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The Reader Writes

“IF THOU WILT FALL DOWN AND WORSHIP ME”

We read in Matthew 4 that “Jesus was led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.” According to the gospel of Luke. Jesus was tempted of the devil for forty days. No detail is given of the manner of temptation during those forty days. Matthew relates that after those forty days, during which Jesus fasted, he afterwards hungered. It is also after those forty days that the three temptations occurred which are recorded in both Matthew and Luke. Both evangelists record the same temptations in very much the same word ing, though they follow a different routine for the last two.

Following the line of Matthew I would call renewed attention to the last temptation when the devil took Jesus up into an exceedingly high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them (for that is delivered unto me -Luke) saying: “All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” I want to ask you if you have not come across a 20th century revised edition of this same temptation rampant in many segments of what is called the Protestant Christian Church.

How real and how great was this temptation in the wilderness by the devil for Jesus? I believe it was a real temptation and a strong one. In essence it was like the temptation of Adam and Eve in paradise, but many times multiplied. We know that the outcome was not in doubt for Jesus could see through the statement which carried a grain of truth and he answered the devil with the Word: “It is written: Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God and him only shalt thou serve.” And he rebukes the devil with the words: “Get thee hence, Satan.” However if we remember what Gethsemane tells us of the great fear and dread of the cup which Jesus was to drink so that his sweat became great drops of blood, then we can realize that this last temptation in the wilderness was a very real one. Worldly wisdom would reason that Jesus could prevent all that suffering by just once bowing the knee.

That these temptations were severe and formidable is proved by the fact that the ordeal left Jesus exhausted. We read that “angels came and ministered. unto him.” And we also read that “the devil left him for a season.” “We may nevertheless well believe that the devil had a hand in all the antagonism and the enmity of the Jewish rulers, also in finally condemning him to death. It is questionable whether the devil understood that Jesus’ apparent defeat. when he dicd on the cross, would be turned into victory when he arose from the dead.

It was then that the power of Satan was broken. When Christ arose victoriously from the grave he triumphed over Satan and death and hell. And when, after Jesus’ ascension into heaven, Satan had no more power to direct his attacks against the Son of Man, he diverted his tactics and began to persecute the followers of Jesus who had received the commission to preach the gospel of salvation to every creature. In order that this divine commission might be fulfilled it was necessary that Satan should be bound for a long period (pictured as a thousand years) in order to prevent him from deceiving the nations of the world, so that gradually the gospel message might spread over the whole earth. This binding of Satan at the beginning of the Christian era is described in Revelation 20:1–3.

It is not stated that by this binding of Satan he has lost his power altogether. Fact is that he tried several times to prevent the forward march of the gospel. The church was persecuted at various intervals by Jews, Romans, and the Roman Catholic hierarchy. But in spite of these persecutions wherein Satan showed his hand the church grew and expanded. At the end of the period, called a thousand years, Satan will be loosed a little season. Do we not see him tugging at his chain in order to break it? Very likely so. Maybe the devil knows he has only a short season and is doing some preparatory work right now in the effort to dethrone the Christ. Not openly of course and not in those words. The arch-liar from the beginning is picturing before the eyes of the followers of Jesus a material kingdom here on earth, a sort of half heaven with Christ to be put on a throne in the earthly Jerusalem.

In order to make that picture attractive he appeals to the imagination of man to seek for his happiness here on earth with the prospect of a glorious reign of peace and plenty, but—entirely earthly. He hides his purpose under the pseudo-laudable effort to honor the Son of God in making him a great King, ruling in a political sense over all the nations of the world for a long time. I said that Christ was to be put on an earthly throne in Jerusalem. For you can look through all Scripture and you will not find it mentioned once that Jesus Christ is coming back to this earth in order to rule here in a civil and political sense. But the devil would not succeed with this glorious mirage of an earthly reign of peace, unless he first reduces the picture of the Son of God, reigning in heaven at the right hand of the Father, to a mere caricature of his personality. And it is at this point that Satan shoots his arrows.

There is no danger of Satan deceiving us, if we hold fast what we read in Hebrews 1: that “God…hath in these last days spoken to us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds, who being the brightness of his glory and the express image of his person and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high…[to whom] he saith. Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever, a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.” It is from that throne on the right hand of the Father that he is now ruling this world and all its movements. When he ascended into heaven he told his disciples: “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” And we are admonished by Jesus and also by the apostles to “seek the things which are above where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God and to set our affections on the things above. not on the things on the earth” (if we arc risen with Christ). Also: “In him [Jesus Christ] dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” And we are complete in him.

