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Redemption and The Work of our Hands (Vol 10) - The Truths which bring Success in our work

Sunday English Service - 14 JAN 18


Alright, please turn with me to Jeremiah chapter 6 please, Jeremiah chapter 6. We began to talk about work sometime ago. We began with how God designed man as someone man as some who can work, that's how God made man. He Himself worked, Bible says He worked six days and rested on the seventh day. So He made man in his image and likeness, so man is also a worker he was made as a person who can work. Not only was man made for work, work was made for man. So the two things go together, man is made for work, work was made for man. And so this is original design, work was supposed to bring great pleasure, satisfaction and joy to man. It is supposed to help him express himself, his talents and abilities, and bring forth inventions and creativity and so on. Because he's also a little creator under God. So that's the original design, we talked about it first. And then we talked about how sin came and corrupted man and as a result, the work of man was also affected very greatly. So that man's work now became extremely difficult in this world. We talked about that aspect of how sin came, the fall came, and made man's work difficult.
Now we're in the third part where we're talking about how Christ came as our Redeemer, to redeem us from the fallenness, the sin, and the curse and bring us back to God. And so we're now talking about how that affects our work as redeemed people, how do we approach work? What must work be like today for redeemed people of God? So we're talking about that right now. Now, in this certainly we have to look at the truths that have been unearthed by the Protestant Reformers in the 16th century. Because there have been truths that have been buried for so many centuries, that were brought up by Martin Luther and Calvin and others. One of the greatest things that happened in the Reformation is the truth about work came out, that's one big aspect that was covered in the Reformation. Now how that came out is this, the word of God gained ascendancy. The word of God became the most important thing. See previously, it was man's authority over the word of God. More than the word of God, man's authority is what mattered. But the Reformers insisted that the word was the final authority.
Now when you've made the word the final authority, then they made them study it very carefully. Martin Luther, Calvin and such people studied the original languages, Greek and Hebrew and so on, and even Latin and so on. And they began to go into that and look into the meanings of it, they didn't want to miss anything. They researched these things and unearthed the truths that were at that time buried for many centuries because the word was put in the backburner. So the word gained ascendency as a result, truths from the word of God came out and one of the great truths is the truth about man's work. And that is what made the countries of Northern Europe and America and such countries, which had a big impact through Protestantism became very wealthy and very industrious and very developed nations in the world. They say, even sociologists study this matter of Protestant work ethic. Why? Because they believe that these countries came into being and became what they are because of the Protestant work ethic. So Protestant work ethic is a matter of study for even sociologists in the world, they're interested in it. What is there in it? Certainly in church we need to talk about it, but I don't hear much talk about it in the church.
So I'm going to really deal with the teaching of Luther and Calvin and others, and those that came even later, like the Puritans. And see what is it that made their teaching so special? What is it that gave rise to a new kind of civilisation? A new kind of community wherever they went, new kind of nations were built based on these things. How can it make such an impact? That's the thing. So the basic thing is this, see when work brings success like this, it doesn't just bring success just like that. There is a background, there are some truths, so I'm going to title this as 'Truths Which Brought Success in the Realm of Work'. So that is what we're interested in, what are the truths? Because we know that if we want to remove the frustration, our disappointments, our frustration, our meaninglessness sometimes that we experience in work. Our lack of interest and motivation sometimes that we feel in our work. You want to remove that and be really excited about work, and really have success and true success in work and make it really meaningful. Then we need to go back to these truths again, because these are truths that made those countries and nations and civilisations what they are at that time. So we're going to look at that.
So let me read to you from Jeremiah chapter 6, we begin here with verse 16, a very well-known verse. But I don't know if you have thought about it much but it is telling us something very important. Listen to this-Thus says the Lord: "Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, 'We will not walk in it.' - What it's saying is the people have backslidden, people are walking contrary to God's will and God's purposes. They're doing things that they're ought not to be doing, they're not walking in God's ways. God is speaking through prophet Jeremiah, He's saying, telling the people, "Stand in the ways and see," literally He's saying stop, think a little bit. "Stop in the path that you're traveling, and think about where you're going, what is happening right now," he says. "And ask for the old paths," that means ask for your history, where did you come from? You're Abraham's children, how did God choose Abraham? How did He bless him? What kind of blessing did He give him? What were the promises given to Abraham? Those promises were not only for him but for all his children, the descendants of Abraham. - Ask these questions about your origin, about your covenant that you have with God and the promises that belong to you. And then you will understand your potential and what you can be and so on. If you understood this you won't be walking in this way that you're walking. 'So examine your history,' that's what basically Jeremiah is saying here, inspired by God.
He says, "Look at your history, just stop and take a look at it where you came from, what God said, what your origin is and examine these things. And when you examine these things, you will see what is the right way to go. And then you'll find rest for your souls." See they're restless, meaningless, purposeless, their life is purposeless, meaningless like they're kind of lost, you know. They just don't have meaning. See when people don't have meaning and purpose that's when they live riotously, that is where they live and they just don't know what to do. They then say, "Let's party and just enjoy yourself, you know because we don't know what we're here for. What are we here? What are we supposed to do? We just don't know." And God says, "Stop, ask the question what your history is, search for the old paths, see what is right and walk in it. Then you'll have rest for your souls." - But they said, "No, we won't do it." But we're not such people, we want to do it, that's why we're here this morning. We're not saying, "No, we won't do it." We are here to look at our history, we are here to look at God's word, we want to know what God has done for us. We want to know what the New Covenant gives us. We want to know what the redemption has done for us. We want to know how to live our life effectively, meaningfully, and purposefully. We want to know how to have true success. We want to know it, that's why we're here.
