Daniel - Summary - Daniel, Jesus, and You

Steve Viars June 26, 1999 Daniel 0:

- This morning I’d like to begin as I often do, by asking you a question:
- What is the appropriate relationship between Christians in 1999 and the world around them?
- How should you be trying to position yourself at work, how should you be trying to position yourself in your neighborhood, in your community, in your country, in your culture?
- where do you fit in?.....what’s your role?.....what’s your calling?

- Historically, God’s people have often struggled with this question, and often fallen into wrong extremes.
1) On the one hand, you have those who seek to put as much distance between themselves and the world as possible.
- frankly, they hate the world.....- they’re angry at the world....
- they’re frustrated with the world....
- and they make the critical theological error of assuming that when John said that we shouldn’t love the world.....he was talking about the world of people [which he wasn’t----he was talking about the philosophy of the world that so often ignores God]
- but this group thinks, you’re supposed to distance yourself from unbelieving people, and even despise everything and everyone associated with the world.
- this group is hyper-critical, and hyper-pessimistic.

- with these folks, if you mention the arts, their mind will gravitate to the most bizarre example of funding by the National Association of the Arts, and then talk as if everything about the arts is bad.
- if you mention politics, their minds will go to the worst example in the political realm, and then act as if nothing good is being accomplished there.
- if you mention literature, music, entertainment......its all very critical, very negative, very cynical, very angry.....
- and that’s the way they’ve positioned themselves, and that’s the way they come off to others.

- with this group, if you mention social needs and concerns, this judgmental attitude will again surface.
- the hungry or the homeless.....why don't they just go out and get a job.....
- the need for racial reconciliation.....what need?
- the AIDS crisis.....that’s God’s judgment......
- label this extreme those whose stance toward the world is angry, negative, critical, hateful, judgmental, and pessimistic.
- truth without compassion, and not much truth.
- I have to wonder how many times the fundamental or evangelical church comes off like this to those who are outside?

2) What about the other extreme?
- does it also exist?
- label it the “love all aspects of the world” extreme
- people here love the world....with very little concern for philosophies and strategies that dishonor God.
- there is very little difference between the lifestyle of Christians living in this extreme and those who don't know the Lord.
- if you mention the arts, they will be quick to speak of tolerance and freedom and have great difficulty speaking of right and wrong.....there’s very little discernment here....
- if you mention politics, they seem to believe that all the world’s problems can be solved through political means, entirely apart from the cross-work of Christ or God’s divine intervention in the affairs of men.
- this group has absorbed the world’s music, and literature, and entertainment....
- and in so doing, absorbed many of the world’s values, and philosophies, and ideals...

- if you mention social needs and concerns, there will be interest here.....
- hungry people need to be fed, homeless people need to be housed.....
- but there’s not much interest in going beyond that.....
- so the long term spiritual needs are ignored....
- and the life-giving message of the cross remains out of sight.....
- in many ways, this group is ashamed of the gospel, they are ashamed of the cross....
- because the idea that human beings are sinful and in need of a Savior.....
- and that salvation is available only through the cross-work of Jesus Christ.....
- that’s viewed as negative, embarrassing, and narrow, and bigoted, and backward.

- label this stance optimistic and positive,  but shallow, and non-discerning, and unable to take a stand on contemporary issues of the day.
- its compassion with little truth......with invariably skews the compassion.
- if the fundamental and evangelical church often comes off like the description in the first extreme, the liberal church often comes off like the description in the second.

- the reason I am raising this issue is because the book we’ve been studying this year gives us a marvelous set of answers to this question.
- Daniel was a man who lived all of his adult life in a pagan culture.
- the book is very, very clear about how the dominant culture of the day was going in a direction that was exactly the opposite of the way Daniel was going.....it was anything but a culture that honored the God of heaven and earth.

- yet on the one hand, Daniel did not crawl in a hole and wait for the rapture....quite the contrary, he held positions of influence under a number of pagan kings.
- and there is no hint all through the book that he was angry, he was fed up, he was hateful....or that he marched into the kings’ chambers and demanded that the king become a full-fledged followed of Jehovah and declare Judaism to be the officially sanctioned religion of the day.