Having our minds and heart’> fixed on this glorified Christ it is absolutely impossible that we can picture him leaving his throne of glory and honor in the presence of the holy angels and again so deeply humiliating himself as to come here on this sinful earth for the purpose of ruling in a political sense over the nations of the earth for a definite period of lime, which after all will end in ignominious defeat when the devil shall once more have free sway. It is only if we lose sight of the divinity of Christ and his being one with the Father and the Holy Spirit and regard him only as a creature. be it then a very exalted creature. that such a fantastic illusion as a thousand years’ reign can take hold of the imagination of men who call themselves Christians. They may not realize that the devil has for a long time been trying to put that over in the Christian Church to deny the divinity of Christ. It was for his confession that he was the Son of God that Jesus was condemned to the cross. They may not realize how the imagined glory of this earthly reign puts the affections of the church on the things of this earth. instead of on the heavenly. It is this earthly glory(?) that the devil wants Jesus to accept. if he will only condescend to come down and become the earthly ruler.

Do you recognize the similarity between Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness and the present temptation for Christ to humble himself once more under the pretense of glory? This temptation is not now by Satan personally, but by the unstable minds of men whom Satan now uses as the tempters. It is the same temptation in a different setting. And the devil’s purpose is also the same, namely, to humiliate the Son of God. And he blinds the eyes of those who follow his instigations with the picture of such a glorious time on earth.

For an effectual estimate of whether we are on solid scriptural ground we can use as a gauge our confession of who we believe the Son of Man to be, whether we believe that he is “the Christ, the Son of the living God.” whom we call with Thomas: “My Lord and my God,” or that we only believe him to be an exalted creature as some do. For the greater the Mediator becomes to us. the greater will become the impossibility that he will ever soil his feet on this earth again. except for judgment. The glorified Christ is too holy that sinful men should behold him here on earth. After his resurrection he never appeared to his enemies. only to the disciples. This last fact of course the devil forgets to mention.

It must not be understood that this fantastic mirage is a real temptation for our Savior in heaven, but if the devil can turn the affections of the followers of Christ to the things of this earth, he has gained part of his purpose.

Our conclusion is that this whole millennia! mirage is nothing but a “cunningly devised fable,” a child’s dream without reason or logic.

Peter L. Van Dyken Ripon. Calif.

PLEADS FOR FEDERAL AID FOR CHRISTIAN SCHOOLS

It was with great interest that I read the two articles regarding our educational program by Rev. G. Van Groningen. I am in agreement with his thoughts. It is my belief, however. that the subject of Christian schools was not treated sufficiently. It was implied that there are two kinds of people: those in favor of it and those who are opposed to it because it costs too much. It is in regard to this last point that I would like to make a few remarks. Much of the lack of interest in Christian day schools is due to the high cost. When we consider that in many places Christian schools and the church budget combined amount to 50 dollars or more every month, that there are “extra” collections besides, we may very well ask ourselves, where will this lead us?

Since we arc to be the salt of the earth it seems that we also should belong to other worthwhile organizations which we consider to be important; and that too costs money. What do we have left to join other groups?

Another question we might ask ourselves is this. Do our children receive a better education, and are they better citizens once they have received this schooling? Can they be called leaders in different fields, such as civic and political affairs? What is the voting turnout in areas heavily populated with Christian school graduates? Are our graduates concerned and informed about the problems that face us? If they arc not. then it could very well be that the cost is too high.

It is also a known fact that the requirements for a school to be accredited are raised higher every year. That also means an increased cost in education. How high this will go we do not know, but we might well ask ourselves, Will it be so high in another 10 years. that it will be impossible to operate our own schools? When will those who give leadership to the Christian School movement wake up and start supporting efforts to obtain government support for private education? Since we all pay taxes and since the government has taken assumed responsibility for providing the children of this country with an education. we should be able to receive our share of this.

Grover S. McLeod. a prominent attorney of Birmingham, Alabama. wrote an article for the “Alabama Lawyer” published by the Alabama Bar Association. In it he proposed a very interesting plan. It would operate on a cost per pupil basis. For example, if it would cost the government $200.00 a year per pupil to educate a child. a check for this amount would be mailed to the parents or guardian every year. The parents could take this cheek and “buy” their child’s education in the school of their choice. This would seem to be the most democratic plan that has ever been proposed. It would solve several problems. It would treat all the children of the land equally. It would solve the problem of religion in our schools and it would not violate the principle of the separation of Church and State. Neither would it seem that this would place the school under more government control than the regulations which we now have to go by.

Another field would be transportation in the public school bus. Why do we not receive this? Because many of our people do not demand it, not knowing that it should be possiblc to change the state laws dealing with this issue. In the case of EVERSON vs. BOARD OF EDUCATION, 44A (2d) 333 (N] 1945) and 339 it was held that transportation in public school buses does not violate our Federal Constitution. This case was appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States, which on February 10, 1957, also held that this decision does not violate the First Amendment of our Constitution.

It has been said that tim would lead to government control. To be accredited now we have to comply with certain rules. Those who are so afraid of this control do not seem to have any objection to some support in the form of fire and police protection.

Unless some way is found to relieve our people from part of this burden, the day may come when our people not only will be unwilling but also unable to pay for this.

Stanley Rooda 708 East 14th St., No., Newton, Iowa