So I want to take through, today I want to go to the Protestant teaching. But the thing is if you just straight into the 16th century teachings, you know, it won't make any sense all of a sudden if we jump into it. I need to show you the kind of beliefs that the world had concerning work before that. So I'm going to begin prior to the Christian Era, prior to the time that Jesus came into the world and ministered on this earth. Prior to the time, what was the belief concerning work that was there in the world? See when we trace it from there and come to 16th century, then you'll understand, you know, the difference that Luther and Calvin's teaching made. What was the teaching that was prevalent in those days prior to the Christian Era?
There are two sharply contrasting views, one is the Greek view of work. The Greeks were great thinkers and the world kind of followed them. They were the trend makers as what was thought is concerned. So they had this thought about work, this is what they thought about work. Their thoughts come from philosophers like Aristotle and so on. They said that work which is done with hands is demoralising and demeaning, those who work with hands, they're just low-class people. It's demoralising, demeaning. Work with hands is not good, it's not a blessed thing to do work with hands. Work with your mind, contemplate, meditate, think deeply. That is a blessed person, that is a high-class person. But if you worked with your hands, you're a low-class person, this is the way they thought about things, you know. So if a person had the good fortune to be unemployed and could live being unemployed and could have his food and whatever he needed, then he is a very blessed person, he is a very fortunate person, you know. Because he can participate in the life of contemplation, he can sit and think and go deep into things, and meditate and know things and so on. So that's a wonderful thing, but if you had to work, then too bad for you. So the Greek society was made up of this kind of thinking, that few people sat around and thought and went deep into all this contemplation. The rest of them slaved for them, worked for them. They are slaves in those days literally, and they had other workers also. But all of them were considered low class, demeaning work because they worked with hands. They knew it was necessary for somebody to make their food, somebody to grow their food, somebody to do all other things that require labour. But they said, "That's not our job, we'll sit around, you do it," you know, that's the kind of society the Greek society were.
But the Hebrews were a different kind of people. See the world at that time was divided into two, there were the Jews and the Gentiles, that's the world. The Jews are Abraham's children, the Gentiles are everybody else. So we talked about the Gentiles and the Gentile thinking was dominated by this Greek thought that work done with hand is demoralising, demeaning, you shouldn't do it. You should try your best to keep away from it and engage in contemplation and so on. Let others, less fortunate ones do the work with hands. Alright, the Hebrew view of work was different because it is based on the Bible. They came from the first, second chapters of Genesis, they believed the Bible. They believed that God is presented in the Bible as one who worked for six days and then rested on the seventh day. And God made man in his image, so man is also a worker. And that God designed man for work and work was designed for man, they believed all these things. So work was no problem for them, they did not have such a view that Greeks had about work. They did not think it demeaning and demoralising to work with hands. In fact the Jews talked about working with the hands and the, 'blessing upon the work of our hands,' and so on. This is the language that they used in the Old Testament about how God commands a blessing upon the work of their hands. So they considered it's a blessed thing to work with hands. They did not reject the whole idea of contemplation and deep thinking and all of that, they wanted to do that also. But they thought for that you don't have to leave work. You don't have to reject the idea of work, you can engage in contemplation. You can engage in spiritual life thinking deeply on the word of God, meditating and all of that, while at the same time carrying on some kind of fruitful work. So that's the way the Hebrews thought because their thinking was based on the Old Testament.
For example, Saul of Tarsus who became Paul later on, during his days before he knew Christ, during those days. You remember he came from a very high-class family and he wanted to be educated in the Jewish religion. So they sent him to Jerusalem and he studied at the feet of Gamaliel, who's one of the greatest teachers, professors of theology at that time. He studied higher studies with him, and he was one of the most brilliant students of Gamaliel, they say. He trained and went back to Tarsus, that's why he never had a chance to meet Jesus. He was back in Tarsus while Jesus was here when all these things were going on in Jerusalem and surrounding areas. He was back in Tarsus, his native place and spent time there. Here is an educated man, a spiritual man, studied religion, studied theology but he had side by side the tent making skills and trade. Which even later on came in handy for him, you know. Some people think that he worked and did ministry, the Bible doesn't say that, but it at least says that in one place he had to work in order to get his needs met. Therefore, at that one place at least he used his tent making skills and worked to earn his own money. He, because, I don't believe that he completely continued his work and did his ministry. He could not have because he travelled places and did ministry worldwide, literally. So that was not really possible to do something successful in that way and he was fully engaged in the ministry, teaching and preaching, and evangelising and so on. But when needed, he could do it, he could fall back and do it. And I'm sure when he was studying, when he was growing up, when he was beginning and so on, he was engaged in worldly work of tent making. He was skilled in that and earned his money through that. So they had no problem with working, they did not consider demeaning or demoralising to work with the hands. That was their background, right?
And then, in the 1st century church, what kind of ideas did they have about work. Their ideas also came from the Jewish idea, from the Old Testament. Because all the disciples were from the Jewish background, they brought their ideas and Jesus Himself was born, 'under the law,' the Bible says. That means as a Jew in this world, you know and He believed in the book of Genesis, He quoted from the first two chapters when it came to marriage and so on. And so He was a believer of the Bible, He taught from there. So basically the same things were taught, and you find Jesus calling people to ministry. He called people that were fishermen, called people that were tax collectors and so on, they came and followed Him. They left their profession to come and follow Him, but did you notice that so many other people He never told them to leave their job and come and follow Him. He did not call everybody to leave their job and come and follow him. He realised that some people, God had called them for ministry, He called them to leave and come. But He did not tell the whole world to leave their job and be separate from the world and come and serve God, no. He left them in their professions, doing whatever they were doing and still these people were followers of Christ. They did not say anything about their job, He did not want them to reject their job as something bad or demeaning, or so on.
