Rather than reading the Bible through the eyes of modern secularism, this provocative six-part course teaches you to read the Bible through its own eyes—as a record of God’s dealing with the human race. When you read it at this level, you will discover reasons to worship God in areas of life you probably never before associated with “religion.”
© Charles A. Clough 1998
Charles A. Clough
Biblical Framework Series 1995–2003
Part 4: Disciplinary Truths of God’s Kingdom
Chapter 1: The Golden Era of Solomon: The Discipline of Blessing
Lesson 74 – Lessons from Solomon – Sanctification and Culture
08 Jan 1998
Fellowship Chapel, Jarrettsville, MD
We’ve been talking about the doctrine of sanctification because this series from Solomon on through the fall of Israel is much more centralized on the workings of God’s kingdom rule than before. Before we were dealing with the Exodus and how God intruded into history, God disrupted history. What we’re dealing with now is the discipline that God used to reign in His kingdom. That’s why again and again as we go through these stories, they have interesting political overtones, interesting principles, but the big idea is they’re illustrating principles of sanctification, how does God deal with people who are in a covenant relationship with Him.
And it’s all preparatory to the New Testament. It’s where you can see sanctification, and as I’ve said before, the Old Testament stories have had a lot more influence in clarifying the New Testament for me than the New Testament. I appreciate the New Testament, of course, but the New Testament presupposes that you’re really aware of Old Testament history. For example, we’ve gone through the glories of Solomon, and we’re basically acquainted with Solomon’s magnificent accomplishments: he built two navies, he had a treasury that was full of God, he had a currency that was stable, he built a stable economy for his people. Israel was in its heyday in Solomon’s time. He was a very wise individual. A lot of the Old Testament was written in Solomon’s time by men around him. So there are a lot of things going on in that period.
The New Testament has a passage where Jesus is talking to the people, and He makes one statement, He says “one greater than Solomon is here.” You can read that, and if you’re not acquainted with Solomon’s era and say oh well, that’s a nice thought, one greater than Solomon is here. If you know the Old Testament, that wasn’t just a small comment. What He was saying when He said “one greater than Solomon,” was as Solomon ruled his kingdom that I’m going to do the same thing on a global scale. That’s what He meant by greater. Solomon did it for Israel, I’m going to do it for the entire world, and my reign will eclipse the wisdom of Solomon. We know that Solomon got into commerce, Solomon built a culture, economically, in business, in worship, in architecture, he went into all the sciences, he dealt with the arts, he promoted musical worship. So when you hear that little innocent quickie in the New Testament text, “one greater than Solomon is here,” all of this is wrapped up in those little three or four words.
That’s what I mean that the New Testament takes on depth when you know the Old Testament background. Keep in mind, Jesus and the apostles were well-educated Jews and they knew their Old Testament cold. There are rabbi’s today that have memorized the Old Testament in Hebrew. It stuns you that anybody can do that, but that’s what they do. There are people that do that. I had a Hebrew professor one time that was in Israel and he met this Jewish teacher, he said go ahead, cite a verse, and this guy could tell you the Hebrew context backwards and forwards right around that verse. That’s a picture and a glimpse of what the New Testament disciples knew and many of the people they preached to.
I want to start by going back to Deuteronomy 6 to something that’s quoted in the New Testament a lot. Let’s start with Deuteronomy 6:5 and expand on the doctrine of sanctification a little bit more. Last time we went through certain parts of the doctrine of sanctification and reviewed these areas. Each of these areas is illuminated by historical illustrations. We said that one of these, the long-term growth in the existentially present decisions, i.e., obey or disobey decisions, one of the great examples of that was David, because David’s whole life is a picture of one of the basics in sanctification, one of the first-aids. What is spiritual first aid? It’s confession of sin. How, when you’re out of fellowship do you get back in fellowship? Agonize, go through some religious ritual, talk to fifteen people, what do you do? The Bible is very clear, there’s one thing; it’s confess sin before God. That has to be dealt with. Yes, there are consequences, and David knew that; that’s why Psalm 51 is such a critical Psalm.
There are parallel Psalms to Psalm 51; the other two Psalms that link up with Psalm 51 are Psalm 32 and Psalm 38. Those are three Psalms that encapsulate this whole idea of confession. It’s just basic, it is fundamental to the spiritual life to know how to deal with that, because if you don’t know how to deal with that you’re not going to deal with anything else. That’s the prerequisite to prayer; you can’t pray out of fellowship, you can’t do much of anything out of fellowship with the Lord. So that is the heart of spiritual first aid—confession. Every Christian should know that one backwards, forwards and sideways, that’s just basic. That’s why David’s life is so nice because you can identify with the guy. There are enough details in the story and enough consequences of what he did, and the guy is going on with the Lord but he’s having to wade through all the consequences. That’s just like we are. So we can identify with David.
Tonight we’re going to introduce the fact that as David illuminated this particular area of the doctrine of sanctification, Solomon’s era is going to illuminate this one: the aim of sanctification is loyalty to God. That’s the core, that’s the big idea. There are some ideas that go with this that we have to remember, i.e. when we talk about the aim of sanctification we’re talking about something that had to happen even if there were no sin. We went back to Adam and said here’s the point of creation, here’s when Adam fell. All through this period, between the time he was created until the time he fell, he was challenged to obey God. Was he sinful? No. So here you have a sinless man who is challenged to obey God. If he was sinless why was he challenged to obey God? He was given a choice and the idea was historical obedience yields righteousness. So Adam, before the fall, there’s no sin involved, still the aim is there and the aim is to produce loyalty to God.
