Author: Howard Green
Young people are kidnapped, rockets are fired into villages, and thugs murder civilians. This violence seems like the actions of a North Korean dictatorship, a rogue Iranian regime, or a brutal militant warlord in Africa. These are the terrorist actions of Palestinians who are empowered by Hamas to carry out violence against Israelis and other innocent bystanders. The world should be outraged and good people should take a stand and call out this sort of evil. Instead, the “peace in our time” crowd scold Israel for defending its citizens and pursuing the evil surrounding them. The folks scolding Israel suffer from: Delusion at the checkpoint.
- Pro-Obama, or Pro-Israel?
It’s not the point of this article to go into detail about the thousands of acts of violence perpetrated against Israeli civilians because volumes could be written about that subject alone. The intent here is to highlight the self-delusion and foolishness of those who would blame Israel for the discord that is so prevalent in the region.
The hypocrisy and shortsighted political wrangling of the EU, UN, and US State Department are nothing new. Israel is attacked again and again by extremists. Israel does what any responsible nation does and defends its citizens. Checkpoints ensure terrorists can’t slip into Israel. Israel closely guards its borders with the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The Israeli Defense Forces may choose to retaliate in response to attacks launched from inside Palestinian territory. Many of the world’s power brokers and politicians decry self-defense measures taken by Israel as unilateral and disproportionate. Yet these very same nations would respond in kind to any entity who launched repeated attacks on its citizens and territory. As hypocritical as these reprimands of Israel by other nations are, they are predictable because they are fueled by self serving agendas.
- The Palestinian Authority’s Inconvenient Truths
What I find very disturbing is a trend that has infiltrated the church. This trend started in mainline denominations and has quickly spread to an increasing number of evangelical circles. What is this disturbing trend? It is a movement that sides with Hamas, radical Palestinian groups, and the “peace in our time” crowd while demonizing Israel for defending itself.
Christ at the Checkpoint is an annual conference that is attended by many including well know evangelical leaders. Here is the Christ at the Checkpoint ( CATC) 2014 mission: To Challenge Evangelicals to Take Responsibility to Help Resolve the Conflicts in Israel-Palestine by Engaging with the Teaching of Jesus on the Kingdom of God.
CATC Is nothing short of a concerted attack on Israel by the ill-informed at best and those with ill-intent toward Israel at the worst. In every conflict there are always a few who stray outside the rules of engagement and they should certainly be held accountable. But what we have in the ongoing crisis is repeated acts of violence directed at Israeli citizens that’s being orchestrated, planned, and funded from inside the areas controlled and dare I say…. ‘governed’ by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.
Israel must defend itself from terrorism. The checkpoints, walls, and routine searches are to ensure the safety of its citizens and sovereignty of its land. If the shoe were on the other foot and the Israelis were the aggressors launching terrorist attacks against her Arab neighbors, perhaps the CATC crowd would be more understanding.
Along the lines of understanding, we have the recent decision by the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) to divest from companies doing business with Israel. The PCUSA and many others see Israel as the problem in the region, while they choose to ignore the thousands of acts of violence committed by Palestinians. These “peace in our time” types push for a Palestinian state which at the end of the day, will most certainly be controlled by Hamas.
- An Overview of Replacement Theology
How could a Christian who regularly studies Scripture be so blind as to ignore the miracle that is the modern State of Israel? Against all odds and at a great cost, Israel was reborn in May 1948. It is because of this miracle in the middle east, bible prophecy again proved relevant, true, and accurate. The prophet Isaiah says the following about the rebirth of Israel:
Isaiah 66:8 – “Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall a land be born in one day? Shall a nation be brought forth in one moment? For as soon as Zion was in labor she brought forth her children.”
The prophet Ezekiel saw this modern day miracle, Ezekiel 37:5 – “Thus says the Lord GOD to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath to enter you, and you shall live. And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the LORD.”
As Christians we are to show love to all people including Jews and Arabs. But peddling and using the name of Jesus to promote a political cause is wrong. Instead of divesting, Christians should be investing. Investing with our prayers of peace for this region. Christians should drop the political grandstanding and exchange it for standing for the gospel, not a special interest political movement. Jesus was compassionate, loving, and cared for all people. But we don’t find Jesus, Paul, or John taking on the political establishment, engaging the policy makers, and attending conferences to promote social justice. Believers would be well-informed and make wise decisions not to be involved with anti-Israel, anti-biblical, and pro-terrorist groups.
It’s high time to shed the rose colored glasses and take a look at the facts: Anyone with a realistic view of what the real world is like knows what would happen if Israel dismantled its security wall and pursued peace at all costs. Hamas, Hezbollah, and every radical Palestinian would turn on Israel. The fact is, many people in the West Bank and Gaza Strip say they want peace but the evidence and history clearly demonstrate, it’s a peace without Israel and Jews. It’s time for people to read what the Lord says about Israel in his word and quit taking the ill informed lopsided advice of the liberal Christian thought police.
Let’s pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Let’s support Israel and her right to exist peacefully. Let’s support Israel’s right to defend herself from radical extremists, both foreign and domestic, who are drunk with the purpose of destroying her. Let’s be wise and not punish the only country in the region that esteems life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness as important as the U.S. does.
Israel is back in her ancient homeland because of God’s divine providence. An undivided Jerusalem is Israel’s capital and right. Any nation seeking to divide the land is going to be judged by the Lord. Any believer who doesn’t see the importance of supporting Israel is simply blind to what’s going on in the world today and what God’s Word esteems as sovereign land.
- Why Christians Should Support Israel
Joel 3:2 – “For behold, in those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. And I will enter into judgment with them there, on behalf of my people and my heritage Israel, because they have scattered them among the nations and have divided up my land, and have cast lots for my people, and have traded a boy for a prostitute, and have sold a girl for wine and have drunk it.”
All for Him,
Author: Kevin Jackson
Source: American Thinker – 08.19.2014
I‘m amazed at how openly racist black Liberals have become, and how few non-blacks are willing to call them out on it.
I was waiting to be interviewed on CNN the other night, and I was listening in advance of my appearance to an interview of a Missouri legislator said to Don Lemmon, [pp] “The way for Ferguson Missouri to improve public relations is to have more black cops.”
Can you imagine the reaction if a city asked for more white cops?
This call for “blackness” as an answer to what’s plaguing the black community is happening a lot, and quite frankly is disturbing.
Pretty soon when we go to a store, black people will only be able to be helped by black people. Imagine a warped world where only somebody of your same COLOR could help you?!
“Colorization” seems to be the answer to all things for Liberals, and is most important to black Liberals. More black is supposed to be better. It never is!
For the life of me, I don’t understand why on Gore’s green Earth black people would want more black people controlling their lives.
Cities are replete with black folks in charge of other black folks: Black aldermen, black city councilmen, majority black school boards (maybe one token white), black mayors, and the real shot-callers known as the Congressional Black Caucus.
Add to this a black president and a black attorney general, and you have a cornucopia of black power, all of which has led to devastation in the black community. And how is the life of Michael Brown celebrated in the black community? Looting.
You’d think by now black Liberals would have had enough of black leadership, because all they need to do is look at the evidence.
Obama has run the nation into the ground; and as I wrote a while back, if you want a recipe for failure in a municipality, elect a black Liberal.
When will black people select who is best for the job, regardless of color?
I have a friend who has been to prison twice. He left high school in the eleventh grade unable to read. He started committing armed robberies shortly thereafter, and was sent to prison the first time.
Upon his first release, the inmates bet on when he would be back, and an “OG” in the prison predicted my friend would return in less than six months. “You ain’t learned nothin’ in prison. You still a thug,” he told my friend.
My friend returned to prison almost six months to the day, again for armed robbery.
While in prison the second time, my friend learned to read. He was taught to read by an old white lady, and she taught him to read from the Bible.
He explained to me that this woman was his first real interaction with a white person, as he had robbed all the others. He described the care in which she took to make sure that he learned how to read properly.
He said that learning to read from the Bible taught him lessons beyond putting words together, lessons he would apply the next time he was released.
He’s out of prison and a solid citizen, because of an old white woman.
My friend says this old white lady made the most impact in his life to date. Up to the point of meeting this old lady, my friend thought of white people as evil. He learned upon reflection that many of his black “friends” were not friends at all. They were enablers of his self-destruction and catalysts to his destruction.
This idea that having more black people is the answer is the most racist mentality one could have. That said; I understand it.
What black Liberals are saying inadvertently is white Liberalism isn’t working. White Liberals do NOT help the black community, because they won’t tell black people the truth. As Thomas Sowell said about truth,
“When you want to help people, you tell the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell people what they want to hear.”
America will change when Americans have the guts to tell black people the truth.
Author: Daniel Greenfield
Source: the Sultan Knish blog – 08.12.2014
Robin Williams is the keyword of the hour. Seeing the rash of stories about him, you might think that he went out at the high point of his career. And yet those same people couldn’t be bothered to actually watch the movies he was starring in.
The closest he came to a starring role in the last few years was ‘Old Dogs’. It made less than $50 million. Before that there was ‘License to Wed’. A handful of people saw that.
Last year he was back on television. And the show he was on was cancelled after its first season.
The same public eating up Robin Williams stories now was bored and disinterested. A week ago, it wouldn’t have paid attention to Robin Williams if he had paid them to. It didn’t go to see his movies. It didn’t watch his TV show.
Now that he committed suicide, it temporarily can’t get enough of him.
