An Anchor in a Financial Storm
June 6, 2018
Levels of debt, wealth disparities, shifting social, ethical and moral values, nation-state challenges – the world is living with risk. How might we deal with the challenges we face?
Jonathan Wellum addresses the need to restore truth, meaning and values rooted in Christianity if we are to progress and maintain free, vibrant and healthy markets at this networking luncheon.
Jonathan Mark Wellum, B.Comm., B.Sc., MA, MBA, CFA
Jonathan is the founder and CEO of ROCKLINC Investment Partners Inc., an independent research-driven investment management firm focusing solely on creating portfolios of high quality assets customized to their clients’ objectives and needs.
Prior to founding ROCKLINC in 2009, Jonathan served as Chief Executive Officer with Portland Investment Counsel (formerly AIC Investment Services). Under his management, AIC’s assets grew from $10 million to a peak of $15 billion, making the firm the largest privately owned mutual fund organization in Canada.
- Chartered Financial Analyst
- Named 1995 Fund Manager of the Year by the Investment Executive Magazine
- Awarded 1997 Fund Manager of the Year at the Canadian Mutual Fund Awards Gala
- Recipient of Canada’s Top 40 under 40
- Member of the McMaster University Investment Pool Committee
- Board member of the Canadian National Christian Foundation
It is really a pleasure to be here today. […] What I want to talk about, is an anchor in what is culturally the financial storm. I’m going to talk about a little bit about finances – money – but also really what’s behind the economy. Some of the larger picture challenges, which are largely ethical and moral issues. In particular I talk from a Western perspective, I speak from a Canadian, North American perspective. But these issues have implication as they reverberate all around the world.
Let me just start with this one quote […] from George Orwell back in 1940. Many of you know Orwell wrote 1984, predicting a few things that seem rather pressiant, considering what is happening in our world:
“For two hundred years we had sawed and sawed and sawed at the branch we were sitting on. In the end…our efforts were rewarded and down we came. Unfortunately there had been a little mistake. The thing at the bottom was not a bed of roses after all, it was a cesspool full of barbed wire. There is no wisdom except in the fear of God; but nobody fears God; therefore there is no wisdom. Man’s history reduces itself to the rise and fall of material civilizations, one Tower of Babel after another. In that case we can be pretty certain what is ahead of us…and so downwards into abysses…”
It can be a bit of a negative start in terms of what Orwell is talking about. But it really gets to the issue of some of the challenges that we face. I like this image of the Tower of Babel. For those of you who know the Old Testament Scriptures and the Bible will go back to that time in Genesis 11 where all the nations were one. There really was just one group of people. Because of their opposition to God the Creator, he separated them into various countries and nationalities and languages. And that of course has resulted in many, many different nations.
I look around today and I see so many different countries represented and it reminds me again of that separation. Well at the end, I’m going to come back to that in terms of the unity that binds and can bind, and ultimately will bind all of the peoples of the world together.
(SLIDE 3) Presentation Outline
Now before I get there, I’m going to say a couple of things about our own company ROCKLINC and about our investment strategy. Just so I can give you a little bit of flavour of what we are doing, because in the investment business you have to be aware of the world in which you operate.
I’m going to talk about major challenges and this is where I’ll get into maybe some controversial issues and hopefully get you thinking about some of the challenges out there in the world.
What happened to truth? […] We live in a world where it’s kind of hard to find truth isn’t it? We will talk about that.
And towards a solution. I want to put forward some ideas that I think are important that should formulate part of the solution to some of the challenges we see around us.
Then I want to talk really about that Anchor in the storm. What really gives us that solid foundation upon which we can operate?
(SLIDE 4) ROCKLINC Investment Partners
I have been in the investment business for 30 years. I have had a wonderful time. Back in 2010 after my former company that I was the CEO with, sold to Manulife. I started out my own company which we operate. It’s a company based upon thinking outside the box, utilizing as many of the big picture issues that we can and looking at the long term challenges of where to invest money. I’ll talk just briefly about that. But it’s all about independent thinking and about looking at the world from a big picture worldview. As a Christian, I find that the most interesting approach to ultimately investing.
