Why do you act the way you do? Talk the way you do?
Are these conscious decisions or simply a reflection of whatever everyone else in your world says and does?
We don’t often give everyday actions or words much thought, but in our podcast today we’re going to look at the book of Proverbs and WHY we need it in a post-Christian, post-Biblical world.
This is an important podcast for you to listen to because though we don’t often think about the default settings in behavior and beliefs in our world today, they are important because they guide our behavior unless we make conscious decisions to act differently.
Because our society today is post-Christian and post-Biblical we must work much harder to live a Biblical life.
This podcast will walk you through the meaning of these ideas, how we got where we are, and the remedy of a Biblical view of life as found in Proverbs if we want to live a life pleasing to God and peaceful and productive to us.
Click the following link to download the notes for this class: NOTES FOR Proverbs, Lesson 1–Why it is needed in a post-Christian, post-Biblical world
A copy of the notes follows…..
Proverbs: Why it is needed in a post-Christian, post-Biblical world
Teacher: Yvon Prehn
Where we are:
• In our reading through the Bible, we are in the book of Proverbs
• There will be two podcasts on it
• 1-This podcast on: Proverbs: Why it is needed in a post-Christian, post-Biblical world
• 2-The next podcast on: Proverbs: Practical advice for a post-Christian, post-Biblical world
Why we need Proverbs overall
• The maker of anything knows what it is designed for and how it will function best
• A car comes with a manual and advice: change the oil, do preventative maintenance, etc.
• If you do these things, you have a much greater chance of your car lasting and serving you well than if you run it without ever changing the oil, never checking fluids, try to use diesel instead of regular gas
• For your car to run at its best you must pay attention and take care of it—but it is not a guarantee that you’ll never be in an accident, or you’ll never have problems—but it will run much better for the life of the car if you do
• Proverbs are part of the user’s manual from our Creator (AKA=the Bible) and for the best running of our souls, we need to pay attention to it.
Why Proverbs is more important than ever in a post-Christian, post-Biblical world
• Bear with me as isn’t just philosophical babble, but an exploration because of the shifts in the thought patterns, the default way of thinking in our world and how that influences us more than we imagine.
• These shifts form the default settings—
• What we think without making a conscious decision
• But they aren’t neutral– because they determine our behavior.
• You need to understand them to have control over them.
• The way the current default settings in our world is often described is to say that we live in a POST-Christian world. I would add that equally important is that many also live in post-Biblical world.
• What living in a post-Christian, post-Biblical world means is that the values, the expressions, the outlook, the social and intellectual climate of our world is no longer based on Biblical values
• What we think about, without thinking and what drives our behavior is not by default based on the Bible
Let’s look at this in more depth
• I don’t think anyone would describe our world as having a “Christian viewpoint” today
• But in isn’t in the big, political, secular world where the shift away from a default Biblical Christian view is obvious that is my concern
• It is in the most personal, character-based actions of our lives where we need to be aware of this shift because that is how we will live our lives.
• It doesn’t take astute philosophical analysis to see that in our world today sexual fidelity is no longer a value or even an expectation.
• That is obviously a post-Christian, post-Biblical view as the Bible in Proverbs and many other places teaches sexual faithfulness and purity.
• As one commentator described the current socially acceptable view of sexuality: “We’ve moved adultery from a sin to entertainment.”
• A nicely worded, but obvious observation.
• Here is where it gets tricky
• Most church-going people still think sexual unfaithfulness is a sin….but what about in other areas of life, such as
How would you describe the default settings of response in our world today when. . . . .
• You disagree with someone
• You don’t like someone
• Someone makes you angry
• You are around people who “just don’t get it” in whatever area you think you know more than they do
Our world today answers these situations by recommending these responses:
• You dominate the interaction (can’t call it a conversation)
• You yell, you accuse, you name call
• If you can’t talk directly to them, you create a blistering tweet storm if that is your preference;
• You malign motives, character, actions if you are angry
• It’s an “I’m always on” stance and an attitude that foundationally believes that I’m the most important entity or at least the most clever and entertaining person in the room. My thoughts, feelings, my passions are what MATTER.
• “I do it my way”–because “I am the master of my fate and the captain of my soul.”
