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1999 Issue 3

James 5:11 speaks of the endurance of Job, i.e., his patience and steadfastness during suffering. Patience does not mean that godly sufferers "should have no sadness, that they should not be at all offended when they experience some affliction; but the virtue is when they are able to restrain themselves and so hold themselves in bounds that they do not cease to glorify God in the midst of all their affliction, that they are not troubled by anguish and so swallowed up as to quit everything; but that they fight against their passions until they are able to conform to the good pleasure of God, and to conclude as Job here does, and to say that He is entirely just." - John Calvin, JOB, p. 19.

In Job 1:20-22, we see how deeply sorrowful a truly patient man can become:

"Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshipped. And he said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD."

Building a truly Christian culture is our God-given task (Genesis 1:26-28; Matthew 28:18-20; 2 Corinthians 10:5; Colossians 1:17, 18). All Christians must do what they can with the talents God has given them to transform the culture in which they live. They do this for God's glory, by his Word and Spirit, and with faith in his promises. The God-given task of Christian culture building is possible because Christ is the Savior, Lord, Restorer, and Judge of culture. His person and work have made culture possible again. Consistent Christianity must maintain that the unique person and work of Christ is the sole foundation for cultural progress, civil justice, and world peace. Only by turning to him in faith and repentance will Western and indeed world culture recover its purpose, standard, and motivation.

What difference does it make what we believe about God, just as long as we believe in Him? It makes all the difference in the world! Our understanding of God is foundational to our understanding of everything and anything else. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding, Proverbs 9:10. If we are mistaken in our views of God, we will be off-track in our views of ourselves, the Bible, life and the universe. Moreover, if a person can be dissuaded from a true understanding of God, he can be led to believe anything. The Marxists learned this long ago. In regions such as Central America and South Africa, they began their revolutions, not with guns and bullets, but with the pulpits, altering the people's understanding of God. Their ideological weapon is Liberation Theology, the covert redefining of Christian terms with Marxist content.

We learn in 1 Timothy 3:15 that God has called the Church of Jesus Christ to be the pillar and ground of the truth. This does not mean, as is sometimes claimed, that the Church is the determiner of the truth. This is essentially the Roman Catholic position (cf. Vatican II, Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation). On the contrary, both of these terms indicate that one of the Church's chief responsibilities is to support, teach, and defend God's truth. The Church was created by God to teach, preserve, and propagate the truth so that men might be confronted with the Word of God and brought by God's Spirit into the kingdom of God. Accordingly, truth is paramount in the Church. False teaching and half-truths are more than tragic, lamentable evidences of weakness in the Church. They are denials of the identity and responsibility we have as God's redeemed people. All earnest Christians must mourn and repent of doctrinal compromise and weakness. Regardless of how difficult certain truths of Scripture are to believe or contrary to the modern outlook, we must carefully, lovingly, and zealously defend the truths of God's Word.