Smile... The Future's On Its Way
by C.J. Horn
Whose In Charge Here?: A Perspective on Authority
The first thing the woman of Samaria did after she met Jesus at the well, was go back to her neighborhood and say, "Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ" (John 4:29). When the people met Jesus for themselves, they said to her, "Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard Him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world" (John 4:42).
The above verses impacted me one day as I heard the voices of our children playing outdoors. My hearts' desire was that my children would believe, not because of what I said about Jesus, but because they would "hear Him" themselves. I bowed my head and prayed they would have their own personal faith in God. It was just a few moments later when our daughter came in the door carrying a flower. She held it up to me and said, "Mommy, look what God made!"
The Faith of Children
The first faith of small children is often kindled through the world around them. Apart from the love given by parents, I believe the most tangible evidence a child has that there is a God comes from things he can touch and examine. That is why it is so important that a child be taught that the world around him is a result of the creative acts of an intelligent, personal God. Believing in the Creator establishes the foundation for many of life's important issues.
Psalm 24 and The Ownership Clause
The Earth is the Lords, and the fullness thereof;
The world, and they that dwell therein.
For He hath founded it upon the seas, and
Established it upon the floods. Psalm 24:1,2
The Word of God claims "the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof; the world and they that dwell therein. For He hath founded it upon the seas and established it upon the floods" (Psalm 24:1,2). "Earth" means the habitable part of our world as we know it today. It is the "dry land" that God called "earth" in Chapter One of Genesis. It is also the word that God uses in Genesis 1:1 when He says: "IN THE BEGINNING, GOD CREATED THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH." "Earth" in Genesis 1:1 means all that God created from which to build our physical universe, including "terra firmae." "Earth" in Psalm 24 is that habitable part of the world upon which we firmly plant our feet.
Other verses in Scripture reiterate this "ownership clause" in Psalm 24: "...for all the EARTH is mine" (Exodus 19:5); "know how that the EARTH is the Lord's" (Exodus 9:29). Psalm 24:1 continues with "the fullness thereof." If there is any doubt in one's mind as to the truth of who owns the earth, God doubles the emphasis by adding a word that many other times in the Bible is translated "all that is therein." In essence, Psalm 24:1 says, "The whole earth is the Lord's and all the parts that make up the whole!"
The next phrase, "the world and they that dwell therein," calls particular attention to the earth's inhabitants. In fact, in the original Hebrew, the word "world" in this verse actually means the "habitable part." "They that dwell therein" is a straight-forward statement about this earth's inhabitants, as if God wanted there to be no doubt in anyone's mind that He is saying that everything and everybody is His!
Upon what is Psalm 24's "Ownership Clause" based? God gives us the foundation of His claim in the 2nd verse of Psalm 24: "For He hath founded it..." (Vs 24:2). He claims ownership and then tells us that He has the right to do so, because He has "founded" the earth. Elsewhere in the scriptures, "founded" is translated "ordain" or "foundation" and it means to settle or establish. God has "established the earth forever" (Psalm 78:69) -- He has "laid the foundation of the earth" (Psalm 102:25). Another verse where God uses this phrase is Psalm 89:11: "The heavens are thine, the earth also is thine: as for the world and the fullness thereof, thou hast founded them."
"House Rules" Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord?
Or Who shall stand in His holy place?
He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart;
Who hath not lifted up His soul unto vanity,
Nor sworn deceitfully. Psalm 24:3,4
After Psalm 24 establishes the ownership clause, it seems to switch subject to another, going to the above questions. Why does God ask this particular question at this particular place in the Scripture? Better yet, ask what gives Him the right to ask the above question or to make these rules? In His wisdom, He prefaced the rules about who can stand in His presence with the "Ownership Clause" of Psalm 24:1,2. God's position as Creator and Owner of all gives Him the right to make the rules! God the Creator He says He is... or do parents bend to what is presently called "science?" I won't pretend to present an exhaustive argument on the creation/evolution controversy, but would like to say a few words about the subject and then direct the reader to the numerous materials available through the Institute for Creation Research (P.O. Box 2667, El Cajon, CA 92021; website ) for thoroughly researched, difinitive information on the creation/evolution issue.
Creation or Evolution?
Modern day evolutionary science has been equated with what is "natural" and therefore, by definition, has excluded the supernatural. However, let's take a moment to think about true science and define it as it should be that which can be known or observed or repeated...or even falsified! Given this definition, is either theory (creation or evolution) truly "scientific"?