History is speedily rewritten to put him at the center of everything. And yet how many of those same people turning him into the trending topic of everything tuned in to the series finale of ‘The Crazy Ones’? The ratings say that not a whole lot of people did.
What makes Robin Williams suddenly so fascinating and compelling is that he killed himself. It’s not just that he’s dead. It’s that he died tragically. It’s that he took his own life.
Lauren Bacall, an arguably greater star, isn’t picking up the same headlines. She didn’t kill herself. There’s no terribly compelling backstory of drugs, depression and failed marriages to pick over as the cause of her death.
She just died.
If Robin Williams had died of natural causes, he would have lingered briefly in the news before being shouldered aside by a pop star’s outfit. It’s his self-destruction that makes his story a magnet for a society that is destroying itself.
It’s one thing to slow down to gawk at a car accident, but it’s another thing to do it while your own car is crashing into a concrete barrier.
The society that can’t get enough of a man who killed himself is killing itself in much the same ways. It suffers from impulse control problems, it’s addictions are out of control, it ricochets wildly between frenzied pleasure seeking and deep depression. It has no hope for the future but is constantly cracking jokes.
Robin Williams was on a streak in the nineties. Then his career died in the oughts.
I’m not particularly familiar with what was going on in his personal life, but one obvious metric is that he passed the fifty mark. He was now officially old. Within a few years the career of an actor who had regularly been starring in big movies was gone.
- Dark Demons: Robin Williams Admits to Channeling Techniques
Our society doesn’t like getting old. Many of the people mourning Williams are really mourning their own youth. They’re marking dates on a calendar, scrolling back to see when ‘Good Morning Vietnam’ or even ‘Good Will Hunting’ came out and wondering if so much time could have really passed.
But the society of the cliff, the one that is slowing down to gawk as his body is being wheeled into an ambulance while their car is going over the cliff, finds the instinct of self-destruction compelling. In feeling sorry for him, they are really feeling sorry for themselves.
And that is the new role of fame, to embody not the hopeful and the vibrant, but the destructive. To entertain the people and then to die for the people. To distract the audience from its own mortality.
The compelling stories are no longer on screen, they are off screen. Movies and television are becoming the background for the reality dramas of fame. Audiences are less interested in cinematic evocations of hope, in the dramas of morality and heroism. They prefer the real life dramas of people made famous making fools of themselves in public until they either leave the stage or die.
Robin Williams never left the stage.
This isn’t about Robin Williams, who was after all someone’s father and someone’s husband. Our country is run, politically and culturally, by men and women who make him seem like the soul of rectitude. They just don’t announce it on stage. Or when they do, like David Carr or Barack Obama, they spin it as part of their upward trajectory. But there is no upward trajectory.
Our society is dying because we traded the virtues of character for fake inspiration. And fake inspiration is ridiculously cheap and ridiculously worthless. It asks nothing of people and it gives them nothing.
Robin Williams mimed that kind of inspiration in countless movies. And he wasn’t the only one. What Obama offered America was the same empty hopeless hope, the invocation of an artificial inspiration created through tone and expression, but that asked nothing of our character.
Deep down everyone can sense the hollowness. It’s what leads them to stop and gawk. The crowds who want inspiration are really looking for something darker. They want a hope to save them from themselves. They want some inspiration that will prevent them from seeing who they really are. And if they can’t have that, they want an excuse for their deaths and the death of their society.
Actors understand better than anyone that there is no escaping from ourselves. It’s the audience that is fooled. It’s the audience that wants to believe in inspiration and immortality, and when the belief dies, it weeps over the corpse of the performer, tastes his despair and then moves on.
Character means making difficult decisions and taking responsibility for them. It’s not something that our society does anymore. Too many of us have diseases or are victims or somehow disadvantaged. Character is individualistic. It asks us to walk the only path of escape from our own flaws by taking responsibility for them.
The alternative is the romance of the fall. The car headed for the concrete barrier. The society of the cliff pointing and laughing even while it’s waiting to fall. Crowds begging for fake inspiration and dying as eternal victims because no one ever taught them how to choose life.
Each generation is called upon to take responsibility for its own choices. The failure to take responsibility is the death drive. Those who refuse to take responsibility are choosing death and the willingness to die attracts them. It embodies the death drive that their beliefs naturally lead to.
They romanticize death because they have chosen to abdicate their lives. Their deaths are a slow thing and may take generations to complete. It is a choice that they can always undo. The romance of the fall always ends in shadow. The end of character is also the death of the soul and the society.
Author: Lea Sylvester
Much has been written from a Christian standpoint addressing the state of morality in America today. Great evil abounds and this is only going to get much worse. Some Christians seem to have the attitude that “Jesus will come get us so we will just go about business as usual.” That is exactly what Jesus Christ told us would happen when several of His disciples asked about signs of His coming at the end of the world.
- The Spirit Of This Age
We find the following statement in Matthew 24, from The Olivet Discourse:
“Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in My name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet…All these are the beginning of sorrows.” (Matthew 24: 4-7, 8)
“But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” (Matthew 24:37)
Jesus markedly said that when we see wars and rumors of wars that we should not be troubled for this is the beginning of sorrows. Then, in a later passage of Scripture, He says that as it was in the days of Noah, so it will also be in the days of His coming. Much can be said about these passages of Scripture but the point that must be made is that these things that we have been observing for some time now are just the beginning.
Jesus Christ later likens the process as birth pangs. If anyone reading this has ever given birth, then one knows exactly what He was illustrating. These pangs start and are mostly tolerable. But, as time goes by, they get more intense and more frequent. Finally, they are constant and seem unbearable. The end of this severe pain and distress is the delivery of a new life. This pain brings joy. This is exactly what we are experiencing our world today. How long until the evil ends and joy comes?
In the days of Noah, before the flood, He tells us that people were eating, drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, etc. Basically, this describes a society that is going about “business as usual.” This is how most Christians seem today. We have become so desensitized to events happening in rapid succession, that we don’t take note of the frequency of earthquakes that occur daily in various places in the world.
We see the situation in the Middle East heating up and as Christians we should be greatly concerned. We should take note of the strange weather patterns, the active volcanoes, for all these point to the end. And, the tables have been turned on us as now we are labeled as “enemies of the state,” “intolerant,” “haters,” because when a Christian has the courage to stand up to the social issues that have been forced down our throats that are wrong; they are accused of being a hater or intolerant.
- They Call Us “Haters”
Even in certain churches today immorality is tolerated. It seems even that it is invited. Such an example of this is welcoming homosexuality and those who practice it. After all, God loves homosexuals, doesn’t He? Homosexuality is a sin and God does not love it.
- Societal Decay and Moral Discipline
The many sins being tolerated are swept under the pews. We are children of the Most High God! These are unnatural and they are something God hates. And, Believers should NEVER tolerate the intolerant. Recently, in a church located in the city where this writer resides, a speaker was invited to come speak to the congregation. This man, a current candidate for president of the nation of Malawi in Africa, is a mighty, courageous, anointed man of God who has had at least ten attempts on his life. The Islamic faction that currently rules that nation has tried to kill him, and has offered him great wealth if he will step down, but he will not.
He walks in the will of God. He understands that as an outspoken Christian, he could well lose his life. But, he refuses to back down and he stands. He stands on the foundation of the Word of God. Just several weeks ago, an attempt was made to kidnap his son. Two weeks ago, an attempt was made on the life of his wife. This man, James Nyundo, can never lay his head down in the same place more than one night because it is not safe. And, he never knows where he will be. He has to trust in God for his very life. So, one can see how he would be an exciting speaker for any group of Christians to have the opportunity to hear.
Nyundo has seen things Christians in the Western world never see or experience, his campaign is being assisted by Christians and Christian churches in his nation. The pastors of these churches and the Christians assisting him willingly do so at the risk of losing their lives. He knows that the only source of freedom comes from God. He knows that God can and will bless his nation but in order to affect change, he must defeat the Muslim opponent.
During his time speaking at the particular church, a “mainline denominational church,” he spoke about integrity and living a righteous life. He recently wrote a book titled, Absolute Integrity. He doesn’t just talk the talk, he walks the walk, and the glow and peace on this man’s face says all that needs to be said about His relationship with God. He began to speak about how God hates homosexuality and how God ordained marriage between a man and a woman. He pointed out that any nation that tolerates, promotes or allows homosexuality will be destroyed by God.
At that particular point, approximately one-half of the large congregation stood and clapped. The other half was absolutely upset! Mr. Nyundo was confused because these were supposedly Christians to whom he was addressing. After the service, the associate pastor, a woman, approached him and attacked him verbally. She was hateful and told him that he was wrong and that he “probably just got the pastor fired.” Nyundo was upset. What did he say? Why were they mad? This was America, a “Christian” nation! Why would they not want to hear the truth?
The congregation members who were angry were “liberal” Christians who believe that homosexuality is not a sin! Yes, Nyundo said exactly what these people needed to hear, and God sent him to tell them that. But this is the kind of thing that is happening in our churches today. It is just as it was in the days of Noah. Who wants to hear the Word of God? Who will tolerate it? It is so much more pleasant to hear a nice sermon about how to be a good parent. Who wants to hear that sin is bad?
This example is not unusual and it emphasizes how very disconnected most Christians in America are from the rest of Christendom around the world. People like Nyundo have endured severe hardship and have seen fellow Christians persecuted and even murdered for their faith. They don’t sit in comfortable pews and rationalize that God’s Word isn’t relevant today. No, they can’t get enough of it and they love to hear ALL of it. And, despite the teachings of many churches today that there is no such thing as demonic possession or that “gifts” of the Holy Spirit are no more, or that there are no miracles today; these people in tiny nations and in third-world nations have seen and have experienced first-hand these very things.