(SLIDE 5) Investment Principles
When we do invest, as we have articulated a couple of points on this slide here, we buy businesses. We are not speculating. We are trying to find great companies to invest in. Companies that are producing products and services that make sense for the long term that we can compound in. We really focus on just a few companies. We are not interested in investing all over the place, we want to be studious and apply our capital to a very few number of names and then we buy for the long term. We are disciplined, wealth is created by compounding, not just in and out of stocks, and trying to guess what the next trend is.
(SLIDE 6) Investment Strategy
I’m just mentioning this for context, where do we put most of our investment monies? I’ve just listed eight industries […] that we have most of our money in. […]
- Infrastructure – We love to own tangible assets. We have quite a bit of renewable energy now. We think of wireless towers. Anything that is a tangible fixed asset that’s got a long term cash flow to it is a great place to be.
- Some of the financial sector – Being in finance, we like the financial sector especially private equity and alternative lending.
- Technology – Technology, as I think everybody realizes, is driving much of our world and so we’ve got major positions in data, cloud, specialized software services.
- Manufacturing – another wonderful area, especially in automation. Everything is being automated and so we have great positions in businesses in that space.
(SLIDE 7) Investment Strategy
- Precious metals – We like to invest in the precious metals space, especially the finance companies, the royalties companies. Why do we do that? Well you will see in a few moments, we think our monetary system is under a lot of stress, and so if the monetary system has major issues then this typically acts as a great hedge.
- Healthcare – We will talk a little bit about aging population. Healthcare is a wonderful area to invest in because of the aging population and the need to contain costs.
- Water – Can you get more basic than agriculture and water? Water in particular. See here in Canada, we’ve got more water than we know what to do with. But in other parts of the world, water is just a major, major issue and is probably one of the most mispriced and most important commodities. So we make major investments there.
(SLIDE 8) Major Challenges to Wealth Creation
Now […] I want to shift over really to what are some of the major financial challenges out in the world. And this again from a Canadian, North American, sort of Western perspective. But this, because the Western major developed countries have such a vast import in terms of the global economy, than smaller nations, I think you will get the point in terms of the severity of the these issues.
- I’ll talk about debt, debt and more debt
- Unfunded government promises
- Demographics – trying to create a future without children, that’s an interesting one.
- Monetary policy – how we are bailing out debtors.
(SLIDE 9) Major Challenges to Wealth Creation
- And then I want to talk about the whole weakening of marriage and the whole issue. This attack on the family that is just amazingly serious and important for us to consider.
- Also the declining religious freedom, which is a major issue. I’m just focusing here on the Western countries. I’m not talking about countries around the world, where there really isn’t much religious freedom to start with. But I am talking about Canada. I’m talking about Europe. I’m talking about the United States – although there’s been a bit of a change there, given policy down south of the border.
- I put “Contra-Christi,” because most of the opposition to religion is opposition to Christianity. I find this quite interesting as a Christian, because the countries with the greatest level of religious freedom are, of course, all countries that came out of the Protestant Reformation. It’s interesting that those are the countries now that are turning their backs on religious freedom.
- The assault on freedom of speech, which really also falls (under) freedom of religion, because freedom of religion really is the bedrock of all freedoms. Ultimately, if you want to invest – even selfishly from an investment perspective – the countries that create the most wealth will have the greatest levels of freedom. This is something that we should think about.
(SLIDE 10) Debt, Debt and More Debt
[…] Since 1971 though, the world has gone on a debt binge. Some people would tie that maybe to the gold standard going by the boards. I’m not sure if that is the primary reason, but at any rate, the whole issue of debt, debt, debt and more debt. Personal debt tripled, government debt tripled as a percent of GDP and corporate debt has gone up.
