The Bible tells us to "Go Ye Therefore into All the World." There are five very distinct worlds out there. We need to know these worlds and go into where they are. We must connect with the people, as Christ did, so that they can grasp His teachings.
We have, many hymns in our hymnals that we’ve sung many, many, many times but one of those that for a certain time in our culture we sang so often that I think everyone knows the words by heart is the hymn that starts: “Go Ye Therefore Into All The World.” Now this is one everybody knows.
I’ve got a simple question for you. Where is the world? Now I realize that may to some of you sound like a strange question, some of you will simply say, ta da, just look out the window. The interstate’s down there somewhere, there’s a shopping center where people are scurrying like mad trying to get ready for Christmas, Eastgate’s a little further south, Milford’s north, the world is all over the place. Some of the old pro’s are sitting back there saying o.k. I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.
When I walked in I looked at Joel Meeker, Jim Franks, Clyde Kilough and they asked if I was intimated having them on the front row. I said, you know years ago there was an evening T.V. program called the Muppets. There was a balcony up there and every time fuzzy bear got up on stage there were a couple of old curmudgeons up there that were muttering to one another and I simply told them that they were the fuzzy bear section, that’s what my wife and I have called such people ever since the Muppets. No, you’re just the fuzzy bear section. But I know they’re all seasoned enough to say o.k. I’ll wait, I won’t bite, I want to see where this is going. Well I’ll tell you where it’s going.
A few months back I was part of a teleconference that was pondering how to reach people outside of our culture. They were talking about how to address people, it didn’t matter what the medium was, whether it was radio or television or whether it happened to be the printed word, the medium wasn’t important, what was important is how do you connect? How do you make a connection with people who are outside of our culture? There were several people contributing and as they were talking, I began to scribble a few notes on a piece of scratch paper and when the teleconference was over the paper sat on the desk and it sat and it sat and it sat and I would come back and take a look at what was on that particular paper. What I’d been writing down as men were talking and as I was thinking was the substance of the answer to the question that I just posed to you.
We’ve a captain of our salvation, Mr. Meeker was talking about Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever. Have you ever stopped and looked at the world that Jesus Christ went to? Who was the world that was on the receiving end of Jesus Christ’s ministry? I’d like to turn back to Matthew, chapter 15. There are a few places that you could look at in the New Testament, Old Testament for that matter also but there are few places that you could look at in the bible and you could say these are to use an old spokesman club term, specific purpose statements. They give a focus. In Matthew 15, verse 24, Jesus Christ gave one of those. He said if you have a letter red edition of the New Testament, you see it very clearly:
Matthew 15:24 Matthew 15:24But he answered and said, I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
American King James Version×But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
If somebody had said, well what world are you going to? Jesus Christ in verse 24 said. The irony of it all though was at the very time that He was stating the world He was going to He was responding to the request of a Canaanite woman that He allow her demonic daughter to be healed by His healing powers.
Matthew chapter 8, Jesus Christ had been met by an individual from another country or at least he represented another country. His nationality is not necessarily stated, he was a Roman Centurion so his occupation and who he represented was. This gentleman had come to him and said: “I have a servant at home sick and if you would, he would be healed.” Christ said: “I’ll be right there.” He said: “You don’t need to be right there, I understand authority, I am a man who has authority, I use authority, I understand as a result the authority that you have to command sickness to leave.” Jesus Christ turned to people who were of the house of Israel and He said: “You know what? I’ve not seen among all the people that I am sent to the kind of faith that I’ve seen in this individual who is not a part of that group.” That same Jesus Christ in His traveling back and forth between the Galilean area and Judea back and forth, north and south stopped, talked to a lady in a well, a Samaritan woman and as they talked, He so impressed her that she went into the town, told the people that someone extremely special had been talking to her and Jesus Christ, rather than saying well you know I just stopped for a drink, I’m on My way, it was nice talking to you, so long, spent the next two days talking to the people in that particular community. As He left for Galilee following those two days of discussions recorded in the fourth chapter of John, He left behind a number of extremely impressed people, impressed at His message, impressed at what He had to say, impressed at the way He said it. That was one of the worlds that Jesus Christ spoke to.