But, for Nyundo, it was never his expectation to experience what he called being confronted by a “demonic presence” in the person who verbally abused him. And, it stunned him that this happened in America. America – the very nation that had been greatly blessed by God Himself, for putting Him first in all things. But, that is the past.
What are we doing, brethren? We have become pathetically politically correct. We have rejected God’s Word.
Dictionary dot com. defines “politically-correct” in the following manner:
“Marked by or adhering to a progressive orthodoxy on issues especially involving gender, race, sexual affinity or ecology.”
The dictionary site notes that it is language of the progressive left. Unless we have a worldview compatible with the godless philosophy that sees man as essentially helpless and misguided, in need of a ruling class to take care of them – we have no business falling into the trap of permitting the progressive left to control the terms of almost every conversation.
- Deconstructing Liberal Tolerance
We use their terms, which are never favorable toward the true conditions in our land. We permit them to use the term pro-choice, when they only choice they believe in is the choice to end the life of an unborn infant. They don’t believe we should have choices about the food we eat, our environment, even our light bulbs. It’s time to put an end our acceptance of their terminology, which is designed to sound good, and conceal their anti-life, anti-freedom agenda.
- The Psychopathology Of the Liberal Mind
What happens when we stand up to the politically correct masters? What happens when we utter such things as we find in the Bible like the sinfulness of homosexuality, or that Jesus is the only way to heaven? The ruling class immediately goes into personal destruction mode. They roll out their closed minded, racist, hater rhetoric. There are some thoughts and ideas that they believe dare not be expressed, lest the lies of the ruling class be exposed.
If we really believe they are lies, they need to be exposed. They tell us there is no God, or if there is, he is the god of the liberation theologian interested in creating a socialist paradise on earth. They tell us that restricting marriage to a man and a woman is discriminatory and we need to be open to other types of relationships. They tell us that the welfare of children is the responsibility of the state more than the parents.
We are told that everyone has their own truth, that what is true for one may not be true for another. We are told that the truth of the Bible is fine for us if we choose to make it so, but others may come up with their own truth. We are just being closed minded and old fashioned if we believe everyone should be working with the same truth.
- Is Jesus Really the Only Way?
At this point the relativists are ahead in the public sphere of ideas, primarily because too many people, too many churches, too many pastors have been intimidated into either complete silence or they have changed their message to make it acceptable to the ruling class.
There is a price to pay when we stand up for the truth. George Orwell told us, “Truth is treason in the empire of lies.” It is treasonous to the homosexual rights advocate to say that the Bible condemns their practice. They tell us that they were born that way. God Almighty, the God of Abraham, Jacob and Israel, does not make such mistakes, nor does He put a man in a woman’s body by accident. Our society has arrived at the point where so many accept the arrogance of those who say their work is to “fix” God’s mistakes.
- Examining Homosexual Myths
With so many dysfunctional families, is it really a mystery how we end up with so many messed up children who become messed up adults that have no idea who they are? Christians! Arise! This is a spiritual war and we are losing the battle. Take up your sword (The Word of God) and speak the truth. Tolerate no more pithy sermonettes from your pulpits. Demand that your pastor preach the entire Word of God or show him the door.
- And the Pulpits Are Silent
What we see happening in our churches today is parallel to what happened in Jesus’ ministry. He was questioned by the religious “authorities” of Judaism.
They had added their own “interpretations” and “extra-rituals” to His commandments and couldn’t bear the fact that He stood in defiance to them. He defied and taught against the traditions of Judaism. These were men who put tradition above God’s Word. The same thing is taking place in the church today.
The Pharisees asked Jesus why His disciples did not observe the traditions of Judaism. Notice Jesus’ reply: “He answered and said to them, ‘Full well ye reject the commandment of God [disobey], that ye may keep your own tradition.” (Mark 7:9)
Jesus said, “Well hath Esaias [Isaiah] prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, this people honore me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Mark 7:6)
Jesus revered and followed God’s Word, His commandments. Jesus told us that if we love Him, we will keep His commandments. This is not an “optional” thing for a Christian. Yet, today because we have been taught that Christians don’t obey God’s commandments, we seem to have made our own religion. If Jesus Christ and His disciples and the early church followed these teachings to the letter, then why are we exempt?
And, can we now see how failing to do so has been exploited by the enemy to bring this politically-correctness into the church? This has also allowed the great apostasy and ignorance of the deeper things of God. The church is the one place this should never be! The gates of hell are not supposed to prevail against the church but the gates of hell have flung wide-open the doors of the church. And the reaction? Silence.
Jesus and his disciples followed the commandments of keeping God’s Feasts (His appointed times). In almost every account we read of Jesus being in Jerusalem, it was for one of those feasts in which going to Jerusalem was required. Yet, we are taught that we are exempt from God’s feasts; the very ones that God Himself said, “These are My feasts to be observed forever.” (Leviticus 23:41)
Had Jesus failed to keep these holy convocations (meetings or gatherings mandated by God Himself to be observed forever), he would have committed sin. Jesus had to be sinless. If it was “optional” then why did He diligently do so? Why? Because it wasn’t optional for the Son of God and it isn’t optional for us as Christians. But “man” has said otherwise. Do we serve God or do we serve men? We cannot do both.
When people reject the Word of God and devise their own religious traditions, they automatically bring spiritual blindness upon themselves.
“Stay yourselves, and wonder, cry ye out, and cry: they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink. For the Lord hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers he hath covered. And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot for it is sealed.
And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned. Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of man.
Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, even a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hid.”
(Isaiah 29: 9-14)
Is what Isaiah described in the passage of Scripture above not a perfect description of the entire world today in religion, science, government, education and economics? Again, what a paradox: They use the Bible and profess to believe in God, but cannot understand the Scriptures. Other prophecies about the end-times confirm that God’s people would understand the Word of God and prophecy, while the wicked, the majority of people in the world would not understand.
Truth must be told, but it must be done in love as a parent correcting a child. This writer is not condemning those in error. Not only have Christians today become tolerant of the intolerant allowing great apostasy to reign; we have forsaken the duty of lifting one another up. We should not attack our brethren, what does this accomplish? What good could come of it?
But, while we tolerate sin, great abominations; we are intolerant of our own brothers and sisters in Christ when they speak the Word of God – the Truth. To be silent and allow this apostasy in our churches, to allow this tolerance for sin (i.e., homosexuality, adultery, idolatry, etc.) is the real act of condemnation to the catastrophic results that await those who are silent, therefore complicit in these sins.
- Christians Trusting Lies
May we all plead for forgiveness, not only from our God, but those who have been led astray by our silence. If the truth shall set us free… why are we feeling the weight of chains growing heavier with each passing day?
God Bless America?
Author/Preacher: John MacArthur
Obviously over the last number of weeks we have on Sunday nights been addressing issues that are on our minds and hearts at this time in our nation when we had been subjected to terrorists’ attacks. I’m trying to keep up with all of the nuances, all of the twists and turns in the road as we go and try to shed some biblical light on the issues at hand.
One of the new features in our country in recent weeks is this obsession with “God Bless America.” In itself certainly a nice tune and a well-crafted song that was sung on many occasions for many years in our country, but now has become our sort of new national anthem, if not, our national prayer. And apparently from all that I can tell, as I see the emotion that is attached with the singing of the song, there is not just symbolism here. There is not just shallow sentimentality. I get the feeling that Americans really want God’s blessing, and by that they mean protection. Blessing means, “God, don’t let me die.” It means, “Don’t let my children die…don’t let my spouse die.” It means, “God, don’t let the stock market keep going the way it’s going.” “God, stop the decline in unemployment.” “God, maintain our freedoms, don’t put us in a position so we have to make all kinds of laws against terrorism that wind up impinging upon our cherished liberties.”
I get the feeling that blessing then is associated with protection, it’s associated with safety, it’s associated with freedom and it’s associated with prosperity. And it is such a loud cry currently that even the usually vocal atheists and militant agnostics have somehow sunk into the shadows, aware that if they were vocal they could actually invite a self-defeating national backlash. Even the bold and counter-productive destructive group known as the ACLU is making very meager and unsuccessful efforts to take down “God Bless America” signs in schools. And they, rather than the people who put them up, are being vilified by the populous.
Americans are to one degree or another in a state of fear. They’re afraid. And they’re crying out to heaven for an invisible means of support against an invisible enemy by an invisible God. And they hope that God is not only omnipresent, not only omniscient, not only omnipotent, but even more importantly that He’s interested. The cry “God Bless America” seems to be getting louder and louder every day and commanding more and more emotion.
And as I was listening to this, it struck me as an interesting issue. The prayer is simple, “God, bless America. Keep us protected. Keep us long-term safe. Keep us free. Keep us prosperous.” And I began to think about the fact that if God were to bless America as everybody seems to want Him to do, it might look very different than we would expect.
- The Spirit of This Age
Will God bless America? Can God bless America? Should God bless America? And if God did bless America, what would He be saying about His holiness? If God did bless America, what would He be saying about our morality? About our spiritual condition? Could God bless America and protect His reputation as holy God?
- Reformation or Revival?