(SLIDE 11) Global Sectoral Indebtedness
Now this slide really shows you if you look at total debt across government, personal and also corporate. If you go back 20 years, we have about 70 trillion dollars US. If we go back about ten years that numbers at 162 trillion and if you look at last year it topped 233 trillion. Now you can see that this is kind of an escalating number, isn’t it. You can see that it has really kind of gone logarithmic.
In particular, the greatest increase in the last ten years is the government. The government sector is taking much more out of the economy. Now some of that was to bail out the private sector. So the banks and financials didn’t go up as much, because they had to behave themselves. But overall, debt levels are just escalating at quite the rate.
(SLIDE 12) Global Debt has Ballooned
This slide shows that if you look at the developed economies […] if you look at the last bar there it shows that debt as a percentage of GDP is pretty well 400% across the developed countries. These would be the wealthiest countries.
Now what does that mean? It means that if you take the corporate, the personal and government debt, its four times the GDP in these counties. And that’s the debt they’ve incurred, not the debt that they should have because they made promises. This is the debt that has incurred. Now this is to give you a sense of what that means (and this gets into interest rate policy and why I think it will be very difficult for interest rates to go up very much in the world and we will talk about monetary policy briefly).
(SLIDE 13) Impact of Interest Rate Increases in a Highly Leveraged Economy
If you think of economies that have a 390% debt to GDP, if interest rates go up 1%, that is 3.9% of your GDP. If interest rates go up 2.5%, that is pretty well close to 10% of your GDP. You can see when you get so highly levered or indebted and you’ve done that […] through the suppression of interest rates so you can take on this debt, how do you get out of that? How do you get out of this mess? I suggest it’s very difficult. They’re talk about putting rates up, but as you know they’re going up at a glacial pace and they are very concerned. I think the central bankers are way over their head.
So just look at the US. […] They’re the most important economy, they’re the largest economy. And we’re not any better in Canada and certainly Europe is not any better, so by picking on the US, I’m just doing this for a convenient example.
(SLIDE 14) Debt Growth – Unsustainable
Back in 1971, you think about the US and they had 1.1 Trillion dollars GDP. It’s now 19 trillion. Look at the debt. The debt was 398 million back in 1971, which is about 36% debt to GDP. It is now over 21 trillion. You think, wow they have added more debt than GDP. Which is a big problem, that’s what this chart shows.
(SLIDE 15) US Economy (1971-2017)
It shows that the cumulative GDP growth, when you subtract the Federal Borrowings, was going up and it was growing, but then you can see where it dropped off that cliff there back in the financial crisis. It just plummeted and the debt that was issued was far, far above the GDP in order to keep the system going.
So, my whole point here as an investor, is that we are really investing in an unstable situation and this will have implications for every country in the world. […]
(SLIDE 16) Unfunded Government Promises
Now this is just a huge problem. Governments, as you know, it’s easy to promise something, it’s harder to deliver. So basically what we’ve got here are promises that are four to five times GDP in most countries.
So if you were to go to Germany, for example, or France, or many of the European countries, or the United States, their actual unfunded liabilities – not the liabilities that they already have, but their unfunded liabilities – are in most cases four times, five times GDP. So if you add that to the other four times, you’ve got like eight times GDP, the debt that should be imbedded – or is imbedded really – in the financials of the country. So this is not a good thing.
(SLIDE 17) Global Pension Timebomb – Funding Gap
This is just the pension component. And this was out of the World Economic Forum, I believe last year, where I obtained this fact, this information. The unfunded pension liability last year was about 70 trillion and that’s growing at 28 billion a day. 28 billion a day, is what the unfunded pension liability is growing in the major economies around the world, not just one. That will get us to about 400 trillion in 2050. Now, we are not going to get there. They will have to restructure them, they will have to renege on promises and so on. But this gives you a sense of the absurdity of some of these numbers.