Jesus Christ also reasoned with some of the most intelligent people in the society of His time. We as we walk through the what we would call bible stories, the bible stories accounts of Jesus Christ’s life are all familiar in Luke chapter 2 at the occasion of Jesus Christ’s family returning from the Feast and a couple of days out from Jerusalem as they’re doing a body count, they find out that Christ isn’t there and they’re saying well now when did you last see Him? Where was He? So they turned around and made a two-day journey back to Jerusalem to scout out where they had been and when they got back where did they find Christ as a 12 year old?
Luke 2:46 Luke 2:46And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the middle of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.
American King James Version×Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions.
Verse 47: And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers.
Here was a 12 year old, sitting, (you know it doesn’t matter what kind of an analogy you use, where are the most brilliant teachers in Judaism going to be but at the temple? Where are the cream of your scholars going to be located except in Jerusalem?) Here’s Jesus Christ as a 12 year old sitting and talking with the Doctor’s of the Law. Talking with the scholars of that time, three days, listening, asking questions. You know you can always tell a great deal about any human being, it’s even more impressive with a child when you ask some questions and that child doesn’t even blink, the child responds in a way that says, there’s a connection here, I understand at your level. They were absolutely amazed.
I was watching television a couple of nights ago, just channel surfing, stopped at a program I’d never seen before, it was silly enough that I was stopping a minute to groan. I was also stopping to try to recognize who the host was. Years and years ago in his earliest years the African American Comedian, Richey Pryor was hilariously funny and as I panned across it looked like a double sized Richey Pryor. He had the same eyes, same face, but twice the bulk and I thought well have they resurrected Richey Pryor? You know, is he back? As I was watching and he introduced a four-year-old girl. She bounces out, steps up on the platform, hoists herself up on the sofa and they start talking. The program I found out was all about oddities, people that do unusual things, some of them rather stupid, some of them ridiculous. But here was a little four-year-old girl and he was talking to her and the brightness in her eyes as she was responding was remarkable. He started asking questions and as he asked questions, you realized what it was that was her particular oddity. She knew by name every Governor of all 50 states in the United States, (4 years old). She knows all the cabinet members and all the Presidential staff. I don’t know how many foreign Prime Ministers she knows. He asked her who’s the Prime Minister of Japan, bump and asked her who’s the Prime Minister of Germany, bump, asked her another Prime Minister, bump. It wasn’t this, it wasn’t this, it was he would ask and she would respond. There was no lag time between question and response. Now being a Comedian, he was having fun with that, he said: “How old are you?” She said: “I’m four.” He said: “Well I’ve got a son who’s five.” As she’s answering, he says: “You know my five year old son is still writing his N’s backwards.” As she continued to answer he says to the audience: “Now when you get home tonight be nice to your children.” You know here was a brilliant, brilliant four year old.
Jesus Christ impressed the best minds in Jerusalem as a brilliant, brilliant twelve year old. But Jesus Christ, as He was there, finished this particular event in this fashion.
Verse 48: So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him: “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.”
Verse 49: And He said to them: “Why is it that you sought Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?”
Another one of the bible stories that all of us know well is the account of the paralyzed individual who couldn’t get to Jesus Christ and so they took the tiles off the roof of the house he was in, lowered the bed down in front of Him. Jesus Christ healed the man. We know that part of the story. You know the part of the story we don’t know or most of us don’t stop to consider was why He couldn’t get in the house?
