Before His crucifixion Jesus prayed, "Now I come to You, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have My joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given then Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth." John 17:13-17.
There are three particulars in this prayer: (a) Jesus wants His disciples to be filled with His joy, revealing that Christians should be joyful. But (b) they are not of the world, just as He is not of the world, meaning that their joy does not come from the world. (c) their joy is closely related to sanctification, for God sanctifies them with His truth. Here Christ reveals that our highest joy springs from the truth, which is the word of God. But how many Christians partake of what Christ calls "My joy"? He says, "They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world." Yet He does not want them to be taken out of the world. Why? Because He wants more people to have His joy.
1) What is the difference between Jesus' joy and the fun that people have in the world? Can modern Christians say they are not of the world, just as Christ is not of the world?
Answer: Here we recall what Jesus said, "You must be born again." John 3:31-34 says, "He who comes from above is above all, and what He has seen and heard, that He testifies, and no one receives His testimony. . . For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure." The joy of Jesus is heavenly, the fun of the world is earthly, with a vast difference between.
2) Jesus did not want us to be taken out of the world, and yet said that we are not of the world. How do you harmonize that?
Answer: There is a seeming contradiction. Yet His example teaches us to see harmony in it. He says, "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." Matt 6:33. Always place the things of God first, just like the words of Jesus: "Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?" Luke 2:49. He was only 12 years old on His first visit to the Temple with His parents when He spoke these words. "Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth , and was subject to them." This was in accord with the teaching of Eph. 6:1-3, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 'Honor your father and mother,' which is the first commandment with promise: 'that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.'" Eph 6:4 continues with words to parents: "And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admon-ition of the Lord." "And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart; you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up." Deut. 6:6,7.
3) What does the Bible say to factory workers, public servants or clerks standing at a store counter?
Answer: Eph 6:5 says, "Servants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with good will doing service as to the Lord, and not to men."
4) What does the Bible teach on business rules and the relations between employers and workers, creditors and debtors?
Answer: Lev 19:35,36 says, "You shall do no injustice in judgment, in measurement of length, weight or volume. You shall have just balances, just weights, a just ephah, and a just hin: I am the Lord your God." "You shall not defraud your neighbor, nor rob him. The wages of him who is hired shall not remain with you all night until morning." Deut. 24:14,15 says: "You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether one of your brethren or one of the aliens who is in your land within your gates. Each day you shall give him his wages, and not let the sun go down on it, for he is poor and has set his heart on it; lest he cry out against you to the Lord, and it be sin to you." James 5:1-6 says, "Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you! Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have heaped up treasure in the last days. Indeed the wages of the laborers who have mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out, and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the lord of Sabaoth. You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter. You have condemned, you have murdered the just; he does not resist you."
5) What does the Bible teach about a Christian's attitude toward governing authorities?
Answer: Rom 13:1-7 says: "Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment upon themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God's minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience' sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God's ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor." Once people asked Jesus, "Is it lawful to pay taxes to Ceasar?" He said, "Show Me the tax money." So they brought Him a denarius. And He said to them, "Whose image and inscription is this?" They said, "Caesar's." And He said to them, "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's." (Matt 22:15-22)
6) Are tyrants who disobey God also recognized as ministers of God?
Answer: 1 Kgs 11:9-11 says, "So the Lord became angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned from the Lord God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice, and had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods; but he did not keep what the Lord had commanded. Therefore the Lord said to Solomon, 'Because you have done this, and have not kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to your servant.'"
Dan 4:29-37 tells how Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon became proud and was taught a lesson by God: "At the end of the twelve months he was walking about the royal palace of Babylon The king spoke, saying, 'Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?' While the word was still in the king's mouth, a voice fell from heaven: 'King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: the kingdom has departed from you! And they shall drive you from men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. They shall make you eat grass like oxen; and seven times shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.' That very hour the word was fulfilled concerning Nebuchadnezzar; he was driven from men and ate grass like oxen; his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair had grown like eagles' feathers and his nails like birds' claws."
This story brings out the truth that man has no control over his own brain. When God lets a man go crazy, he cannot say, "I don't want to go crazy." Once his brain stops working, he becomes a beast. After Nebuchadnezzar recovered, he said, "And at the end of the time ---I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever: For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom is from generation to generation."
7) Daniel recorded this story to show that the world situation is entirely in God's control, am I right?
