How Should We Then Live?

Bible Book: 3 John  1 : 4
Subject: Christian Living

Dr. Francis A. Schaeffer (1912-1984) wrote a monumental work in the 1970s titled How Should We Then Live? The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture. I remember seeing the film documentary soon after they released it.

John writes to Gaius in 3 John verse 4, “For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”

Scholars define wisdom as “the skill of living”. We could call our overall philosophy of life a “worldview”. This is the way we approach life with its promise and problems.

Maybe you remember hearing a three-point sermon and poem about problems. Here it is.
I. You've got'em.
II. I've got'em.
III. We've all got'em.
Poem--Adam had'em.

While it is easy to state the problem, discovering biblical solutions for life can be challenging. Dr. Vance Havner (1901-1986) explains, “Jesus did not lay down minute rules to cover every little problem. Had he done that He would soon have been out of date.” Therefore, it is necessary to wade through issues related to trends, traditions, and truth.

I. Hold trends lightly.

Be aware of trends as you become aware of statistics. It is one thing to be aware of statistics; it is another thing to become one. Dean William R. Inge (1860-1954) quipped, “Whoever marries the spirit of this age will find himself a widower in the next.”

Beware of becoming trendy. To be trendy means what is in style for the moment, or in accord with the latest fad or fashion.

We read a curious phrase in 1 Corinthians 7:31, “For the form of this world is passing away.” Trends are passing not permanent. To be “in” one day you can be “out” the next day. Remember the word “contemporary” minus the prefix is “temporary”.

As believers in Jesus Christ, we should actually be trend setters in society. The pages of history reveal the wonderful trends that come due to the influence of biblical Christianity.

James Russell Lowell (1819-1891), the great literary genius who was one-time U.S. minister-ambassador to Great Britain, was once at a banquet where the Christian faith (the mission enterprise, in particular) was being attacked by scoffers. He spoke up and said, "I challenge any skeptic to find a ten square mile spot on this planet where they can live their lives in peace and safety and decency, where womanhood Is honored, where infancy and old age are revered, where they can educate their children, where the Gospel of Jesus Christ has not gone first to prepare the way. If they find such a place, then I would encourage them to emigrate thither and there proclaim their unbelief."

Trends can be negative or positive. For example, genuine revival reverses negative trends and starts positive trends. In fact, if negative trends are not reversed, I doubt it is genuine revival.

II. Hold traditions rightly.

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary a “tradition” is “an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior (as a religious practice or a social custom).”[1]

In a WorldNetDaily® column titled “America’s Amnesia”, Dr. Walter E. Williams cited the following from Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. (1917-2007), "For history is to the nation rather as memory is to the individual. As an individual deprived of memory becomes disoriented and lost, not knowing where he has been or where he is going, so a nation denied a conception of its past will be disabled with its present and its future."[2]

Some traditions are good and some are not. Paul the Apostle writes in 2 Thessalonians 2:15, “Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle.” Later in the same epistle, Paul writes, “But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you” (2 Thessalonians 3:6-7).

Some can genuinely testify, "Faith of our fathers, holy faith! We will be true to thee till death!” We read in Jude 3 and 4, “Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.” Some might consider “the faith once delivered” a tradition, as they might the Lord’s Supper and Believer’s Baptism.

From Mark 7:6-13, “He answered and said to them, ‘Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, / But their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, / Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men—the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.’ He said to them, ‘All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition. For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ But you say, ‘If a man says to his father or mother, ‘Whatever profit you might have received from me is Corban’—’ (that is, a gift to God), then you no longer let him do anything for his father or his mother, making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.” From Matthew 15:6b we read, “Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition.”

III. Hold truth tightly.

Dr. D. James Kennedy (1930-2007) shares the following in Character & Destiny: A Nation In Search of Its Soul, “As [Dr.] Allan Bloom [1930-1992] has said, even if today’s high school and university students haven’t learned anything else in twelve years of school, the one thing that has been impressed upon their minds with indelible pressure is, ‘All truth is relative, and there are no absolutes.’ I heard about one student who may not have quite gotten the message. When the professor said, ‘We can know nothing for certain,’ the young man raised his hand asked, ‘Professor, are you sure of that?’ and the teacher answered, ‘I’m certain.’ Now, that may be a joke, but it actually points out the underlying inconsistency and contradiction of this whole concept. To say that there are no absolutes is a contradiction in terms because the statement itself is an absolute statement. And to say there absolutely are no absolutes, by the principles of the most basic logic, is self-contradictory.”[3]

We read in Psalm 11:3, "If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?"