Jesus Christ was sitting in His own house. If you take all the accounts, Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus Christ was sitting in His own house. The roof they took off was His roof. They couldn’t get in because the house was full of a symposium of the best minds in Judea. The preceding verses that precede the paralytic say that men, doctors of the law and teachers of the law had come from all over Galilee and Judea to ask questions of Him. The reason they couldn’t get in was because of who was inside the house. Jesus Christ reasoned with some of the most intelligent individuals in His society at His time.
Conversely, flip the coin all the way over the other side, He ate and taught those considered to being the scum of the world in several different ways. People who were emotionally and mentally unbalanced, people who were thought to be (whether they were or not) extortionists; the Scribes and Pharisees said to Him: “Why do you fraternize? Why does your Master fraternize with publicans and sinners?”
So in one situation Jesus Christ could sit down with some of the best minds of the day and the time and talk to them about philosophical concepts of God’s plan, His purpose, His reason, His direction and other times He could sit down with people who were so totally detached from religion as to be the polar opposite and sit down with them also. He physically fed masses of people on more than one occasion and these people would have been as diverse as diverse can be. You had five thousand people at one time, probably ten thousand or more at another time, some of then in transit to a Feast, others who knows what their reason was, Jesus Christ looked at the mixed multitude, spoke to all of them and spoke to them very profoundly. He healed all types of sick people; social outcasts, such as lepers and demoniacs, people who were infirm from birth, the blind, the deaf, the mute and those I’m sure also who had all forms of communicable diseases.
With that simply as a preface, tell me then to which world did Christ go? You see the life of Jesus Christ when you ask the question is not simple is it? Jesus Christ may have stated in Matthew 15:24 Matthew 15:24But he answered and said, I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
American King James Version×, who He was sent to. By His deeds and His actions He addressed a most diverse audience. He addressed people in many different settings, in many different situations and whose lives pictured very opposite parts of the society in which He lived.
I think when you look at the diverse worlds that we have described the point is simple. The world Christ went to was diverse. You know what? So is ours. If anything ours is more diverse even than was His.
I’d like to tell you during the remainder of the sermon about five of the worlds immediately around us. I’d like to describe as you look outside this room and rather then simply as I did the broad sweep, well yes the world is everybody who’s out there somewhere. I’d like to talk to you about five very distinct worlds that are out there. You will see in some cases parallels to what I’ve mentioned as I’ve read to you about the life of Jesus Christ. Worlds that you and I are able to go to if we choose. Please understand when I say go to them, I’m not simply talking about dropping something in their lap like a Good News magazine, a booklet or a correspondence course, I mean going to where they are, connecting with where they think, having a residence there as Christ did with those that He talked to, that they can grasp. If you go back for instance and look at Jesus message to the Samaritans in John, chapter 4, it was specific to the Samaritans. The lady said: “This is our father Jacob’s well. In other words we Samaritans are as connected by our bloodline and lineage to the antiquities of the Bible as you are.” Jesus Christ then spoke to where she was. He said: “I want to tell you something, you may be sitting at Jacob’s well, you and I may both know who Jacob is, you may occupy a piece of territory that salvation is of the Jews and let me explain all of this.” She listened to Him. But his message was specific to the people at that point.
Look at what He said to the hungry pilgrims moving through Galilee in John, chapter 6. I am reminded in substance of some of the things that Mr. Meeker mentioned about a part of the world that sees Americans because of what they have as an easy target for asking and hopefully receiving some financial benefit. Jesus Christ was speaking to the same sort of audience. These people were saying: “You know what? Every single year I have to depend upon a crop and if that crop doesn’t come in, I have to figure out how I’m going to keep me and my wife and my children alive for another year.”
Remember a couple of years ago as a famine was hitting one of the southern African states? The evening news was interviewing an individual and it was chilling. Now I thought culturally, you know here we are in the United States and we have so many layers of safety net that if you fall through one there’s a secondary one there and if you fall through that there’s a tertiary one. This gentleman was being interviewed in his community in Africa and he was simply looking like the widow, like Elijah’s widow. He was looking at what he had; he was looking at the amount of time between then and the next planting and then the time of the next harvest. I don’t remember his family size, it was five or six children, he was counting the number of children that he had to write off between the time that he was being interviewed on the news and next year’s harvest. So based upon what I have without any outside help I have just written off two of my children because they will be dead by next year.
