Monday, December 11

Why There Won't Be Peace This Or Any Christmas

"You are the salt of the earth." --- Jesus' words from his Sermon on the Mount.

"Now that is not only a description of the Christian; it is a description by implication of the world in which he finds himself. It really stands for humanity at large . . . Here we come to what is, in many ways, the crucial problem of this twentieth century, undoubtedly one of the most interesting periods that the world has ever known. I do not hesitate to claim that there has never been a century which has so proved the truth of the biblical teaching as this one. It is a tragic century, and it is tragic very largely because its own life has completely disproved and demolished its own favourite philosophy.

"As you know, there never was a period of which so much was expected. It is indeed pathetic to read the prognostications of the thinkers (so-called), the philosophers and poets and leaders, towards the end of the last [19th] century. How sad to note that easy, confident optimism of theirs, the things they expected from the twentieth century, the golden era that was to come. It was all based upon the theory of evolution, not only in a biological sense, but still more in a philosophical sense. The controlling idea was that the whole of life was advancing, developing and going upwards. That was what we were told in a purely biological sense; ;man had risen out of the animal and had arrived at a certain stage of development. But still more was this advance emphasized in terms of the mind and the thought and the outlook of man. Wars were going to be abolished, diseases were being cured, suffering was going to be not only ameliorated but finally eradicated. It was to be an amazing century. Most of the problems were going to be solved, for man had at last really begun to think. The masses, through education, would cease giving themselves to drink and immorality and vice. And as all the nations were thus educated to think and to hold conferences instead of rushing to war, the whole world was very soon going to be Paradise. That is not caricaturing the situation; it was believed confidently. By Acts of Prliament, and by international conferences, all problems would be solved now that man had begun to use his mind.

"There are not many people living in the world today, however, who believe that. . . the fallacy of it all has by now been recognized by all serious thinkers. . .

"Now the Bible has always taught this, and it is put perfectly by our Lord when He says, 'You are the salt of the earth.' What does it imply? It clearly implies rottenness in the earth; it implies a tendency to pollution and to becoming foul and offensive. That is what the Bible has to say about this world. It is fallen, sinful and bad. Its tendency is to evil and to wars. It is like meat which has a tendency to putrefy and to become polluted. It is like something which can only be kept wholesome by means of a preservative or antiseptic. As the result of sin [starting with Adam and Eve] life in the world in general tends to get into a putrid state. . . the world left to itself is something that tends to fester. . .

"The question in the minds of so many people today is, What lies ahead of us? Clearly if we do not start by holding this biblical doctrine at the centre of our thinking, our prophesy must of necessity be false. The world is bad, sinful and evil; and any optimism with regard to it is not only thoroughly unscriptural but has actually been falsified by history itself."

---from Studies in The Sermon on the Mount, by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, 1959, London

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