So even Jesus, talking about Jesus, He even used a lot of examples from work, from farming background and so on, and work and business examples. Never did He talk about business as demeaning, never did He talk about worldly business as, I say worldly business for lack of better words. But He never talked about business as worldly and unspiritual or something like that. He never mentioned even one time, ideas like, "If you do business, you can't be spiritual. If you do worldly work, you cannot be a spiritual person." Never, see if you think these things He did, but He never, He used them as examples for His sermons. He used business world examples, He used borrowing and lending, He used bank examples, He used farming examples, He used examples of man working as a manager and so on. He used all kinds of examples from the business world, He talked about success in business and all of that He talked about. You read the gospels, but never did He mention that those things were bad and they're worldly, one has to leave it in order to become spiritual and so on. So you can forget about that idea, that idea some people today espousethat idea, they talk about that. But Jesus never talked like that. He considered it a very normal thing for people to be engaged in business, and go to work, and carry on trade and business and so on. He considered a very normal thing for spiritual people to do that.
And then you have the teachings of Paul, I don't have the time to read everything, but I just want to go to two passages. Because I just want you to know that you have indications of what the 1st century Christianity and church was like, when it came to work. What did they believe? You can read it because we have Bible giving us certain details about what was said at that time, in the 1st century, by the Apostles concerning work and so on. So let me read you just two passages, for example Colossians chapter 3. Colossians chapter 3, and let me read to you from verse 22. Now Paul's epistles are alwayslike this, he teaches doctrine and then practice. He's belief is that whatever you believe, that dictates your practice also. So Romans till 11th chapter, he teaches doctrine of salvation, then the practice. How do you live as a saved person? Ephesians, first three chapters doctrine, the next three chapters, practice of Christian life. Colossians the same way, first two chapters, full of doctrine, amazing doctrine, glorious truths. Third chapter, he starts with the practice of Christian life. So here in this passage, he is instructing people on how to live, he's talking about the Christian home and so on. If you read a few verses back in verse 18, talks about wives and husbands, how theyought to be towards one another. It talks about children and the parents' responsibility towards children, children's responsibility towards parents and so on. Fathers, it talks about and then he comes to verse 22 talking about work, so let me read this verse 22. - Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eye service, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. - Look at Paul's teaching on work.
Now he's not like some preachers today, no, he didn't say, "You Christian people, saved people, you know work is not very important at all." No, he says, "Obey your masters according to the flesh. Don't work under them for eye service." Don't work just when they're looking, very simply, not as eye service. "Don't work and be a man-pleaser," not just trying to please man, "But in sincerity of heart, fearing God." He's involving God in the work, he says when you go to work, don't be an eye service person, just work or act like working when somebody's supervising. And do not be a just a man-pleaser, don't be doing things just to impress people, he says really do the work. Do it with sincerity and fear God because he's your real boss, that's what he means. Not that supervisor, the real boss who pays for your work is God. I'll show you that in the passage, next verse - And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, - so what is he saying? Do it as unto the Lord, when you're working in a company or some kind of a business or something, then he said, "Do it as unto the Lord, and not to men." So you're really working for God, that's the Biblical view of work. You may beworking in the government, you may be working everywhere, all kinds of places but ultimately, you're working for God and ultimately, God is your boss. There are some other bosses here, ultimately God is your boss.
Now listen to this, verse 24 - Knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. - What does this mean? It means that you'll receive your reward and your pay, inheritance here is the reference to what you are owed for your work. What is supposed to come to you, what belongs to you. He says, "You will receive your reward, your inheritance from the Lord." Ultimately the paymaster is also the Lord, you're working before His eyes, you got to fear Him and the pay also comes from Him. Look at the New Testament, 1st century church, getting teaching from the greatest teacher of the church. This is what he has to say. Now a lot of people have complaints about their manager, the one who's above them. These people are always a problem, right? Some people can be really rude and really bad, and treat you unjustly and so on, yeah that's right. What do you do?
Some people come to the conclusion, "Well, I'll just act nice to him, I'll just be a man-pleaser." Bible says, "No, no, no, do it with sincerity of heart." A lot of people come to the thing, "Well, I'll be aeye service man, if he sees, then I'll work. I'll act like that." Bible says, "No, no, no, do it in the fear of God, do it sincerely," it says. And some people, you know say, "Well for the amount that they pay, I'm going to give that much amount of work. So they pay this much, so I will,"-these people think they're very smart, you know. "Whatever he gives, I will pay him back with my work for whatever he pays," you know. But the Bible says, "Well, he's not your paymaster, God is your paymaster." Then what I am supposed to do? Some people say, "Very well, unjust people, bad people, cheating people, they are the only ones that succeed. They get the promotion, they get the better salary, they get appreciated. Sincere workers don't get appreciated, so I'm going to become like them." I got another verse for you, the last verse, he says - But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality. - See because God is the ultimate boss, He is the paymaster, you can never cheat God, you're always under his eyes. So ultimately, what is going to happen is this: you're going to get what belongs to you for your work. "A labourer is worthy of his labour," the Apostle Paul teaches in another place, and God knows that.
Some supervisors, some companies, some bosses may disappoint you and deceive you and rob you of your just labour, just salary. But your ultimate boss is looking at it. What you do is you keep working sincerely, you keep God as your boss in your mind and you do it sincerely with nothing in your heart. Do it as unto the Lord, what God is going to do is one day, if that guy doesn't budge and that guy doesn't reform and pay you what he's supposed to pay you, and treat you the way that he's supposed to treat you,God is going to pick you up from there and take you to some other place and put you there and pay you much more than you would ever think or dream. Because he's the boss, "Promotion comes from the Lord," the Bible says. People are looking here, there, and everywhere, promotion, where is it coming from? Bible says it's coming from there, the people never look up you know, that's the problem. They don't think it comes from there, see when it comes to work people look, "How can I get a hold of this guy, that guy, you know how can I swing this, swing that and bend this and bend that?" God says don't do anything, the boss is upstairs there, the boss is over there. He is looking, he's got very wide-open eyes, he never sleeps, nor slumbers, he knows the injustice. He knows what they did to you, you don't have to cry to anyone, you don't have to complain to anyone, you don't have to have an evil heart, you don't have to do all those things. You commit yourself to the Lord and work sincerely, God is going to open doors for you that you can never even imagine and bless you in a way that you will never even imagine. That's the Bible truth, look how clearly they teach these things. Well what about the guy that's doing all kinds of cheating business and still getting paid good? It says don't worry, for a while he's going to have good time, don't be upset with that. After that, for a long time to come he's going to have a bad time because he's going to be found out, and he's going to be paid for the all the wrong that he has done. That's what the last verse says, "For the wrong he's going to get paid, because he's the ultimate paymaster."