Jesus Christ as He talked to these people said: “You know you worry from year to year about whether you will live and I fed you a meal and you were amazed and you said give us that bread, give us the security that says that we’re not going to have to worry about famine and crop failure that we will always have something to eat. Moses fed those people for forty years, they were in a place where they couldn’t sustain themselves but they never had to worry about eating.” Jesus Christ took their concerns and he ratcheted it up a notch and He said: “Let me talk to you about something greater, I want to talk to you about the bread that never fails, the bread that lasts for all eternity.” There were many people who did not grasp the message but it was a message related to the time and to the circumstance.
To go to the world brethren, we have to speak the language of that world and speak to the needs of that world if they’re going to understand the message. If we speak to ourselves we resonate within ourselves. We don’t resonate with any world unless we speak to that world.
The worlds that I’d like to talk to you about are in no particular order and in no particular priority. They simply happen to be worlds that are out there, worlds to reach. For lack of a better term I’d like to talk to you about the world of a gentile. Even though Christ said He was sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, He instantly responded to the receptive and to the tender hearted among the gentiles. We have an identity; we have a culture. Our culture is very, very deeply rooted in the identity in modern times of Israel. We are deeply rooted to understanding to whom God gave His physical blessings and to whom He gave the responsibility to preach the gospel to the rest of the world, to the identity of the modern nations that constitute the tribes of Israel and that has been our focal point. It is culturally a very dominant thread within our church.
Over the years, not only in the United Church of God but preceding the United Church of God and still today in the United Church of God it’s an issue that will never go away in our publications in United and preceding United there was always the question of cultural relevance. If all the nations your magazine went to were even the same color as you were, there was still the question of: “Does the message that resonates to an American, even resonate to an Englishman? What about to a German or a Scandinavian? How does it resonate in South America and how does it resonate on the other end of the world? In Australia and New Zealand?” So culturally there’s always been that question that we’ve been sensitive to.
We’ve tried to find ways to allow different parts of the world to either pick and choose or if staff is deep enough even write to the cultural needs of that part of the world. Now I’m speaking primarily within the church. In the broader sense, if your skin is yellow, black or red, the message of who are the descendants of the lost ten tribes of Israel, those messages are not especially relevant. If you live here in this country they are relevant because you are recipient of those blessings. If you don’t live in this country they have less relevancy. The message is found in places like Romans and Galatians speak and also resonate with the rest of the world far, far more.
For those who are not Israelite by descendants the fact that the bible states that you are heirs of the same blessings. You can have everything (Mr. Meeker was talking about the fact that when it all comes down to the bottom line, we don’t live with parity, we don’t live with equality and we don’t live with fairness today). You and I get the lions share and then it begins to trickle down from there until you have nations and they have very little share at all. Life is not in the distribution of wealth and blessings fair today.
There are many parts of the world that look at tomorrow with a far keener focus then we do because their only hope is tomorrow. They don’t have much hope in today and for them to understand that tomorrow there is no difference between Jew and Gentile, there is no difference between male and female, there is no difference between master and servant that in the eyes of God our salvation has nothing to do and our attainment of the Kingdom of God has nothing to do with who we are racially, it has nothing to do with our gender. Those things are totally and completely irrelevant to God. That can resonate in places where who is Ephraim and who is Manasseh simply does not resonate the same way. The analogies of Paul of Jesus Christ being the Vine and the fact that none native vines can be grafted to this Vine and by being grafted in they can bear exactly the same fruit as would native born branches resonates. I can be connected to that same vine. I can have the same life-blood flowing though me as do the native branches.