• Most important, no matter the situation, even if you aren’t angry—If at all possible—all verbal interactions you have as far as you are able are done in a witty, snarky manner that not only destroys but entertains.
• This is the default conversational tone of much of our world today in the political arena, in media, in many family conversations, sadly even in some Christian writing and online discussion.
Too often our response is that:
• We excuse this kind of behavior as acceptable, even praised because that is simply how people talk and act today
• The more entertaining the snark, the more “likes” it gets
• We don’t look at this way of interacting and the default thought patterns that undergird it as sin
• It is all justified because: “I” am the source of what is best for ME and MY life and all I have to do is listen to my inner self and I will know the best way to live and nothing matters more than my feelings, how I am valued and affirmed
• Proverbs says that I am not the source of what should define my life and behavior, but that:
• The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, Prov. 1:7
• The Message translation puts it this way “Start with God—the first step in learning is bowing down to God”
• Regardless of the translation, the source of our life and what guides it should be God.
A word about “fear” about “fearing God”
• We are so quick these days to dismiss the idea of Fearing God. We quickly add when we read that verse that we really don’t mean “fear” when we say the word fear—but we mean a reverence and/or awe of God.
• As a result many have become overly familiar and flippant; irreverent and witty even in Religious conversations
• That is wrong—there are times when “fear” not meaning terror, but a realistic awe (God is God) and healthy respect is appropriate
• In an earthly sense, we pay attention to someone’s commands or suggestions based on our opinion of or relationship to that person. For example we will tend to show more respect to a boss who controls our life and paycheck vs. the person we meet in line at the store, though I trust we would have the same kindness and courtesy to both.
• We need to think deeply about the reality that Proverbs is not simply some nice advice for “spiritual people” but that it comes from God Almighty, who spoke and heaven and earth were created and before whom all of us live and will be judged and who has commanded us to obey his Word.
• I can’t help but feel that a bit more fear (reverence and awe) would do us and our world a tremendous amount of good.
• When I think of how little there is today I can’t help but think of the book of Judges and the horrors of a nation where “everyone did what was right in their own eyes.” Horrible national tragedy and oppression were the results and we don’t want that.
• There is one more thing we need to understand so this does not happen to us.
Why it’s important to understand “Post-Biblical” as well as Post-Christian
• By an obvious definition Post-Biblical means a society or person who no longer lives according to Biblical teaching.
• To be more specific and scary: a Post-Biblical worldview resulting in a post-Biblical lifestyle can happen to a person who, labels themselves as Christian (and only the Lord knows the true state of anyone’s heart).
• A person can be post-Biblical even though they may have sincerely trusted Jesus for their personal salvation, go to church, tithe and serve, but who in their day to day actions do not live according to the Bible.
How could a real Christian do that?
• The sad reason they don’t do this is not because of blatant disobedience but because they know little of what the Bible says.
• So they operate in the default settings of the post-Christian world
• This results not only in the obvious things like the breakdown of marriage outside the church and inside the church being similar, but in situations like this:
• A person makes an emotional decision to “ask Jesus into their heart” or some similar action without understanding the commitment Jesus asks of his disciples and that the Bible makes clear
Results of this beginning
• Because their basic decision is based on emotion and not a true biblical recognition of the importance of recognizing sin in their lives, God’s just penalty of it and his immeasurable grace in freely forgiving us because of the death of Christ, instead of living lives of wanting to grow as a disciple through the study of God’s Word and in community with his people, the person has the idea that God is then responsible to shower their lives with goodies.
• When that same person loses their job or health, a relationship or things do not go as planned, they get angry with God and sometimes decide it isn’t worth following Him anymore. Or if they do stay at a church, they become a bitter, angry, or disappointed people who feel whatever their attitude they have a right to it.
• Nothing could be further from the Biblical view that hard times give us opportunities to grow in our faith and trust in God; that they can discipline and refine us.
• Why don’t all Christians have a Biblical view? How did this confusion of thinking in the church come about?