Now, of course, God can always do whatever He wants, whenever He wants. But when it comes to blessing, He has clearly and repeatedly set down conditions. I’ve listened carefully to that song, “God Bless America,” there is no verse in there that identifies the conditions. Nor do Americans seem to be opening their Bibles to try to find out what the conditions are. I don’t hear anybody say, “God, what do we need to do to be blessed?” So I’m going to answer the question nobody’s asking.
- The Narrow Path
In fact, I think this is a serious intrusion. I don’t think they want to know the conditions. It’s sort of like don’t ask, just bless. We’ll ask, don’t ask anything of us. We just want blessing. Don’t impose any conditions. Don’t ask for anything from us. Give us protection. Give us safety. Give us freedom. Give us prosperity. But don’t meddle with our morality. I don’t hear any national cries of repentance, do you? I don’t hear any national affirmations of the law of God, the Word of God. I don’t hear any cries for virtue and forgiveness. I don’t even hear preachers preaching like that.
- Praying for the Sedgefield Community
We’re in, frankly, no position at all to be blessed. It seems to me that this prayer is futile. We’re actually in a better place to be unblessed…cursed, if you can handle that word, because blessing has always had its conditions…always. And the conditions are not hard to find, you just need to go to Scripture (Deuteronomy 28). So let’s do that.
A good starting point is the eighth chapter of Nehemiah, Nehemiah chapter 8, just to the left of Esther, Job and Psalms. At this particular point in the history of Israel they were coming to the end of a long curse. They had experienced divine judgment. That judgment had come to an end. They were ready to be blessed. They went back to the land of Israel from their captivity in Babylon where they had been for a minimum of seventy years. They went back to the land and they wanted God’s blessing. Their land was a rubble. Their city was torn down. They engaged in rebuilding it, and rebuilding its wall, as you know, under Nehemiah. They needed to rebuild the temple to reconstitute their worship. They desperately wanted the blessing of God and began to move in the right direction in chapter 8. They all gathered as one man at the square which was in front of the Water Gate…a particular gate in the city. And they asked Ezra, the scribe, here’s the key phrase, “To bring the book of the law of Moses which the Lord had given to Israel.”
If there was going to be blessing after cursing, if there was going to be a future of blessing, they had to go back to the book. Bring the book. “And Ezra the priest brought the law, the Torah. He brought it before the assembly of all the men and women, all who listen with understanding, the first day of the seventh month and he read from it before the scroll which was in front of the Water Gate from early morning till midday in the presence of men and women, those who could understand and all the people were attentive to the book of the law.”
He read for hours and hours and hours, just read the books of Moses. He was standing, in verse 4, at a wooden podium, just like this one, they had made for that purpose. The first pulpit in the Bible. “And Ezra, [in verse 5], opened the book in the sight of all the people, he was standing above them all and he opened it, all the people stood up. And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God and all the people answered, Amen, Amen while lifting up their hands. Then they bowed low and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.” Verse 8, “And they read from the book from the law of God, translating to give the sense so that they could understand the reading.” This is the beginning of expository preaching. They read it and they explained it.
If there’s ever going to be blessing, the first thing that has to happen is you have to go get the book. Bring the book. In verse 18, “He read from the book of the law daily, from the first day to the last day. They celebrated the feast seven days. On the eighth day there was a solemn assembly according to the ordinance.” Day after day after day after day they read the Word while the people stood and listened.
And then in chapter 9 verse 1 it says, “On the twenty-fourth day of this month the sons of Israel,” this is indicative of the collective people of Israel gathering together, “assembled with fasting, in sack cloth and dirt upon them.” That is a posture and an attire of penitence and humiliation. Verse 2, “The descendants of Israel separated themselves from all foreigners, stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers.” Now we’re getting something done here.
You bring the book. The book reiterates the law of God in no uncertain terms. The people hear the law of God, they now are very much aware of why they have been cursed. They recognize their sin, the very sins for which they endured this prolonged captivity. They posture themselves as penitents. They confess their sins and the sins and iniquities of their fathers. “And while they stood in their place they read from the book of the law of the Lord their God for a fourth of a day and for another fourth they confessed and worshiped their God.”
This sets up the pattern for blessing. In verse 5, “Arise, bless the Lord your God forever and ever. O may Thy glorious name be blessed and exalted above all blessing and praise. Thou alone art the Lord, Thou hast made the heaven of heavens with all their host, the earth and all that is in them.” And they go on to recite the fact that God is the great sovereign creator. And then in the rest of chapter 9 you can see is a reiteration of God’s powerful, sovereign work in Israel. It talks about Egypt and the Red Sea and how they were led by a pillar of fire by night and on and on it goes all the way down through that chapter.
Go down to verse 29 and they’re reminded again that they were admonished to turn them back to Thy law. Yet they acted arrogantly, didn’t listen to Thy commandments, but sinned against Thy ordinances by which if a man observes them he shall live. But they turned a stubborn shoulder and stiffened their neck and would not listen. However, and this is characteristic of God who is patient and gracious, “Thou didst bear with them for many years and admonished them with Thy Spirit through Thy prophets, yet they would not give ear. Therefore Thou didst give them into the hand of the peoples of the lands. Nevertheless, in Thy great compassion Thou didst not make an end of them or forsake them for Thou art a gracious and compassionate God.” And they’re just going through reciting the history of the people who had the law of God, had the Word of God, didn’t obey the Word of God and were therefore cursed.
“Now therefore…[verse 32]…our God, the great, the mighty, the awesome God who dost keep covenant and lovingkindness. Do not let all the hardship seem insignificant before Thee, which has come upon us, our kings, our princes, our priests, our prophets, our fathers, and on all Thy people from the days of the kings of Assyria to this day. However…and I love this…Thou art just in all that has come upon us; for Thou hast dealt faithfully, but we have acted wickedly.”
Here you have a people putting themselves by the prompting of God into a position to be blessed. Bring the book. Read the law of God. Confess that you have disobeyed it. And God will bless you.
Israel knew there was no mystery to the standards for blessing. Israel knew that even though they were a covenant people that possessed the covenant that was eternal, they had been given everlasting promises that God will fulfill eternally, they knew that God is a faithful God but they also knew that God was just to punish them because He is a holy God. Blessing begins when you admit your sin and you admit your violation of the law of God. Israel had to start there and they were a covenant people with everlasting promises. We’re not. America is not a covenant nation. We are not an elect nation. We’re just another nation like many nations that have come and gone through human history. We bear no eternal covenant with God as a nation. America is not a Christian nation, as such. We have no covenant to protect us. We have no eternal promises nationally that God somehow must keep.
- Praying for Richmond, VA and the Greater Richmond Area
And so, if Israel who has those covenants and those promises cannot be blessed unless they obey the law of God and repent for their disobedience, why would we assume that the standard for us would be any different?
And, in fact, listen to a few other scriptures from the Old Testament so that there’s no mistake in your mind. Second Kings 17, this again reiterates in terms that cannot be mistaken the standard for blessing, 2 Kings 17, let’s go down…well, we’ll start at verse 14, we’ll let’s go back to verse 13. He’s talking about idolatry in the prior verses. In verse 13, “Yet the Lord warned Israel and Judah through all His prophets and every seer saying, ‘Turn from your evil ways and keep My commandments, My statutes according to all the law which I commanded your fathers and which I sent to you through My servants, the prophets. However, they did not listen but stiffened their neck like their fathers who did not believe in the Lord their God.'”
This is the problem, unbelief and disobedience. Verse 15, “They rejected His statutes, His covenants which He made with their fathers, His warnings which He warned them, they followed emptiness, or vanity, and became empty, went after the nations which surrounded them concerning which the Lord had commanded them not to be like them.” In other words, they just sucked in all the idolatries of all their surrounding nations.
Verse 16, “They forsook all the commandments of the Lord their God, they made for themselves molten images, even two calves, and made an Ashterah, which is a form of an idol, worshiped all the host of heaven, served Baal. They made their sons and daughters pass through the fire, literally incinerating their children in sacrifices to the idols. They practiced divination and enchantments and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking Him. So the Lord was very angry with Israel and removed them from His sight; none was left except the tribe of Judah.” And that’s talking about the captivity of the northern kingdom, the kingdom in the north called Israel, the kingdom in the south called Judah…the northern kingdom taken captive by Assyria.
Verse 19, “But also Judah did not keep the commandments of the Lord their God but walked in the customs which Israel had introduced.” In other words, Judah, the more resistant to idolatry because in Judah was Jerusalem, in Jerusalem was the temple, and so because of that there was a stronger influence to stay true to the Scripture in Judah. But eventually Judah caved in. The northern kingdom taken captivity in 722, the southern kingdom taken into captivity in 586. So a hundred and some years later Judah caves in, same thing, didn’t keep the commandments of the Lord their God, began to imbibe the same things which Israel, the northern kingdom, had introduced. You remember, the kingdom was divided after Solomon. “The Lord…[verse 20]…rejected all the descendants of Israel, afflicted them, gave them into the hand of plunderers until He had cast them out of His sight.”
The bottom line is very simple, even if you are a covenant nation, even if you are the recipients of the eternal, everlasting promises of God, you still must meet the conditions of blessing or you will be cursed. If that is true for a covenant people, it is true for a covenant-less people, which we are.