An understanding in the temple culture of the breaking down of the middle wall of partition where there is no longer a court of the Gentiles and a court of the Israelites but that all can approach God as sons of God. These are words that resonate to people in a way that who is Israel does not resonate. The world of the Gentile is far, far, far larger then is the world of the Israelite. We have felt in the same manner as Jesus Christ expressed that our primary and our first obligation is to the house of Israel and extends out from there as our logo’s, our slogans and our phrases have said, to all the world, to preach the Gospel, to go ye therefore into all the world. We’ve always seen our starting places as being in areas like these but it is the boundary of where we stop, it is only where we start.
A second world. The world of the sick. I mentioned to you the time of the paralytic; it was recorded in Luke, chapter 5 when Christ was talking to many of the scholars of His day and time. If you go down a few verses, verses 30, 31 of Luke, chapter 5, Jesus Christ had now transitioned to a place where He was eating with sinners, with Publicans, in fact He was dining with a Publican who was going to become one of His Disciples, the man who wrote the book of Matthew. The Pharisees and their Scribes were murmuring and complaining and they were saying: “How can He eat with people like that, doesn’t He know their reputation, doesn’t He know that He will contaminate Himself being there among such people?” Jesus Christ said: “I want you think about something.” If you’ll turn back to Luke, chapter 5, verses 30 and 31 we’ll take a look at what He said.
Luke 5: 30 But their scribes and the Pharisees murmured against His disciples, saying, “Why do You eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” (You doctors of the law, you Pharisees, you people who are the bright, the brilliant, the successful of your time, your day, those of you who are righteous, let me say something to you.
Verse 31: And Jesus answered and said to them, “Those who are well do not need a physician, but those who are sick.” (He said: “You go and tell these people who are complaining about my eating with tax collectors and sinners, you tell them this and let them think about it. You tell them those who are well do not need a physician but those who are sick.)
You and I understand the difference about being sick, running a 100, 200 degree fever and being sick in terms of your state and your condition. He wasn’t among people who were ill; He was among people who were spiritually sick and He said: “You know what, it is the people who are spiritually sick who need the physician, I’m here because of their need.”
Arguably there is more then one statement of purpose in Christ’s writings. I’d like you to turn back a chapter to Luke, chapter 4. I read one of them to you earlier didn’t I? Matthew 15, verse 24 where He said to this Canaanite lady that I have been sent to this particular audience. There’s another SPS of sorts in Luke, chapter 4. In verse 16, Jesus Christ had come to His hometown and on the Sabbath day He walked into the church.
Luke 4:16 Luke 4:16And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.
American King James Version×So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read.
Verse 17: And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:
Verse 18: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed,
Verse 19: To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”
Verse 20: Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him.
Verse 21: And He began to say to them. “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
This world is full of sick people and at times as you watch the news and the trends in the news, it is getting sicker exponentially. We have the words to make them well if we’ll give them out. We can speak to sickness, we can speak to sickness in the very same way that Jesus Christ as He unrolled the scroll of Isaiah and began to read from it said: “I am starting to fulfill these things at this time.” You see, not every person Jesus Christ went to was blind, deaf, dumb, demon possessed or lepers; some of the people were sick at heart and sick at mind and He spoke to their issues.
You and I live in one of the sickest lands on the face of the earth. The irony of things is; you can go to the parts of the world where people are physically sicker and they’re more well. You can go to the parts of the world where people are more well and they are more sick. We may have better health physically, we are sicker mentally. We are a land of broken homes, shattered marriages and fatherless children. We are a land full of people who in their hopelessness hide in drugs and alcohol. We are a land full of emotionally shattered lives; the product of abuse by those who should have protected and nurtured and it is epidemic.
Did you read carefully what Jesus Christ said was His commission from the scroll of Isaiah? “I have been sent to heal the broken hearted.” This isn’t measles, mumps, chicken pox; it’s not diabetes, heart disease or cancer. It is none of those things. It is sickness of the soul; it is sickness of the heart. The last of His statements is simply a repetition in essence of that one; to set at liberty those who are oppressed.