The second illustration of this principle is Christ, because the second Adam does the same thing, He’s born, He dies, and at no point in that time span did He ever sin. Yet the New Testament says in Hebrews He learned obedience through things which He suffered. Why did He have to learn obedience? If He was sinless and the aim of sanctification is loyalty to God and that’s exclusively dealing with sin, what’s Jesus involved in it for? The idea is that the aim of sanctification is still there whether or not sin is. The problem is that whereas Adam and Christ were dealing on the plus side of the ledger with a positive righteousness, generating that positive righteousness by sinless obedience to God, the problem with us is that we’re born sinners and we’re on the negative side of the ledger. We’re down here, and since we’re down here we are in violation of God’s holiness, and we have to be represented by a representative that beats Adam because now Adam is sinful.
So Jesus Christ comes in as a second Adam, He raises us in position to His righteousness. By the way, His righteousness that is attributed to us was righteousness that flowed out of His historic life. Jesus Christ, all the way and including the cross obeyed the Lord, obeyed the Lord, obeyed the Lord, obeyed the Lord. And the decisions to obey during His life were historically crucial decisions, they weren’t just ah, He just did it. People have the idea sometimes in our own Christian circles that Jesus had it easy, that obeying the Lord was easy for Him because after all, He didn’t have sin. Wait a minute. When you look in the New Testament text and you see what was going on in Gethsemane, do you call that easy? It was not easy for Jesus to obey God; it was difficult for Him to obey God. In His humanity, the Bible says that Jesus learned, He learned obedience, and He learned it under pressure and He learned it under suffering. Yet He was sinless.
So the aim of sanctification holds on either side of the fall. It’s just that on this side of the fall that we know it’s like we’ve got a weight, we’ve got sin down here that is in addition to the normal learning process. Sanctification is not just overcoming sin. We want to be clear about that because if we think just in terms of overcoming sin we’re not thinking big enough. This is why in that illustration I give on that chart, the aim of sanctification, was the defeat at Ai and the victory at Aijalon. Why do I pick out those two historic battles as pictures of this principle? Because at Ai there was disobedience in the camp, they went out, ostensibly obeying God’s immediate command. The problem was that God wasn’t going to give them victory as long as there was disloyalty to Him. Regardless of the armies, regardless of all the hoopla, it all fell apart because under it all there wasn’t a loyalty to God.
The other illustration we give is Aijalon, the valley of Aijalon, where the sun and the moon were stopped. The reason that is important is because Joshua really got screwed up there; he made a bad decision, he was deceived, the Jews had gotten themselves into a mess where they should never have made a league with the Gibeonites, they did it wrong, they fouled up. But because they were loyal to Jehovah He stepped in and saved their bacon. What was the difference? It was back to the essential, they were being loyal to God. That’s where David excelled. David excelled because even though he had to walk through a lot of stuff as a fallout from his previous sin, the point was the guy got back on track, he coped with all the mess, all the fallout, and he did some magnificent things for the Lord, so that the prophetic, through the Holy Spirit working in men, the final analysis of David’s life is that he’s a man who sought after God.
If you can visualize David’s political autobiography in today’s climate, with talk shows, editorials, and TV news clips, can you imagine the number of stories that 60 Minutes could run on David’s administration. The point is, from the social outward point of view he could be pulled apart. But the prophets that write the Scripture, it’s almost as though they’re not really passionately concerned with those externals; they are, it’s important for a testimony, but the basic issue that made the difference was that David was loyal to God. Yes, he wasn’t perfect, but he had a heart disposition to be loyal to God. That got him through the mess. He had a lot of critics, a tremendous amount. If you don’t believe that he had a lot of critics read the undertone in some of David’s Psalms. Why so often when you read Davidic Psalms are there verses like this in them: O Lord, protect me against those that speak against me, the lions that speak against me, that gnash their teeth upon me. What is he talking about? Constant criticism, a whole orchestra of critics, and it bothered him, like it would bother you, like it would bother me. But he walked through it because he had his eyes on the Lord, not on a bunch of people. It’s a significant lesson for us.
We want to deal with this issue of culture. It doesn’t sound like it’s related to sanctification, but it is. Here’ show it is. At the point when God gave Adam the command to subdue the earth, Adam was to exercise a positive volition toward God, he was to obey Him, and he would be accomplishing certain things, doing good in the Garden, producing things, etc. And he and Eve would have, would have had the fall not happened, he and his helpmate would have gone on, raised a family, a family who would again propagate righteousness, and these people would build things, these people would subdue the earth, they would grow plants, do hybridization, they would increase the cultivation of the land. They’d clear areas and build gardens. They would show cultural fruit. They would engage in music. They would engage in art, all those things of the culture; that’s what God has called man to do. And the righteousness that’s in them would flow out into the culture.
In Deuteronomy 6:5 we quote this in the New Testament, but we limit its application to our own personal piety. I want to show that that’s not really correct. “And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” It’s true, “with all your heart,” that is personal piety, that’s the inside. But the word “soul” there, that psuche in the Greek, nephesh in the Hebrew, is life in all of its details. Take a concordance and look that word up and see how it’s used. It’s talking about food, eating, it’s talking about craftsmanship, it’s talking about praise in music, it’s talking about all of the human activities are included in that word. The first word, “love the Lord with all your heart,” we read it as though the sentence stops there, and it doesn’t spill out into any creativity. But that’s what is meant “with all your soul and with all your might.” What’s the “might?” The might is the strength, the things that men produce.