So you have to choose between short time pleasure and long time suffering, or short time suffering with long time pleasure. I've chosen the later one, short time suffering with long time pleasure. Short time suffering and injustice with long time blessing, that's better isn't it? You may suffer for a long time under unjust people. But for a long time to come, if you do it sincerely here, for a long time to come you'll be a blessed person. Now look at how clearly, I mean I can preach a whole sermon on that, probably a couple sermons on that. But the thing is, I'm just telling you that is loaded teaching about how you must approach your work as children of God. How you must look at your work, your boss and what kind of heart you must have as you do it and so on. Very clear, the Bible is very concerned about how you have success in your work and happiness in your work. We take unnecessary problems and put it in our mind and get pressured, you see. Realise one simple thing, God is the boss, He is the paymaster. If this place is no good, He'll take you to some other place, the best place He's got in mind for you. I can tell you this for sure, He's got not just thousands of places, He's got millions of places to take you. Amen.Some people think, "Well, how can I get it?" as if the world is just within these four walls, you know. How can I get another job? Well, the world is a big wide world, millions and millions of opportunities. And I tell you, beyond everything that you can see, God knows so many places that he can take you. Amen.
Go to 1 Thessalonians, right next door, 1 Thessalonians chapter 4, and let me read to you verse 11 and 12, don't have time to read all of that, you know. 4, 11, 12 - That you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business - I like that, some people waste such a lot of time minding other people's business you know. They have no time to study, they don't have time to improve their career, they don't have time to learn their skills. They're always worried about where did he go? What did he get? You know, what is he doing now? What is he going to do? And, you know, they're always on the phone talking to 10 different people trying to find out what's happening over there, you know. Bible says,it's a good advice you can write it and put it up there, "Mind your own business." I like that - and to work with your own hands - Right next to that. "Mind your own business, work with your own hands." See, the Biblical view of work has nothing against working with your hands, it's not like the Greek view. See Greeks are very proud about their philosophy, I'll tell you, philosophy is sometimes messed up, you know. Philosophy leads you in the wrong direction, God's word leads you in the right direction. God's word says, "Work with your own hands." God has given us hands to work, you must be proud of that, that you can work with your hands. Whatever you're involved in, whatever kind of job. There is no high-class job, low-class job and all, if you can work with your hands, then you must work with your hands. Because God has given you hands, God has given you mind, has given you intelligence, ability, and all of these things so that you can work with your hands, live a meaningful, purposeful, fruitful life working with your hands.
And then it says, - That you may walk properly - see that's what is proper, Bible believes that if you didn't work, that's not proper. You want to walk properly? You want to live properly? He says, "Work with your own hands, towards those who are outside." You may walk properly towards those that are outside, in other words he's saying, "People outside are watching." What kind of a Christian are you? Work with your own hands, nothing demeaning about it. Work with your own hands so that you'll be living properly towards those who are outside. Now listen to this, - And that you may lack nothing. - Hello, everybody say, "That I may lack nothing." God wants you to work with your hands and God believes that if you just employ the hands to work, and do it sincerely with God as your boss, and do it with all your heart in the proper way. And live in that way, that the work of your hands will put you in such a position that you will lack nothing. Everybody say, "I'll lack nothing." It's good thing to hear in the beginning of the year, "I will lack nothing." God is not planning for you lacking, God didn't give you work so that you may lack. God wants you to work, and that work will provide for you if you do it in the right way, so that you will lack nothing in this world.In other words it's saying, "You work with your hands, so that you don't have to stretch your hands to anybody. You'll have everything that you want if you work with your hands." Bible gives the high view of working with hands, totally different from the Greek view, alright?
So the 1st century Christians enjoyed this kind of good attitude towards work. When you get into the 2nd century, it's very interesting. In 2nd century, you know, people say, "How do you know what happened in the 2nd century?" Because all these epistles and all of that were written, you know by then, how do you know what happened in the 2nd century? Well, you know they have found letters, correspondences between one person and the other person talking about Christians. And I found a very interesting letter, this is available in a lot of history books and so on because it's a very important letter. Letter to Diognetus, a man named Diognetus, you'll find it online also, D-I-O-G-N-E-T-U-S, Diognetus. In the 2nd century it was written somewhere in the middle of the 2nd century, it was written. And they have a record of it, alright? And let me read it to you, it's an English translation of a letter written in Greek. Somebody, a great teacher, Bible teacher has translated into English so let me read his translation. I am sure if you go to Internet, you will find more than one translation, there are several people that have translated it. So I find this and think it's from a good guy, excellent guy, so I'll read this. Listen to this, the letter, and I'm reading from the middle, I'm just reading a small portion of a long letter, alright?
"Christians cannot be distinguished from the rest of the human race by country, or language, or customs." In other words, you can't just tell who a Christian is by which country he comes from, by what language he speaks, or by what customs he follows, alright? "They do not live in cities of their own, they do not use peculiar form of speech, they do not follow an eccentric manner of life." Hello, the church was all right in the 2nd century, they were not crackpots you know. This is an assessment of a guy writing about Christians he says, "They don't follow an eccentric manner of life, they do not use a peculiar form of speech." They didn't live in the cities, they're not secluded, they didn't take themselves away. Now I remember when I was studying in the States I found that there were some groups, even charismatic groups, preachers you know. They bought thousands of acres of land and take their whole church and house them inside, they told them, "You come and build a house, we'll all live together." Why? "Because the world is bad, let's all live in a commune." You know, "So that we'll keep away from the world, we'll be pure, we'll have our own store, own doctors, hospitals, own schools so our children will have no contact with the evil world. So we will all be separate." But every one of those places, as far as I know, you know, every one of the places that I knew, I'm not talking about every place. But the places that I knew, I knew several places like that, went to nothing because it's a wrong concept. Jesus told us to be salt of the earth. If you take the salt and put it in the shelf, that's a wrong way to do it, right?
