God’s World…God’s Solution…God’s Church
Study Guide, June 14, 2020
Pastor Clay Olsen
Watch Video (click here)
When I say the word ‘strategies’ what comes to mind? Right, Satan’s strategies, because that’s one thing we pointed out in our last study about understanding what’s going on in this upside-down world of ours. And one strategy that we need to clearly know about is the strategy of ‘confusion’. Satan is often referred to as the author of confusion. And so, how do you think he’s doing in these times in which we live? Where is our society on the ‘confusion scale’? Off the charts, right? Yeah, it appears that this ‘strategy of confusion’ of Satan’s is working pretty well in this world…because the things going on in our world around us are about as confusing as can be! And although these confusing times are really distressing, they are certainly not unusual.
Confusion is simply the identifying mark of the enemy. Realize that right there…realize that when you see confusion, you know that you are witnessing a key strategy of the enemy going on, and many are falling prey to this strategy. Even so-called religious leaders fall prey to this strategy of confusion. You recall that the Pharisees made a living by keeping people in a constant state of confusion as to their responsibilities toward God and toward others. Somehow they had come up with 613 rules and regulations that they lorded over others. History tells us that this particular number of 613 wasn’t finally tabulated until the 3rd century. But the Pharisees knew there were hundreds that they could use. And they found that they could use them or, we should say, abuse them to their advantage, by holding them over people’s heads…claiming that if the people really wanted to be right with God and others then then had to abide by these 613 commandments, as they interpreted them, since they were all according to the law and the prophets.
Now, even the Apostle Paul reminded us that there is no problem with the Law, when it is used lawfully and used for the purpose it was given. Jesus even came to fulfill the Law on our behalf, remember? But, again, they were not using these laws lawfully, nor for the purposes they were given. So Jesus took their claims and turned them upside down on their heads by essentially telling them that what the Law and the Prophets message really came down to was actually just Two commandments! “Jesus said…, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Matt 22:37-40 NKJV
It was like saying, “You know all those hundreds of rules and regulations and commandments that you continually twist and confuse and discourage others with? Well, it’s time to clarify all of that and simplify all of that by condensing them into two: The first is: Love the Lord your God like your God loves you. And secondly then: Love your neighbor like your neighbor was you.”
There it is…simplicity. And right there, simplicity…profound simplicity…is the identifying mark of God’s works and words. Whereas confusion is the identifying mark of Satan’s works and words, simplicity is the identifying mark of God’s works and words. God simplifies the complicated in all of life!
Here’s another example: Since these Pharisees loved rules, Jesus gave them another rule. But this rule was also meant to superimpose all other rules. In fact, it was to be the gold standard of all rules for inter-personal relationships. That’s why it’s called ‘The Golden Rule’: “Whatever you would have others do unto you…do unto them.” Our society has that utterly backwards in that they say: ‘Do one to others, before they do one to you!’ Right, it sounds kind of funny, but isn’t that pretty much the way many people treat each other?
Think about it: Our culture is flailing around in the quicksand of confusion. So many so-called ‘governing authorities’ are formulating rules and regulations and commandments as fast as they can dream them up. They even surpassed the Pharisee’s 613 number a long time ago. And all that they have done…all they have accomplished in doing so is to create a culture of confusion and chaos. And Satan loves it! But what if they just broke all their rules down into two; into two commandments: One: Love the Lord your God like your God loves you. And Two: Love your neighbor like your neighbor was you. And then to help in doing that second one, round it out with this: Just go for the gold…just go for the Golden Rule, which is: ‘However you would want your neighbor to treat you, treat them that way, too.’
Just think what those two commandments and that one rule would do to change this country…to change this world! Like “Hey World! Here are Two commandments and One rule will mend and repair what right now is all messed up and in ruins. One: Love the Lord your God like your God loves you. Remember, God loved you first. And God loves you with all His heart, with all His soul, and with all His mind. So that’s how you need to love God in return; with all of your heart, with all of your soul, and with all of your mind. And Two: Love your neighbor like your neighbor was you. In other words, since you love and care for your own self, your own life, your own well being…do that for the people around you…love the people around you like that; serve and care for your neighbor, too. And ‘who’ is your neighbor? Your neighbor is basically whoever is in front of you and around you and within your reach of your influence. Just do whatever you can to help them with their needs and concerns, just like you would want their help with your own needs and concerns. Just go for the real gold in life; just go for the Golden Rule: Do unto others what you would want others to do unto you. Meaning, you start it! You start…by treating others around you with kindness…treat them with the same sort of kindness that you would want them to show to you. You start…you start by speaking to them with the same consideration and with the type of words that will build them up and not tear them down instead. Use the kind of words toward them that you would want them to use when speaking to you. You start…you start by showing them the kind of respect and dignity that you would want them to show to you. You start…You be the one to start it! Don’t wait for someone else to start the Golden Rule, because they probably won’t. And many don’t even know what it is. They have probably never discovered this golden rule of relationships in the first place. But you have. Jesus helped you discover it. So whatever you have discovered from Jesus, like in how Jesus loves you, and in how Jesus deals with you, and in how Jesus works with you…just pass that on to others…just do that with others. Remember, WWJD? Two commandments and One rule…just do it! And then watch what God does with what you do! God changes a confused and chaotic world by changing one person at a time. And He can do that through you!