What we want to do is come back and see what happened? What happened in history? Go back to Genesis 3 and let’s see the dilemma of culture. We have to deal with this because we live in it. Two or three weeks ago, as we said, there’s an Alabama judge that has come up with one of the more insidious rulings that we’ve seen lawyers do, it gets worse every year, this guy took it upon himself to make the ruling that it is now illegal for Christian students in the public school to pray. Furthermore, he is going to have faculty members watch kids to see if they dare pray. So now we have the “thought police.” We can have drugs, knives, but we can’t have prayer. What more insidious thing do you have in a public classroom than prayer? Good grief, dangerous material here. Why is this hostility there? We’re going to deal with this. There’s a reason why paganism, which is on the ascent in our society, is fearful of Christian culture. They have a right to be afraid and we’ll go into that. That’s why we’re dealing with culture and why Solomon’s a good illustration.
In Genesis 3 we have the fall. We know certain things happened, the curse comes upon man in the male way, comes on the woman in a female way. Then immediately in chapter 4 we have the first murder inside a family. If that wasn’t bad enough, in Genesis 4:17 we have the first city, the city of Enoch. You go four or five generations down to verse 19 and here’s what culture looks like in a fallen world, “And Lamech took to himself two wives; the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other, Zillah.  And Adah gave birth to Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock.” So culture began with fallen man doing it. There weren’t any un-fallen men to do it. Verse 21, “And his brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe.” So here’s music, here is business, livestock, farming. Look at verse 22, “As for Zillah, she also gave birth to Tubal-cain, the forger of all implements of bronze and iron,” notice there’s not a bronze age and an iron age like people say, bronze and iron, the technologies were there. That’s the origin of culture.
But what happened? In verse 23, the song of the fallen culture, “Adah and Zillah, listen to my voice, you wives of Lamech, give heed to my speech. For I have killed a man for wounding me, and a boy for striking me.  If Cain is avenged sevenfold, then Lamech seventy-sevenfold.” Violence, murder. That’s the song and the theme of pagan culture.
We come to Noah’s time, then we skip over to Genesis 11 and in Genesis 11:4, the verse that’s so critical because it’s the spirit of the unbelieving pagan culture. This is always the theme of pagan culture on to the courtroom in Alabama. “And they said, ‘Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name; lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.’” Just to review, notice what it’s saying, “let us build for ourselves,” not for God, “for ourselves a city.” WE will build a city. There’s man doing it for man, “a tower whose top will reach into heaven,” that’s a religious theme, that is a counterfeit to true salvation. It is going from the earth up to heaven instead of from heaven coming down to earth. It is man, with his own self-righteous boot-strap operation generating his own righteousness to become like God, knowing both good and evil. This is always the attempt of man to ascend with his power and become like God.
It’s interesting, fallen man hates God but we are made after His image, so while we hate God because we’re made in His image, we always try to mimic Him. It’s interesting, we can’t leave Him alone; we say we don’t want a God, but yet we do, we crave a God, and we will create gods if we have to do it ourselves. One of the proofs of the existence of God is that men can’t leave Him alone; even if they deny His existence they still want a God.
Then it says, “and let us make for ourselves a name,” and that’s the ultimate sin because that means that all meaning, right, wrong, truthfulness and falsehood will be defined by man. Do you know what that’s a fulfillment of? What did Satan say to Adam and Eve? You will be like God, knowing both good and evil. That’s what he tempts. We, this is a presupposition of our autonomy, we decide truthfulness and falsehood, we decide what is right and what is wrong, so any laws that are made will be the laws that man makes. If there are rights they are not given by God to man, they are generated by who passed the latest bill, that’s what generated the rights. We will “make a name for ourselves.” It’s going on right now, same thing, same theme.
Now we come to 1 Kings and all during 1 Kings we have a generation of a godly counterculture under Solomon. We studied that. We can go through 1 Kings 4, 5, 7, etc. but the highlight of this whole section is in 1 Kings 8, 1 Kings 8:23, the dedicatory prayer. We have reviewed what culture looks like on a fallen basis. Here’s Adam, that’s an example of the culture that was built prior to the flood; there was Nimrod, that was an example of the culture that was built after the flood, then we have a godly line called out from civilization, we have Abraham, Moses, the conquest and settlement with all of its warts and failures, and then we have the rise of Solomon, and this one period in history where believers dominated the culture. It was a Bible-friendly culture. So we read this section of Scripture to see what a Bible-friendly culture looks like. Is it run by a bunch of religious queers or is it really an admirable civilization. It’s an admirable civilization. They have all the normal things that you would expect in any culture. But it’s a powerfully righteous culture, it’s grounded on the Mosaic Law Code, it is something that honors God. And the temple, that is the sense of His presence and worship, is central to that culture.
We want to go to the notes because from there we want to go into our problem today. There are some highlights in here that are important to notice. There’s a lot of confusion on this today about whether Christians should become involved, do this and do that. I want to give some guidelines using Solomon’s era. The first point, page 13; take this as an axiom. “Strong Sanctification Produces Biblical Culture,” and by strong sanctification I mean believers that have depth, they are well-schooled in the Word of God. And they are influential. Whenever you have strong sanctification you will always have a culture that reflects that sanctification. It will automatically follow.