(SLIDE 18) “Decadent Democracies”
We’re living in decadent democracies that would rather promise people things than really own up to the reality of being able to pay for it.
That’s why I call it, in many countries we’re really living in “decadent democracies.” We’re living in democracies that would rather promise people things than really own up to the reality of being able to pay for it.
I have a couple quotes here. One goes back to 1780, and this is an extract from Alexander Tyler, “A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury.”
And let me tell you, Ontario is example A. It’s example B, and it’s example C. The province of Ontario that I live in. To see the disastrous financial condition we have put this province in, is outrageous. We have the largest sub sovereign debt of anyone in the world on a per capita basis. We are an example of a decadent province. Very decadent province.
“Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become more corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”
The second quote from Benjamin Franklin, who was a very wise individual and a founder of the United States, “Only a virtuous people are capable of freedom. As nations become more corrupt and vicious, they have more need of masters.”
What he is saying here, which I will talk about really in more detail, is look if you are not an honest and ethical population you need bigger government, and government just grows and grows and grows. If you’ve got an honest and ethical and a strong moral base in the civilization, you don’t need big government. This is a huge issue I think for countries, especially in the West, as ethics and morality go down.
(SLIDE 19) Demographics – Future Without Children?
Most of us know the demographic issue. Low fertility rates, abortion, declining number of marriages, high levels of consumer debt. We basically are running 1.2 children per women on average. It’s lower in some places. It is actually 1 in some of the European countries. I think in Italy the latest numbers are 1 or 1.1. But at 1.2, you lose 43% of the next generation, because you need 2.1. So I just point out here, actually you go from 100 to 11 people in 4 generational terms. Which is really societal collapse. And we’re actually seeing this playing out now. […] The teeth are starting to set in.
(SLIDE 20) Demographics
You can’t go on a debt binge and assume in your economy perpetual growth and not create another generation to take on some of those responsibilities, that’s the point.
This is a pictorial of what that means when you cut off the next generation of children. Now some people might say, well big deal, we are overpopulated we don’t want children. That’s fine you can hold that position. But the issue is, you can’t go on a debt binge and you can’t assume in your economy perpetual growth and not create another generation to take on some of those responsibilities, that’s the point.
(SLIDE 21) Demographics – Rise and Fall
This shows again, different countries. You can see that India is actually favoured in terms of what’s going up. When you see that going up, it’s saying the working segment of the population is increasing. The United States sort of holds its own and then most of the other countries are on a steep decline, including China. China peeked out around 2011-12 in terms of working population. Its one child per family policy in 1979 is starting to sink its teeth into the situation in China. Europe has been on a steady decline and Japan is the leader. Japan is leading the charge in terms of societal reduction and ultimately, societal collapse.
(SLIDE 22) Monetary policy – Bailing Out Debtors
[…] The central banks have, in effect, bailed out debtors. So when you think monetary policy you think the price of money, interest rates, and you think of the value of money – purchasing power. We’ve seen both of those errode tremendously as we have taken on more debt.
(SLIDE 23) Interest Rates – Coming Off Historic Lows
This chart I have got from the Bank of England. They’ve pointed out, that if you go back to 3000 BC (and I’m not sure where they got all the information, but you’ll have to ask Mr. Carney) and all the way up to last year. We have never seen interest rates this low in 5000 years, basically. That makes sense, because we have actually had negative interest rates.
Two years ago we had about 15 trillion dollars worth of government debt, trading at a negative rate. When you think negative rates; is that not really a form of theft? Umm yes, but at least it supports a debt-ridden society. It supports all of the debt.
Still today, I just looked at Bloomburg, the two year and five year German debt is negative. The ten year Swiss is still negative. Rates are being suppressed heavily in Europe by the ECB (the European Central Bank) purchasing all sorts of bonds. This is not healthy, okay, this is not healthy.
