THE IDEAS THAT USE US
Ecclesiastes 1:9 says, “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.” The same thought is expressed in chapter 3:15, “That which bath been is now; and that which is to be bath already been..” We are not to take Solomon's Words in too absolute a sense. He was not asserting the impossibility of new discoveries and inventions. He is not saying that no new occurrences ever happen on earth, that no new contrivances are ever devised, and that no new experiences ever emerge. We know that since Solomon's day multitudes of new discoveries and inventions have been made in all departments of science. Whether medical or surgical, whether geographical, geological, astronomical, biological, etc, earthly, material, human science is constantly changing. Solomon was not speaking of this kind of knowledge. Solomon was a philosopher, a moral religious thinker, and he was thinking of those ideas, motivations, desires, and ideals which make us the kind of people we are. While we live in a changing world (from a scientific viewpoint), there are many things which remain and abide. The desires, ambitions, and ideals which cause us to adopt certain life styles and seek certain goals in life are unchangeable. Among these are the main features of human life, such as labor, sorrow, care, struggle, death, love, pleasure, success, evil, good and such like. We still have with us the false, the licentious, the cruel, the servile and the ambitious. And we still have the meek, the grateful, the generous, the pure hearted, and the devout. Men are not done with, and they never will be done with the supernatural and the Divine. They still ask, “Where did we come from? By whose power are we sustained? How can we know and serve and please God.” A new generation appears on the globe every thirty years, and every hour of every day new individuals are being born; but they are substantially the same as the men and women who lived on earth thousands of years ago. When it comes to the basic desires and motivations which give direction to our lives, it can be truly said, “There is no new thing under the sun; it has already been of old time.” I want to talk to you about some of these things of old time which affect our lives today. They have been here in the past; they are here now, and they will be here in the future. The world is full of ideas, originated in antiquity, which use us. We commonly think that a man gets his ideas and that they are his private property, but this is not so. Not many are original thinkers. Most often, ideas get us; we don't get them. They are historic, not we. Powerful ideas last from age to age, whereas genera~ tion after generation of people come and go. Human beings pass from the scene, but powerful ideas do not pass away. They live on in future generations. In order to survive, ideas have to find people they can use, or they could not go on. In a real sense, ideas use us more than we use ideas. On each new life when it arrives, these ideas knock on the door and say, and say, “Let me use you in your time.” Many of the things we think are new are really new forms of an old idea. There is no escaping the truth that truth that we are being used by ideas of the ancient past. All that we can do is choose which ones shall use us. For your consideration I present several of these ideas of antiquity which have taken control of human lives.
Unfortunately, man is being used by many bad ideas of the remote past. For example selfishness is a very ancient idea wich appeals to millions of people. I do not know just whenthis evil idea was introduced to the human race. It is possible that Cain gave this idea life. The apostle Paul warned us about it nearly two thousand years ago when he said, “For men shall be lovers of their own selves”(2 Timothy 3:2). The selfish person is not a complete person; he is not whole, normal, and healthy. He may think himself natural, sensible, hard—headed, and practical, but the truth is that he is sick. The Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea are made of the same water which originates in the heights of Mt. Hermon in Lebanon. The Sea of Galilee makes beauty of it, for this northern sea has an outlet. It gets to give. But the Dead Sea with the same water is briny, for the Dead Sea has no outlet. It gets to keep. That is the radical difference between selfish and unselfish people. We all want life's enriching blessings, and we ought to. But some get to give, and they are like the Sea Of Galilee, while others get to keep. They are like the brackish waters that Cover Sodom and Gomorrah. When one sees a person conducting his life selfishly, we would like to talk to him in such fashion as this: “The principle by which you are living is an old one. As far back in history as one can go one finds homes ruined, friendships broken, wars waged, and every evil thing that has made man̓s record hideous and cruel sustained by that idea. And now it is using you.” In every generation the idea of selfishness has to find people it can use or it could not go on. So man̓s selfishness is not as an individual matter as he thinks. Satan introduced it into the world long ago. I should hate to have this idea use me knowingly or unknowingly. Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me”(Matthew 16:24). Selfishness stands between Christ and the person who would become a Christian, and it stands between Christ and the Christian in living the Christian life. Another very old idea is drunkenness. The idea tha one can find real enjoyment or solve real problems or escape from real problems by the use of alcohol is a very old idea indeed. It is as old at least as the days of Noah. Genesis 9:21 speaks of the drunkenness of Noah, and the embarrassment and humiliation associated with it. This idea has used people from the time of the flood till this time, and the trail it has left across history is one of the saddest portions of the human record. Probably, there is no idea of antiquity which uses more people today than alcoholism. In Los Angeles county alone there are 450,000 alcoholics who in turn affect one and a half million family members. 30 to 40% of all delinquent youths come from homes where alcoholism exists. 50% of all drivers involved in fatal auto accidents are alcoholics. 37% of all suicides are chronic alcoholics. 10 to 25% of all families on welfare have an alcoholic member. Few ideas have had a greater attraction to the human mind. This idea is so bad that scripture says in I Corinthians 6:10 that drunkards will not inherit the eternal kingdom of God. Would you not hate for that old idea to use you? Blessed is the person who has never taken the first drink and never intends to. There are other evil ideas of olden time that time will permit me only to m ention. Homosexuality exists today under a new name, “The Gay Movement”. It is as old as Sodom and Gomorrah. Sadducceeism is the idea that there will be no resurrection and man has no soul. The belief that death is an annihilation is Sadducceeism. Phariseeism is an idea noted for emphasizing the less important things in religion and ignoring the more important things, straining out gnats and swallowing camels. Jesus said that it would be easier for harlots and tax collectors to go to heaven than Pharisees. But let us now move to a better side of the subject, for man is also being used by many great ideas. I am not a pessimist. I want to conclude this sermon with the mention of one of the greatest, if not the greatest, ideas of all antiquity. It was an idea formed in the mind of God before he created this earth and mankind upon it. It is an idea greatly mentioned in Scripture and one that has inspired the greatest hope in mankind. Ever since God first announced the idea mankind has been looking forward to see it become a reality. We read about it in Galatians 4:4, “But when the fulness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” The fulness of the time came in the first century; that was 2,000 years ago. So this, too, is an old idea. One of the most extraordinary eras in human history was the first century of the Christian religion. Our calendars are still dated from its beginning. Anyway we look at it, it was an amazing turning point in mankind's historic journey. There is nothing as powerful in this world as an idea whose time has come. With the coming of Christ and the establishment of the Kingdom of God upon this earth, a new idea emerged among men. A kingdom of the heavens; what an idea! A kingdom of God located here on earth; man never originated such an idea! This was God's idea, and my friends this is an idea whose time has come. It is an old, old, idea; it is now over 1900 years old: a kingdom with a heavenly king; a kingdom of heavenly people, a kingdom with a heavenly law, a kingdom of people who live a heavenly life; this is the greatest of all ideas ever to come down to mankind. This kingdom from above, ruled over by God and Christ, was to be the tremendous power which was going to change the course of the centuries. This kingdom has come to earth. Jesus Christ is its heavenly king; Christians are its heavenly subjects, and the New Testament contains the heavenly laws which govern these people with a heaven—like nature. The kingdom of God is the Church of Christ; it is a divine idea whose time has come. Ever since 33 A.D.~ the first century people who become Christians are being used by a divine idea whose hour has struck. It is of eternal importance that we let this great idea use us. I urge you to permit yourself to be used by the ideas of Jesus Christ, ideas on which man's eternal welfare depends and to which the future belongs. In Luke 13:25 Jesus said that the day will come when he will close the door of this kingdom. When he closes the door no one can enter into it. It is not closed now; it is still open; you can still enter this kingdom; but Jesus said he will close the door some day. If you die outside his kingdom, you will be outside of it forever. When you come to the end of your days, when you see the signs of the evening sky gather in the western sky, it will be a victory to look back and be able to say, “I am grateful for the ideas of Christ thathave used me.” Christians are being used by the greatest idea ever introduced to the mind of man. I am being used by the idea that God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believes in him might not perish but have everlasting life. When Christ dies for someone there be something in him worth dying for. The Bible says says he tasted death for every man. Will you be used by the great idea of Jesus in John 3:3,5: “Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. Except a man be born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.” .