Do you want an example today of a Bible-friendly culture that’s developing right under our nose? Do you know one aspect of it? People, parents taking their kids out of the public school system and training them at home. Every time I hear people that think Christians are weird for doing this, my answer to that is, well why do you suppose they’re doing it? Come on, a woman doesn’t start a school in her house for her kids, that’s a lot of work, try it some time, parents aren’t doing this because they’ve got nothing else to do, TV’s boring, and we just bring the kids home to teach them. No, no. There’s a bigger reason why parents are doing it today. It’s because they’re fed up with what’s going on, and they’re making a tremendous economic and personal sacrifice to do it, so instead of criticizing the parents that are doing this, how about asking why they’re doing it, the price they’re paying in time and money and effort to do this kind of thing. That’s the question we ought to ask, “Why?” It’s back to what we’re doing right here so let’s look at the different responses.
I’ve listed four responses under that topic, historically that Christians have made in the culture. The first one is “Some have wholly capitulated to whatever the surrounding culture established as public ‘values’. For example, liberal theologians, knowing that the gospel’s supernatural claims are offensive to modern man, openly seek to change the gospel message into a ‘more meaningful’ appeal.” We call that a liberal capitulation, that’s why people believe in evolution, that’s why people go with long time spans of history; it’s easier. It is, that’s the culture, that’s what you learn in the classroom, that’s where the millions of dollars of research get channeled, that’s where if you do any research and want to publish papers in a peer journal you’d better believe that or you don’t get published. So it’s a lot easier to do it that way. That’s capitulation.
Think of the first verse we started the class with tonight. What does it say in Deuteronomy 6:5, “You shall love the Lord with all your heart and with all our soul.” Is this loving the Lord with all our heart, with all our soul? Capitulate to the culture just because the culture ram-rods the values and we have to salute and say yes. No, we don’t have to do that. That’s capitulation. That’s the coward’s way out. Unfortunately in our evangelical community we have a lot of spiritual cowards. The worst ones are the educated ones because they feel the peer pressure more. They are afraid of looking stupid; they are afraid of being called a name somewhere, or being laughed at or ridiculed. I’ve seen it, I’ve lived with the people. That’s capitulation.
A second thing is a little less violent, that’s people who accommodate to the culture. This is what I call the evangelical gentlemen’s approach. This idea is that we know what’s out there, but we want to appear righteous and obedient to the Lord so we kind of go back in the Scriptures and see if we can possibly reinterpret the Scripture to relieve the pressure. This is what you see happening in various parts of Genesis, etc. We’re going to relieve the pressure. Oh, we obey the Word, but let’s just reexamine what the Word really is saying. That’s accommodation and that’s a tactic that’s being used.
Then we have another way of solving the problem called separation. “Still others know something is wrong with the world system, but their solution is to attempt to separation from all present culture. Groups such as the Amish select the culture of a previous era when Christian values predominated more than at present.” You read history and you rejoice that every generation of Christians didn’t have to live like us; there were more favorable times spiritually to live in the history of our country. So it’s only natural that you are romantically attracted to the past. “This selected culture is then ‘frozen’ as their ‘norm.’ Monasticism is another variation of the separatist approach. A common evangelical version is to disparage ‘secular’ work and imply that the only worthwhile fruit in a believer’s life is the fruit of evangelism and/or community life inside the Church. Usually this idea comes out of those who are themselves ‘full-time’ Christian workers (as though the carpenter, plumber and teacher aren’t abiding in their respective ‘full-time’ callings.”
This goes on, it’s subtle but it happens, and I frankly think this is why we have had a resurgence of evangelicals since the 1940s in this country, so now we’re in the mid-90s, so we’ve had fifty years of a resurgent evangelicalism. It was all dead in the 30s and 40s because the little moderns controversy, it was a spiritual wreckage. Talk about Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the spiritual nuclear bonds were dropped in the 20s and 30s, it’s a chapter that Christians should study and there’s not a real good text available on what happened in the 20s and 30s, but you can get an idea if you go back in your own families, to your grandparents who lived during that period, and try to find out what they were reading. Go back to whoever in your family lived between 1915 and 1935, in that twenty year period and see if any of their old books are around, and watch what they reading. You’ll see if they were people of the world, people that bought books, the best sellers, you see things like Harry Emerson Fosdick who’s the manhood of the master. It was a pure humanistic version of Jesus, and it was the belief that technology and science would make the whole century safe, we don’t need all this Bible stuff, that kind of thing went on. So naturally the Christians wanted to get away from that, so they separated from it and then in the 40s came out, and Billy Graham, his life span actually corresponds nicely, church history wise, because in 1947 he had his first crusade in Houston, Texas, and that’s how he started, so his life has basically spanned that period of history.
Here we are fifty years later, and what have we produced? We are producing in some areas, I’m not saying this. Christian music has done some things, but we haven’t had any great art work, we haven’t really had a profound influence culturally in this country. We have done some in areas of science but that’s always covered up. For example, you hear about MRIs, what you don’t hear is that the guy that invented MRIs that are used throughout the medical community is a born again evangelical Christian, witnesses all over the place. He was almost fired twice for doing it. Of course, we like the MRIs but we don’t like the fact that the guy that designed that thing, had the whole idea for it, was a born-again believer.
The idea is that there can be an extreme form of separation that says I am holy, the world is sinful, and the only way I can retain my holiness is to stay out of it. So I withdraw, not technically to a monastery, but I’m a cultural dropout; I don’t participate.
The last paragraph on page 13 is how did Israel do it? When God called Abraham out and he finally got a nation started, did Solomon say we’re going to just stay inside Israel, and we’re going to leave those pagans alone. Remember I showed you a verse, where did he go to get the men to build his navy? To the pagans. Why did he go to the pagans? Because they had some good technology. Did Solomon have any problem utilizing the navigational tools that the Phoenicians built because they were unbelievers? No. The question is why didn’t he, why was he able to absorb ideas of non-Christian and yet not compromise his loyalty. Granted, there was compromise later on in some other areas, but I’m not talking about that now. I’m talking about just the technology of his architecture, technology of his navigation systems, how was he able to do that? Answer: because he had a belief that God the Creator was over all, and these non-Christians out there, these unbelievers, had to, whether they liked it or not, conform to the wisdom patterns in creation to produce anything.