Take the time sometime to read a good commentary. I was looking something in Jameson, Faucet & Brown and a couple of the word studies that last phrase; to set at liberty those who are oppressed is simply talking about taking people whose lives have been shattered and putting the pieces back together again; giving emotional hope and giving an emotional future to people who like Humpty Dumpty have had their lives broken all to pieces. And He said: “I have come to take care of those who are broken hearted and I have come to take those whose lives have been broken into pieces and to help them put those pieces back together again.” That’s a huge world; that’s a world that resonates every time we speak to them in the Good News and elsewhere about the issues with which they deal.
The third world I’d like to talk to you about is the world of the religious. I remember years ago when I was serving in Northern Indiana that they sent an Associate Pastor to me from Australia and on one of his first sermons he got up without understanding the culture and he began to speak about the godlessness of the Anglo-Saxon people. We got together regularly on Mondays and we chatted in the office and when we got together I said: “I think you will find the longer you live here that this part of the United States and the United States in general (this was back in the mid-80’s) is not exactly parallel to where you have come from and as a result your addressing a people from your cultural background that I think you will find as time goes along don’t parallel. He was an intelligent individual and a quick study and it didn’t take too long before he realized that there’s a substance of religion and a respect for God in America that was not common in the part of the world that he had served in.
There are many, many, many people who take their religion extremely seriously. If you interface with and you rub shoulders with people of different faiths and different denominations, it’s not that difficult at times to find out that you’ve got somebody that knows absolutely nothing about the truth in terms of understanding the word of God who in terms of living what they know can make you feel a little small. There are a lot of people who do not know the God that you know who live what they do know sometimes better than you and I do. They are people that I simply refer to as the religious world. You address these people differently.
As I look at the worlds that are out there today this is the world in the middle 1950’s that my family came from; I understand this world. I remember the time my grandfather told my father, he said: “You know you ought to listen to this man, Herbert W. Armstrong, he’s got something.” I was talking earlier around the dinner table one evening about childhood remembrances and my grandfather would leave the farmyard in his old two-tone late l940’s Chevrolet and you’d see the dust trail go down to the gravel road and then you’d see it go down the gravel road and eventually you’d see the dust trail stop. Well I knew exactly what that meant. Grandpa jacked up his antennae as he drove out the yard and he was driving until XELO would come in as clear as it was going to come in and then he turned off the ignition. I knew 30 minutes later I’d see the dust trail coming back the other direction meaning the World Tomorrow was over, jack the antennae back down, come back to the farmyard, obviously since I’m seeing it, my family was visiting. There were times where the time that my father and my grandfather spent in the Chevy in the farmyard was double the time that they spent out listening to the program, digesting and discussing it. I came from this particular world. My family had lived a religion for just under 400 years feeling that was the way that they should live until the time that God began to tap on the shoulder of my grandfather and in that particular point in time as he did so often at that time Mr. Armstrong said: “This is what the bible says, blow the dust off, open it up, take a look, see if I’m right.” We did the same thing that a lot of people did who came from the culture. We were offended that our cherished traditions should be insulted. Wanting to defend our traditions we took him up on his challenge, we opened the bible, we looked in it and when we looked in it we found out that we didn’t have a leg to stand on.
You know as you walk through the New Testament you will find various places and times; I’ll digress a second, I remember years ago when the only King James Bible was the old King James Bible and a part of bible studies was to sit down with people and explain to them a list of archaic words and one of the archaic words in the old King James was the word “convince”; it was a word that more accurately meant to convict, the words were interchangeable; they are even emotionally interchangeable but what happened to us is the same thing that happened to people in the book of Acts and that happened later on. When the word of God was taught in such a fashion that you could not refute it, the end result was conviction. You were convicted of going the wrong direction. What are you going to do about it? Well, that’s up to you. But at least you were convicted by the book itself that those things which you cherished were wrong. Now you were challenged to do something about it. The old blow your dust off the bible, open it up and look at those particular verses still applies.