Look at 2 Chronicles, and again this is very clear and unmistakable instruction from Scripture. Second Chronicles chapter 7, for the moment look at verse 19. The Lord has reiterated the promises of the Davidic covenant. The people are aware of the promises of the Abrahamic covenant, these eternal promises, “But…[verse 19]…if you turn away and forsake My statutes and My commandments which I have set before you and shall go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will uproot you from My land which I have given you and this house which I have consecrated for My name I will cast out of My sight.” That’s the temple. “I will make it a proverb and a byword among all peoples. As for this house which was exalted, everyone who passes by it will be astonished and say, ‘Why has the Lord done thus to this land and to this house?’ And they will say, even the strangers will know, ‘Because they forsook the Lord, the God of their fathers who brought them from the land of Egypt and they adopted other gods and worshiped them and served them, therefore He has brought all this adversity on them.'” And again I reiterate the obvious point, when Israel turned away from God, when they turned away from the Word of God, when they forsook His statutes, forsook His commandments, began to establish other idols, they forfeited God’s blessing and they ended up with curses.
Now this had been instructed to them back in the Torah, back in the Pentateuch, back in the books of Moses, Deuteronomy 28, listen to two verses, verse 58 and 63. “If you’re not careful to observe all the words of this law which are written in this book, to fear this honored and awesome name, the Lord your God, it shall come about that as the Lord…listen to this…delighted to bless you and multiply you so the Lord will delight over you to make you perish and destroy you.” If you meet the conditions, God will be delighted to bless you. If you don’t, He will be equally delighted to curse you.
What do you mean, is He delighted in that? He’s delighted in the sense that He finds satisfaction enduring what is consistent with His holiness. It’s a simple principle. You ascribe your life to the truth of God, to the Word of God and where you fall short, you repent, you seek His forgiveness, you then put yourself in a place of blessing. Apart from a national penitence, a national brokenness, a national contrition for having turned their backs on God, on His Word, lived in sin, disdained to worship the true and living God, there is no basis upon which God would bless a people.
Psalm 81:11 and 12, “But My people did not listen to My voice and Israel did not obey Me. So I gave them over to the stubbornness of their heart to walk on their own devices.” If you disobey God, you’ll never be blessed. That’s true individually, and therefore it’s true collectively.
You say, “Yeah, but that’s the…that’s the Old Testament standard.” No, that’s the universal standard. God said, “I am the Lord, I change not.” It is pointless really, no matter how well intentioned to keep on saying “God bless America, God bless America,” when it is crystal-clear that America is not interested in meeting the conditions of that blessing. God bring America back to the truth of Scripture. God bring America to true penitence. Pray that.
- Judgment, Not Warning
When I was speaking to this group of Jewish people on Sunday night, I said two things have to happen for God to bless America. One, we have to return to God and two, we have to return to guilt. I put them on a God trip and a guilt trip.
What am I saying by that? I’m saying we have to return to a true understanding of God and a true understanding of ourselves. We have to look up to God and His truth, we have to look in to our fallenness and our wretchedness and our sinfulness. While we’re seeing the truth of God’s morality, we have to see the truth of our immorality.
We have a long way to go to return to the true and living God. Wouldn’t you say? You want blessing? God repeatedly said in Leviticus, “Be holy for I am holy…be holy for I am holy…be holy for I am holy.” Jesus repeated it in the Sermon on the Mount. Peter repeats it in his epistle. You want blessing? Then you have to go back to the holy standard.
Joshua, turn to Joshua 1…1:8, this is such a great statement. It should be marked out in your Bible. Joshua chapter 1, Moses is dead and the people of Israel are ready to cross the Jordan and come into the land God had promised them. Verse 3, “God says every place on which the sole of your foot treads I’m going to give to you, just as I promised Moses from the wilderness and this Lebanon, even as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites as far as the great sea toward the setting of the sun will be your territory.” The Mediterranean, all the way back to the middle of the Mesopotamian Valley, the Tigris/Euphrates valley, north to Lebanon all the way south down to Egypt, that’s exactly what God had pledged to Abraham, reiterated that pledge to Moses, is recorded in the books of the law. And now God reminds them as they go into the land of that promise, I’m going to give it to you.
I’m not only going to give it to you, “But nobody…[verse 5]…is going to be able to stand before you all the days of your life, just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you, I will not fail or forsake you. Nobody is going to be able to overthrow My ultimate purpose for you.” Verse 6, “Be strong and courageous,” this is speaking directly to Joshua, nobody is going to be able to withstand Joshua who was a godly leader, God’s going to be with him. “Be strong, courageous, you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them.” Verse 7, “Only be strong and very courageous,” and here it comes, “be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right, or to the left so that you may have success wherever you go. If you turn from the law of God, I guarantee you will not have success. You will not have prosperity. You will not enjoy safety, protection or well-being.”
What’s the key? Verse 8, here’s the key. “This book of the law, the Word of God, shall not depart from your mouth. You shall meditate on it day and night.” Learn it, absorb it, make it your own so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it for then you will make your way prosperous, then you will have success.
The principles haven’t changed. If America wants success, if American wants prosperity, if America wants well-being, safety, protection, all of these things that are bound up in this particular fear, then the standard is established, go back to the law of God and meet the God of the law.
- The Call To Discipleship
I mean, it’s obvious, we have God in our salute, we have God on our coins, we have God in our songs, we just don’t have Him in our minds or our hearts. This is a serious situation because we have turned so seriously against God that we are far, far away from a return. We are in a kind of desperation that I think is best defined by Romans 1.
Turn to Romans 1. This was pretty shocking to the pupil I was speaking to on Sunday night in this meeting because they were not familiar with Romans 1. Many of them not familiar, because they were Jewish, with the New Testament at all. Those who were Christians not familiar with the real intent of Romans 1. But here’s what you have in Romans 1, verse 18, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men…here’s the key phrase…who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.” You want to put yourself as an entity, as a corporate group of people, you want to put yourself in the worst possible condition…suppress the truth…suppress the truth. Verse 19 says, “That which is known about God is evident within them, for God made it evident to them.” God has revealed His truth in the human heart, man is created in the image of God, he’s created with rational capabilities, moral capabilities, a conscience and built into the fabric of man, according to Romans chapter 2, is the law of God written in his heart and the attendant conscience that on the knowledge of that law accuses or excuses man. So that everybody has the knowledge of God to some degree in his heart. It’s evident.
- The Bible and Homosexuality
How did God make it evident? Verse 20, “From the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen being understood through what has been made so that they are without excuse.” Nobody has any excuse for not believing in the true God who is the creator, no one. The evidence is massive, and we’ve just recently gone through it in our series on Genesis. It’s available to you if you want information in the new book Battle for the Beginning. Every culture can look at creation and by virtue of the simple principle of cause and effect know that there had to be a cause for this massive effect that we call the world.
The problem is, man suppresses the truth. Verse 21, “Even though they knew God because God had planted that knowledge in them, they didn’t honor Him as God, they didn’t give Him thanks, they were futile, empty in their speculations and their foolish heart was darkened, professing to be wise they became fools and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man, of birds, and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.”
Now that’s a lot to absorb. Let me make it very simple. The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against people who suppress the truth. The knowledge of God is in the human heart, it’s a very part of being human. God as He’s given you physical senses, the five senses, have given you spiritual senses and a rational mind so that you can reason from effect back to cause, back to cause until finally you come back to the ultimate cause and your mind demands that there be a creator God who has the capacity to create not only a material universe, but a spiritual universe who has the capacity to think and to reason and relate the way humans do. The greater cannot come from the lesser. Clearly God is revealed and certainly beyond His revelation in the physical world, He has revealed Himself in Scripture.
- The Living Word of God
America, we not only have that physical revelation, that theologians call natural revelation, we have special revelation, verbal revelation, the Scripture, our country has always had the Word of God. Our problem is, when we knew God, we glorified Him not as God. We have taken God out, forced Him out in the name of political correctness, in the name of conventional wisdom, in the name of tolerance, in the name of not offending somebody we have blasphemed God, the creator. We don’t honor Him, verse 21. We don’t give Him thanks. And we are empty in our ideas, our foolish hearts are darkened, we think we’re smart, we’re actually moraino, the word from which we get morons, worshiping dolphins, or spotted owls, or the new religion, eco-feminism, or whatever other bizarre kind of idolatry we can concoct in the place of the true God, or just worshiping money, power, prestige, worshiping our own physical bodies, whatever it is.
So that’s the problem in America, but it’s not just us, it’s everybody. Acts 14 says, “God has allowed all the nations to go their own way.” That’s the whole history of the world. Every nation goes this way…people are born, they know God exists, God is part of the fabric of their very being. They can know God through the law written in their hearts. They can know Him through reason. They can be responding to the revelation through their conscience. The knowledge of God is there. Every society suppresses that because of man’s fallen nature, because of wickedness, because of blindness, because of the love of iniquity. They crush the knowledge of God. They crush it lower and lower until it disappears out of their view. And that turns loose the wrath of God.
- Biblical Theology: The Wrath of God
Now go back to verse 18. “For the wrath of God is revealed against all who do this.” Every once in a while I hear a suppose a well-intentioned and hopeful preacher say, “We’re on the brink of a great revival in America.” I don’t know what they’re looking at. I don’t know why they would ever come to that conclusion. I believe America is currently experiencing the wrath of God. The wrath of God is the general reality in our nation.
- Trusting God as Freedom Fades
Am I saying it was an act of God’s wrath to allow terrorists to kill people? I don’t know why God does what He does. We’ve already said that. I do know that for some they were catapulted into eternal wrath. But I also know for some who were believers, they were taken into glory. God may have many purposes in what He does. I’m not talking about an incident. What I am telling you though is on a national level, I believe America is experiencing the wrath of God. And I think you’ll see that here because the wrath of God is defined for us in verses 24 and following and it’s very specific.