So if Mr. Non-Christian, Mr. Unbeliever is successful doing something, farming, business or something else, and he’s able to do it, I’m going to pay attention to that. I don’t have to honor his unbelief, but I still have to say God made him, he’s living in God’s world, and the guy might have discovered things about my Father’s world that I haven’t seen yet. So I’m not going to be so proud that I’m a believer and I’m not going to touch the non-Christian. No, I’ll suck anything out of the non-Christian I want to, examine it and always filter the imports, always filter it through the grid of Scripture, but don’t be afraid of looking and seeing what the non-Christian are doing. They still are men created in God’s image.
On page 14 I give you some examples where this was done in history. “Christians at various times in Church history understood this lesson. In the Middle Ages they founded hospitals,” do you realize where the hospitals started. Did they have HMOs in the Middle Ages? Health plans? No. Who had the health plans in the Middle Ages? There were two groups of people, Jews because they had very good health laws, Jews didn’t get sick like most of the Gentiles because they had good kosher laws and they watched what they ate and they ate smartly and they used running water and washed their hands, and they had all the hygienic law codes of the Mosaic Law. So half of them didn’t get sick like most people that came out of European culture; our grandparents were dying of the black plague, they had rats in their food and all kinds of stuff.
Who started hospitals? Who started the idea of collecting sick people together? Do you suppose that came out of Islam? No. Hinduism? No. It came out of Christianity. Who were the nurses? It was many of the women in the church. Who was it in the black plague that stayed in the villages to help the people that were dying? Christians. That’s an interesting point of history; do you know what happened in the black plague? All the priests took off out of the villages and left the Christian laymen in charge and they didn’t have any Bible written in the language of the people, except Latin and they couldn’t read Latin, people couldn’t read Latin, and they had memorized the mass, so what do you suppose happened in the Middle Ages? There was a drive to translate the Bible into the language of the people. That came out of the black plague. Everybody thinks the black plague was one of the worst things; it was one of the things that God used to stimulate people to get into the Word of God. An interesting side note to history!
I cite this little quote by Rushdoony, look at the first sentence. “Unbelief does not give superior wisdom, nor does regeneration make men idiots in the affairs of the world, that we should turn the management of society over to unbelievers!” I think that’s a great quote. You don’t become an idiot when you become a Christian. The world thinks so, that’s all right, let them think that.
The second point in the view of biblical culture, “Biblical Culture Has a Unified View of Life.” Remember what we said about Solomon. He had his students who could think through botany, they could study geology, they could study navigation, they could go into any of the subjects and be thrilled by it. Do you know what I think is a problem in school, why kids are bored? I was one of those, I sat in a classroom as a non-Christian, there were a few subjects I liked, I kind of liked math, a little bit of science stuff and the rest of it, forget it. And the reason was because I couldn’t see any purpose in it. I distinctly remember in history and social studies, drill, drill, drill, we had to do ancient history, European history, we had to memorize all the dates, and you’d go home on Friday night and study for the test Monday morning and burp up all the dates and then forget them by Wednesday, there was a new set to go over the next weekend, and that was my picture of history, it was just a period of burped up dates. History was going nowhere, no lessons to learn, just remember the dates. That didn’t turn me on. I got interested in history when I became a Christian, and I realized that history is under His control. He has lessons for us in history. We’d better study it, we’d better get serious about this stuff, this isn’t just for the classroom, this is to teach us about our Father who rules history, so how can you be bored. You’ve got an infinite God playing a super neat chess game with man down through history. That is boring? Excuse me, I don’t think so.
It’s the idea that Scripture, God’s mind, is behind everything. So biblical culture will always look at life from a unified viewpoint. You can slip from music to art to technology to other things and not feel like you’re going from one world to another planet when you do that. Instead of the idea we have in our society, you’ve got to be a specialist over here, you’ve got to be a specialist over there, and you can know this and you know more and more about less and less until you know everything about nothing. This is specialization. That’s not biblical culture. Biblical culture doesn’t worship volumes of knowledge. What biblical culture looks for, and the pattern for it is to see God’s hand in it. But it is aggressive, it does go out in these other areas, and we have the Solomonic model. When you think of biblical culture don’t think of a monastery. That’s not the big idea. Think of what Solomon did, he was outgoing, he engaged the world in every area. That’s what sanctification should do.
The next point, here is why the judge in Alabama is upset, page 15, third point. “Biblical Culture Points to Future Victory. If growing loyalty to God always produces something of biblical culture and a unified view of all life under God, then final, complete loyalty to God” is going to do what? If partial obedience to God produces a partial biblical culture, what is full obedience to God going to produce? A total culture, a worldwide global culture under Christ’s return. [blank spot]
… decided he wasn’t going to do anything else but create music to go with the Word of God. And he produced this great piece of music in three weeks. Think of what creativity that was. Think of Bach every week writing a new piece of music for the worship service, not just playing and rehearsing a new piece, he wrote a new one, he composed a new piece of music every week. These are the creative geniuses, and they lived in a sinful world with painful bodies, they had their own sanctification problems. What do you suppose it’s going to look like when at last the evil is removed? The potential of creativity in man will be unleashed on a scope that will astound us. biblical culture points to that, the hunger that man is going to produce this.