Now I’m visiting here in Cincinnati from the land of the great unwashed. The most non-religious part of the United States is where I currently live. In terms of all the statistics about American religion, the lowest church attendance, the lowest number of people who bother to go to church, the lowest number of people who care about church live where I live. But you sitting here on the Ohio River are in the bible belt. You have an opportunity to see proportionally more people who still treat their religion respectfully then I do and they are a substantial part of the world that runs from West Virginia down the Atlantic seaboard through the Gulf, out through Texas, up to Oklahoma and a grand part of the country where religion is still conservatively treated with more respect then what I get to see on a regular basis.
There’s a fourth world. It was a world that I acquainted you with when I talked about Christ as a 12 year old and in His home when the paralytic was lowered down and it’s the world of the intelligentsia. We don’t often stop to consider that Christ also spoke to the intelligent and to the brilliant of His day and time. Have you ever stopped to consider that we also can speak to the intelligent of our age and our time? Last time I was in Cincinnati after a counsel meeting I was sitting in my room and I was watching the Discovery Channel and they were commemorating the 50th anniversary of Lord David Attenborough’s association with the BBC; one of the great Naturalist, Jacque Cousteau with Oceanographics; Carl Sagan with Astronomy; David Attenborough with African, well not just African, he went to many parts of the world. These were some of the giants of nature films. I found it captivating. I found a man who had committed himself to evolution because there were things that he could not reconcile with a God and yet I didn’t find a hard man. He was very open and candid in his interviews. Toward the end of the interview as he came back to his lovely home in England, the interview stated that his wife had recently died and there really was far less of a desire on his part to come back home because there wasn’t something there. At that point of time in the interview as he had done a couple of times previously he allowed a little window opening of maybe there might be a God and maybe there might be a hereafter. It was not a case of a hardened, brittle atheist. It was in the way he answered the interviewer a man who said: “I haven’t been given sufficient reason to believe in God.”
Have you ever stopped to realize the sad tragedy of modern times? Darwinian Evolution brethren is the result of the failure of the Church of England to be able to answer intelligent questions that people ask about God. The church reminds me of the prophecies in the Old Testament where God said: “You have prophesied in My name but I didn’t send you; you have told people about Me but I didn’t authorize you to do it.”
Have you ever watched the film “Inherit the Wind?” Have you ever studied the Scopes Monkey Trial? Have you ever looked at the great lawyer who defended God? If you have you have also been saddened by the fact that there he was with all his brilliance trying to defend God and he didn’t know Him. As a result the people who were listening to him said: “I don’t understand, it doesn’t make sense.” You see brethren there are many people out there who have enough intelligence to see that religion doesn’t square. They’re intelligent enough to say: “I listen to what Catholicism and Protestantism say, it doesn’t square.”
God as God truly is, is not at odds with what is true in nature and science. They are not at variance. How can you help but alienate an intelligent mind when the Catholic Church has its history of saying to those who discovered in the dark ages that the world was indeed round rather than flat. Well the world is flat, the church says it’s flat and we will excommunicate you; which means you’ll burn forever in hell fire if you don’t acknowledge that it’s flat. So as time goes on people simply look at the church and say what a bunch of dummies. What a bunch of foolishness. They don’t know enough to separate the churches from God because after all the churches did tell them we speak on His behalf. We can speak to intelligent people. Speaking truly about who God is, is not un-intelligent.
The fifth world that I think we have out there that we can look at and it’s one that a minute ago I made allusion to; it is the world of the unchurched. In our society it doesn’t matter whose polls you happening to be listening to or reading, that world is a growing world. The proportion of Americans who do not attend church at all has grown steadily over the last 3 or 4 decades and it continues to grow. The proportion of people who never step in a church or who only go for an Easter or Christmas are increasingly large. The people who simply see no relevance at all in religion are a larger part of our society. They’re not a new audience.
