The Current Scene
Americans, we are told, have more doctors per capita, more hospital beds and the most advanced medical technology in the world. Certainly astronomical sums of money are diverted to health care. Here is a case where throwing money at something is not the best way necessarily to solve the problem. In spite of our splendid medical facilities the health record of the United States is not a good one. Why is this so? It is because a large percentage of human illness is self-inflicted. Our unparalleled prosperity has brought with it means of self-indulgence. As a nation we consume too much liquor, smoke excesssively and eat too sumptuously. There is a dictum that applies to the saved and unsaved alike, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7). Unless prosperity is attended with self-control it is a debatable blessing.
Moses foresaw the dangers when his nation would emerge from the wilderness and eventually become prosperous. He was so certain of his look into the future that he used the present and past tense in his prophecy: “But Jesurun grew fat, and kicked. Thou art become fat, thou art grown thick, thou art covered with fatness; then he forsook God who made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation” (Deuteronomy 32:15).
Fortunately, the born-again Christian possesses the indwelling Holy Spirit and one of His nine operations in our lives is “temperance” or self-control. Where this is exercised the health record is considerably improved.
So, Christianity can enable us to get the most out of this life, for the main ingredient to wholesome pleasure is normal health. The Christian also has the assurance of eternal bliss, so it can be that we are making the best of both worlds after all. Certainly we are free from the debilitating effects of fleshly lusts that plague all too many men of this world. If Christianity were limited to keeping a man from wine, women and tobacco, and there was no hereafter, he would still be a winner. His only argument and consolation is that we die like dogs anyway. This superficial logic is trifling compared with the well-reasoned hope of the Christian’s resurrection. In spite of the other-worldly nature of Christianity we are told that “godliness” includes profit for the life that now is and that which is to come (1 Timothy 4:8). The salutation of 3 John 2 wishes a double prosperity to “be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.”
Now that our nation is paying for a considerable percentage of its citizens’ medical bills, and the trend is toward complete social medicine, the costs are becoming a national concern. The task, of course, would not be so bewildering if we all lived normal lives, for then the need would be to treat only those ills that are our natural heirship. So, here again, man’s bent on sinning magnifies the problem and makes public health so prohibitively expensive. The President, when addressing the American Public Health Association in Miami last October, had this to say, “It is not the role of government to dictate life styles, but it is the proper role of government to educate our citizens and to aggressively stress the promotion of good health.” He called for corrections in our eating, drinking, smoking and need of exercise. He went on to say, “We would be healthier, be happier, live longer and save ourselves billions of dollars in the process.”
Better a fence along the edge of the cliff than a hospital at the bottom. Peter tells us that the Christian is not to “suffer as an evil doer.” Can we include self-indulgence in this admonition? On the other hand, “If any man suffer as a Christian,” says Peter, “let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God on this behalf” (1 Peter 4:16). Certainly there are the normal shocks and pains that our flesh is heir to; a godly walk will prevent us adding thereto.
Nor must we leave out divine discipline in the way we observe the Lord’s Supper. Because of failure to judge ourselves, says the Apostle Paul, “many are weak and sickly among you” (1 Corinthians 11:30). Christians should, and generally do, have a brighter prospect for health, happiness and longevity. Then too, we are bidden to be anxious for nothing but to bring our anxieties to God in prayer, and this results in experiencing the peace of God which passeth all understanding. To know more of this could ease considerably mental and emotional distress.
Yes, Christianity carries priceless dividends both here and hereafter.
This metal is scarce but indestructible. The gold that disappeared from the pyramids centuries ago has perhaps been melted and remelted and is somewhere still an emblem of value, perhaps in your tooth filling. From Bible times it has been a standard of wealth until the present. The nation that has no gold reserves possesses a monetary system held suspect by the rest of the world. In spite of this there are among the economists “chrysophobes” — gold haters. Such have become popular among politicians. On the other hand, the “chrysophilites” —gold lovers but derisively labeled “gold-bugs” — are those who advocate sound money. The dismissal of gold as a money standard has generated the present inflation that eventually promises more problems than it seeks to remedy. Swamped with paper money our gold became meaningless, so Nixon severed the dollar from Roosevelt’s $35 an ounce gold in 1971. Now we have floating currencies and the worth of our money is discovered on a day to day basis.