I have a section on page 15 about Proverbs. If you read Proverbs you were probably aware that in the first nine chapters of Proverbs this “lady wisdom” shows up. It’s a female metaphor for wisdom, and you might have been puzzled over why wisdom is pictured as lady here. There’s two ladies, “lady folly” and “lady wisdom.” Why are these two characters, we’ll put them in quotes because they’re metaphorical. Why is wisdom looked upon as a female? It’s a major thing in Proverbs, you can’t escape it. It’s deliberately stuck in there, so we have to look and say wait a minute, what’s the female-ness of wisdom all about?
If you read that paragraph, what I show you is that if you go back in the Garden to Adam, Adam was given a calling from God. Then God created Eve as an ‘ezer, that is translated in our Bible as a helper or a helpmate, this is the English rendition of it. People read that and don’t look at it carefully. A helpmate to do what? What came first? Adam was told by God to subdue the earth, he had a calling, and he was alone. What’s the role of the ‘ezer? Now it starts to gel, because the calling of the human race cannot be done without this helper, the female. She’s always there; it can never be accomplished apart from her. She is the one who finishes it off. That’s why if you look in this section I give you Exodus quotes, several New Testament quotes where you see the same theme, the woman is the one who completes a culture. She is the one who finishes it off, she adorns it. The guy builds the house and who decorates it? A good illustration. The woman is essential or you can’t get the culture finished without her. That’s why wisdom is pictured as a lady, she is man’s helper. Wisdom has an analogous relationship; if you’re stupid and foolish you can’t build anything worthwhile. The Bible says you need wisdom like every man needs a woman. It’s absolutely essential.
Now we come down to a more profound statement, the last paragraph on page 15. What does the New Testament do? It extends the concept of wisdom and calls Jesus our wisdom. That’s another one of these little New Testament words that we read fast and never understand what Paul said, because Paul knows, if we asked him, Paul where do you mean by that? Well, did you read Proverbs recently, what’s the matter with you, open your Bible. He would have expected us to know that when he called Christ our wisdom he was calling Jesus Christ something very profound. He was identifying Jesus Christ with Proverbs 8, the wisdom that pre-existed the world. If you doubt that, the passages where he emphasizes Jesus as wisdom are exactly the passages where Jesus is the Creator and does everything by the Word of God, Colossians 1:30, Hebrews 1:1-3; 11:3, watch the context when Jesus is referred to as wisdom.
What is Jesus going to do? Is He going to come back? Yes He is. If He is the wisdom of God, what is He going to produce? He is going to produce a culture the likes of which history has never seen. The grandeur of Solomon is nothing of the grandeur of the Lord Jesus Christ. So let it never be said that the evangelical fundamental Bible-believing church squashes creativity and culture. If we do, we’re out of it, there’s something wrong with us if we don’t encourage these things. It’s maturity, it’s a slow maturing that people are feeling like now they can express themselves, they can release some of that creative energy and produce something. So culture is important.
On page 16, this is the problem the pagan has: every time biblical culture begins to grow you start a culture war. I predict that this is one of the things that’s going to blow up in our face and we might as well know it’s going to come, someday the pagans that run society are going to come down hard on this whole home-school movement. The reason is they can’t control it. It terrifies them to think that parents are instilling biblical values in their kids and they don’t control it. That is a terrifying thought. I’m not saying they’re bad people; hear me out what I’m saying. Let’s understand the psychology of what’s happening here. To do this let’s put ourselves in their position, or the position of any Christian, I’m not saying home schooling is the thing, this is just an issue. There are a lot of godly Christians trying to teach in the public schools, we ought to pray for them, what a mess they have to face every day. The reason is because the system is overwhelmingly against them. They can do lesson plans, culture, and pray for their kids and then they still have to work within this oppression that happens.
“Biblical culture to the unbelieving pagan, therefore, is a frightening thing. By having done on a small scale what God created man to do, biblical culture ‘reminds’ him of the foolishness of his rebellion. On his autonomous basis” he knows “he can never fulfill his proper place in history. Rebelling against wisdom in principle, he can never be fulfilled. He has no part in the final consummation of human civilization under the Son of Man. Every little piece of godly creativity reveals something of the underlying Wisdom in creation. Like Cain hated the righteous behavior of Abel, he hates the righteous testimony of biblical culture to God’s wisdom.” It will always engender opposition. Don’t be shocked when it happens, expect it. We’re not yet living in the kingdom of God.
“Such hatred is why pagan school teachers and college professors target for special ridicule and attack the Puritans. To keep students from discovering the Puritan contributions to biblical culture in the West, they portray Puritanism with Arthur Miller’s distorted presentation in his play, The Crucible. Students are thus kept from reading quality Puritan authors like John Milton and John Bunyan or the writings of the Puritan leaders in Massachusetts at the time of The Crucible.”
Here’s a test. Go down to Blockbusters sometime and pull out the video, The Crucible, and look at what the artist did with the cover. There’s this big thing about the nasty Puritans, and it says these guys burned people. Excuse me, they didn’t burn anybody. That was Geneva, Calvin, 1500s, you got the wrong century buddy, wrong continent, wrong language, wrong group and the wrong people, other than that the artist has a real accurate portrayal of what the Puritans did in Massachusetts. Do you know what they did to the witches? They drowned them. But here’s this artist, because he’s got this image that the bad, bad, nasty Puritans burned people, and there it is on Blockbuster’s little jacket on their video and it’s total historic imagery, absolutely a figment of the guy’s imagination. It never happened!
