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Whose Opinion Counts?

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Does "might make right"? Does the majority rule? Are "experts" the ones we should turn to for answers? We live in a world that is massively confused about authority. Is there an end to this confusion? You need to know!


The United States of America is in terminal trouble. Its economy is in shambles. Technically, the nation is already bankrupt—as many economists and politicians clearly acknowledge! What was formerly called "Christian morality" has been virtually dismembered in this confused nation. America's international power and prestige are at all-time lows. And its people are seriously divided.

For, across an entire spectrum of basic issues, Americans do not agree with each other—and often do not agree with their own government. On homosexuality and same-sex marriage, on abortion, on immigration and "border control," on the ominous rise of Islamic extremism right in our midst, on the virtual government takeover of major sections of the economy, health care, education—and now even major aspects of the media and "freedom of speech"—the federal government is increasingly beginning to "take over" and run the U.S. in ways that seem to many much more like a socialist or communist state than like the "land of the free" in which they grew up. Concerns about government intrusion into the private religious and moral lives of Americans are causing increasing unrest and even fear among many average Americans.

What is going on? Who is in charge? In the final analysis, whose opinion counts?

Even as I write, the debate is raging in the media about how one activist judge in California has overturned the will of a majority of California voters on the same-sex marriage issue! This activist judge, and many others like him, are attempting to undermine long-held values by redefining the institution of marriage—an institution that has been the very foundation of every decent society for the last 6,000 years.

My local newspaper defined marriage this way: "Marriage is a bond between two people who commit to love each other and be partners in life" (Charlotte Observer, August 8, 2010). Is that the real definition of marriage?

Indeed, who has the authority to define such a thing? Frankly, this is what the issue comes down to. Who, precisely, has the authority to define good and evil, right and wrong, and the true way human beings should live and interact?

Who is the Real Authority?

For more than 200 years, most Americans have thought of their country as a "Christian nation." Yet, as hundreds of observers and scores of articles by respected authors have pointed out, we do not "practice what we preach" in the area of religion. We may say that the God of the Bible is the true God. Yet, over and over, we simply "throw out" entire sections of the Bible if the teachings therein disagree with our own personal opinions. Whether you realize it or not, this complete turning away from the God of the Bible as the authority regarding decent behavior—both in public and in private—will have a profound effect on all of us within the next several years! In fact, it already is having a terrible effect.

America is in trouble—and not just because of differences between political parties. Not just because of conflicting philosophical ideas about homosexuality, abortion or government encroachment into more and more aspects of our daily lives. The issue comes down, in the end, to whether or not people's personal opinions—whether those people be judges, legislators or preachers—are the ultimate authority to decide the basis of a viable society.

History, common sense and practical experience—and the plain words of your Bible—all say, "No!" These human authorities should not arrogantly presume to have the final say. There is a higher, absolute authority from which we must derive our definitions of morality and the correct way of living—whether individually or collectively—if we want to have peace and prosperity in our nations!

The Creator, who gives life and breath, has given mankind about 6,000 years to write the lessons of life by going its own way and suffering the consequences. Most people will not actually learn these lessons until later—but that is a different story. Soon, after those 6,000 years are complete, God will send Jesus Christ back to this earth to rescue the poor, confused human beings who have individually and collectively turned away from the God of creation and tried out their own ideas—nearly always in opposition to what the Creator has clearly revealed. As inspired Scripture states, "There is a way?that seems right to a man, but its end?is the way of death" (Proverbs 14:12).

For instance, what is the true definition of marriage? Is it just—as my local newspaper's article stated—a "bond between two people who commit to love each other and be partners in life"? Certainly, that is part of the definition. But when you read the entire Bible, it is clear that the Creator Himself instituted marriage, and that He—the great God—binds people together in a relationship that He has defined to fulfill two main purposes:

God said that it is not good that man should be alone. Marriage between a man and a woman—created by their physical and psychological makeup to complement each other in dozens of ways—benefits them and the entire society immeasurably, and gives them greater happiness.

God also makes it clear that procreation is a second major purpose of marriage. Notice the inspired words of God's instruction on this facet of marriage: "But did He not make?them one, having a remnant of the Spirit??And why one? He seeks godly offspring. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously with the wife of his youth" (Malachi 2:15).

So, our very Creator made man in His image and then said, "It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him" (Genesis 2:18). To create the "help" for Adam that would complement him physically, mentally and emotionally, God then created a beautiful woman. He took her to Adam and stated, "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh" (v. 24).

Once human beings lose sight of this simple yet basic understanding of why we are male and female, and why marriage exists in the first place, we drift into all kinds of confusion, sorrow and even sickness. Talking about the resurging AIDS epidemic in the homosexual community may make some uncomfortable. But this dreaded disease is continuing to spread, increasingly among American homosexuals who are practicing "unprotected sex" more than in previous years, as they see more of their fellow homosexuals living on for many years by taking "cocktails" of expensive drugs that stave off many of the symptoms of their AIDS. Emboldened by small advances in medicine, they are taking greater and greater risks of incurring this horrible disease, simply out of a perverted desire to "have fun."

