Bible Study 4-28-2020
Bible Study – Stay Woke
1 Thessalonians 5:6 CEB
“So then, let’s not sleep like the others, but let’s stay awake and stay sober.”
Gregoreuo – to refrain from sleep – The word “watch” in the King James Version denotes attention to God’s revelation or to the knowledge of salvation; a mindfulness of threatening dangers which, with conscious earnestness and an alert mind, keeps one from all drowsiness and all slackening in the energy of faith and conduct.
***** We watch for things deeper than mere behavior. Behavior is surface level. The characteristics of the enemy are much more cunning and crafty than behavior. The enemy lurks in the unseen realms of the human existence.
There is a sense of autonomy in every human being. The right to thinks for oneself, make decisions for oneself, and believe what one wants to believe. And any message that threatens our autonomy as human beings is initially and automatically rejected no matter what it is.
For that very reason, centuries after Jesus, we have inherited a culture that doesn’t comprehend law or grace, where absolute view points are dismissed as an antiquated thought pattern, and forgiveness is thought to be a soft refuge. It’s not surprising that we are the first of 21 civilizations to attempt “civility” without a specific moral point of reference. To compound this further, we have come to these conclusions through a process that causes us to adopt nihilism, where life has lost all meaning.
Let’s begin our assessment of relativism with an interaction that Jesus had with some just de facto relativists, which are the most common kind, and they are prevalent in every age, not just this one.
Consider Matthew 21:23-27
23.) And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?”
24.) Jesus answered them, “I also will ask you one question, and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things.
25.) The baptism of John, from where did it come? From heaven or from man?” And they discussed it among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’
26.) But if we say, ‘From man,’ we are afraid of the crowd, for they all hold that John was a prophet.”
27.) So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”
Look carefully at how the chief priests and elders handle truth. Jesus asks them to take a stand on a truth claim: Is John’s baptism from heaven or from man. State what you believe to be the truth. They think to themselves: If we say that John’s baptism is from heaven, then we will be shamed because Jesus will show that we are hypocrites. We say we think his baptism is from heaven, but we don’t live like it. We will be shamed before the crowds.
But if we say that John’s baptism is from man, we may be harmed by the crowd, because they all believe he was a prophet. There could be some mob violence.
Since we don’t want to be shamed and since we don’t want to be harmed by a mob, we will say that neither of those is true (that John’s baptism is from heaven or from man), and we will assert another statement to be the truth: WE DON’T KNOW THE ANSWER TO YOUR QUESTION…
How are we to assess this? This is not full-blown relativism. Rather, these are the seeds of relativism. This is the way the fallen mind works.
The human mind, apart from transforming grace (Romans 12:2; Ephesians 4:23), is depraved (1 Timothy 6:5) and debased (Romans 1:28) and hard (2 Corinthians 4:4) and darkened and futile (Ephesians 4:17-18). It was created by God to discover and embrace and be shaped by the truth—to respond to truth in knowing and enjoying God and serving man. But Matthew 21:23-27 is a picture of what has become of it.
The elders and chief priests do not use their minds to formulate a true answer to Jesus’ question. How do they use their minds? They reason carefully: “If we say this, then such and such will happen. And if we say that, then such and such will happen.” They are reasoning carefully. Why? Because the truth is at stake? No, because their skin is at stake. They don’t want to be shamed, and they don’t want to be harmed. SELFISHLY MOTIVATED
What has happened to the mind and its servant, language?
1.) The mind has become the slave to its desires (the adulterous heart, Matthew 16:4).
2.) And language covers up the corruption.
The truth has no merit here in guiding what they say. It doesn’t matter whether John’s baptism is from heaven or from man; what matters is that they not be shamed and that they not be harmed. So they use language to cover up their indifference to truth and their allegiance to the gods of pride and comfort, and they say, “We do not know.”
And Jesus responds: “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”
In other words, I don’t have serious conversations with people like you. Jesus abominates that kind of arrogant, cowardly prostituting of the glorious gifts of the human mind and human language.