- but on the other hand.....nor did Daniel let that culture swallow him up.....
- he didn’t lose his distinctiveness.....
- he didn’t compromise his beliefs or his testimony.....
- he didn’t shy away from representing God even though his was not the majority view.....

- it wasn’t truth without compassion.....but nor was it compassion without truth.
- Daniel was very much like a man who would come after him 550 years later.....not just any man, but the man....the God man, the Lord Jesus Christ.....
- and both of these individuals had influence with integrity.
- this morning, I’d like to speak to you about that very topic---Daniel, Jesus, and You.
- If you’re new this morning, or you’ve just started coming.....today we’re actually concluding a series that we began back in January.
- we’ve been studying the book of Daniel verse by verse and chapter by chapter.
- so this is a final message in this series, but I’ve tried to put it together in a way that would be helpful even for the person who’s here today for the first time.

- the short version of all of this has been, - Daniel was a Jewish teenager who was deported to Babylon by King Nebuchanezzar.
- the book is all about how he and some of his friends were able to maintain their faithfulness for God even though they were in a situation where there was great pressure to compromise their convictions and beliefs.
- and the good news is, the story actually covers more than 70 years, and from beginning to end, we find God helping and enabling His servant Daniel to be a man who honored Him.
- so we’re learning that God’s plan wasn’t to immediately transform the entire culture.....but instead His plan was to transform a group of human beings who established and cultivated a personal relationship with Him, and then let the lives of those individuals be a bright light in a dark place.
- there are some significant ways in which Daniel was very much like Jesus Christ, and I’d like to suggest that God wants those same characteristics to be true of you and me.
- we’ve been studying the book verse by verse and chapter by chapter----this morning I’d like us to back up and look at the big picture-----the overall argument of the book....and in so doing, we’ll find two characteristics of Godly living in a troubled world.

- please open your Bible to Daniel chapter 1.
- the first characteristic we’d like to consider is that.....


I. Daniel was a Man of Influence.


- What I mean by that is that Daniel looked for ways to bring his relationship with God into his relationship with other people.
- all through this book we see Daniel impacting others for God.

- for example, what happened when he and his friends were deported to Babylon, and offered the privilege of eating from the king’s table?
- READ 1:8

- see, there’s the perfect balance between the extremes we’re talking about.
- Daniel didn’t demand that everyone conform to his OT dietary standards......so he wasn’t angry or mean or harsh.....
- but nor did ignore God’s commands on his own life......
- he saw that situation in culture as an opportunity for influence.....
- let me bring the truth of God, and the power of God to this life situation.....
- he used that event to showcase the glory of God.

- what happened in the next chapter?
- Nebuchanezzar has this terrible dream, and none of his other wise men can tell him what he wants to know.....
- so Daniel steps up.....and God reveals the dream to him, and look what happens in verse 27.....READ 27-30.
- do you see what’s happening here?
- Daniel is using the occasion of living in a pagan land, and working for a pagan king, as a opportunity to have influence for God.
- and we walk through the entire book, and see example after example of how Daniel functioned really as a godly entrepreneur....engaging himself in the world in which he was placed and searching for opportunities to take a stand for the Lord....
- he was on a life-time search for the ministry opportunities around him.

- do you see how this is different than the two extremes we mentioned at the beginning?
- Daniel is not separating himself from these people in a mean, hateful, condescending, and cynical fashion.
- but nor is he nuzzling up to them as if all is well and they’re OK and he’s OK.
- he’s positioned himself in such a way that he had great opportunities for influence.
- is there an application of that for the way you and I live?
- there sure is.......
- what about the questions we posed at the beginning of our time this morning?
- how are you positioning yourself at work, in your neighborhood, in the community, etc.?
- have you fallen into either of the extremes we’ve outlined?
- or are you on the lookout for the ministry opportunities that God is giving?

1) For example, if God’s made you an engineer, and he’s placed you in a group where you’re the only one who knows and follows Jesus....what are you doing with that?
- are you chaffing about that wishing that all your co-workers were Christians?
- are you wishing God would have called you into the pastorate so you could work with pastor Dutton all day?
- or on the other hand, are you just blending into the crowd, and looking the other way on ethical issues and talking the same way they do and all the rest?
- I hope if God has called you to be an engineer....you’ll seek to be the best engineer you can possibly be.....
- and the most honest engineer you can possibly be......and the most loving and kind engineer you can possibly be.....
- and then I hope you’ll be on the lookout to speak for Christ, and to explain to others where you get the power to work the way you work, and the joy to live the way you live.