Answer: Yes, the Bible very early applied the term of "iniquity is complete" to nations of the world. Gen. 15:16 says, "But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete." Here "they" refers to children of Abraham. They must wait until the fourth genera-tion before they can take the land of the Amorites, for then the iniquity of the Amorites would be complete. Acts 17:26 says, "And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings."
Nebuchadnezzar lived in the height of Babylonian power. His descendant Belshazzar did not learn from the past. He "made a great feast for a thousand of his lords, and drank wine in the presence of the thousand . . .and gave the command to bring the gold and silver vessels which his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple which had been in Jerusalem, . . .and the king and his lords, his wives, and his concubines drank from them. In the same hour the fingers of a man's hand appeared and wrote opposite the lamp-stand on the plaster of the wall of the king's palace; and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote. Then the king's countenance changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his hips were loosened and his knees knocked against each other. The king cried aloud to bring in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers. . . saying to the wise men of Babylon, "Whoever reads this writing, and tells me its interpretation, shall be clothed with purple and have a chain of gold around his neck; and he shall be the third ruler in the kingdom. Then King Belshazzar was greatly troubled, his countenance was changed, and his lords were astonished."
The queen mother finally told the king of Daniel, who was called in to read the writing. "Then Daniel answered, and said before the king, 'Let your gifts be for yourself, and give your rewards to another; yet I will read the writing to the king, and make known to him the interpretation. O king, the Most High God gave Nebuchadnezzar your father a kingdom and majesty, glory and honor. And because of the majesty that He gave him, all peoples, nations, and languages trembled and feared before him. Whomever he wished, he exe-cuted; whomever he wished, he kept alive; whomever he wished, he set up; and whomever he wished, he put down. But when his heart was lifted up, and his spirit was hardened in pride, he was deposed from his kingly throne, and they took his glory from him. Then he was driven from the sons of men, his heart was made like the beasts, and his dwelling was with the wild donkeys. They fed him with grass like oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till he knew that the Most High God rules in the kingdom of men, and appoints over it whomever He chooses. But you his son, Belshazzar, have not humbled your heart, although you knew all this. And you have lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven. They have brought the vessels of His house before you, and you and your lords, your wives and your concubines, have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone, which do not see or hear or know; and the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified. Then the fingers of the hand were sent from Him, and this writing was written. "And this is the inscription that was written: MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. This is the interpretation of each word. Mene: God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it; Tekel, you have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting. Peres, Your kingdom has been divided, and given to the Medes and Persians. That very night Belshazzar, king of the Chaldeans, was slain. And Darius the Mede received the kingdom." Dan. 5:1-31.
8) The Bible says that the moral state of a nation decides its destiny. If a ruler is a despot, can we take part in a revolution to remove him?
Answer: Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here. For this cause I was born, and for this cause I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice." John 18:36,37. He also said, "Follow Me." Christians are to follow Christ in witnessing to the truth and to go all out for the kingdom of truth. It may be good to overthrow a bad king, but it is, after all, working for the rise of another worldly power. Though all events in the world are in God's control, yet worldly powers rise and fall, and according to Bible prophecy, will pass away. 1 John 2:17 says, "The world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever."
9) Jesus said, "If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight." That means that the church does not engage in military activities. But what about Christians who must serve in the armed forces of their country?
Answer: They should follow Christ's teaching, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and to God the things that are God's" The rulers of some countries are aware of the conscientious objection of Seventh-day Adventists to bearing arms, and assign them to medical and other non-combatant duties. In countries that do not make such a provision, Christians can make known to the officers in charge of conscription that they are willing to serve their country, but have conscientious convictions and request work in the armed forces whereby they do not have to bear arms. During World War II, it was reported that certain Soviet youth were executed for refusing to bear arms, but when Stalin knew of it, he stopped the executions, because such cases cannot be classed as treason.
10) How should we relate to elections, birth control, anti-corruption movements and informing?
Answer: Jesus said, "You are the salt of the earth; . . .You are the light of the world. . . Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." This is the principle that Christ has given us. Another principle is to love God with all our hearts, and our neighbor as ourselves. Ps. 32:9 says, "Do not be like the horse or like the mule, which have no under-standing, which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, else they will not come near you." God wants us to use our heads, and deal with political matters by the principles set forth above. When Jesus was on earth He highly regarded the word of God, answering questions with the words, "It is written," and "What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?" Luke 10:26. God promised Abraham with the words, "You shall be a blessing," meaning that he was to exert a saving influence, bringing light to men in darkness. He did it by building an altar wherever he went. "There he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord." Gen. 12:8.