Due to the emphasis on the R sound (phoneme) in reading, writing and arithmetic early American pioneers and settlers coined the phrase “reading, riting and ritmetic.” It was repeated often in regards to getting a good education. Although spelled wrong the point was always transparent. |
In the issuance of prophetic utterance there is also a three Rs, spelled correctly they are redemption, renewal and rebuke. It serves well to consider another phrase often used in America usually as a means of expressing some disdain. The phrase ‘organized religion’ is often used to describe something that should be shunned or critically re-examined in a post modern world.
It seems almost comical to hear someone express their disdain for organized religion when the alternative is considered. Perhaps we have reason to mistrust organized religion but who is going to put much stock in disorganized religion?
As it relates to tenants and practices of religions where the only goal is to perpetuate itself perhaps the arguments may be valid. When religion serves to express the true nature of God and the real purpose of man the expression has less weight.
In common discourse or in heated debate the person without a basic definition of their subject matter is at a complete disadvantage. Simply put, most people who disdain ‘organized religion’ usually have no idea what it is. Catholics rarely know the history of the Papacy and indeed would be saddened by some of its elements if they did. Protestants would be un-nerved to see how far askew some of the once solid historical churches have gone in the modern era. What’s missing in either case is a simple definition. It follows that if the religious lack a definition then the completely non-religious person hasn’t a clue what they are talking about.
The Apostle James offers what is perhaps the most important definition of religion known to man. It doesn’t allude to church attendance, gifts and offerings or any ceremonial observances. John said, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” (James 1:27)
When Christ rebuked the overly religious Pharisees of his day for attending to every little observance and ceremony but ignoring the matter of merciful behavior, kindness and love he didn’t give them a ticket to quit going to church (temple) but said “these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” (Mt 23:23b) No mystery here, Christ was simply saying that church attendance is great but not if the love and kindness of God doesn’t show up in the rest of your life.
It is here that we see that most people who have a disdain for the proverbial ‘organized religion’ may actually have a morally, ethically and spiritually disorganized life that would not fit well into anything organized be it church or the PTA.
Not everyone without morality, ethics and spirituality stays clear of organization but very often become community organizers. They often think their involvement is on a parallel track with organized religion but without the dreaded allusions to something ‘faith based’ or Biblically based. They seem to be aloof to the fact that even secularist social organizations have their own brand of Pharisees. They start with the assumption that they are above the dreaded sway of religion but can and do often become self righteous in their pursuit to change society to their own view.
Our President with his odd admixture of Muslim background, Christian profession of faith and almost totally secularist left wing socialist views was once a community organizer. Barack Obama is more than a mere example but in every way he serves to refine the definition of the community organizer and is proof that even in this modern phenomena there are Pharisees. He would change not just his church but an entire country with his views.
Some American Presidents stayed close to their childhood religious upbringing and others not so much. It is known that even Richard Nixon’s close friendship with evangelist Billy Graham never resulted in any noticeable change in his church attendance or his attitudes about God. By contrast Abraham Lincoln rarely attended church but was the only President to be labeled the ‘Prophet President.’ Lincoln was also the only president to use the name Jesus Christ in addresses and letters instead of just using the term ‘God’ in the more general sense.
But what has all this to do with the three Rs of prophetic warning? By definition all Biblical prophecy is pre-written history. While we can’t use this definition to play one-upsmenship with politics it means, that in the contest between politics and prophecy only prophecy is the sure bet.
Those who have read the so called ‘final chapter’ don’t cringe or start biting their fingernails when they watch the History Channels presentation of what would happen if giant meteorites and asteroids struck the planet or if a worldwide plague began to sweep across the globe. They know exactly how things are going to develop and the final outcome.
It is the purpose of prophecy that is overlooked in the excitement and anticipation of the events that will inevitably take place in the history of men. Knowing the purpose of prophecy is what makes the difference. It is similar to the difference between strict adherence to organized religion and the practice of being Christlike on a daily basis. It is the difference between being just a community organizer and being a cohesive and integral part of the community while living in it.
Prophecy is laid on men for three basic purposes. The first is to ‘redeem.’ Leading someone to the foot of the cross where they see that Christ is not a Pharisee but he is a substitute is step one. He came into the world not to deal with its economy, ideologies, politics or social shifts. The problem Christ came to deal with was as close to man as the heart. He came to deal with sin and in no uncertain terms confessed that until moments before he was crucified. His last word to Pilate was “To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world” (Jn 18:37)
The second purpose of prophetic warning is ‘renewal.’ The Biblical idea of renewal is not reformation but a complete regeneration of heart, mind and soul. Jesus never asked any person to go and ‘reform’ but he told them all to go and sin no more, more succinctly they had to start new rather than clean up their act. When someone begins to see what is actually going to happen in our world according to prophecy it almost always results in their starting out in an entirely new path. Not only do they see that it is advisable but in fact it is required.
Paul said “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.” (2 Cor 5: 17) When some were debating about which religion was better, the Judaic system or the Christian religion Paul put them both away with this, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.” (Gal 6:15)
The third R that defines the purpose of prophecy is ‘rebuke.’ In the common vernacular it would be God’s way of saying ‘cut the bull’ as it has to do with your personal morality and all the up to you’re tinkering with socialism which you have seen has already failed wherever it has been tried.
Prophecy says man will not pull himself up by his own bootstraps but will dissimulate to the depths of depravity before the end comes. So what’s the point? Why look for the good if it’s all going to go bad. Oddly the scriptures are very clear about the fact that the whole world can be on a fast train to hell and any single individual can choose a completely different path all at the same time.
Prophecy is meant to wise up the wise and get them to respond on a personal level. At the beginning of the most important book of future prophecies in the Bible Christ says “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten.” (Rev 3:19a) The entire message of Revelation is a woeful compendium of the result of mans blatant disregard of the commandments of God.
Does he actually have the right to rebuke us? How dare he expect that we should listen and understand and then change our behavior accordingly? After all, isn’t man smarter than the dumb elements all around him? Man can predict the weather but can he change it. The one who rebuked and changed the weather is the only one who has any right to rebuke man, and he does.
And when he was entered into a ship, his disciples followed him. And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but he was asleep. And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish. And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. But the men marvelled, saying, what manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him! (Mt 8:23-27)
Redemption is for the lost, renewal is for the believer and rebuke is for all! In America many know this but as these days progress many are willing to let these truths slide, here is my rebuke, don’t change America for one man but change one man at a time for America.
http://americanprophet.org is the place for news, articles, movie and book reviews and other insights for life. Rev Bresciani is a columnist for online and print publications and has over three million readers and counting.
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