“Biblical culture is a counter-culture,” remember what I said, Solomon is an example, Israel is an example of a counterculture “that disrupts paganized civilization because it points to a different standard.” This is why we need to pray for those Christians out in the front lines today, whether it’s the Christian school teacher, a person like Martha Williamson trying to fight with CBS over Touched by an Angel, she needs some encouragement. Someone was telling me they interviewed Martha Williamson on Oprah and Oprah asked her point blank about the scripting that goes into that TV and they had Della Reese on, Della Reese is an outspoken Christian, and she just let them have it, but apparently Martha Williamson is much more reserved and she said, well after we write the script we always research it and carefully go through the Scripture. She has certain limits, you won’t see the gospel on there, you won’t see Jesus, but at least you’ll see something about God, good and evil on there. Yes, it’s elementary theology, it’s not the advanced gospel but give thanks that somebody can mention G-o-d without getting arrested. She’s done it. But people who are close to her say it didn’t come easy. CBS fought her for years about this program. Thank God Della Reese says that God led her to make a ten-year program, so that program is going on for ten years whether CBS likes it or not. That’s what Della Reese does; she’s not embarrassed about it. She’s a forthright believer, and she’s not going to back up because CBS doesn’t like it.
That’s what I’m talking about here, those are the people, they know they’re going to be hit, they know they’re going to be ridiculed, they know they’re going to be opposed but they go on anyway, so what, we’re on the winning side. The rest of these people that are attacking us are all losers, in a real serious way. They are cosmic and historic losers, so why should I be intimidated by losers.
Next point, “Biblical Culture Expresses Mature Adoration of God.” When we started the class we said that depth produces breadth, a deep relationship with the Lord will always spill over and form some sort of culture. When you have a lot of biblical culture, like you had in Solomon’s day, what was 1 Kings 8 all about? Worship! The grandeur of a biblical culture will focus on God. It will promote worship. Worship will be easy in a Bible-friendly culture. There will be stimuli sown all over the place for worship of God. You don’t have to be embarrassed; you don’t have to apologize for praying somewhere. That’s the mark of a biblical culture.
At the bottom of page 16 note those references, Isaiah 11:9, in the kingdom to come notice what the earth is filled with. There’s a prophetic passage in Isaiah that the coming kingdom “will be filled with ‘the knowledge of Yahweh.’ ” There’s the culture.
There’s a concluding point of warning that we have to note because of Solomon and his era. We can’t get arrogant. There are those in our circles who we will call the triumphalists; these are post-millennial people who argue that the church is going to bring in the kingdom, and then after the church brings in the kingdom, then Jesus will return, we will triumph. Talk about the liberals and the pagans being fearful, these people sound like Khomeni because they not only have said that, many of them, several of their spokesman have said they’re going to implement the Mosaic Law Code and they will have capital punishment by stoning. If you think that this creates a little controversy…. We’re not that kind of people so just relax. There are limits to biblical culture right now. Think about it. Why did Solomon’s golden era not last? What happened? What went wrong in Solomon’s time? From Solomon on down. He defected from his personal walk with the Lord, and just as the culture doesn’t start until I walk with the Lord long enough to get the tools to make a culture, if I’m making the culture and I depart from the Lord the culture falls back again, it deteriorates, it decays, it rots.
We have seen what used to be a semi-Christian culture in this country rot, right in front of our face. I’m afraid to say that a lot of it was because back in the 19th and early 20th centuries the church lost its moorings. We lost everything in the 20s and 30s, can’t believe the wreckage that happened, so we became very weak and the culture collapsed. What does this mean?
If you look at the next to last paragraph on page 17, “It dies when that loyalty wanes.” We’re going to watch that happen and there’s a parallel with what we’ve already studied in the conquest of the land. Judges 2:1-5 and verses 20-23, that was when the Lord said you guys, I gave you the land, you could have conquered it all, but what did you do? You went your own way; now I’m telling you something, I’m not going to let you conquer the land. And those outer limits of the land offered to Joshua have never been reached… never been reached, never were reached in the Old Testament. They still await the Messiah to extend that boundary because it won’t be extended until the leadership is godly.
It’s the same thing in culture. “A lasting biblical culture awaits the Messiah as David’s greater Son just as the conquest awaits Him.” There’s got to be a strong sanctification or there can’t be a biblical culture. So we can make progress but we always have to realize that today, or in any time between the First and Second Advent, if you draw a graph, summarizing what we said here. If you draw a graph it’s like we have two limits, and the culture fluctuates in godliness between these two boundaries. The upper boundary is the fact that who remains as the god of this world? It’s Satan, even in Jesus day. So the culture can get so far, but there’s a lid, so to speak, on it. On the other hand, there’s a bottom, society can’t get totally bad either. Why is that? God’s restraining grace, which is not going to be removed until the Tribulation.
So as long as the restraining grace of God is not removed, society will never become 100% pagan, no matter how crummy it is, there will always be something some where with the truth in it. Eventually in the Tribulation when that restraint is pulled off, then you have demonic influence galore. But today God has worked it out so that one area of the world may be demonic, may be oppressive, may be anti-Christian, then there’ll be another place in the world that will be open to the gospel, then there’ll be another place that’s closed, another place that’s open, another place that’s closed, etc. It’s a little game of chess that’s going on.