The wrath of God, verse 18, is revealed, and then it tells against what it’s revealed. But down in verse 24, you go to the therefore. Therefore, let’s go back to the wrath. Here is the definition, “God gave them over.” Verse 26, “God gave them over.” Verse 28, the middle of the verse, “God gave them over.”
- A Bad Heart
That’s an interesting phrase. God gave them over, or God gave them up. God abandoned them. That’s a fascinating statement. There are, as I would count them, five forms of God’s wrath.
First is eternal wrath, that’s everlasting punishment in hell, that’s one form of God’s wrath, that’s not in view here.
Second, there would be what we could call eschatological wrath, that’s the wrath of God that unfolds at the end of the age, during the time of the Great Tribulation when the wrath of God is poured out on the earth and all the things that are described in the book of Revelation take place. That’s a future eschatological wrath.
Thirdly, there is a cataclysmic wrath, that’s the wrath of God that comes on Sodom and Gomorrah when God destroys those cities and the cities of the plain and when God destroys Bethsaida, Chorazin, Capernaum in the New Testament, there is that cataclysmic wrath that falls on Pompeii or through some massive disaster brings about the death of tens of thousands of people, cataclysmic expressions of God’s wrath often on cultures that have found themselves in this position, having rejected the knowledge of God.
Fourthly, there is what I call natural wrath. God has built into the fabric of human life consequence to sin, and some of that consequence is natural. If you sin against your body by becoming an alcoholic, the natural effect, the natural wrath that works could be called cirrhosis of the liver. If you sin in a life of immorality and you get involved in homosexuality or promiscuous sexuality, you could wind up with a sexually transmitted disease, you could wind up with AIDS and that is a built-in act of wrath. That’s the sowing and reaping principle.
We’re not talking about eternal wrath here. We’re not talking about eschatological wrath, cataclysmic wrath or natural wrath…there’s a fifth kind of wrath, it’s the wrath of abandonment…the wrath of abandonment.
This is such a frightening thing. This is when God gives you up, steps back, let them go…let them go. No more restraining grace. Turn them over. They want their sin, let them go. We know this is going to happen in its consummate sense in the time of Tribulation when the restrainer is removed, remember? The Holy Spirit and hell belches forth the previously bound demons and all the demons of the universe come down to earth and aid the Antichrist in his satanic efforts to finally conquer the world and the Kingdom of God.
- Crossing Paths with God
But we get a foretaste of that, previews of that as nations turn against God and He gives them up. This is the wrath of abandonment that is true in the Old Testament. Judges 16, Samson found a Philistine woman by the name of Delilah. I never met anybody who named their daughter Delilah, such an infamous person. Well, you remember the story. She seduced Samson and so he told her that his strength was connected to his Nazarite vow which had to do with his hair. And she made him, according to Judges 16:19, sleep on her knees. She called for a man and had him shave off the seven locks of his hair, then she began to afflict him somehow, not in some severe sense, but to jostle him and his strength left him.
And she said, “The Philistines are upon you, Samson,” and he awoke from his sleep and said, “I will go out as at other times and shake myself free.” He had defeated the Philistines on many occasions and by the thousands. He had defeated them single-handedly, so he said, “I will go out as at other times.” Verse 20, “But he didn’t know that the Lord had departed from him.” Wow. So when the Philistines came, they seized him, they gouged out his eyes, they brought him down to Gaza, bound him with bronze chains and he was like a mule, grinding in a prison.” God left. Turned Samson over to the consequence of his choices. Judges chapter 10 verses 13 and 14, it says, speaking of Israel, “Yet you have forsaken Me and served other gods, therefore I will deliver you no more.” I’m done with you. I’m not going to rescue you, I’m not going to protect you. So verse 14 says, “God and cry out to the gods which you’ve chosen.” You’ve chosen your gods, let them deliver you in the time of your distress. You leave Me, I leave you.
Proverbs 1, “Because I called and you refused, I stretched out My hand and no one paid attention, you neglected all My counsel, you didn’t want My reproof, I will even laugh at your calamity, I will mock when your dread comes, when your dread comes like a storm, your calamity like a whirlwind, and distress and anguish comes on you, then they will call on Me but I will not answer.” Is that America? Are we saying futilely against a vaulted sky, “God bless America” and God is not going to answer? Why? “Because they hated knowledge, did not choose the fear of the Lord. They will seek Me diligently, they will not find Me. They would not accept My counsel, they spurned all My reproof so they shall eat of the fruit of their own way and be satisfied with their own devices. I’m letting them go.” They can have the meal they cooked.
Hosea 4:17, the prophet said, “Ephraim is joined to idols, let him alone.” Amazing, let him go. Let him go.
Jesus said about the Pharisees, “They’re blind leaders of the blind. Let them alone. Let them go. I’m done with them.”
That’s the frightening wrath that God just steps back and lets sinners go to the consequence of their choices. You say, “How do you know that’s going on in America?”
- Is Hell for Real?
Follow the sequence. Verse 24, you’re familiar with this, first thing that happens, “God gave them over to the lust of their hearts to impurity that their bodies might be dishonored among them for they exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the creator who is blessed forever, amen.” They turned their back on God. God gave them over to…what?…sexual immorality. They operate on lust. They function in impurity. They dishonor their bodies.
You look at America, you look back at 1960, you see the sexual revolution. That’s…when God lets a people go, that’s the first step down…they become preoccupied with illicit sex. Here we are a few decades later, drowning in a sea of pornography, now pumped into every person on the Internet everywhere. But that’s only step one.
Step two is in verse 26, “God also gave them over to degrading passions for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural,” that’s Lesbianism, “in the same way also the men abandoned the function of the women and burned in their desire for one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own person the due penalty of their error.”
First, when God lets a nation go, they sink to immorality. And then they sink to homosexuality. First it’s heterosexual sin and then it’s homosexual sin. Does anybody question that we’re there?
- Hope, Change, and Early Death for Many
And then in verse 28, the third step, “God gave them over to a depraved mind.” What is that? Adokimos, means one having an useless mind, a mind which is morally incapable of making a right judgment. And when you get to that point, there’s no recovery. You can be moral, heterosexually, you can be immoral homosexually, and still somebody can be sane enough to call you back, but when you get to step three and the mind is morally incapable of making a right judgment, there’s no way back. And you know a society has reached this when that society will not tolerate anyone making moral judgments.
- Tolerance, Intolerance, and Truth
You want to be an enemy of our culture? Start making moral judgments. Once you don’t make any moral judgments, what happens? Verse 29, unrighteousness fills everything, wickedness, greed, evil, envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice, gossip, slander, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents with understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful, everything breaks loose and the Jerry Springer show becomes funny to the degraded mind.
- The Breakdown of Moral Discipline
I was speaking at chapel at the college this week and I leaned over to Mark Tatlock and I said, “Mark, do you think there’s anything that could happen that would shock these young people? Anything?” But if you step up and call a halt to the moral insanity and place the law of God in the public eye, believe me, you will be rejected. The same America that keeps saying “God bless America, God bless America, God bless America,” is not anyway near ready to hear how God will bless America and that is, first of all, by establishing His law against which every life is measured, and against which an appropriate repentance is required. And even though people, verse 32 says, know that death is the result of these kinds of behaviors, they do them anyway. And they give hearty approval to those who practice them.
That’s where we are in this country. So if we’re saying “God bless America…God bless America,” on the basis of what? We’ve turned our back on God, we’ve blasphemed God, we’ve rejected God. In His place we’ve made our own idols. And now we’re saying “God bless America?” I’m quite sure that if He were to bless America in the way people are now asking, it would be hard for Him to maintain His reputation as a holy God.
So, folks, I’m not the prophet or the son of a prophet, but I will tell you this. I can’t see any reason at all why God should bless this nation and a myriad why of having let go of the nation He should turn it over to the consequence of its own wickedness. We can sing that song until we’re blue in the face, and it doesn’t compel our holy God at all.
- Is God Angry Anymore?
Listen to what Scripture says again. Second Chronicles 7, familiar text, we looked at the later part of the chapter, let’s go back to the earlier. Second Chronicles 7, Solomon in verse 11 finished the house of the Lord and the King’s palace, successfully completed all that he had planned on doing in the house of the Lord and in his palace. And, of course, the Solomonic temple and palace were the greatest ever. “Then the Lord appeared to Solomon at night and said to him, ‘I have heard your prayer, have chosen this place for Myself as a house of sacrifice. If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land or if I send pestilence among My people.” In other words, He says I’m going to come here, I’m going to live here, but I’ll tell you this, if the people sin and I have to bring judgment, drought, devastating locust plague, some other pestilence, some deadly disease, if I have to bring that, then remember this, verse 14, “My people who are called by My name, if they humble themselves and pray, seek My face, turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
You say, “Is that a covenant promise for Israel?” Well, it’s a promise from God to a covenant people, but the standard applies to anybody. God doesn’t bless people who reject Him.
Psalm 81 again, verses 13-16, God says, “O that My people would listen to Me, that Israel would walk in My ways. If My people would just listen, and obey, I would quickly subdue their enemies.” I suppose we could extrapolate from that that the best hope for any nation to be protected and safe and secure and free and prosperous is to have God fighting their battles, subduing their enemies. And in verse 16 He says, “If My people listen to Me and walk in My ways, I will feed you with the finest of the wheat and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.” That’s blessing, that’s just a way to express blessing, I’ll give you the best I’ve got, I’ll give you the best blessings I have.
