The origin of evil is a problem all men have pondered. The heathen nations, from earliest times, were forced to recognize the presence of a destructive power, and tried to account for its origin, and continued activity. Their efforts, naturally, were not satisfactory. The theory most plausible to them was that of dualism, the doctrine that there are two rival powers, a good and an evil, in perpetual struggle for the control of the world.
One of the truths we all need to learn more fully, more realistically, is that this is God’s world. In theory all Christians hold this to be true, but it is not as living a faith as it ought to be. It does not affect our lives, our conduct, as vitally as it should. In fact, we associate God with this world and its affairs but little more, probably in many instances not as much, as we do the architect and the house for which, ten or twenty years ago, he drew the plans, and supervised the construction.
The Word of God teaches us very clearly that the angels are real beings, having, each of them, a separate personal existence. This is shown by the names given to them, and by the works performed by them. But in thinking of the angels we must get away from all material modes of thinking. The angels, as our text tells us, are spiritual personalities. They have no material bodies at all, though they have often assumed a bodily form for the purpose of better impressing mankind, or to facilitate interaction with them.
At the period which marks the beginning of time, God created, brought forth from the absolutely non-existent, the heavens and the earth. None of these things had any previous existence, save in the thought of God. He spoke, and the things spoken took on form and substance as facts of material existence. The fiat words were spoken, and there stretched out the wide spreading plains, and the great deeps, with their finny tribes, and grazing cattle; the mountains reared their heads heavenward, and the streams murmured their way down from the highlands; the superterrestrial beings winged their unfettered way amid the celestial glories, and man walked as the Divinely appointed sovereign of the earth.
How can thinking people say otherwise than, I believe in God. Not to hold this faith throws everything into confusion worse confounded. Without belief in God human life, all life, becomes an insoluble riddle. And the nice adjustments, marvelous and invariable movements and functions of the universe add to the enigma.
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It is by faith alone that man is able to appropriate the salvation which God has prepared for him in Christ Jesus. “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Right after this splendid, comforting passage, the Divine record proceeds thus: “He that believeth on Him is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
What do we mean when we say “I”? Who, what, is this human creature which utters, so freely, and most of the time so thoughtlessly, this word of a single letter? Next to the thought of God… these thoughts are most worthy of our serious, prayerful consideration. These are the thoughts which, rightly pursued, bring the largest dividends for the enrichment of the mind, and the strengthening of the spirit.
The Apostles’ Creed is not merely a child’s confession. The child, indeed, at an early age, may learn its words, and a helpful measure of its truth; but no sage has ever exhausted it. It is like the ocean, the child may enjoy the waves as they roll up on the sandy beach, no man can touch its bottom where lie its deepest depths.
As we study this ancient symbol from Sunday to Sunday, comparing each statement with the Word of God from which it is drawn, I am sure we shall all find truths hidden here hitherto unsuspected.
The Apostles’ Creed is one of the confessions of Christendom. It is regarded as the creed of all who call themselves Christians. But it is well known that, especially in recent times, there has been a great outcry against creeds of every kind… The ideas begotten of evolution, of constant progression, have made these people intolerant of anything which bears the marks of age.
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“There are a few questions which… often trouble our people. One is the question which has to do with the number and proper order of the commandments. Our people often, in reading, or discussing the commandments, meet with these difficulties. They find that the order we follow differs from that followed by others. If they read or hear someone speak of the Fifth Commandment, for instance, they find that an entirely different subject is presented from that of which we think when the Fifth Commandment is mentioned.
” In view of the fact that God deals with men as rational, responsible creatures, whom He is anxious to bless but will not force to accept His blessings, this dealing has always had as a primary object to prove to man that God is a loving God, seeking his good, willing to pardon his faults if he would let Him do so. Throughout the whole history of God’s dealings with man He has been seeking to convince him of His true fatherhood, His willingness to enfold him in His arms of love, to guide him and provide for him as only infinite wisdom, power and love is capable of doing.
“The natural man cannot but conclude that there is a God, but his conception of His nature is never a very exalted one. Even during Old Testament times, and not infrequently during the New Covenant, the ideas of God’s own children, with respect to His nature and disposition, were often rather dark and forbidding; they regarded Him as a stern, ruthless, relentless taskmaster. Jesus’ revelation of God was far other than this.
“What is it we owe our fellowman? We owe it to him to let him make a decent living, to let him have the opportunity for cultivating his mind and inner life, the enjoyment of his rights. We owe him the financial help necessary to bridge over a season of enforced inactivity. But this is not all, it is the least that is required of us. The Divine requirement is, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor.
“These last commandments deal with the root and source of all sin; namely, the evil desires of the heart. It is true that, in the explanation of all the commandments, we bring out the fact that they are broken first of all in the heart, and that they are kept aright only when kept in and from the heart, and that in their scope they are all-inclusive. The Fifth Commandment, for instance, does not only forbid murder, but also anger, malice, and every kind of malevolent affection.
“The tendency to gossip in some people becomes a passion. Their tongues simply run away with them. It must wag, though it be without either rhyme or reason; and regardless of consequences. Sometimes there is no conscious desire to do any one an injury. But even where there is no evil intent harm is nevertheless often done. The idle talker usually loses the power of perspective so far as truth and untruth are concerned.
“The boneless tongue, so small and weak, Can crush and kill,” declared the Greek. “The tongue destroys a greater horde,” The Turk asserts, “than does the sword.” The Persian proverb wisely saith, “A lengthy tongue, — an early death;” Or sometimes takes this form instead: “Don’t let your tongue cut off your head.” “The tongue can speak a word whose speed,” Says the Chinese, “Outstrips the steed.” While Arab sage doth this impart: “The tongue’s great store-house is the heart.
“Luther felt that the disposition to dishonesty and the practice of it was extremely prevalent in his day. He says: ‘God has commanded that no one damage or curtail the possessions of his neighbor. To steal signifies nothing else than to obtain another’s property by unjust means. It briefly embraces every method, in all lines of business, by which advantage is taken of our neighbor. Stealing is a widespread, universal vice.
“God puts His emphasis on the primary things, where it belongs; but he is not unmindful of anything that concerns his people. He says: ‘Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness;’ but at the right time and with becoming eagerness, we may also seek the creature things, which, if used aright, will help us on our heavenward way, though they be but the perishing things of the earth.
“Christ speaks of the course of life through this world as a way: the broad way and the narrow way. With special emphasis do the inspired writers speak of those who live in violation of the Sixth Commandment as followers of a way, a wicked way. In the second chapter of Proverbs we read these words of warning concerning the strange woman, who has forsaken the guide of her youth and forgotten the covenant of her God: ‘Her house inclineth unto death, and her paths unto the dead.
“In spite of the loathing which this subject brings to pure, modest souls it is a seductive sin. The world makes light of it. It smiles complacently at the violation of the law of chastity. Because of this, as well as for other reasons, we need to watch and pray that we be not led into temptation.”
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