(SLIDE 24) Low Interest Rate Policy and QE Are Hurting Economy
I just put down three reasons – I can give you twelve more – why low interest rates are not good. I put QE, and QE means “Quantitative Easing” which refers to printing money. It’s a great euphemism. You know I love euphemisms that they come up with, “Quantitative Easing,” it sounds so much better than printing money.
But at any rate, low interest rates punish savers, they punish capital accumulators. Capital accumulators are what you need if you are going to drive economic growth. So you can’t continue to suppress interest rates without hurting the long term allocation of capital in your economy.
Second, low interest rates have spiked the price of real estate. In all the major cities around the world, all the major areas and we certainly see this in Canada. So, it prices people right out of homes. They say that there is no inflation, and you look at your central bank and think are you crazy. There is no inflation? Have you bought a home recently? What kind of income do you need to support a home in Toronto or the major cities, London and so forth, around the world if you think of international. It’s created tremendous inflation, but in areas where conveniently the economists don’t measure.
Thirdly – and this is very concerning – is that when you lower interest rates, the governments become increasingly irresponsable. So we’ve had a massive increase in debt in most governments around the world, which means increased suppression of liberties among the population. Because as governments grow, as you know, they take more of the economy, and the suppression of liberties.
(SLIDE 25) Monetary Policy – Printing Money
Monetary policy this is a just a chart that shows the federal reserve. Let me just give you a couple of statistics. The US Central Bank added almost 4 trillion – 3.7 trillion dollars – to their system. If you include the ECB, the bank of Japan (which is still printing money…they are still adding a lot of money to the system currently, they hope to stop it next year), we’ve added about 25 trillion dollars in the last ten years to the global system. Just to keep it afloat. 25 trillion of money pumped into the system. That’s not healthy.
(SLIDE 26) Weakening of Marriage
Families are a stronghold against a totalitarian state. The stronger families are, the smaller the state is. You cannot maintain civil liberties and freedoms without strong families.
Fifth in terms of challenges that I’m just going to mention is marriage. And there is so much I can say in regards to this. But this is really a horrifying situation. We see the whole tearing apart of the home. So I’ve just put down here some of the things that we should think about in terms of marriage being vital to the health of a country – indispensable. Marriage is a gift from God, a creation that God our Creator has given us, a covenant responsibility.
Let’s put it this way, […] marriage increases wealth and lowers poverty levels like no program around. And all the research shows that. It lowers healthcare costs, because you have much stronger individuals emotionally and physically.
It’s a protection for women. We see in […] many countries around the world the vulnerabilities of women. Christian marriage is one of the greatest protections to women, both legally and physically.
[Marriage] channels sexual energy. I could spend hours talking about this subject. You know we live in a sex-crazed world [and country]. Where there is no understanding of proper human sexuality and where it should be placed. Countries – and we see this all down through history – that lose perspective on a proper human sexuality are countries that blow up. […]
Families are a stronghold against a totalitarian state. The stronger families are, the smaller the state is. You cannot maintain civil liberties and freedoms without strong families.
University of life – a family is where you learn things. My own home family was one amazing family and we talked on every issue. We learned all sorts of things. It was a teaching environment for our home.
And then lastly, for procreation. Children are a precious gift from God. I love Psalm 127. Some of you know it. It starts off, “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labours in vain who build it. Unless the Lord protects the city the watchmen is in vain.” The emphasis there is the centrality of the home being based upon God, if it’s really going to be strong.
And then later on, I love what King Solomon, who wrote this Psalm, said. That children are to be arrows. I love the imagery. I have four children and I have tried to execute on this as best I can. And what do I mean by arrows? How do you make an arrow back in Solomon’s day. You would hugh the wood and you would cut out a piece of wood. You would straighten it. […] You have to teach the children. And then you have to aim it – you have to show them where to go. Purpose, meaning, where is that arrow going to go? And then you have to release it.
That’s the whole issue. So only a […] well-structured home can do that. So this is an issue where we see an attack on that.