Now listen to this, "They do not follow an eccentric manner of life. This doctrine of theirs has not been discovered by the ingenuity of deep thought of inquisitive men, nor do they put forward a merely human teaching as some people do. Yet, although they live in Greek and barbarian cities alike, as each man's lot has been cast." Wherever God has placed them, they're living, that's what he's saying. "And follow the customs of the country in clothing, and food and other matters of daily living." They're just like the others, right? We wear pants, you guys wear sarees and churidars and whatever, pants or whatever you know, we all similar in clothing, he says. "Andat the same time they give proof of the remarkable and admittedly extraordinary constitution of their common wealth." That means their citizenship, I mean they, it looks like they belong even though they're similar in so many ways. They look like everybody else, you can't tell by their look, language, or custom, or food habits or anything. But they're definitely are different, they are citizens of a different place, he says. "They live in their own countries but only as aliens. They have a share and everything as citizens, and endure everything as foreigners. Every foreign land is their fatherland, and yet for them every fatherland is a foreign country. They marry like everyone else, and they beget children, but they do not cast out their offspring." Meaning that they don't sacrifice them and they don't throw them out and so on, you know they value children and family life and so on. "They share their food with each other but not their marriage bed." Which was happening in some societies at that time. "It is true that they are 'in the flesh', but they do not live 'according to the flesh.' They busy themselves on earth, but their citizenship is in heaven. They obey the established laws; but in their own lives they go far beyond what the laws require." And I'll stop right there, it's quite a long letter, quite informative about Christians. What a wonderful certificate for Christians.
Why I read this is this: Christians have some strange views of what it means to be a Christian. That you can't have anything to do with the world, you come away from the world and you know, you need to be in every way different from the world and so on. Not at all, look at the 2nd century Christians, in many ways they're just like the world. You can't tell by their language or by the country or even by the normal customs, you can't tell that they're Christians. But in some real ways, in their moral life, in the way they approached family, children and so on, they were different. They did not go by the values of the world, they did not live immorally, they did not live in that way. Where the difference was important, there the difference was upheld, that's what he's saying. So why I read this is this: the ideas about work such as you know, work is participation in some kind of evil that is there in the world. Participation in corruption, you need to remove yourself from work, and isolate yourself from work, and get into an isolated position where you don't mix with world, don't do business!
Now I come from a particular background, I'm sure you all come from a particular background. But I think I come from a very, very strict background. I mean if you tried to start business and do this and all that, they're always discouraging you, I remember.Well, why do you want to get deeper and deeper into the world? You know, you'll slowly go away from the Lord, if you do business and all that, you know be careful with your involvement with the world. The thing is to come away from the world, and if you, you know, go a little bit of a distance with them, they'll slowly say, "Why don't you resign your job and come to ministry? Instead of working in the world, why can't we work in the church? The work is bad, the world is bad, why don't you come away?" This is the kind of rhetoric I heard, you know as I was growing up, you know. So the world is a bad place, bad place to be in, but what to do we're in, now let's separate and isolate ourselves. Go somewhere, run away and live our life holy and keep ourselves free from all of this corruption and so on. This is the kind of message somehow, I got you know. And I used to feel confused, you know, what is this? You know. In Tamil, we say vaazahaveyvidamaatengeraanga. If you had any kind of initiative, if you had any kind of desire to do something, take some initiative, you go to church, you'll come back losing that initiative. They'll say, "Oh, that's not very important, you're trying to make more money? Wrong, wrong, wrong. Instead of that, read the Bible more. Instead of going and working there, work for God." But the Bible teaches exactly the opposite, I'll show you.
The Reformation, people of Reformation taught that while you're working in your job for 8 hours, 10 hours, or 12 hours, you are working for God only.But all these things nobody mentioned in my day, I don't know about now. Nobody even mentioned this, you know. These people lived like this, and by their distinctiveness of how they lived, the early believers invited others who did not know Christ by word and by witness to consider the truth of the faith which they proclaimed. They didn't have a microphone, they didn't have a television to preach from. Thank God we have all of those things and we do preach here, but they didn't have anything to reach out to people. Just imagine, what if they told you that you can never preach anymore in television, you can never have a microphone, shout it out from the housetops and so on. What if they, that you were not allowed to do any of these things, how are you going to tell the world about Christ? How are you going to share the gospel with people? Here it is, "The way the people were," what a certificate this is. The way the people were and what they were, they believed in this Jesus as Lord and it made them a significantly different people in their moral life and they were a blessing to others.
I read a little more of that letter, it says, "They lacked many things because they were being persecuted." Some of them had left their homes in Jerusalem and scattered and went abroad everywhere, and settled down new and started anew. So they needed a lot. This letter says that in another place, "They needed a lot of things, but yet, they made others rich." They were needing so much at many points in their life, but they had abundance of everything. They were a people that lived a life that said they got everything that they need, that's the way they lived, amazing. The world was impressed by the way they were, you know. And now only the clothing is highlighted you know. You wear this kind of clothing, you know, it can't be shorter than this length and it has to be this colour, sleeve has to be this length, neckline has to be this length, you know. That kind of thing, you know, we've brought it down to, you know, some kind of a tailoring deal, you know, amazing. But look at these people, you can't tell by the clothes they were wearing, they were going along with the culture of the place where they lived, wherever God had placed them. But where it really mattered, they were different. By the distinctiveness they drew people to Christ, alright. By the ordinary callings of life, the professions that they carried on, they were truly salt and light in their culture. In just a few centuries, they radically changed the world; after the resurrection death and resurrection of Jesus, that's the truth, alright.