2) If God’s made you a teacher, or a student....and He’s placed you in a public school environment....
- I hope you’ll try to be like Daniel......
- you won’t despise those around you.....or become embittered toward them.....
- be the best educator you can be....and the most loving person you can be.....
- and when those opportunities come to take a stand for God....stand up, and make a difference for God.
- we need Daniels in that setting just like they’re needed everywhere else.

3) If God has given you gifts and interests in arts or music.....try to be like Daniel.
- avoid these two extremes we’re discussing.....

4) We need Daniel’s in politics.....we need Daniels in government......we need Daniels in law enforcement......
- you can be a Daniel in practically any setting in the world if you’ll keep your eyes open for opportunities to have an influence for God.

- [illus - A Living Bible]   ---- could also use Horton Quote - p. 208
- now, in order for this to happen, a second characteristic has to be in place.....


II. Daniel was a Man of Integrity.


- one of the great messages of this book is that God is so powerful, that He can enable one of His children to live faithfully for Him, WITH INTEGRITY, in the middle of an anti-God culture, for the long haul.
- we have a seventy year history of Daniel’s life, and we never once read about him compromising his testimony.
- we never once read about him giving up, or throwing in the towel.....
- we never once see him lashing out at those around him who don't know God.....
- now I’m not saying he was sinless.....but he was a man of integrity.

- please compare this idea to the life of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
- what Daniel was as an imperfect man, Jesus was as a perfect Savior.
- Satan took our Lord into the wilderness and tempted Him three times....
- and all three times Jesus came out victorious.
- His integrity was proven so that the writer of Hebrews could say --- He was tempted in all points yet without sin.
- he knows what that experience is like....which is why Hebrews could go on to say that He is qualified as our sympathetic High Priest.......

- Jesus understands what temptation is like.....
- if you want to have influence [and I hope you do], you need to be ready for those around you to test your integrity, to see if you’re the real thing.

- I don't know if I’ve ever mentioned this, but when I was going through Bible college, I used to build inground swimming pools.
- there was a couple who worked in the office who seemed to just like to give me a hard time.
- My job was dependent on their job, because they got the permits to start the job, and they supplied all the parts to construct the pools.....
- and if they wanted to....they could really mess me up.....and it seemed like they often wanted to.....
- one day toward the end of one of the summers.....I was getting ready to go back to Bible college....and we were talking in the office, and they were shaking their heads.....
- and they said.....we had a bet going, and all summer we’ve been trying to get you to cuss.
- what would it take to get you to cuss?
- [I didn’t think that was the right time to tell him I’d been cussing him under my breathe every day!!......but I really had wanted to try to have a testimony to them.]
- God allowed Daniel to be a man of integrity.
- Influence, coupled with integrity, is a powerful combination
- but you can expect that to be tested.....

- when I was growing up, we had a couple of families that we would vacation with, and one of them had a son that was several years older than me, but we built a friendship over the years.
- one summer, I was about thirteen.....we went down south to visit .....and their son had just gotten his license.
- one of his friends was there, who had a car that was all sooped up.....and they asked if I wanted to go riding around with them.
- my parents said it was OK, and so off we went.
- I was thinking, this is great.....here I am with a couple of older guys.....we’re riding in this cool car.....I’m just lapping up all the approval and the thrill that came with older guys treating me like one of the boys.....
- then they pulled into a Burger King, and ordered a cup of ice water....
- I thought that was kind-of strange, but I didn’t say anything....

- we got back on the road, and one of them pulled out this big glass object, it looked like something that came out of the chemistry lab.....
- and he poured the water in it, and then he attached a pipe to it.....
- and put something in the pipe and lit it.....
- I didn’t know much about drugs, but I was pretty sure that thing wasn’t designed to blow bubbles....
- and I couldn’t believe it, but here I am riding in a car with two guys smoking marijuana...
- and of course, the inevitable happens.....they turn and say.....do you want some?
- do you know how powerful that temptation was.....not because of the pull of the drugs....but the pull of the approval, and the desire to be accepted, and be part of the crowd.
- at that moment, integrity hung in the balance.....
- just like it did when Daniel’s three friends were faced with bowing down to the king’s statue or be thrown in the fire....
- just like it did when Daniel was facing the lion’s den......

