What are the underlying problems we face in our world today? To be sure, we face egregious problems of human trafficking, slavery, genocide, starvation, disease, the list can go on. These, and a plethora of other issues need to be tackled head-on, with the love of Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
But are those the fundamental problems we face in our world today? Maybe it goes a bit deeper. To get more to the heart of the issue, we can all acknowledge that people (including us) are selfish, greedy, lustful, arrogant, etc. The question begs to be asked: are those the root of the problems we face?
I am currently reading Preaching & Preachers by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and he is opening my eyes to some fundamental truths that we see in the Scriptures concerning the issue at hand. So much so, that I frequently find myself closing the book and walking away from reading anymore because I feel the weight of God’s presence speaking through the Scriptures that Dr. Lloyd-Jones is expositing.
For example, around page 38 of the text (forgive me, I am reading this book on a Kindle, so I don’t have the exact page reference), Dr. Lloyd-Jones makes some remarkable statements that are worth repeating here concerning the true nature of the problem humanity faces today.
“These are the things that are given prominence today. There are so many people trying to diagnose the human situation; and they come to the conclusion that man is sick, man is unhappy, man is the victim of circumstances. They believe therefore that his primary need is to have these things dealt with, that he must be delivered from them. But I suggest that that is too superficial a diagnosis of the conditions of man, and that man’s real trouble is that he is a rebel against God and consequently under the wrath of God” - (38) from Preaching & Preachers
Here we see Dr. Lloyed-Jones digging into this problem with a serious acuteness. He doesn’t dismiss the problems faced by humanity today, but he makes it very clear that solving those problems, while good, does not get to the heart of what truly pains humanity today. The true foundation for all of man’s problems comes down to our relationship with the Sovereign Creator of all. The simple, undeniable fact, that we are/were rebels against Him, in dire need of His, and His alone, saving grace, is, my friends, the problem with humanity.
Well Dr. Lloyd-Jones does not stop there. He digs a bit deeper to shine a light on what this rebellion looks like as we see it in the Scriptures.
"Now this is the biblical statement concerning him, this is the biblical view of man as he is by nature. He is ‘dead in trespasses and sins’, that means, spiritually dead. He is dead to the life of God, to the spiritual realm and to all the beneficent influences of that realm upon him. We are also told that he is ‘blind’. ‘If our gospel be hid,’ says Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:3–4, ‘it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not’. Or as Paul puts it again in Ephesians 4:17ff., man’s trouble is that ‘his understanding is darkened, because he is alienated from the life of God through the sin that is in him.’ Another very common biblical term to describe this condition of man is the term ‘darkness’. You have it in John 3:19: ‘This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, but men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.’ And in the First Epistle of John you find the same idea worked out. Writing to Christians he says that ‘the darkness is past and the true light now shineth.’ The Apostle Paul uses the same idea exactly in Ephesians 5. He says, ‘Ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord.’ These are the terms that express the biblical diagnosis of man’s essential trouble. In other words we can sum it up in one word by saying that it is ignorance. All the terms such as ‘blindness’ and ‘darkness’ are indicative of ignorance. And according to this biblical view of man all these other things, such as unhappiness and misery, even physical illness, and all the other things which torment and trouble us so much are the results and the consequences of original sin and the Fall of Adam.” - (38) from Preaching & Preachers
Ignorance. Ignorance of the truth. Ignorance of the depth of meaning behind the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. That is humanity’s fundamental problem.
So how do the Scriptures speak on the resolution of this problem? Listen to Dr. Lloyd Jones as he shares from the Scriptures.
"That being the picture of man’s need it is not surprising that when you turn to the biblical account of salvation you find that it is put in terms which correspond to this expression of the need. The Apostle describes salvation in these words: it means, ‘coming to a knowledge of the truth’ (1 Timothy 2:4). It is the will of God that all men should be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth. Salvation is a knowledge of the truth. In 2 Corinthians 5:19 and 20 he says that the message which has been committed to the preacher, who is an ‘ambassador for Christ’ is to say to men ‘be ye reconciled to God’. You find it again in the practice of the Apostle. We read of him preaching in Athens, in Acts 17, and saying, ‘Whom ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.’ They were ignorant though they were philosophers, and he is the one who can teach them and give them light in this matter. I am simply showing that the biblical teaching concerning salvation is that it is the result of bringing men to this ‘knowledge’ which they lack, it is dealing with this ignorance. Paul talks about ‘preaching the whole counsel of God’, and Peter had the same idea when he says that Christians are people who have been ‘called out of darkness into God’s marvellous light’. Now these are the biblical terms, and they all, it seems to me, indicate that preaching always comes first and is given priority. If this is the greatest need of man, if his ultimate need is something that arises out of this ignorance of his which, in turn, is the result of rebellion against God, well then, what he needs first and foremost is to be told about this, to be told the truth about himself, and to be told of the only way in which this can be dealt with. So I assert that it is the peculiar task of the Church, and of the preacher, to make all this known." - (39) from Preaching & Preachers
Do you see it now? Do you feel the weight of your task? This was one of the points where I closed my Kindle and walked away. Just the sheer importance of preaching humbled me in front of God. Understanding how preaching the whole counsel of God is a fundamental (I just can’t find a stronger word) need for us in today’s churches, is enough to bring all of us to our knees, crying out to God for help as we seek to preach His Word.
So number one, thank you for the work you are doing as a herald, as proclaimer of truth. I pray that you continue on in your positions and preach in the power of the Spirit believing that God will open eyes, open hearts, open minds, raise the dead to life, and truly solve the real problems that we face in our world today.