Divine Good vs. Human Good by R.B. Thieme, Jr. (April 1, 1918 - August 16, 2009)Feb 29th, 2012 | By admin | Category: Religion
Do-Goodism in Judah
The do-gooders were very much in evidence in those days, and, like today, they were all frustrated. We hear a familiar strain from these do-gooders of Judah, for they said in effect, “Let’s abolish our cavalry.” And when they abolished the Jewish cavalry, the Rabshakeh of Assyria stood up in front of the walls of Jerusalem and challenged: “Look, my king has several thousand extra horses from his cavalry; we will even supply you horses, if you can provide riders for the mounts - and then we’ll whip you!” (Isa. 36:8,9).
When the Assyrians finally came, all that the Jews had left in their disarmament program were their fortifications, which slowed down the Assyrians for one year. Now, the Jewish state department not only abolished the military, but they also had a “foreign aid program;” they made certain economic concessions to the Assyrians (2 Kgs. 18:14-16). For five years before the Assyrians invaded, Hezekiah sent millions of dollars of the taxpayers’ money to them.
Every Jew actually paid two-tenths of his income as a tax: one-tenth for the upkeep of the Temple (Lev. 27; 30-33), and one-tenth for the priesthood (Num. 18:21). Every third year, one -tenth went to the poor of the land (Deut. 14:28,29). Although today it is called “tithing,” it was actually a system of taxation for believer and unbeliever alike in the land of Judah. Offerings were the spiritual giving of the believer (Deut. 16:17), over and above the tithe.
But what happened to a large portion of their taxes? Hezekiah took them out of the Temple treasury and hustled them over to the Assyrians. A lot of people involved in these programs then, as well as today, were sincere. We must give them at least that much credit. They think they are doing a good thing; but whether it is in the field of politics, or statesmanship, or even in Christianity, human do-goodism is not the answer!
Now actually, if you are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ and have received Him as your Savior, you can fulfill the principle of doing good, of doing permanent good, of having something that will count for all eternity. In fact, the believer is the only one who can!
Divine Good Begins
The message of John the Baptist, whose ministry was parallel to Isaiah’s, provides the background of our subject. In Isaiah 40:3, Isaiah prophesies concerning John the Baptist. From 700 B.C., Isaiah looks down the corridors of time to 29 A.D. when John the Baptist would be preaching his message that would accomplish permanent good.
John the Baptist was represented merely as a “Voice,” which puts the emphasis on the message rather than on the man. It was John’s message that changed lives for time and eternity. The “voice” communicates doctrine, which endures after the voice is silent. John is gone, but the Word abides forever.
What was his message? “Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” The first part of his message is the means of doing good on a permanent basis, and it give us our first clue as to how we can join Isaiah and John and other great men of the past who have had permanent good come out of their lives.
“Prepare ye the way of the Lord” is simply the message of salvation. It’s the message of the Gospel. “Be prepared,” John kept crying! Now, how can you be prepared for time and for eternity? How can you have a preparation that will meet every exigency of life, whether living or dying, as well as the problem of eternal salvation. The answer is, first of all, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 16:31). We know from Acts 19:4 that John preached this Gospel.
…John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should BELIEVE ON HIM which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.
People are trying to meet problems today by saving money, by making good investments, by making the right friends, by gaining influence, by developing power, and even by sublimation! All of these can be classed as a certain preparation for problems in time. BUT…NONE of these is the real answer to the problems of time, much less to the problem of eternal salvation.
How can you be prepared for eternity? There is only one way:
He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life…(1 John 5:12,13).
That is the only way to be prepared; and when you are prepared for eternity, you also have preparation for time.
“Be prepared for the way of the Lord!” The “way of the Lord” is God’s plan for the human race: Phase I - salvation; Phase II - the believer in time; Phase III - the believer in eternity. And all of the preparation begins in a moment of time. In that moment when you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, God provides for time as well as for eternity.
Jesus Christ meets every need in this life; He meets every need of the future; He provides in living, in dying and after death. When John stood before the people and cried, “Be prepared…be prepared,” he was doing the best thing he could do for those people. He was dealing with them as individuals and with their problems as individual problems; he was “snatching brands from the burning” (Zech. 3:2), and doing permanent and eternal good for them.
No Production Apart from Rebound
Then John continues: “…make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” This part of his message indicates the need for confused believers to get straightened out. Some of you met many of the people who came forward in the Billy Graham Crusade. John the Baptist’s ministry was parallel in one way to this Crusade: the majority of people who came forward were sincere seekers; they were “born-again,” but they were ignorant of Bible doctrine.
Many of them had guilt complexes; many of them thought that they had lost their salvation; many of them, knowing their lives were not counting for the Lord, wanted answers. What they needed first of all was rebound - 1 John 1:9.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Then they needed to understand some of the techniques (rebound, the filling of the Spirit, faith-rest, living in the Word and occupation with Christ) which God has provided for the believer in time. While they might have come forward to “dedicate” or “rededicate” or “reaffirm their faith” or to make sure they were saved, all of this added up to one thing - CONFUSION!
John the Baptist had the same type of ministry. Thousands of confused people came all the way from Jerusalem. For many of them, their problem was the issue of the cross: to believe in Jesus Christ is eternal life; to reject Him is eternal condemnation.