(SLIDE 27) Religious Freedom “Contra Christi”
Freedom of religion is the cornerstone of all other freedoms; essential in order to avoid tyranny. It’s a driver for economic growth, because economics is ultimately rooted in ethics and values, not in natural resources.
Today, let me just say that in our own country Canada, North America, Europe, we’re seeing a real decline in the religious freedom. Let me just point out freedom of religion is the cornerstone of all other freedoms. It’s essential in order to avoid tyranny. And it’s a driver for economic growth, because economics is ultimately rooted in ethics and values not in natural resources. Some of the [physically] richest countries in the world are the poorest, […] because they aren’t rich spiritually in values and ethics.
Freedom of religion and conscience answers to a higher authority and ultimately demands and justifies limiting government. So if you are going to protect yourself from heavy-handed government, you need religious freedom.
Religious freedom is also necessary for the functioning of democracies and free markets. You just have to look around the world. You all know that. Just look at countries and you can track all of these things easily, by the levels of freedoms of religion.
(SLIDE 28) Assault on Freedom of Speech
From freedom of religion, you get freedom of speech. This is a big area we’re seeing in our own country. The criminalizing of free speech in many areas. We cannot talk on certain topics. Universities. I spent ten years at University and obtained a few degrees there. But universities have turned into a place which don’t respect free speech. They’re intolerant and there is total intellectual confusion in our university. There is no unified worldview. I mean, how do you actually have a university if there is no center in the university? Of course Christians would put at the center the Scriptures and Jesus Christ.
News reporting, Facebook, Twitter, Google…where it is selective control of information.
The whole area of politicization of science. We could spend a whole lot of time on science. [It] has become a tool for power. It’s not objective in many cases. It’s really a philosophy of how do we use science? How do we channel funds so we can get our message across and let people make all sorts of pronouncements that maybe are true, or maybe are not, but they are politically expedient.
Lastly, restricting access to the book of freedom, the Bible. Wherever the Bible is freely available, you have free people. That’s because it ultimately is the book of freedom.
(SLIDE 29) What Happened to Truth?
Now let me just say, what has happened? Why are some of these issues hitting us? […]
First of all, I think in the Western world that I am most familiar with, we’ve seen the primacy of the Christian faith and its critical foundations or presuppositions have been severely attacked by progressive secularism – any kind of view that takes God out of the picture, a humanism.
The second, that’s lead really to this tension in our culture, between nihilism – really a negative approach to life and rejection of meaning and values – and we see that lived out in many areas of our world, in our economies and our people.
It’s also lead to a certain amount of hubris. I see this in my industry, in the tech industry. This idea that technology in our god. It’s going to transform us. Somehow we can go from being human, to transhuman, to post-human, beyond being human. We just have to listen to Ray Kurzweil over at Google to tell you how we are going to become post-human.
But they miss the point. The problem with humanity isn’t our bodies. It’s our heart, it’s our hearts, our emotions. It’s the issue of our sin and our depravity. That’s what ultimately has to be healed. You are not going to solve that by technology. You can solve that ultimately […] I think it’s got to be a faith experience. That’s what the ultimate issue [is]. Technology is not going to save us from that. In fact it will make it much worse, if technology […] or the power is used against us.
(SLIDE 30) What Happened to Truth?
So the question I have […] is: will Christians (I think it’s really the responsibility of Christians, the Christian church, particularly in the West where we still have a fair bit of freedom and isn’t completely limited) […] rise to the challenge?
That’s one of the reasons why I’m speaking today as a finance person. [To] rise to the challenge to bring the Christian message back into our world and our culture and the necessity of the Christian message, which is true. Or do we let the world continue to muddle along and have some of the challenges that we see.
(SLIDE 31) What Happened to Truth?
“Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
A couple of quick quotes (that) are meaningful to me. The first quote is from the book of Daniel. And many of you will know the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, three young men, maybe sixteen, seventeen years of age, standing against the whole culture of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar.