In our time, what’s happening in America? We had freedom, but when you start to see lawsuits that are settled the way that one was is Alabama, that’s scary because that creates court precedents that will be cited by other rulings. That’s why one of the things you can pray for is some of the Christian attorneys that are going to bat. There are some very, very serious judicial questions going on today and they hinge on the ultimate standard of who makes the standard. This episode with the judge who can’t have the Ten Commandments in his courtroom, think about it, good night, isn’t that stupid. What is the basis for law? Subtract the Ten Commandments and what do you have left as the basis for law? Do you know what you have left? Arbitrary political might, that’s all you’ve got left: might makes right. If you don’t like that, you’ve got to have an ethical basis for law. Where do you get that from? God, and His Word, the Ten Commandments. So if you take that away you’re going to have this left.
We’ve concluded with Solomon, we’re going to start moving into the rest of Kings, and we’re going to watch how God disciplines His people. So this is not a pleasant period of history but it’s a period of history from which we can learn. God really wallops His own; there’s some very serious discipline that goes on. There’s great grace but there’s also great discipline and after five or six more weeks you’ll wonder, “Where’s the light at the end of the tunnel?” Exactly at that point is when we emerge into prophecy, because the Old Testament, at that point who arises but prophets like Jeremiah, Isaiah, and what are they saying? There is light at the end of the tunnel but it’s not going to be by this group, the group of believers that are doing this that are failing miserably, it’s going to have to come from outside, there’s going to have to be something else happen, and that’s the movement we’re going to see.
Question asked: Clough replies: That’s where Solomon got in trouble in the sense that royal intermarriages worked to keep peace in the world system, so Solomon saw that and he said hey, that’s a great idea, I’ll marry a couple of women and solidify these relationships. And he made the wrong inference, just because it worked didn’t mean it was right. I didn’t intend to imply that, it was just that where things do work we want to pay attention to see if, in fact, it is okay. You’re talking about things like hypnosis, there have been questions about acupuncture, there’s a great deal of emphasis on vegetarian diets and that sort of thing. Some of these have positive things about them, and I think the only safe way to proceed is to be sure that you can worship the Lord Jesus Christ aggressively in the midst of it. It’s kind of like a spiritual litmus test, and I think we are challenged today by these kinds of things.
We’ve got some scary things going on with the genetic engineering. It’s true, my boy works with it at Johns Hopkins, they can do neat things in the DNA to try to track things down. For example, my son’s been two or three years working with the syndrome that’s afflicted families for generations where there’s deformities and they’re trying to find out what is it, how does this get started, where is it going. So there’s a bona fide truth that there’s design in here, and there’s the effect of the fall on the human gene, so you want to deal with that, but then it’s scary because now there’s all kinds of ethical questions that arise. If I can map your gene, and I’m a health insurance company, what am I going to do to your premium? Do we all get our premiums set by our gene map? You could be born into a family with a bad gene and all of a sudden you have a health insurance premium you can’t afford. That may be a totally wrong inference because it may not be, we may have a genetic disposition toward something but that doesn’t mean that we’re destined to it, that we’re locked into it. There’s that question also.
There are all kinds of things and I think that it’s going to challenge us to get into the Word as much as we possibly can and I think the Old Testament is important because the Old Testament touches a lot of culture that the New Testament doesn’t. The New Testament assumes that you know the Old Testament. I think, for example, in hypnosis and those sorts of things, the Bible tells us that there is such a passivity that goes on, and this acts like a vacuum cleaner to suck up any demonic influences that are in the environment. Questions have to be asked about why do I need hypnosis anyway, is that the only thing that can work here. I don’t know that much about it because I haven’t studied much about hypnosis so I’m not particularly skilled to say anything about that. But I would surround it with as much of the Scripture as I could and trust that the Lord will illuminate me in this situation. I’m actively seeking His will, I’m not trying to close Him off, and that’s where we have to keep our prayer channels clean, that God will guide us, and that if this isn’t of Him then He’ll make it clear. We have to walk by faith, and to walk by faith I have to know what I’m doing, and if I don’t know what I’m doing then I shouldn’t be doing it. So I think the protection of getting involved in this or getting involved in that is if you can’t walk by faith then don’t do it.
It may be right, but I think the model in the New Testament is how Paul handled the problem of eating meat. Eating meat wasn’t wrong, but there were Christians in the Corinthian church and there were Christians in Rome who had come out of paganism; they knew what was going on. The people that had the best T-bone steaks in the city were the pagan temples, prostitution went on there, demonic worship went on there, the meats were dedicated to the gods and goddesses, but it was good meat. So Paul’s answer was, objectively speaking there’s no problem with that meat, we don’t care whether it’s dedicated to Satan, the meat is good, God made it. But he says, if you can’t eat that meat without this feeling inside when your conscience [says] you’d better not do that, you’d better not do that, you’d better not do that, respect your conscience, because if you run over your conscience, even if it’s Christians who are right in the Word, they’re just maybe more advanced in that area, they’ve solidified their position and you haven’t, and you can’t allow Christian peer pressure to override your own personal conscience. If your conscience says no, you don’t do it, and the Christians have no business pushing you to do something that your conscience doesn’t approve of.
That’s why we all have to be gracious inside the body not to do that. That’s what Paul’s saying, “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” So he solved that problem and he did it gently. There’s not any sin connected with it whatsoever, the sin would come in if you couldn’t walk by faith. So the only way I can thrash out those kinds of things is to thrash them out in my heart and mind through the Word, and through becoming more acquainted with the facts of the case, praying about it, but meditating upon it in the light of the content of Scripture. The Mosaic Law Code has a lot of good helps in it, and most Christians don’t even read the Old Testament. We have New Testament Christians walking around, it makes your Bible small, it’s lighter to carry around, but it doesn’t give you the content.