There are conditions. The condition is the law of God must be put back as the standard and obeyed. That’s a return to God and His Word. But secondly, there has to be a return to guilt. I have to measure my life against that law and repent. Let me use David as an illustration.
Saul was king. He had been chosen by the people but confirmed by God. And Saul was hunting David to kill him cause he was threatened, of course, by the fact that David was going to be king. On one occasion Saul is hunting David and David stumbles across Saul in a very compromised condition. He is in a cave doing what the Old Testament very delicately calls “covering his feet,” relieving himself. David could have killed him. His…his enemy, he could have killed Saul. And his men said, “Kill him…kill him…look, kill him.” He wouldn’t do it. He went over and he cut off a little piece of his robe, Saul’s robe, to let him know he could have killed him.
And then it says in 1 Samuel 24:5, “David’s conscience bothered him because he had cut off the edge of Saul’s robe because Saul was the Lord’s anointed.” I’m telling you, folks, that’s a sensitive conscience, isn’t it? That is a hyper- sensitive conscience. With all of David’s failures, he sinned greatly but is there anybody in the Old Testament who had such a sensitivity to his sin as he had? David compromised again with Bathsheba and engaged in adultery with her. She was the wife of Uriah, one of his soldiers. Not only did he sin with Bathsheba, but he arranged for Uriah to be left isolated in the middle of a battle, have the ones around him retreat so that he would die and he did. David was guilty then of adultery and murder. And in response to that he came to Nathan the prophet in 2 Samuel 12:13 and he said, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And he was so smitten in his conscience that he wrote two Psalms, Psalm 32 and Psalm 51. And in Psalm 32 he said, “When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away and through my groaning all day long, night and day Your hand was heavy on me, my vitality, my life’s juices were drained away.” It restricted his blood flow, it restricted his saliva, all the functions of his body were thrown out of whack because of the terrible guilt that he felt.
Later on in 2 Samuel 24 he numbered Israel which essentially was a way of being proud and a way of sort of counting on the sheer force of your army to win a battle, rather than God. He numbered the people when he was told not to number the people. Second Samuel 24:10 says, “David’s heart smote him.” Something went through him like a spear. I hate that David sinned, I love that David responded so sensitively to it. A spear went through his heart and he said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I’ve done, please, O Lord, take away the iniquity of Your servant, I’ve acted very foolishly.”
That’s what it takes. That’s what it takes. It takes a recognition of the standard of God, the law of God and then an instant severe pain over having violated that law. If America, if you want to be blessed, that’s the path. Return to God, return to guilt.
- The Doctrine of Repentance
We don’t want God in our society, except as a sky-hook, a parachute. And we certainly don’t want guilt in our society. Ann Landers wrote, I quote, “Guilt is a pollutant and we don’t need any more of it in the world.” Really? Charles Dyer in his book Your Erroneous Zones said, quote, “Guilt must be exterminated, spray cleaned and sterilized forever.” MTV said, “No sin is as evil as the killjoy attitude of those who think someone’s behavior is an offense to some holy God.” We want self-esteem, not guilt. Guilt’s intolerable. The psychologies of self-esteem and victimization are designed to silence the voice of conscience to remove guilt. That is damning and destructive. Generations are being trained that their consciences are liars and that they’re really good and not evil. Psychologists have been the purveyors of that damning anthropology.
- Spiritual Blindness
John Owen who was Cromwell’s chaplain wrote, “If you want to kill sin, load your conscience with the guilt of it.” Generations are being trained that conscience is a liar, they shouldn’t feel guilty, and you can do whatever you want because you have the freedom to be yourself. And don’t let anybody put some guilt trip on you or make you feel bad about it.
- They Call Us Haters
This is the depth of the morass of twisted thinking that America is in. We’ve abandoned God and He’s abandoned us. We’ve plummeted down the path from immorality to homosexuality to degraded thinking. We’ve slaughtered our conscience. We don’t have the Word of God to inform conscience and when conscience tries to speak even weakly, we crush it into silence and tell it it has no right to tell us anything. We’re good, the Twinkies made me do it. Your child has ADD, HDP, ODD, or whatever other psychologization of morality.
- O America, Where Art Thou?
We have a long ways to go in this country to expect blessing, don’t you think? Just getting back to God is a huge, huge trek and getting back to guilt is another one. We want God but we want Him on our terms. “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers, but his delight is in the law of the Lord. In His law he meditates day and night (Psalm 1:1-3).”
You want to be blessed, get back to the book. Go back to the book and the God of the book. And the book will reveal God in all His magnificent, holy morality and it will reveal you in all your ugly immorality. Yes, there is blessing for the one who walks in the Word. Psalm 32, “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity.” Blessed means that you’ve come to the Lord, you’ve come to the truth, you’ve embraced His Word, you’ve sought forgiveness. And you’ve been justified, that is no longer is iniquity imputed to you, your sin has been covered, covered, in fact, by the very righteousness of God through Christ. “Blessed, [Psalm 34:8], is the man who takes refuge in the Lord.”
You want to be blessed? Return to the Lord. I’m just reading you a few that come to my mind. Psalm 40:4, “Blessed is the man who has made the Lord his trust and has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood.” I think it’s Psalm 112, a good place to sort of conclude these references from the Psalms, yes, “Praise the Lord…this sums it up…how blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in His commandments. Wealth and riches are in his house. He will never fear evil tidings. His heart is steadfast. Trusting in the Lord, his heart is upheld. He will not fear.” That’s blessing.
But there are conditions. Walking in the truth, knowing God, repenting, confessing sin. Isaiah 55, “Seek the Lord while He may be found. Call upon Him while He’s near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts and let him return to the Lord and He will have compassion on him and to our God for He will abundantly pardon.” There is blessing, but that blessing is attached to repentance for sin and obedience to the Word of God. And that’s not a national thing until it’s an individual thing. The only way God could bless America as an entity is if it was dominated by individual who had stepped into His blessing.
There’s one other thing that I have to say. Believing the Bible, repenting of sin–the standard of blessing. But there’s one other absolutely critical reality and that is that blessing is provided through Jesus Christ and Him alone. In 2 Corinthians chapter 1 verse 20, There is many as may be the promises of God, all His promises of blessing, obviously, as many as may be the promises of God, in Him, that is in Christ Jesus, the Son of God, mentioned in verse 19, in Him they are yes. All the promises of God in Christ are yes. “Wherefore also by Him is our amen to the glory of God through us.” Paul is saying, all the promises of God become reality in Christ.
Galatians chapter 3 and verse 14, “In Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham comes to the Gentiles so we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” The ultimate blessing of forgiveness, eternal life originally given in the Abrahamic covenant comes to us in Christ Jesus.
And then a passage to end on, Ephesians 1 verse 3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places…what are the next two words?…in Christ.”
We have a message for America. God bless America, well He will bless America if the conditions are met. But before we can be concerned about America, we need to be concerned about those who are America, that’s us. And the way to blessing is back to the book, to know the truth of God and the God of the book, to repent of sin and to come to Him for forgiveness and new life and new capacity for obedience through faith in Jesus Christ. All the promises of God are yes in Christ. All spiritual blessings are ours in Christ.
- Is Jesus the Only Way?
I wish that all the people saying God bless America were willing to acknowledge God, His Word, their own sin and the Savior Jesus Christ. That’s the only way anybody will ever be blessed by God. This is our message, folks, not just mine to you, yours to everybody else.
Father, thank You for our time tonight. So much can be said about this and Your Word is so clear on it, perhaps it is enough tonight to be reminded of the path of blessing and the folly of expecting You to bless on terms that people establish. Bless only in a way, Father, that glorifies You. Bless, yes, we ask You to bless, bless many souls by bringing them to faith and repentance, obedience through Jesus Christ. And those who are in this nation don’t come that way, then vindicate Your holiness even in Your judgment from which we will be delivered and hence have no fear. This all to Your glory in Christ’s name, Amen.
© 2002-2013 SermonIndex.net – Audio Sermons
Only what’s done for Christ will last.
Author: Dave Hunt
Source: TheBereanCall.org – Nov. 2000
When our Lord Jesus Christ was on earth He repeatedly said to those who would listen to His Word, “Come, follow me” (Matthew 19:21; Luke 18:22, etc.). Large numbers of the Jews, because they or a relative or friend had been healed or fed by Christ, followed Him wherever He went: “And there followed him great multitudes of people….and he healed them all…” (Matthew 5:1; 8:1; 12:15; 13:2, etc.). So large and eager were the crowds that He and His twelve disciples “could not so much as eat bread. And…his friends…said, He is beside himself” (Mark 3:20-21).
Christ’s call to follow Him is extended to all mankind. No hint that Jesus was not sincere in saying, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink” (John 7:37). What He still offers to all is the same “living water [of] everlasting life” which He offered to the woman at the well (John 4:10-14).
Jesus wept over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41-42) and mourned, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem…how often would I have gathered thy children…as a hen…her brood under her wings, and ye would not!” (Luke 13:34). He thereby identified Himself as the God of Israel who had pleaded with His people throughout their entire existence to repent and turn to Him: “Since the day that your fathers came forth out of the land of Egypt unto this day I have even sent unto you all my servants the prophets, daily rising up and early sending them…(Jeremiah 7:25; 25:4; 26:5; 29:19, etc.). “But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me….Oh that my people had hearkened unto me…!” (Psalm 81:11-13).