• There are two parts to answer this 1) The secularization of the default world view 2) The retreat of the church from the Bible
1) the secularization of the default world view
• This is an expansion of the post-Christian mindset we talked about earlier, but in part it explains how we got here, based on our society’s view of the Bible
• In the past—there was an underlying Biblical, Christian view of the world as was shown by these actions which were not seen as remarkable (50-60 years ago):
• You could pray in school
• The Bible was studied in many areas, its truth was understood as a foundation for much of science, philosophy, art, social sciences, how people were supposed to live
• Leaders were evaluated based on Biblical standards
• There were Biblical standards undergirding the norms of society – expectations of integrity, truthfulness, kindness
• (Yes, the standards were sometimes abused, but if you did something the Bible said was wrong, you were reminded of it, even if you didn’t care)
• All of this is GONE in large measure
2) The retreat of the church from the Bible
• This is very upsetting but
• Reading your Bible on a daily basis, with an encouragement to read through the Bible regularly and to study it deeply is not encouraged in the church today.
• In addition, it is sometimes mocked or ignored.
• Sometimes in a reaction against legalistic “read your Bible every day” thinking, many churches don’t have reading patterns or plans of any form for their people—proverbial throwing out of the baby with the bathwater
• Some leaders who don’t want their followers to have a guilt-based view of the Bible, throw out all encouragement to regular reading and study and forget that they may have grown up with an ingrained Biblical foundation(guilt based or not) that their followers may NEVER get because of their faulty attitudes towards the Bible.
• The result is that the Bible is used in many churches as a proof-text for self-help topics, to find how it will help me; not read to see what it says to shape my behavior and help me be obedient to God.
How these two combined in a destructive way
• In the past society (school, public morals, underlying standards) did the heavy lifting in permeating behavior with Biblical values,
• You couldn’t help but absorb Biblical truth because it was all around you.
• In addition, if you grew up in a Christian home and Bible-preaching church you may have had the added advantage of daily family Bible readings, Bible emphasis in churches, forced or not.
• But that has all changed because the Bible has been taken out of all these areas of our world – you won’t learn biblical values in school, the media or society as a whole
The Response of the church
• Has it been to ramp up engagement and encouragement for people to read their Bibles, study them, engage fully with the Word of God?
• In some cases yes
• But in most—the Bible content in many churches has been reduced to a twenty-minute sermon on Sunday morning of proof texts on a feel-good topic.
• Many no longer have Sunday School classes or encourage structured, systematic study of the Bible as a priority especially for adults
• Many small groups have become prayer/sharing lay counseling times—useful, but not Bible Study
• Outreach and service events dominate the life of the church—all good, but what makes them different than a secular service organization?
• Worship services that emphasize emotion and experience rather than Biblical teaching and challenge
• Many churches are growing with the actions above but have congregations of adults
• Who did not grow up learning the Bible; have little knowledge of it and don’t live according to it
• And then they wonder why they have so many problems and the Christian life doesn’t produce all the good things the way they want it to
What is the answer
• YOU have to work at it—at developing your own Biblical worldview
• You must start by simply reading your Bible—consistently and all the way through.
• The Reading plan on the www.Bible805.com is very good
• We are going through in these podcasts with commentary as we read it
• You can start anytime and review past lessons
• Use a good study Bible to know what the books are about and where they fit.
• The default thinking that guides our individual and corporate behavior today is both post-Christian and post-Biblical
• We must take personal responsibility to develop a Biblical/Christian mindset
• We can do that in committing to continual intake of God’s Word overall
• And now back to Proverbs where….
We see God’s point of view in the most mundane details of life
• And it’s in those details of life – that our lives are formed
• “Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson
• Proverbs helps us learn and then incorporate into our lives that progression of thoughts, actions, habits with the result of a biblical, godly character.
• Overall—Read and think about Proverbs—part of our yearly reading, some read 1 a day.
• We obviously can’t tackle them all, but in the next podcast will take selected topics and to illustrate the differences between our current post-Christian, post Biblical world and the words of Proverbs, we will:
• Take a topic, area of behavior
• Suggest how the current world view would have us respond (probably not in a shocking, blatantly evil way, but a a socially acceptable post-Christian, post Biblical way
• Then what Proverbs says (and topics scattered)
• And finally, suggestions of real-life application of that Proverb.
• That’s all coming in the next PODcast