When it came to 3rd century, there was a big persecution that started in the 3rd century. If you read some history on that, you'll weep when you see how they were killed and heaped, so unjustly treated. Killed for no reason at all really, suffered so much for Christ. And that affected them very deeply, in what way? They experienced this evil from the others in the world, the Gentiles and even the Jews persecuted them. The persecution was so great, so unjust, so unreasonable that as result, what happened? They said, "The world is a evil world, we should have nothing to do with this world. Look at them, those people are Devil's people, bad people, evil people, we should have nothing to do with them..."the seeds for that kind of a thought got into them. That they need to isolate themselves from the world, have nothing to do with them.
There is a man named Tertullian who taught back in those days and he said this, he said, "Christians should not participate in military, in politics, in trade with the world." Let's not do anything, because the world is an evil world, bad place. Don't do trade, don't do business, don't open a shop, don't open business, don't carry on any kind of business activity with them, they're bad people because of this. See all of these things come from a background, because of what happened to them, because of the bitterness, they withdrew from the world. There was a withdrawal from the world, but by the end of the 3rd century something changed. Constantine became a Christian, Roman Emperor, Constantine.
And with that great favour came upon Christian people, you know whole Roman empire later changed into Christian. And these people were very much favoured and things changed and the Christians were more comfortable after Constantine came. And so they began to again delve into Greek philosophy and all that, study because now there's no persecution and all of that. They go back and everybody respects Greek philosophy all over the world, so these people started studying Greek philosophy and all of that. They slowly brought in those ideas into the church. Already their heart has been impacted saying, "Separate yourself from the world, the world is evil," and so on. Now things have changed, now they study Greek philosophy, and they bring in the Greek thought into them. And instead of having a positive view that came from the Jewish background, from Genesis chapter 1 and 2; now they have a negative view of work. So that in the church, beginning from the 3rd century onwards, they started teaching differently about work. Listen to this, you should not think everything came from the Bible. They started teaching differently about work, they said, "We can live two kinds of life, you can live life in two contrastingly different ways. One is the perfect life," they called it. What is a perfect life? It's a life consisting of sacred vocation like a priest or a nun or a monk or something like that. Joining some religious orders, religious organisations. A person who's living the perfect Christian life is someone who's devoting himself to the service of God. Untainted by physical labour, he will not do any other work but he's constantly in meditation, in fellowship with God, reading the Bible, praying and so on. Now I'm blaming one particular church or anything like that, I tell you, even among Protestants, even today this kind of idea is there, you know.
And that was the beginning of the monastic tradition, monasteries and people leaving everything. They said, "You want to live a perfect life?" Everybody said, "Yeah, certainly, I want to live the perfect life." "You want to live the perfect life or the permitted life?" That's the way they put it, the 'permitted life' is, well somebody's got to clean up the place, somebody's got to grow some food, somebody's got to open the shop and do some business, somebody's got to administrate what's going on in the country. So let them do it, but that's a permitted life, that's not a perfect Christian life, those are second class citizens, permitted life they're living. Those who want to live a perfect life, you cannot live a perfect life being engaged in any form of work in the world. That's how it developed into. Slowly developed and said, "You can't be going to work and living in the evil, corrupt world, and working in that office, working in that government, working in that company or whatever. How can you work there?" You know, after all they're selling tea, you know what they mix with it, and you're working there? How can you be pure? You cannot live the perfect life. So if you're working, you cannot live a perfect life, so how to live a perfect life? Leave the job.
Now I'm not exaggerating in any way, a lot of people believe that even today. "It's a blessing to leave the work," they think, because they're now free from the world and the corruption and the evil and everything, they've come away from it, you know. Leave the world. If you have to continue, there's no other way, you've got four children, you've got to feed them, pay the rent and you got to work and you got to put up with all the corruption, go work and all that. Then it's a permitted life, there also you go to work you know, bickering and murmuring and you just go and put up with it. Just exist and just get on and just live with it, but you can't live a perfect life.This is the way it developed into. So slowly they brought it into that kind of a teaching, and then in the medieval Christianity, Medieval Church which is from the 6th century, to the 16th century when the Reformation came. For 1,000 years, this teaching began to take hold. First they said, "Leave the work, then only you can live a perfect Christian life." You want to really be a true Christian? First class Christian, not the second rate Christian. First rate Christian, you want to be first class citizen, leave the work, totally devote yourself to God. Then only you can live a perfect life. So how to do it? They said, "Leave the work," then it slowly developed over the years, said, "Leave family life also." Why? Wife and children all, that is a problem, you know.
You heard of the church where they said, "If you have problems, bring them to church." The guy went home and brought his wife it seems, you know, "This is the problem sir," he said. So, many people consider marriage life a problem, it's a problem brother when you have a wife and children, it's a problem, it's a problem. Well, if you say it's a problem, then it's a problem, you'll have whatever you say. Even you didn't have a problem, since you said it now, it's going to become a problem. So they said, "No wife, no children, no family," so by the 11th century, the thing slowly developed you see. See all these things didn't come from the Bible, that's what I'm trying to show you.The Bible is what we just read from Thessalonians and Colossians, that kind of a thing, a family, children. See Paul, before we read in Colossians chapter 3, verse 22, Paul is telling the wives how to behave, husbands how to behave, children how to behave, fathers how to behave. That was the Christian world at that world. Christian families had wives, husbands, fathers, mothers, children, the teaching was given to them. Now it's become monasteries and people that are free from family life, and all so holy they can't even engage in family life, you know. By the 11th century celibacy for priests became an established system. So you can imagine by the time we came to the 16th century, boy a thousand years this thing has been there. You can't simply throw away these ideas that have been in existence for a thousand years, how can you just all of a sudden throw them away?