The multitudes who followed Him were called disciples. Some were genuine, but most had selfish motives and eventually forsook Him. Yes, even Christ himself had a very high dropout rate. Jesus said, “Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?” (John 6:70). He was referring to Judas, who would betray Him.
The number of supposed disciples who remained true to Christ was comparable to the low percentage of true disciples today among those professing to be Christians. If we were to add up all of the millions whom Robertson’s CBN, Crouch’s TBN, Billy Graham, Benny Hinn and other evangelists and major denominations declare they have won to Christ in the last twenty years, the total would indicate that all of America had been converted. Knowing each heart, Jesus declared, “…there are some of you that believe not….From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him” (John 6:64-66).
From the multitudes, Christ “chose twelve, whom also He named apostles” (Luke 6:13) and trained personally. They failed Him often: Peter and Andrew began to follow twice before they finally remained with the Lord. The first time was when Andrew, who had first begun to follow Jesus, introduced Peter to Him (John 1:37-42). They soon left Him; Jesus found them “casting a net into the sea” and said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:18-22).
Their partners, James and John, who were “mending their nets,” also began at that time to follow Christ. It wasn’t long until once again they all went back to the old life, but Christ persisted and found them a third time, discouraged and “washing their nets” after fishing all night and catching nothing. He got into Peter’s boat, told him where to throw his net, and so many fish were caught that the net broke. Peter fell down before the Lord, acknowledging his sinful unworthiness, and Peter, Andrew, James, and John finally “forsook all, and followed him” (Luke 5:1-11).
The insincere throng of signs-and-wonders seekers of Christ’s day has its modern counterpart in the huge crowds attracted by “miracle crusades” and televangelists promising prosperity for “seed faith” offerings.
The Bible calls Christ’s followers “disciples.” That plural word is found 244 times in 232 verses; “disciple,” 29 times in 27 verses. Thirty-one of these are found in the book of Acts. Quite clearly “disciple” is the biblical designation of a true believer. The word “disciple” is related to discipline and identifies one who is seriously committed to learn, obey and follow.
Today, however, the word “disciple” has fallen into disuse in favor of the word “Christian” – a rather vague designation which almost anyone can adopt and which, as a result, has become almost meaningless. Multitudes who think of themselves as “Christians” live undisciplined lives without any intention of obeying the One whom they insincerely call Lord. Even heretical cults claim to be Christian.
Many consider America to be a “Christian nation.” The word “Christian” appears only twice in the Bible; the word “Christians,” once. This label was actually invented by the pagan world as an accusatory and derogatory nickname marking Christ’s disciples for persecution and often for death.
- God Bless America?
Thus Peter wrote, “if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf” (1 Peter 4:16). Knowing that choice would cost him everything, King Agrippa said to Paul, “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian” (Acts 26:28). In those days there were few pretenders. Churches then were not filled with hangers-on gathering for social or business reasons (that began with Constantine 200 years later) or because they liked the choir, or the pastor’s sermons were uplifting or the people were all so friendly and made one feel welcome and important.
In much of the church today, there is little fear of God, little conviction of sin, and hardly the mention of God’s holiness and His dreadful justice with which one dare not trifle. Unfortunately, salvation is frequently presented without explaining why it is needed. One cannot get saved without realizing one is lost. There must be conviction of sin, sorrow and repentance toward a holy God who hates sin but loves the sinner.
- Salvation by Faith (John Wesley)
Referring to a good shepherd, Christ declared, “The sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow …for they know not the voice of strangers” (John 10:4-5).
As the Good Shepherd who gives His life for His sheep, Christ said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish” (John 10:11, 27-28).
How can anyone claim to be one of Christ’s sheep and to have received the eternal life He gives, yet not heed His voice and follow Him? He said, “Why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord….[Then I will say,] I never knew you” (Luke 6:46; Matthew 7:22-23).
Most of what is called Christianity today has been made too popular to be genuine. Church growth is sought through surveys and worldly marketing techniques. Of course, worldly methods breed worldly people. Judging by some churches today, one would think that when someone offered to follow Him, our Lord would have called out to His disciples: “Peter, sign him up quick! John, get her into the choir! James, make him an elder, he’s got money.” To remain popular with this unregenerated crowd, many pastors offer inoffensive and pleasing sermonettes which create only Christianettes.
- The Seeker-Friendly Way of Doing Church
We entertain our youth, instead of calling them to take up the cross and follow Christ. We’re afraid that if we set the standard too high we’ll “lose” them – and thereby we lose them for eternity! Rather than those who give up their lives for Christ, the heroes and heroines held up to “attract” today’s youth are mostly professional athletes, pop musicians or movie stars, paraded on stage as though to say, “Look who Jesus has on His side! Doesn’t that make Christ appealing?” The Christianity represented by most of the contemporary Christian entertainment industry would shock the early disciples, who would also consider today’s popular gospels of prosperity to be heresy.
In his book, True Discipleship, William MacDonald quotes an American college student, converted to communism and writing from Mexico to his fiancée to break off their engagement:
“We communists have a philosophy of life which no amount of money can buy. We have a cause to fight for, a definite purpose in life. We subordinate our petty personal selves into a great movement… compensated by the thought that each of us…is contributing to something new and true and better for mankind. The communist cause is my life – my bread and meat. I work at it in the daytime and dream of it at night….Therefore, I cannot carry on a friendship, a love affair, or even a conversation without relating to this force which both drives and guides my life. I evaluate people, books, ideas, actions according to how they affect the communist cause….I’ve already been in jail for communism…if necessary I’m ready to go before a firing squad.”
Isn’t the cause of Christ far better and greater? Why don’t we drop entertainment and challenge our youth with something worth living for, even dying for if need be? Dying? Yes, Christ expected that His disciples’ lives be expendable for Him and that each take up his cross, ready if need be to die (Matthew 10:38-39; 16:24; Luke 14:26-27). The most repeated verse in the New Testament is “whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 16:25; 10:39; Mark 8:35; Luke 9:24; 17:33; John 12:25).
When Christ was arrested in the Garden, “all the disciples [like many today] forsook him, and fled” (Matthew 26:56). Peter even denied his Lord with cursing and swearing (Matthew 26:74; Mark 14:71). But the Lord forgave and restored him (Mark 16:7; John 21:15-19; 1 Corinthians 15:5), as He graciously does for us.
In giving up our lives in exchange for the life Christ would live through us, we find true life – a life of joy and fruitfulness. C. T. Studd wrote,
“I had known about Jesus dying for me, but I never understood that if He died for me, then I didn’t belong to myself…. If I belong to Him, either I had to be a thief and keep what wasn’t mine, or else I had to give up everything to God. When I came to see that Jesus Christ had died for me, it didn’t seem hard to give up all for Him.”
I was raised in a very devout family and a sound fellowship of believers. Yet discipleship was not considered to be for everyone; it was only for the more spiritual who aspired to a deeper commitment. Biblically, however, if one is not a disciple, one is not a Christian: “the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch” (Acts 11:26). We need to return to this biblical identification and its reality.
Christ commanded the original twelve to go “into all the world, and preach the gospel…” (Mark 16:15) and thereby to make more disciples, “teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20). Obviously the “all things” new disciples were to be taught included that they also make disciples and teach them “all things” Christ had commanded the original twelve. In other words, each new disciple is responsible to make other disciples and to teach them to observe all things Christ commanded the original twelve (Matthew 28:20). One can hardly tell others to do what one neglects to do oneself.
Paul warned the Ephesian elders that some of them would teach perverse doctrines in order to “draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:30). The same problem confronts us today in church leaders who compete with each other to establish a following. Tragically, all too many who call themselves “Christians” are more willing to follow a popular leader than to follow Christ.
- Richmond and the Greater Richmond Area
Christ didn’t promise His disciples financial prosperity or popularity, but persecution: “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven…” (Matthew 5:11-12).
“Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets” (Luke 6:26). “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you….If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you…” (John 15:18-21). Does not the absence of the persecutions that Christ promised raise serious questions concerning today’s Christianity in America?
Has Christianity become a brief game called “church” that we play on Sunday morning and then our duty is done? And unlike other more popular games (NFL, NBA, NHL, etc.) where overtime makes it all the more exciting and enjoyable, woe to the preacher who extends this game into even a brief overtime! How many churches find very few at their midweek prayer meeting because priority is given to more important matters? In a recent survey of teenagers, eight out of ten called themselves Christians. Yet, of 19 goals, they ranked highest the establishing of relationships and achieving a comfortable lifestyle! Being deeply committed to the Christian faith ranked fourteenth and being personally active in a church ranked sixteenth.
Following Christ is not a trial subscription but a commitment for eternity. Discipleship has nothing to do with joining a church but everything to do with knowing, loving, and following Christ.
Christ didn’t say, “Follow someone or some church claiming they represent Me.” He said, “Follow me….Learn of me” (John 1:43; Matthew 11:29). We go to His Word to learn of Him. Each of us is expected to know it thoroughly. Yet many who think of themselves as Christians scarcely study the Bible seriously, expecting the pastor and Bible teachers to do that for them.
- The Old Paths
Along with Christ’s “follow Me” was His promise, “and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). Yet many who call themselves Christians have little concern for winning the lost to Christ, instead letting days and even weeks go by without telling another person about Christ and the salvation which He procured at Calvary and offers to all.
May the Lord stir each of our hearts to follow Him fully. It is our prayer that this newsletter not be mere information but that it ignite us all to devotion and action. TBC