Don’t let the enemy make this life so confusing. God didn’t make it confusing. Remember, God simplifies the complicated and the confusing. Always look for this, for, again, simplicity is God’s identifying mark, even though God’s simplicity is, at the same time, the most profound and awesome and wonderous thing in the world…like the simplicity of John 3:16- “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” NASU There is nothing complicated about John 3:16, but it is the most profound truth in the Universe. God loved us…God gave the Son of God to save us…and when we believe in Him, trust in Jesus to save us…He saves us from perishing…and He gives us the gift of eternal life!
Amazing, yes! But no religious hoops to jump through…no confusing requirements to try to live up to…no need to doubt how much faith to ‘faith-up’ or how many works to ‘work-up’ in order to qualify for Heaven…Nope, none of that. Just – God loves you and Jesus gave His life to save you. Now do you want Jesus to save you? Then believe in Him…put your trust in Him alone to save you from perishing. And Jesus will forgive you and give you His own eternal life! How amazing! How eternal-life changing! What a great God and what a great gift!
And naturally then, the question is: “So, what have you done with John 3:16? Have you trusted in Jesus to save you? Have you told Jesus that, yes, you want Him to save you? Have you told Him that you know that there is certainly nothing you can do to save yourself, so you are turning to Him alone as your God and trusting in Him alone as your Savior? If not, then do you know what that means? It means exactly what John 3:16 says it means. It means that you are still ‘perishing’ and will continue to perish for eternity. Everyone who has not believed in Jesus, who has not asked Jesus to save them is in the process of perishing. But you don’t have to perish. No one has to perish. Jesus told us so in John 3:16. So make sure you have asked Jesus to save you from perishing…ask Him for His saving gift of sharing in His eternal life in union with Him forever. God promised to give you eternal life, and God always keeps His promises.
Now then, since we are simplifying the confusing. Not only does God simplify the relationship between people with God, but He also simplified the relationship between people with people. Take ‘government’ for example: Remember, God is the one who created ‘government’ in the first place, not man. Man has simply, once again, complicated the process of government so badly that even the Pharisees would be amazed at how today’s governments have out-phariseed the Pharisees. And when you out-pharisee the Pharisees, wow…you have really messed up!
But think about it: What is the purpose of government? What is government supposed to do? Many of those in governments across the world would answer that by getting out their files of about 613 rules, just to begin with! But remember those ‘two commandments’ and ‘one golden rule’ we talked about. Isn’t is amazing how our Triune God loves to work in groups of ‘Three’? So, again, how about with Government. How many things are governments really supposed to do anyway? How about ‘three’?
Check it out: Rom 13:1-7-“Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore, whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.” NASU
So the purpose of a government is really threefold: One: It is to promote moral order and behavior; Two: It is to carry out protective justice for the sake and for the safety of its citizens; and Three: It is to collect just enough taxes to do both of those services, or to carry out the first two responsibilities. That’s it! 1, 2, and 3…that’s what God designed government to do. But here is the key: So where are these governments supposed to get the laws and morals by which they are supposed to govern the people? And the answer is? Every government on Earth is accountable for acquiring their laws and defining their morals from the Law-Giver and Morals Designer; the one Creator and Lord of all the Earth! And any government that doesn’t get that right is automatically in rebellion against the Law-Giver of the Universe whom they have abandoned. And they are thus also automatically under His judgment. And what is the identifying mark of a nation that is under God’s judgment? Any nation that abandons God is under God’s judgment of ‘abandonment’ by God. And the result of that is; confusion, chaos, lawlessness, immorality, and destruction. And, unfortunately, that is the description of most nations of the world right now, including our own.
But, there is always a ‘remnant’…a remnant of God’s people who are praying and who are serving and who are working for the glory of the Creator and Law-Giver of the Universe and for the sake of their neighbors around them in their nation. And that remnant is you…it’s us. It’s God’s Church! And my, do we ever have work to do? But even this work that we each have to do is not complicated…it’s not confusing. We already have the Owner’s Manual. All we have to do is just follow it. Just do what the Owner says to do. And as we do what the Owner says to do, then we can then rest in knowing that we have done all that we could do and were supposed to do. And whenever you do what God says to do, God says to you: “Well done, good and faithful servant.” And those are the only words we ever need to hear anyway.
God bless you ‘Remnant’! We have a lot to pray about and a lot to do for the glory of God and the blessings of others, but by the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, we can do it. We can do ‘what Jesus would do’. Go for the gold, remember?