“Just the facts, ma’am”
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
Some may remember this line made famous by Jack Webb who played Sergeant Joe Friday on the Dragnet Series. Living in our culture both in the world and in the church, Sergeant Joe would likely say, “Whatever you feel ma’am!” It seems that facts no longer matter. We have an image of what a leader ought to look like. Consultants do their best to make a candidate like what people feel he or she should be.
Many churches, perhaps the majority of evangelical churches, are built upon what people feel they need.
In both our political and church spheres, the “Whatever you feel” philosophy has given us looks without substance. Character built upon past experience is missing. All that matters is what looks good. Focusing on the feelings of people, “felt needs” churches’ primary concern is attracting people.
Concerning the church, what are the facts? After pushing aside peripheral issues, I believe that we are left with two critical facts. The first is knowledge of God and the second is knowledge of Man. Both of these have fallen on hard times in many churches. Yet they remain the most pure pursuits given by God’s revelation.
Psalm 104 reveals the one true God who ordains all things; has established all things; and who provides all things. The true God is “very great! … clothed with splendor and majesty.” He is the one who causes the grass to grow; gives man the means to eat; to be gladdened. God has “set the earth on its foundations, so that it should never be moved,” verse 5.
Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” God made everything out of nothing. He is the Creator. He transcends His Creation. He is not part of it. The cosmos is not all there ever is or will be! There is no such thing as eternal matter. The only eternal one is God, who is wholly self-sufficient. Fact number one is that God is! He is the one who rules all things. He is holy, holy, holy!
God spoke to Job “out of the whirlwind” Job 38:1. The book of Job’s earliest date is 1500 B.C. The man Job was an historic figure who was a contemporary of the Patriarchs of Israel. The book of Job is considered to be wisdom literature, written as an historical narrative. Through Job, God revealed His absolute sovereignty and man’s limited creatureliness.
As God continued to speak out of the whirlwind, He asked Job a question. Job 38:4, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me if you have understanding.” God continued to ask Job questions that were beyond man’s ability to answer. The basic summary of the book is “I’m God and you’re not!” This revelation is the beginning of wisdom. The wise man fears God. To be wise, one must understand who he is before a sovereign God.
Fact number two, men are creatures owing everything to their Creator! Our life is given by God and for God. The Apostle Paul declared to the Greek Philosophers that men live and have their being in the Son of God, Jesus. He wrote to the church in Colossae, “He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Colossians 1: 15-17
These two facts are rightly received in humility. All men who study the depth of God’s revelation of Himself and mankind base their lives on what they learn. Therefore, most importantly, Christian are you learning who God is and who you are in relation to Him? I suggest that everything in life proceeds out of these two facts. May your local church be faithful in teaching the truth of God and man.
May all of us who study these revealed facts apply them in every aspect of our lives for the glory of our Creator God who has revealed Himself fully in the person and work of Jesus Christ, His only Son.