Of course, when people turn away from the basic laws of God that protect the right kind of sexual relations, they ultimately do not "have fun." Rather, they develop an increasing sense of emptiness, frustration, rage and even physical illness. This is because they have rejected the very laws of God that govern sexual relationships, which define the correct foundation of marriage and the whole basis of any society that truly will endure.

Our Creator Defines Right and Wrong

The Bible is exceedingly clear—from one end to the other—regarding God's total prohibition of homosexual activity. The Eternal God states, in a statute He gave to ancient Israel, "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It?is an abomination" (Leviticus 18:22).

In the New Testament, God inspired the Apostle Paul to make exceedingly plain the perverted reasoning of these "educated fools," with these sobering words: "Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves,?who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.?Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due" (Romans 1:24–27).

When men and women forsake asking the Creator for His guidance, and begin using human reason as the basis for their beliefs and actions, tremendous suffering will ultimately ensue. As Paul wrote, they will be "receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due." And in the very next verse, God warned, "And even as they did not like to retain God in?their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting" (v. 28).

Think!

How can a professing "Christ-ian" nation such as the U.S. allow the murder of nearly 50 million unborn children? How can such a nation even entertain the idea of "men marrying men"—which the Creator calls an "abomination," and which most of us who have lived for decades recognize as the product of very confused minds. How can a professing Christian nation become dominated by judges, lawmakers and educators who are so "filled with themselves" that they arrogantly reject the very idea of a real God telling them what to do?

The answer is that a very real Satan the Devil has a powerful stranglehold on the modern Amer-icans, Britons, Canadians, Austral-ians—and on millions of other people throughout the so-called "Western" world. We—who have published more Bibles, sent out more missionaries, teachers and doctors, and have endeavored so long, often with great success, to help others—have turned away from a genuine belief in and reverence for the God of the Bible.

No, we must not turn back to just any "god." The hope of our nation, and our world, is in the God of the Bible. For, apart from Him, it can only be "every man for himself." Without Him, our society will increasingly reflect what happened to ancient Israel when its people turned aside from God and relied upon their own human opinions.

The book of Judges described a horrifying situation wherein a man's "concubine" was repeatedly raped and molested by a gang of perverts. They had originally wanted to rape the man's male guest, but the man of the house was able to entice them to set upon his guest's concubine instead. She was horribly abused, and stayed outside through the night—and he found her dead the next morning. Apparently trying to shock his fel-low citizens of the enormity of this situation, the man then "divided her into twelve pieces, limb by limb, and sent her throughout all the territory of Israel" (Judges 19:30).

This "raw" example of what their confusion was leading to finally stirred up the peoples of Israel to act. A civil war against the tribe of Benjamin ensued. When it was finally all settled, most of the male Benjamites were killed. Then, the Bible states, "In those days?there was no king in Israel; everyone did?what was right in his own eyes" (Judges 21:25).

Dear reader, that is exactly where our Western nations are headed if we continue on our present course! That is exactly the kind of sin and perverted behavior we will be reading about more and more throughout our society. If we do not truly repent and turn back to what the true God says in the Bible, then God help us!

But, will we?

A Genuine National Repentance?

Frankly, our peoples will not turn to God unless there is a radical shake-up and national repentance such as we have never before experienced in America or anywhere in the Western world. As a recent article in the Charlotte Observer pointed out, "American Christianity is not well, and there's evidence that its condition is more critical than most realize—or at least want to admit. Pollsters—most notably evangelical George Barna—have reported repeatedly that they can find little measurable difference between the moral behavior of churchgoers and the rest of the American society. Barna has found that [self-identified] born again Christians are more likely to divorce (an act strongly condemned by Jesus) than atheists and agnostics, and are more likely to be racist than other Americans…. 'Every day, the church is becoming more like the world it allegedly seeks to change,' Barna has said" ("Christianity is losing believers," August 11, 2010).

So, again, we must as a people turn back to the real God—the God who reveals Himself in the Bible! A foundational element in the definition of true Christianity is revealed in Jesus' direct command, "It is written,?'Man shall not live by bread alone,?but by every word of God'" (Luke 4:4). When people begin to substitute their own opinions—whether they be judges, legislators or laymen—we are in big trouble. For the God of the Bible is now warning our nations, through this very Work, about what lies ahead. And it is coming very soon!

In their public actions, and even in their very words, many of our professed "leaders" in politics and in the judiciary certainly despise the God of the Bible! It is that very God—who is "the same yesterday, today and forever" (Hebrews 13:8)—who told our forefathers, "But if you do not obey Me, and do not observe all these commandments, and if you despise My statutes, or if your soul abhors My judgments, so that you do not perform all My commandments,?but break My covenant, I also will do this to you: I will even appoint terror over you, wasting disease and fever which shall consume the eyes and cause sorrow of heart. And you shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it" (Leviticus 26:14–16).