- thankfully, by the way, I turned down the drugs.......but there’s been times in my life, and I’m sure in yours, when we’ve been faced with hard choices and we haven’t always made the right ones.

- If we want to have influence for God, we need to be prepared to have our integrity tested.
- the good news from the book of Daniel --- God stands ready to strengthen those who seek to live for Him, even when the pressure is really on to do otherwise.

- by the way, all of this assumes that you have a personal relationship with God.
- one of the problems with these two extremes we’ve been talking about this morning is that they minimize, or even ignore, the need for the cross-work of Jesus Christ.
- the first extreme expects the unsaved world to understand biblical values.
- and they want to make everyone believe the way they do by force, and they don't mind getting angry about it in order to get their way....
- the second extreme believes that humans can be transformed by social good, even if the cross-work of Jesus Christ is never brought into the picture.....

- you may be here this morning and you’d say, PV, I want to have a positive influence for God, or I want to maintain a lifestyle of integrity....but I keep falling short....I don't seem to have the power to pull it off.....
- is it possible that that’s true because you have never come to a place of personally repenting of your sin and trusting Jesus Christ to be your Savior and Lord?
- if you’ve never made that decision, we would invite you to do so today.

- Daniel was a man of influence, and he was a man of integrity.
- now, while we’ve been talking about these matters personally, there are some very important applications of this book institutionally.
- I strongly believe that in our day and age, a church needs to be carefully discussing these same questions.....
- what is our mission in the 21st century?
- what should the church look like?......How should we try to position ourselves in this ever-changing culture in which we live?

- I want to assure you that your pastors and deacons are doing a lot of communicating about that matter....and when its time to put our next five-year ministry plan together, these things are going to be staring us in the face.
- several interesting books have been written on this topic....let me just mention them to you...
- I’m not saying that I agree with everything in them...but the authors are raising some interesting questions....
1) Blinded by Might - Can the Religious Right Save America? by Ed Dobson and Cal Thomas
2) Beyond Culture Wars - Is America a Mission Field or Battlefield? by Michael Horton
3) Why the Cross Can Do What Politics Can’t, by Erwin Lutzer.

- the general thesis of these books is that, since the 70’s, the evangelical church has had a lot of power and prominence.
- you may remember that Newsweek magazine dubbed 1976 the Year of the Evangelical
- it is commonly believed that evangelicals composed the swing vote that carried Ronald Reagan into the White House.
- but unfortunately,  the fundamental and evangelical church has often come off as angry, and negative, and cynical.....positioning themselves primarily around what they’re against....
- a lot of “shouting at the darkness” has been done.

- and it might do us well to step back and ask, what good has it done?.....and at what expense?...and has there been so much focus on what’s wrong with everyone else, that the appropriate attention has not been placed on the kind of personal holiness and integrity we’re studying this morning?

- Horton tells the story of what happened at the National Religious Broadcaster’s Convention in 1993....
- Angela Lansbury [of Murder She Wrote] was going to be a featured speaker, and then it was learned that she was going to play a prostitute in an upcoming movie.....
- so some leaders from the religious right complained.....
- and the media made the obvious response --- “wow, a convention of televangelists barring someone from their platform for playing immoral roles.”

- one of the lessons I hope we’ve learned from this book is that it was not God’s plan for everyone in Daniel’s day to repent by force, and become followers of God by force.
- instead, it was God’s plan to allow sinful human beings to make the choices they were going to make.....but to raise up Daniels to be people of influence and integrity.

- so, what does that mean for a church in the 21st century.
- we find ourselves in a culture that is rapidly approaching the one of Daniel’s day.
- so what do we do?......how do we position ourselves?
- shout louder?......get madder?......
- no, I’d like to suggest that we keep following our biblically mandated mission.....to win people to Jesus Christ, and equip them to be more faithful disciples.

- What that looks like is this:
- Level one - we focus first and foremost on living godly lives ourselves.....on growing and changing ourselves.....
- on building strong marriages and families and friendships ourselves....
- that’s what progressive sanctification is all about....

