to say concerns them. And now, turning to the ordinary human beings who are left . . .”

What is your conscience telling you to do or not do today?  Then, if it is consistent with the Word of God, obey it!

 

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2018 in conscience

 

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Jonah: Belief Contradicted by Behavior (Part 41)

Romans 15 says “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.” (v. 4).  The book of Jonah was written for us!  And this book ends with a question we all ought to ponder.

To His servant who is furious that his comfort has been taken away and his prophesied judgment has not taken place, God makes a statement:  “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow.  It sprang up overnight and died overnight.  And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left — and also many animals?”

Jonah’s concern was for his comfort.  He had no part in planting or assisting that shade plant in growing.  None of Jonah’s skills contributed even a little to that comfort-bringing vegetation.  The only skill Jonah showed in the book was his (finally) preaching to Nineveh, but his preaching was not out of his great concern for those lost people.

God’s concern was for the great city of Nineveh, a city with over a 120,000 children — and many animals!  Why would Jonah not recognize his misplaced concern?  Why don’t we(conclusion)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 10, 2017 in Jonah

 

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Jonah: Belief Contradicted by Behavior (Part 40)

I heard one preacher say, “The world is so evil.  If I were God, I would have stomped the world to death by now.  Aren’t you glad I’m not God?”  Yes.  We are thankful for God’s mercy.  And He shows that mercy to His sun-burned, suicidal servant whose mantra seems to be “It would be better for me to die than to live.”

God asks His disgruntled missionary, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?” (v. 9).  Man was made in the image and likeness of his Creator and possesses a moral system, one aspect of which is his conscience.  But Jonah’s conscience does not appear to have kicked in throughout this book!

He responds, “It is right for me to be so angry that I wish I were dead.”  How should Jonah have responded?  He should have said, “Lord, I’m so sorry for valuing my comfort more than the souls of these Ninevites.  Give me another chance?”  (to be continued)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2017 in Jonah

 

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Jonah: Belief Contradicted by Behavior (Part 36)

“Let your conscience be your guide!”  That works in much of life, but it isn’t a biblical adage.  I find sometimes that my conscience bothers me about things that don’t matter and doesn’t bother me about things that do!  My conscience (and yours) is fallen, is not perfect, and needs to be shaped by the Word of God.

The Lord appeals to Jonah’s conscience in verse 4 after Jonah has had his temper tantrum.  The Lord asks, “Is it right for you to be angry?”  “Is it right?”  Hmmmm.   Jonah had set himself up as the final arbiter of right and wrong — and the God of the universe gently challenges him.

I just would have zapped Jonah and moved on to another missionary.  How about you?

But this God is indeed gracious and compassionate and slow to anger!  And He demonstrates those characteristics over and over again with Jonah.  Instead of rebuking Jonah for his suicidal ideations, the Lord raises the question of right and wrong.  The wrongs of Nineveh had gotten God’s attention and He had sent His emissary to pronounce judgment on the people.  But they had repented — and God had relented.  God chose to do what was right in HIS eyes. He withheld judgment.  And Jonah saw this as very wrong and was willing to die for his opinion.

A prayer for today:  “Lord, a big part of my fallenness is that I think I know better than You.  Thank You for not zapping me when I deserve to be zapped.  I praise You for Your patience, kindness, and mercy.  Help me to show the same to others today.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.”  (to be continued)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 5, 2017 in Jonah

 

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Jonah: Belief Contradicted by Behavior (Part 8)

I think Jonah might have been an introvert.  Seriously.  He had gone down below deck.  Perhaps he was seasick.  Perhaps he was hiding.  It appears he was taking a nap.  It’s exhausting to run away from God!

Above deck an ecumenical prayer meeting is taking place.  The sailors are calling out to their gods even as they are tossing all the cargo overboard.

But the one piece of cargo that is napping below deck is causing the ship to sink!  The rebuke from the ship’s captain is direct:  “How can you sleep?  Get up and call on your god!  Maybe he will take notice of us so that we will not perish!”

Jonah’s conscience (an interesting side study in this book) allows him to sleep like a baby.  A baby running away from his god.  It’s kind of hard to call on one’s god when in rebellion.  Disobedience has a way of stifling one’s prayer life.

“All hands on deck!” in Jonah’s situation meant everyone must, right now, call on their chosen deity to save them from perishing.  And Jonah appears to not care about the life of these sailors — or himself.  An infection of apathy has taken root in Jonah’s heart.  (to be continued)

A prayer for today:  “Lord of the winds and the sea, show me my apathy toward Your concerns for this drowning world.  Please take away from me my spiritual slumber and re-deploy me in Your service!  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.”

 

 
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Posted by on August 8, 2017 in Jonah

 

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Happy Tax Day!!! A memory and a joke . . .

Friends: For most of us April 15th is the worst day of the year. We have to pay taxes! Just the word “taxes” makes us grit our teeth.

For me, April 15 reminds me of a very Screenshot 2016-02-26 07.14.38happy day in my life. You see, back in 1985 I passed the oral defense of my Ph.D. program at Drew University, and the three professors who examined me (or rather my dissertation on “The Pneumatology of John Nelson Darby”) gave me the thumbs up sign. I had finished my doctoral program, by God’s grace, successfully!

My bet is April 15th is not a great day for you for reminiscing. How about for laughing at a tax joke?

Screenshot 2016-02-26 07.16.38A letter was received by the IRS a few years ago that read: “A number of years ago I cheated on my taxes. My conscience has been troubling me terribly. That’s why I’m including an extra check for $100. If my conscience continues to bother me, I’ll send a check for the rest!”

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2016 in taxes

 

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