Evolutionary theory is built upon the premise that one kind of living creature has gradually changed into another. If the scientific method is applied to this theory, then one would expect to see creatures gradually changing into other creatures. Evolutionary scientists say evolution cannot be observed, however, because it is happening so slowly there is not enough time in any one lifetime, or several lifetimes, to observe it. Therefore, evolutionary scientists have developed an intricately woven time line, stretching over billions of years. This seeming infinite time table is necessary if evolution is chosen as a fact.
However, for argument's sake, let's say that evolution cannot be observed because it happens too slowly. If that is the case, one would expect to find at least one true example of evolution occurring at some time in the past. The fossil record (a record of creatures who lived in the past, some now extinct) is used to convince school children there are gradual steps in evolution. Pictures are shown of fossilized remains that supposedly are evidence evolution has occurred. These fossils in reality represent nothing more or nothing less than the representation of a creature that experienced the kind of conditions at death necessary to produce a fossil (i.e. heat, rapid burial, etc.) Why cannot ONE fossilized remain be found of a creature who exhibited just ONE of the steps necessary for a living organism to change into another? Long names are assigned to various fossil remains (i.e. Archaeopteryx). These extinct creatures are presented as true examples of evolution. The truth is, such creatures were created by God during the creation week in the same form they are found today in the fossil record. There are animals alive today that present a mosaic of characteristics spanning man-made classifications, (for instance the platypus), but these creatures are not evidence of evolution. They are and always will be what God created them to be!
Why All this Fuss?
Is it important to settle the question whether or not God is the Creator? If one is in doubt about the question of origins and chooses to ride the fence between creation and evolution, one is faced with some inevitable consequences. First, refusing to take a stand on the origin of the universe leaves one with a God who is compelled to cooperate with some uncertain "course of nature," or with a God who is part of some unknown naturalistic "committee." Secondly, if one's God is not the author and owner of all, room must be made for someone or something else to make the rules for life and practice. That's why it is very important to settle the question of origins.
Who Shall Stand?
"He that hath clean hands,
And a pure heart;
Who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity,
Nor sworn deceitfully."
If one chooses to believe that God is the Creator, then one must then take a serious look at Psalm 24:3 and 4. What is the question really asking? What do these requirements mean?
The ownership clause of Psalm 24 has been prefaced with Psalms 22 & 23. In Psalm 22, we see a vivid description of the suffering of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?" (Psalm 22:1). The Psalm resolves in the words of our Lord to the heavenly Father "thou hast heard me..."(Psalm 22:21).
Psalm 23, one of the most memorized, and possibly best-loved portions of Scripture, describes in shepherd's terminology the relationship that Jesus Christ' purchased for us in those hours of agony at Golgotha. Then Psalm 24 begins with a straight forward ownership clause: "The earth is the Lords and the fullness thereof...". The point is Jesus Christ is the Creator (as stated in Colossians 2. "For by Him (the Son) were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: ALL THINGS WERE CREATED BY HIM, " (2:16,17).
He is also the redeemer of Psalm 22, and the One who provides for us as the Great Shepherd of Psalm 23, "For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls" (I Peter 2:25). He is the one who speaks in Psalm 24. Revelation 5 speaks of the "title deed" to the earth and the Lamb, who alone is "worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for (He) wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;" (Revelation 5:6,9). It is Jesus who is undisputed owner of the earth because He is Creator, and because He redeemed the earth and us from sin.
Based on what the Bible teaches, Jesus is the One who asks the questions in Psalm 24, and who also provides the answer.
Standing with Clean Hands
Let's take the qualifications one at a time. What are "clean hands"? When we look at the New Testament to find "clean," the first usage we see of this term is in Matthew 8:2: "And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean." This word in the Greek is "katharizo" (katharidzo), from the word "katharos." The Septuagint (Old Testament in Greek) uses the term "katharos" in Psalm 24, speaking of "clean" hands. The source of Biblical "cleanliness" is Jesus Christ. The same Hebrew word translated clean in Psalm 24 is also translated "innocent" elsewhere in Scripture. The majority of the uses of "innocent" are used in the context of "innocent blood." The following account in the New Testament gives us this perspective: "Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood..." Matthew 27:3,4
It would be safe to say that Jesus again is the only One who fulfills the requirement of innocence. In fact, the whole concept of "clean" in this verse is that of being blameless, guiltless, or without sin. After Jesus knelt and drew on the ground next to the woman who was taken in adultery, he said to her accusers, "...he that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her" (John 8:7). Every man left without throwing a stone. In contrast, it is said of Jesus: "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15).