And there came Martin Luther, glad he was a German, Germans are like that you know. You get on in their airport, you know in other airports when you get on, they say, "Can I have your passport please." In Germany when you get on they say, "Passport", you know, that's the way they talk to you, you know. Nice people but that's their way, that's the way they communicate, you know, rough and tough, they are. So glad this rough and tough German became the reformer, he was really rough and tough, he was tearing it apart. The pope at the time called him a wild boar, running amok in the church. You know he was much feared man, he was enraged and angry with what's going on. He saw what was going on, it's totally against the word of God, he's a well taught man in the word of God. You can't tell him the Bible says these things, you know, he just took it and went to town with it. He was a powerful orator and preacher, made such a big impact. And he came along and the Reformation started and he said, see by the time Reformation started, a thousand years of that kind of stuff. And finally what they said, the idea of calling became very set in those days before the Reformation. If a person is called, he can be only called for ministry. Calling has nothing to do with any other aspect of life, you can't say I'm called to be a doctor, or lawyer, or teacher, or business man. You are called only for ministry, your called to be a priest or a nun, somebody like that. You're called to be a monk, you're called to be a man of God, you know devoted to God only. You cannot have calling with regard to other things, other people are not called. You don't use the word call, for other professions, that's the way it was.
And Martin Luther came along, and he said, "All of life, including daily work, can be understood as a calling from God." And then he wrote a book, condemning the practices of the day, that book was titled the 'Babylonian Captivity of the Church'. And in that he said, "Therefore I advise no one to enter any religious order or the priesthood. Indeed I advise anyone against it, unless his forearmed with this knowledge." Listen to this, don't join priesthood, unless you know this, he says. "With this knowledge and understands that the works of monks and priests, however holy and arduous they may be, do not differ one whit in the sight of God from the works of the rustic labourer in the field or the woman about her household tasks. But that all works are measured before God by faith alone." Let me put it in another way so you'll understand what he's saying. He's saying, "Don't you go and join the priesthood and try to become a priest, a nun or something like that, unless you realise... now don't you go and join priesthood or nunnery or something like that. Don't do that if you're thinking that you are going to enter into perfect life, perfect Christian life. That you are leaving the world, you're leaving marriage, you're giving up everything in order to live a perfect Christian life. He says even an ordinary woman attending to her children and cooking her food in her home, is attending to perfect Christian life. God respects only the faith, not whether you gave up marriage, not whether you gave up work, not whether you, you know gave up all these things. An ordinary labourer, a rustic labourer, a carpenter, an electrician or whatever in the world is doing his work for God. He is living the perfect Christian life, God has given him the ability and he's working with the ability that God has given to him. What a statement for that day, now it looks very ordinary. But in 16th century, when Martin Luther wrote it, you can be killed for it, you know.
See the monastic call, monasticism became established, the monastic call was the call that said, "Come from the world." Martin Luther said, "You heard the monastic call, but then let me give you the Christian call; come into the world," he said. Not come from the world, come away from the world, come out of the world, he says, "Come into the world," he said. What a contrast. See he was a powerful preacher, he can highlight what he wants to say and say it really powerfully, you know. What he was saying is this, Jesus said we should be 'salt of the earth'. We have to be salt of the earth, then this is not the way to be salt of the earth, going to some place secluded and staying there without any connection to the world. That's not being the salt of the world. It's like taking salt, and telling someone, "Please put it in the shelf because I don't want to get this aroma of the food and everything, to get on it and spoil the salt." If you keep itin the kitchen, maybe the sambar will get on the salt you know, and the salt will start tasting like sambar. Maybe the chicken curry will, you know, will get on the salt somehow and it will rub off on the salt, and the salt will begin to taste like chicken curry. So keep it away, go put it somewhere else, lock it up, put it in the shelf, keep that room closed, don't open it! We don't want it mixing here. That's foolishness. He says, that salt, because it is salt, by its very nature it belongs in the curry, it belongs in the sambar. Don't put it in the shelf, unless you put in the food, it doesn't make any sense, it belongs in there. A Christian, if he's secluded, if he's away from the world, if he's going off into the woods, that doesn't make sense, he says. Come into the world, be with the people, work in the world, put your hands to work. Amazing, isn't it?
Another interesting thing he said, you know the Bible talks about loving your neighbour, he said, "You can't love your neighbour without working." Because if you're called to be a doctor, and you're saying I'm going to leave everything and go into a monastery so I can live a perfect life. God has given you a mind, talented you,gifted you, given you an education, training, all these years of working experience and all of that. You going to leave that and go into some place and close the room and stay there? And that because you think without that you're going to lead the perfect life, the perfect Christian life? That you got to do this in order to lead the perfect Christian life? He says, "No, you are not obeying the commandment of God. Love your neighbour as yourself," how do you love your neighbour? You use your gifts and ability and talent, your hands as a healing hand, administer healing to the man who comes to you, minister to him. You are working for God with God given ability and talent and everything. Same thing with a teacher, with a lawyer, with all kinds of profession, you're doing it because God has gifted you to do it. God has placed you in the society to play your part, you play your part, I'll play my part, someone else plays their part, that's what makes a society. So how do we love one another? Not see each other and say, "Hello, we love you and all." No, how do we love one another?
I'm called to be a preacher, yeah, appointed by God to be a preacher, how do I love people? I need to get ready to come and preach the powerful word of God in a very meaningful, useful way, in a life-transforming way. That's my part, I can't be doing, you know, I can't be saying, no to this. I remember one preacher said, "Well, instead of preaching a sermon it's better to stay in the room and pray." Sounds nice, sounds like he's a holy man. I understand we need to pray, but we need to preach also. God has sent us to preach, I need to preach, I pray because I need to preach and need to live a spiritual life and all of that. All of that goes together, but I need to play my part, that's my part. I can't do the doctor's part, I can't do the lawyer's part, I can't do any other part, business man's part, I do my part, are you doing your part? See, that's how you love your neighbour. I am loving the people right now, by ministering to them the word of God and speaking to them the word of God. And when you are at work, you are teaching your students in school, you are ministering to them, helping them, raising them.Calvin came 30 years later and he further developed it, he said God calls people to be in every field in this world. In all different professions and fields, God wants his people to be. That's why he made us all so different from one another, we're always trying to be like one another. But God made us so different from one another, placed us in different places. He wants us to be in different fields of endeavour, do our part there, a God given job. Amen.