Dr. Henry M. Morris (1918-2006), scientist and founder of the Institute for Creation Research, states, "The spiritual battle rages primarily now in the minds of men, who must decide between 'the counsel of the ungodly' and 'the law of the Lord' ([Psalm 1] verses 1 and 2), but this decision of the mind and will has all manner of consequences in life and character.

The counsel of the ungodly is nothing less than the philosophy of the natural man who seeks to understand his existence and control his destiny without regard to God. It is man-centered rather than God-centered, humanistic rather than theistic, based on the myth of evolution instead of the fact of creation. Standing in stark contrast is the infinite Word of God, revealing the Lord as sovereign Creator and Judge, and man as hopelessly lost without God's salvation."[4]

We have heard the statement, “All truth is God’s truth.” While that statement may be true, we must be careful lest it mislead us. In a well-meaning attempt to show there is no contradiction between science and the Bible, some unwittingly place science on the same level as Scripture. Dr. D. James Kennedy explains, “But please make the essential distinction between these two forms of knowledge. One—the process of discovery—is changeable, expandable, and it is infinitely variable. The other—divine revelation—is perfect, unchangeable, and infinitely reliable. Relativity applies only to discovery and scientific knowledge. Ethics, morals, and religion come through revelation, and we have been given this revelation from Christ.”[5] John writes, “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free’” (John 8:31-32). This truth is real to God’s children, revealed by God’s Spirit, and recorded in God’s Word.

Jesus prayed to the Father, “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:17).

Paul the Apostle writes in 1 Timothy 2:1-7, “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle—I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying—a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.”

Dr. Peter Marshall (1902-1949), former chaplain of the United States Senate, once explained when the apostles preached the Gospel there were either riots or regeneration. Dr. D. James Kennedy adds, “In our time, we generally get a pat on the hand and, ‘Nice sermon, pastor,’ and that’s about all. But the Scripture says that if we are really standing for the truth, and if we are convicting men of sin and their need of repentance, then we are going to be persecuted. . . . In this world of moral relativism, it is risky business to believe in Jesus Christ.”[6] Paul the Apostle writes, “Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).

We read about irresponsible spiritual leaders in Isaiah 56:10-12, “His watchmen are blind, / They are all ignorant; / They are all dumb dogs, / They cannot bark; / Sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. Yes, they are greedy dogs / Which never have enough. And they are shepherds / Who cannot understand; / They all look to their own way, / Every one for his own gain, / From his own territory. ‘Come,’ one says, ‘I will bring wine, / And we will fill ourselves with intoxicating drink; / Tomorrow will be as today, / And much more abundant.’”

Paul writes to Timothy, his son in the ministry, “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Timothy 4:1-5).


Dr. Henry M. Morris explains, "Biblical Christianity is absolutely unique in the nature of its central personage and founder, Jesus Christ. There is none other like Him in all history or even in all literature. Some writers, of course, presume to place Christ as merely one in a list of great religious leaders, but this is absurd. He stands in contrast to all others, not in line with them, not even at the head of the line."[7]

Jesus Christ shares the following comforting words with His crestfallen followers in John 14:1-6, where we read, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.’ Thomas said to Him, ‘Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’”

British preacher, F. W. Robertson (1816-1853) once said, “Truth lies in character. Christ did not simply speak the truth; He was Truth—Truth through and through, for truth is a thing not of words but a life and being.”

Only under the Lordship of Jesus Christ can we properly answer the question, “How should we then live?”

[1]Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Available from: Accessed: 06/21/11

[2]Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., The Disuniting of America (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1998), pp. 51-52

[3]D. James Kennedy with Jim Nelson Black, Character & Destiny: A Nation In Search of Its Soul (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1994), p. 158

[4]Henry M. Morris, Sampling the Psalms: A Scientific & Devotional Study of Selected Psalms (San Diego, CA: Master Books, 1996), pp. 17-18

[5]D. James Kennedy with Jim Nelson Black, Character & Destiny: A Nation In Search of Its Soul (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1994), pp. 156-157

[6]D. James Kennedy with Jim Nelson Black, Character & Destiny: A Nation In Search of Its Soul (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1994), p. 160

[7]Henry M. Morris, Many Infallible Proofs (El Cajon, CA: Creation-Life Publishers, Inc., 1974), p. 20

By Dr. Franklin L. Kirksey, pastor First Baptist Church of Spanish Fort 30775 Jay Drive Spanish Fort, Alabama 36527
Author of Sound Biblical Preaching: Giving the Bible a Voice Available on and / / (251) 626-6210
© July 24, 2011 All Rights Reserved