Standing with a Pure Heart
What about the fact that only the one with a pure heart will stand in God's presence? Jesus said in Matthew 5:8 "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God," and then He also says in John 1:18 "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him." When Matthew spoke of the "pure in heart" -- the word He used for "pure" in the original Greek is the same word "katharos" translated "clean" when the lepers asked Jesus to make them "clean." In order to stand in God's presence, the heart must be as pure as the hands are clean.
Never Swearing Deceitfully
The next requirement in Psalm 24 is having not "sworn deceitfully." Taking an oath, or Biblical "swearing" is a very serious matter. Swearing, in its Biblical sense, was to "seven" oneself, as if a declaration were to be repeated seven times. Given the idea of "seven" in Scripture, this meant that something was declared to its fullest intent. To swear "deceitfully" would be the most devastating type of lying.
One good example of this type of deceit is found in the 34th chapter of Genesis. Dinah, one of the children of Israel, was raped by Shechem of the Hivites. The man who had taken Dinah by force wanted to marry her. Her brothers deceived Shechem's people by telling them they would only consent to the marriage if he and every male in their tribe was circumcised. The morning after the circumcision, when every man had been disabled by the same, Dinah's brothers slaughtered the tribe.
Although one is appalled by such behavior, the Old Testament stories are given us "for our admonition" (I Corinthians 10:11) to show us the things of which we are all capable, apart from the grace of God. One may try to say he has never "sworn deceitfully," but John said "if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves" and "make Him a liar" (I John 1:8,10).
Jesus is the only one of whom God said there was never "any guile (deceit) found in His mouth (I Peter 2:22). Jesus has never "sworn deceitfully." Isaiah 53:9 And He made His grave with the wicked, and with the rich in His death; because He had done no violence, neither was any deceit in His mouth.
But the truth about us is "the scripture hath concluded all under sin" (Galatians 3:22) that "all the world may become guilty before God" (Romans 3:19). That seems unjust, unless one knows that God did not leave us in this state. John says "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9). He sent His Son to be the One righteous sacrifice and we are found holy and righteous in HIM. (II Corinthians 5:21).
Lifting The Soul Unto Vanity
With all of the above, we finally come to the final requirement which is the key to making all of Christ's righteousness our own: He that has not "lifted up His soul unto vanity" will stand in God's presence. Not "lifting up the soul to vanity" is the key to standing in God's presence and clothed with the righteousness of the One who alone meets the requirements to stand there. Satan's heart was "lifted up because of his beauty" (Ezekiel 28:17), Nebuchadnezzar's heart was lifted up because of his riches and kingdom (Daniel 5).
When anyone lifts up his soul to anything besides the Lord, he is lost. Psalm 24 asks the question, "Who shall ascend to thy holy hill" and ends with a graphic portrayal of a triumphal entry: "Lift up your gates ye everlasting doors and the King of Glory shall come in!" Jesus is the very first one who entered into the presence of the Lord as the firstfruits (I Corinthians 15:20; James 1:18) after He purchased our salvation, and we can enter God's presence, not on our own, but through Jesus Christ' righteousness. The final verses of Psalm 24 may, in fact, picture His triumphal entry into the presence of God, following His resurrection from the dead. He is the King of Glory and when He entered the holy of holies with His own blood, our salvation was complete for all eternity. The adjectives that describe Him at his entry (strong and mighty, mighty in battle) depict our Lord as the victor in the greatest battle ever fought -- that which eliminated death forever!
Parenting and God's Presence
What does the presence of God have to do with parenting? For us it has everything to do with our goal as parents. Our third and youngest child was stillborn. Many of the events of that time made his death especially tragic for us. But out of the depths of that tragedy grew a deep-seated conviction about the ultimate aim we have for our children. Psalm 16:11 says it best: "In Thy presence is fullness of joy."
Believers have been given an entrance into the presence of God through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We can come "boldly unto the throne of grace" and that is true joy. Yet, while we are in this body, "we ourselves groan (agonize) within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body" (Romans 8:23). When we finally "graduate" into the presence of God, as our little boy did, there is no more parting.
This is why I want to know what God requires in order to be in HIS presence. This is why I want my children to believe in the God of the Scripture, who sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to die for their sins and purchase with His own blood an entrance into God's presence for eternity. I want them to believe for themselves, educated and grounded in truth, with their own home built upon the solid rock of the truth of God's word.