Alright, finally let me say this and close. The Luther and Calvin teaching on, we're going to see that more deeply, but let me say this. The Puritans, the group in England and Europe that took off and went to America and established America as a country right after the Reformation. The Puritans were great believers of this kind of teaching. When they journeyed to America as pilgrims and settle down there, they saw a new place, nobody had discovered this place. They're going to make a new civilisation, new country, you know what they said? They said, "Jesus said a city that is set up on a hill cannot be hidden, and we are going to make this a new civilisation. And that civilisation that we make here in America, in this continent, will be like a city that is set up on a hill, the whole world will look upon us one day. Because we are going to establish this country based on the word of God." These things that they learned through the Reformation, that's how they started, you know. Now they talk about 'making America great', I'm talking about what made America great, nobody talks about it. What made America great? Everybody thinks they're great, that's why so many people are standing in line to get a visa to go there. Everybody thinks it's great that's why I'm talking, some people may be upset, "He's talking about America." I'm not just talking about America, I'm talking Bible, I'm using it as an illustration. What made that place so great just in a few centuries? Many civilisations that existed for thousands of years went to nothing. This civilisation just within a few hundreds of years became one of the greatest civilisations giving people an opportunity. People of the world, the opportunity. People can have a lot of criticism about it, they say, "Slavery was there." But they are the ones that got rid of slavery also, because of Christianity, because of the Bible.
The Puritans went there, they established it based on the Protestant work ethic. And they encouraged two things, they took the teaching and developed it further and they emphasized two things. Let me just say this, one is enterprise, what is enterprise? Enterprise is a wonderful word, enterprise means initiative. That's why I said you know, if you had some initiative at all, and you went to church, you lose that initiative. Because we're preaching something else other than Christianity. Enterprise means initiative. What is initiative? The boldness, the confidence, the guidance, the encouragement that we have from God to start something amazing and something new. A lot of people can't get themselves to do anything, they're afraid to get into anything. Why? Because they don't have the initiative and would you believe this? The name Puritans sounds like they will nothing to do with the world, but they are the ones that taught this. They said, "Have some initiative, you're made in the image and likeness of God and look what initiative He took, He created the world, this beautiful world. And made everything good and put in it, you do that, you create something." So enterprise to them meant initiative, it meant creativity. That means you're a creator, God was a Creator, He made you in His image and likeness, you're a little creator. You're supposed to create solutions to man's problems. You are supposed to make cars, planes, airplanes and you know rockets and what not, trains, self-driven cars, I'm looking forward to it. Creativity, that's what enterprise is, and innovativeness, that is, finding new solutions for age-old problems. New instruments, thank God for AC you know, my grandfather slept without AC. And every day I sleep I thank God, I say, "Thank you Lord." What would I have done, I would have been reduced into half without AC, you know. What a comfort, what an enjoyment, with all the heat, so nice, I'm really thankful to God for the person who found it. Thankful that we can have it in church. Little things like that, makes life so wonderful, so nice. All of these things came from these societies that were established on this Protestant work ethic.
So enterprise means initiative, creativity, innovativeness, originality, readiness, willingness, boldness, business. Hello, turn to the person next to you and say, "Get with it." Enterprise, be enterprising, but when I went to church they said, "Don't be enterprising, Jesus is coming soon, so don't start that now because He's coming." They'll give a date, it'll be just within two, three months, why do you want to start. You know I came from a family where my grandfather stopped my mother from going to school because he thought Jesus was coming, waste of time. Final exam is coming, don't go to school, see that's why I'm talking like this. She was literally stopped from going to school because he believed Jesus is coming any time now. Don't go to school. So I've been through the whole thing, now I'm convinced that I must have initiative, I must have creativity, I must have innovativeness, I must have originality, I must have willingness, boldness. All of these things are necessary, all of these things come from the Bible when you realise what God meant when He said to Adam and Eve, "Be fruitful, multiply, fill, subdue, and dominate." That means start business, do something, find some innovative stuff. Find some answers to some problems, make a product that'll be very useful to everybody, that's what it means. Genesis, you take it home and read it, that is exactly what it means.
The second thing they encouraged is thrift, which means that God has given you resources, money and other resources. Be careful, do not waste them, squander them, don't keep them in the shelf and do nothing with them. With your time, with your talents, with your gifts, with your abilities that God has given to you, and the money that God has given to you, be careful, be frugal, spend it in the right way, do it in the right way, and do something that has to do with God's purposes. Fulfil God's purpose because that's why God has given it in your hands. The years that He has given to you, the talents that He has given to you, the ability that He's given to you, He's given to you because of that.
And I hope, even Americans I think have forgotten all this, I think. But I'm preaching it here because this is not just for America, it is for anybody, to work here. Just begin to have some enterprise and thrift, I'll tell you people of this church will become like that. Will be a new civilisation, will be a new society. That doesn't mean you just go and jump blindly, sign to something, you know, do something crazy you know. It means you need to think deeply about why God has put you in this world, what he has given to you, how he has made you and get close with God. In your relationship with God, so that you will have clear direction as to what you must do. And then from that you do it, you will have great success. And you will become like a city set up on a hill, and the whole world will one day look upon you with astonishment and amazement because of God has done through you. God bless you. Let's all stand together, we'll continue next week. Amen. Are you glad you're here? Turn to the person next to you and say, "Enterprise, thrift, be creative, innovative, bold, confident, do something with what you've got!" Amen. That's the whole point, that's Christian teaching, that's the thing that must be taught in the church to make life a success and meaningful and fruitful.

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