In his book The Realms of Gold, author Ray Vicker has this to say: “It is about time international money-men took another look at gold and the place it might play in bringing about monetary stability, instead of ridiculing it and its adherents. It is far easier to belittle anyone who doesn’t agree with the philosophy of easy credit for solving the world’s problems than it is to make those cheap-money policies work.”
The monetary fiasco to which cities, nations and the world appear to be heading will be a reaping of what has been sown. The standard, in this case gold, has been bypassed. Cheap money has been an easy answer to the current problems. Now pay day is coming around; the world of reality is pressing home. Man has equated his liberty with freedom from the taboos of yesterday. Money and morals particularly have been severed from their anchors. Actually the stubborn standards of life are found in the Ten Commandments. To break these immutable standards is to have them eventually break us.
Doctrine of Demons
The amazing success of the movie, The Exorcist, has established a momentary precedent in the industry. It gave a new direction to an ailing form of entertainment since the popularity of TV. Quoting from a reviewer we learn that “devil movies play equally well in Japan, Ecuador and Wisconsin. That isn’t true of love stories and Westerns anymore.” From this same source we read, “Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation plans three sequels to its big hit The Omen. Warner Communications, Inc. is putting the finishing terrors in its sequel to The Exorcist. M.C.A., Inc. is readying three demonic films. American International Pictures, has two devil films in release and two more in its Satanic mill. And other movie companies are preparing not directly about Lucifer, but about the supernatural.”
The producer of The Omen attributes the film’s success to the theory that a growing number of people believe in evil forces like the devil and also disasters like famines, floods and wars which he says may lend credence to the movies’ thesis that the antichrist is at hand. This coincides with Scripture where we are told that men’s hearts will be failing them “for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth.” Strange and unaccountable, apart from the biblical doctrine of sin, is the morbid satisfaction many get from the lies and distortions that originate from the pit.
Another disturbing flare, at least in nominally Christian lands, is the rise of astrology. Dyrness, writing in Christianity Today says, “Every day over 50 million Americans consult readings in 1200 newspapers. For by that day they can find a prediction that is determined solely by the arrangement of planets on the day of their birth. There are now supposed to be 10,000 full-time astrologers in America and 175,000 working part time.” At this point of writing there appeared in Time magazine’s religious column an account of a shadowy appearance of the head of Christ on the napkin on an altar. So far thousands have made a pilgrimage to this little Episcopal Church in Shamokin, Pennsylvania, where this phenomenon has supposedly appeared. We wonder how many of them would sit and listen to a sermon on Christ’s deity, death and resurrection and call to discipleship?
What does the evangelical believer gather from all this? It does indicate that the Bible no longer holds a paramount place in people’s thinking. Also, it shows their disgust with the materialism with which they have been fed these many years. Man is more than an animal or a mere accident in the course of things. Consequently, he yearns for the supernatural. Unfortunately, if the Scriptures are discredited or neglected then Satan exploits the situation. In the world beyond dwells the living and true God; but there is also Satan and his demons. We are told that he can work through human instruments with “all power and signs and wonders,” and this, with the intent to deceive. Here then we also have a concrete sign that we are approaching the end of the Christian era. Satan is filling the vacuum created by the “falling away” (Lit., “the apostasy,” margin). Turning from 2 Thessalonians 2 to 1 Timothy 4:1 we read this corollary, “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons.” The prophet Isaiah gives us in his sturdy language the antidote to all this devilry: “And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto those who are mediums, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? Should they seek on behalf of the living to the dead? To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:19-20).