Even now, we are becoming increasingly used to the dangers of "terror"—or terrorism—throughout our Western society. And it is going to grow much worse, unless we repent and turn to God. Soon, as God's word states, terrible "wasting disease"—maladies such as the horrible AIDS epidemic—will come upon our peoples with increasing ferocity. Then, as the above passage states, we will sow our seed in vain, as our enemies will eat it. We will run out of food, and—as many Americans do not fully realize—much of our food will have already been committed to other nations on the commodity futures exchange. Nations like China, India and others have bought, and will buy, billions of dollars worth of our food—which will then not be available to Americans in a time of crisis.

Increasingly, as God said, "I will break the pride of your power; I will make your heavens like iron and your earth like bronze" (v. 19). Our weather patterns will continue to be disrupted—more than ever before in human history! Finally, many thinking people will begin to wake up and realize that—perhaps, after all—the Creator may actually be intervening!

Will you wake up and turn to the real God—the God of the Bible? Individually and collectively, we can do just that. Regardless of the society around us, we can have God's blessing if we are willing to humble ourselves and cry out to our Creator.

As the great God, who is basically the same in the way He treats all nations, stated to ancient King Solomon, "When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people,?if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land" (2 Chronicles 7:13–14).

Wherever you are—whoever you are—I urge you to genuinely study the Holy Bible, the inspired revelation God gave to each and every human being. For your sake, please, do not just read the Bible for sentiment or to reinforce what you already believe. Learn to study the Bible deeply and genuinely, to see what it clearly and repeatedly says about the real nature of the Creator God, of eternal life, and of the true way to eternal life.

If you are genuinely interested and willing to prove these things, please also contact the Regional Office nearest you (listed on page 30 of this magazine) to request one of our most helpful and fundamental booklets: Restoring Apostolic Christianity. You may also order it online at our Web site, www.tomorrowsworld.org. Do not neglect to gain this important understanding!

May God grant each of you the understanding and the humility to be willing to turn to the God of heaven in this way! In His time, may God wake up all the peoples of America and the nations of the world to turn again to the true God—the Creator of heaven and earth. In the end, only the Creator can give us eternal life. In the end, it is only His opinion that truly counts!

Conviction, Correction and Conversion

"A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still."

This widely-known saying—attributed to luminaries ranging from Benjamin Franklin to Sir Walter Raleigh to the poet Samuel Butler—has now been verified by modern researchers.

University of Michigan health policy researcher Brendan Nyhan and University of Georgia political scientist Jason Reifler have published a paper documenting that, when people are presented with verifiable facts that contradict their firmly held opinions, the facts often fail to convince them ("When Corrections Fail," Political Behavior 32(2), pp. 303–330). Even more surprisingly, the researchers found that when people were given facts that should change their opinions, many people actually held more firmly to their incorrect views.

Most people do not seek information that challenges their beliefs. As Nyhan explains, "Studies have shown that people tend to seek out information that is consistent with their views; think of liberal fans of MSNBC and conservative devotees of Fox News. Liberals and conservatives also tend to process the information that they receive with a bias toward their pre-existing opinions, accepting claims that are consistent with their point of view and rejecting those that are not. As a result, information that contradicts their prior attitudes or beliefs is often disregarded, especially if those beliefs are strongly held" ("Myths About Health Care Reform Remain," New York Times, March 25, 2010).

However, not only do people tend to disregard information that conflicts with their prior attitudes; they often become more convinced of a falsehood after hearing the truth. As Nyhan explained in a National Public Radio interview, "People were so successful at bringing to mind reasons that the correction was wrong that they actually ended up being more convinced in the misperception than the people who didn't receive the correction. So the correction, in other words, was making things worse" (On the Media, July 3, 2009).

Nyhan reached his conclusion using the tools of modern social science. In doing so, he confirmed what students of Scripture have understood for millennia. Jesus Christ saw this phenomenon firsthand when He corrected the Pharisees. "Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me?" (John 8:46). No source of facts could be more credible than the Logos—the Word—made flesh. Yet the Pharisees would not accept the truth from Jesus Christ. Their carnal human nature kept them in a state of self-deception. As the prophet Jeremiah warned, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9).

In the ultimate analysis, as both modern science and ancient Scripture confirm, most people believe what they want to believe. Even when people hear God's Truth, they receive it according to their own inclinations, as Christ explained in the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:3­–9). The Apostle Paul explained that spiritual truths are spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14)—so, we can understand that unless God opens people's minds, they will remain blinded by Satan, whom Scripture calls "the god of this age" (2 Corinthians 4:4).

What does this mean for you? If you are beginning to understand the truths being presented in the Tomorrow's World magazine, and on the Tomorrow's World telecast and Web site, it is no small matter—it means that God is working with you to help you correct your old misunderstandings. He may even be calling you to conversion—to repentance and baptism! God is not calling many in this present age to be among His "little flock" (Luke 12:32) who will rule under Jesus Christ in the soon-coming Millennium. So, if He is calling you, do not take His call lightly!

—William Bowmer

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