When the Apostle Paul in Acts 17 steps onto Mars Hill, he spoke to an audience who in their mind were not a whole lot different then the un-churched are today. They were philosophers, they were people who talked about all sorts of things and they allowed him to speak. If you sit down and read Acts chapter 17 and you read verses 16 to 34, you see the Apostle Paul speaking to the un-churched and when he was finished, the majority of them said: “This man is an absolute idiot, he’s a babbling fool, boy is he a bubble-off-plum.” But you know what? If you look at verses 33 and 34, Dionysius the Areopagite said: “I understand what he’s saying.” A handful of other people whose names are not given also said: “You know what, what he said I can understand, it makes sense.” The beginnings of the Church of God in the city of Athens probably formed following that message. It’s a lot like Mr. McNair said, I mean Mr. Meeker said, and that is you may be in a situation where you’re not well received; do it anyway. Paul got laughed at by the majority of people who listened to the speech. He gave it anyway and when he was finished there were some with whom the message resonated.
You know in a world consumed with its own news, we have and we have capitalized on the ability to make that news relevant. We have our ABC’s and our NBC’s and our CBS’s and our Fox’s and our CNN’s and our MSNBC’s and on and on and on it goes. We have in the past and we continue to make world news relevant. We live in a world that doesn’t know where it’s going and we have said: “Look, you don’t have to just listen to the news, you can know where the news is leading.” Does not the readership of such publications as World News & Prophecy as it continues to grow make that particular point? You and I live in a world that doesn’t know.
Now I’m going to co-mingle here in this particular case so you understand a cross-pollination but when you look at those who speculate about the end of the age and you look at all the Hal Lindsey types and they talk about the scenarios of Revelation and what’s going to happen and when it’s all finished, you stop and say: “Well that’s all great but because you don’t understand some key components you can’t get to the right destination.”
I walked through the bedroom one day, my wife was there, the T.V. was on, I looked and I saw a wrinkly old Pat Boone and I thought, boy he is really aged, where has the time gone? I stopped a minute to listen and he was begging for funds. I thought o.k. you want $600 or you want $1200 or you want $1800 and I stopped for a minute to listen. When I came out I was muttering and I said to my wife: “You know I just saw something that unfortunately is sad because they don’t understand the bible.” Pat Boone, Pat Robertson and somebody else were all begging for funds because they were going to fulfill scriptures in Isaiah; they were going to fulfill scriptures in Isaiah about the people returning to Israel by asking you for $600, that would get one Jewish person out of Russia to the next state of Israel; $1200 would get two and $1800 would get a whole family and if you’ll send that money we can help make these prophecies come to pass and I thought to myself as I walked out of the room, you don’t realize that all hell is going to break out where you’re sending these people before Isaiah is fulfilled because you don’t understand who Israel is; you don’t understand prophecy and as a result in your enthusiasm you’re going to move Jews out of Russia into the state of Israel which will one day become the most bloody place on the face of the earth all due to your ignorance.
Now that’s religious ignorance; compound that among the un-churched. I’m sure that we had bumps of all sorts following 9/11 because people who knew nothing about church and didn’t go to church were frightened by what happened and were looking for answers and you know what the core of people who are too busy to be religious, there is still a sense and an awareness and a pull that says when very thing else fails, there was a God in this country and He used to have answers and I’d better go back and see if He might have answers for this one also.
Now brethren, I don’t know how many more worlds there are out there but these are five of them. These are five different worlds that sit out there ready for us.
Next time we sing, next time you sing “Go Ye Therefore Into All The World” and as I said, its memorized, we know the tune, we know the lilt, we know the lyrics; you probably don’t even need a hymnal in some cases to sing it but next time you sing “Go Ye Therefore Into All The World” stop and consider who that world is.