Nebuchadnezzar told them, “Listen, I want you to bow down to this golden image, just like I’m god; the state is god.” They were the only three that didn’t bow.
I love this expression, they said, “But if not – if God doesn’t deliver us…God can deliver us. We believe our God is all powerful, ‘but if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.’” (Daniel 3:18)
And they were able to stand, and did stand against their whole culture. We need to be people who, when the culture is wrong, stand against it. Stand against it in love and compassion, because we don’t like the direction it’s on. It’s going to be harmful.
“Seek the truth. Hear the truth. Learn the truth. Love the truth. Speak the truth. Hold the truth. And defend the truth to the death.”
I like John Hus (1369-1415), who is one of the early Reformers of the Christian faith that was a martyr for his faith, out of the Czech area. […] He said, “Seek the truth. Hear the truth. Learn the truth. Love the truth. Speak the truth. Hold the truth. And defend the truth to the death.”
If you’re fighting for truth, then it’s worth dying for.
(Slide 32) Towards a Solution – Semper Reformanda
[…] Eight things that I think are critical from a big picture point of view, regardless of what country you are in, or where you are coming from. […]
Increased institutional competition – One of the things that we want to really emphasize out there is not less competition, but actually strong competition […] We need to as leader insure a healthy, healthy competition: our schools, or businesses, government, charities and nation states. One of the trends I am very concerned about is nation states trying to flatten themselves out and becoming less nations. Because that to me is a recipe for increasing global tyranny and power being centralized into fewer and fewer hands. We need to be very careful of that. History tells us to watch that trend. And so we need to have competition.
Protection of private property – Now I’m in the investment business and I would never invest in a country that doesn’t have private property rights. Wealth isn’t going to get created if there isn’t protection of private property.
Reduce the size of the state – The state has become much, much too large. But if you’re going to reduce the size of the state, you have to have an ethical, moral and virtuous population. So you need to have strong religious instruction being embedded into the people. So you can see the tension: get rid of religion, secularize and you actually think you can shrink the state and run balanced budgets? No you can’t.
Colaterialize currency – Make sure your currency is strong.
Invest in science and technology – We need many, many more investments to drive our economies.
(Slide 33) Towards a Solution – Semper Reformanda
Restore the importance of home and marriage
Reject the tyranny of moral relativism – Moral relativism is killing us. It’s leading to increased intolerance and we need to restore the moral absolutes as revealed in the Bible. Because to have freedom, you have to have form. You can’t have freedom without form. The issue is who gives us the best form? Who give us the best structure to operate in? God the Creator. And if you don’t like His form, you’re going to have a lot of problems and troubles. Which we see.
We need to be leaders with a Daniel-like focus on truth, obedience to God, trusting in God’s providence and persevering to the end. Daniel never compromised. He stood for truth. They looked at him as hard as they could and they could find no wrong in him…that was after 70 years at the highest levels of power!
We need to be leaders with a Daniel-like focus on truth, obedience to God, trusting in God’s providence and persevering to the end. I love the character of Daniel, I can’t tell you all the reasons why, but let me just say this. Daniel, as many of you know, for 70 years served the ruling leaders of his time from Nebuchadnezzar, to Belshazzar, to Cyrus, to Darius, all of the key leaders. He was there.
The one thing about Daniel, is that he never compromised. He stood for truth. In the first chapter of verse 8 it says, that Daniel purposed in his heart not to defile himself and to keep himself separate from this culture that he was in.
Then later in chapter 6, the most amazing word, especially for politicians and for us in leadership positions, it said that they tried to go after Daniel. They looked at him as hard as they could and they could find no wrong in him. They couldn’t pin him up against the wall and find any evil in him and so they set him up, in order to get him. That was after 70 years at the highest levels of power!