- that qualifies us for Level Two - to passionately and aggressively proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ to those around us.
- see the two extremes we’ve highlighted this morning can’t do that very well...
- the anger of the religious right overshadows the cross....
- and the lukewarmness of the religious left is embarrassed by it.

- so level one --- seek to change and grow ourselves, level two --- be a lighthouse of the good news of Jesus Christ and the new life that’s available in Him.
- that leads, though, to Level Three
- I believe the Daniel-like church of the 21st century will find as many ways as possible to use the needs of the unraveling society around us, as a means of communicating the positive love of Christ and the power of the cross.
- its much better to light a candle than to shout at the darkness.
- and the human needs and suffering in our culture around us provide marvelous opportunities to be Daniel-like in our ministry development.

- and of course we know that at this church.....instead of just screaming about the breakup of the American family, many years ago we founded and funded a counseling center, where families in trouble can come and receive free counseling from highly trained men and women who will love them enough to share the truths of God’s Word that apply to their life situation.
- and many have been won to Christ and brought into a growing relationship with Him.
- that’s Daniel Like ministry......with integrity and influence, finding the ministry needs that exist in an unbelieving culture....and using them as a opportunity to carry the good news of Jesus Christ and the life changing power of the cross.

- but friends, if Christ tarries His coming, we have to do more....
- think about all the candle-lighting opportunities that exist in our culture today.

1) What about young ladies who have conceived babies out of wedlock?
- are we only against abortion, or can we do more to minister to the moms, and their boyfriends, and their unborn child through the crisis pregnancy movement?
- let’s light more of a candle there....

2) What about unwanted children, who’s parents can’t or won’t care for them?
- will we consider a Baptist Children’s Home, where it can be demonstrated that Christian love coupled with biblical truth can be a positive impact on a young life...
- see, shout at the darkness of the disintegrating family, or light a candle of compassionate ministry.....


3) What about the needs at Purdue?
- should we ratchet up our ministry there....should we consider purchasing a home on campus and offer counseling services, and fellowship and study opportunities/
- see, shout about the immoral living and pagan attitudes, or light a candle?

4) What about the needs of families where a member is in prison?
- you know that our community has recently built a work release facility....
- several weeks ago, we were contacted about going into that facility and having a Sunday service.....which we tried last Sunday
- there’s talk about the possibility of starting weekly Bible studies.....
- should we just gripe about crime rates....or should we be part of the solution of helping those who really want a relationship with Jesus Christ....and want loving accountability....
- maybe we should establish relationships with families while their loved one is in jail....
- maybe we should offer transitional housing and counseling heavy accountability along with the love and fellowship of the church family.
- what would it be like if ten years from now there were several families in our church from that life situation where the powerful gospel of Jesus Christ had helped them make lasting changes....for the benefit of the community and the glory of God?

5) What about the poor and the homeless?
- Is that a place for compassionate ministry while a transition is being made from one style of living to another?

6) What about single moms?
- child care?
- transitional housing while that woman gets back on her feet financially?
- all of this for people who wanted to be involved in a loving church where it wasn’t just physical needs, but attention to spiritual needs as well?

6) What about race relations?
- I’m thrilled with the increase in our Spanish speaking ministry?
- I’m thrilled with those of Asian descent, and African American descent.....
- but I’d like us to become more and more of a rainbow, wouldn’t you?


- see, all of this revolves around this question, how should we position ourselves to do ministry in the coming century?
[develop --- fourth level]
- conclusion - James 1:27?

Steve Viars

B.S. - Bible, Baptist Bible College
M.Div. - Grace Theological Seminary
D.Min. - Westminster Theological Seminary

Pastor Steve Viars has served at Faith Church since 1987. He and his wife Kris were married in 1982 and have two married daughters, a son, and two grandchildren. Pastor Viars’ gifted teaching ministry, enthusiasm for the Word of God, and organizational skills are instrumental in equipping Faith Church. He oversees the staff, deacons, and all Faith ministries and serves on the boards of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, Biblical Counseling Coalition, Vision of Hope, and the Faith Community Development Corporation.

Read Steve Viars’ Journey to Faith for the full account of how the Lord led Pastor Viars to Faith Church.

View Pastor Viars' Salvation Testimony Video