So the issue ultimately here and where I want to end, is the following. How do we be people like Daniel. Well we need to have the heart of Daniel. And to have the heart of Daniel, we need ultimately to have the heart of God. And that’s what Daniel had.
(SLIDE 34) An Anchor in the Storm: 4 Necessary “Flukes”
Here’s four things that every single person here needs. Every single one of you needs this. Absolutely, it doesn’t matter what background, what country you’re from: love, faith, hope and peace.
Love – We all need love. We need to have love lavishly poured out upon us. Unconditional, bestowed by One that knows all our faults.
We need to have faith. Someone to trust, someone to give us security in an insecure world.
And we need to have hope. We need to be able to have someone who can take us into the future with purpose and a plan. Not just for this world, but for the next, for eternity.
Ultimately we need peace. We can’t have peace in this world, unless we have peace ultimately as individuals with God. We need to have peace with God and we need to have our moral guilt taken away. The Bible makes this clear. If you see anything the world in which we live now, we see this issue of guilt and sort of this self-atonement everywhere you go. There is only One that can take away our moral guilt.
(SLIDE 35) Only Sure and Steadfast Anchor: Reason for Optimism and Joy
We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul in Jesus: love, faith, hope and peace.
I love this passage in Hebrews. It makes reference to the anchor. I love that imagery of the anchor. It says,
“…we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever…” (Hebrews 6:18-20)
What is that passage saying? It’s saying that it is in Christ, the anchor – sure, steadfast. What does it mean going behind the veil, behind the curtain? It’s going into that Holy Place, that Tabernacle in the old Jewish system…shedding His blood and ultimately being a sacrifice for sinners and dying in our place.
This gets to, really the ultimate […] doctrine of all: how can I be right with God? [It] came out of the Reformation in terms of its emphasis – of course it’s a Biblical theology going all the way back to the book of Genesis – But justification by faith.
(SLIDE 36) Jesus – Anchor of the Soul
Let me read this passage for you,
“For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
This is the great exchange that takes place. Uniquely Christian and uniquely true. That Jesus takes our place, our sin so that we can have His righteousness. It’s a uniquely Christian doctrine […] and it frees cultures and people from subjectivism, stagnation and this works salvation which we see all around us.
Everyone is trying to work their way to some kind of peace and Christianity comes and says, “No, you don’t work your way to peace. You ask God and it’s a free gift. God gives you that peace and Christ takes that upon Himself.”
In a world of identity politics and guilt everywhere. I just say to people, “Listen, give it to the Lord. Ask Him to take away that guilt and let’s move on. And let’s make a difference in the world in which we live.”
(SLIDE 37) Jesus – Anchor of the Soul
This points to Jesus Christ who died, the just for the unjust. It’s a free gift and we have a lasting assurance of sins forgiven. So there is one unity point in the world and for a Christian it is unambiguously the Lord Jesus Christ. And you know what? All those Tower of Babels that we’ve been living through – the rising and falling of civilizations – you know they’re all going to come to an end.
(SLIDE 38) Every Nation – No More Towers of Babel
That’s why I want to end with this passage here in Revelation. I started with reference to the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11 and now I’m going to end it at the end of the Bible with Revelation 7. This is a beautiful picture. It’s a picture of ultimately, in eternity, all the nations of the world. This great multitude of people […] all around the throne of the Lamb.
That’s our prayer. It’s my prayer. The prayer of the Christian Embassy. That everybody that’s here from all the different countries will be assembled again around the throne of the Lamb.
So let me end with the reading of this passage [this is John seeing this vision from the Lord],
“After this, I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne and to the Lamb!’ And all the angels were standing around the throne…and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, ‘Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever!’ Amen.” (Revelation 7:9-12)
I look forward to that day when all the nations of the world will be one – but in Christ, not under the UN, not under George Soros, but under the Lamb of Christ. That day is coming and we want to make sure you’re all there and we can enjoy, glory and bask in that for all eternity. Thank you very much.