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Monday, April 25, 2016

Judgment Is Not Coming

Yes, that's right judgment is not coming.  How can it not be coming you ask?  With wickedness waxing stronger and stronger. With every perversion paraded in pride.  Babies parts are sold and we are shocked for a few days and then go back to living life.  The only people who are really confused about the whole gender identity issue are those who dare to consider it  perverted. Couples openly and habitually live in fornication but no one even notices that any more.  How can I possible say judgment is not coming to the United States?


All of the aforementioned issues do not call for judgment they are the judgment!  When God wants to judge a nation all he has to do is let sin run its course.  Every sin carries its own consequence.  Every perversion harbors the seeds of destruction.  Man left to himself self-destructs.  It is the grace of God that saves us from ourselves.

In Romans 1:24 the bible speaks of God giving them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts.  A couple of verses later, in verse 26, the bible says God gave them up to vile affections.  I realize that some people are very determined to not be found judging others.  However, there is such a thing as vile affection.  It would seem to be the better part of discretion to know what constitutes vile affection.  Being given up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts and being given up to vile affections is God's judgment on a people who have forsaken him.

Psalm 81:11-12 But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me. So I gave them up unto their own hearts' lust: and they walked in their own counsels.

The important connection is made in these two verses.  A people who will not listen to God and want nothing to do with him will be given up unto their own heart's lust and allowed to walk in their own counsel.  That may sound liberating but it actually facilitates the destruction of a people.

 Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
Jeremiah 10:23 O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.

When a nation walks away from God there comes a point where God will let them walk away!  They walk away only to be devoured by their own uncleanness, lusts, and vile affections.

Our collective conscience, our cultural morality, our sense of right and wrong has been seared!  It is 1 Timothy 4:2 that speaks of the possibility of a people having their conscience seared with a hot iron. The idea here is to be cauterized; to render insensitive.  To have our cultural conscience seared is to have it rendered insensitive.  It ceases to have feeling, it ceases to defend the right and condemn the wrong.  It does so with a verse of scripture on the collective tongue.  "Judge not lest ye be judged".  I would simply remind you that the devil can quote scripture and often does taking it out of context to justify error and sin.

With our cultural conscience seared we are now past feeling.  Nothing seems wrong and everything seems right.

The bible addresses this state of having a seared conscience and thus being past feeling. 

Ephesians 4:17-20 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. But ye have not so learned Christ;

Being past feeling is the judgment for having forsaken God.  People walking in the vanity of their minds, having their understanding darkened, alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, and blindness of their heart.  This is why people are so loathe to condemn that which, in some cases, was just a few years ago universally condemned!  Being past feeling (because of a seared conscience) they have given themselves to lasciviousness (inclined to lust; wantonness) to work all uncleanness.  And remember they have been given up by God to uncleanness.  God allows their uncleanness to continue unabated.  Those who know the Jesus of the bible readily identify the wickedness and are able to maintain their moral compass.

There is no new perversion.  There is only a new flaunting and acceptance of ancient perversions.  The shame is gone!  We have become a shameless society and it is God's judgment on us!  

Zephaniah 3:5 The just LORD is in the midst thereof; he will not do iniquity: every morning doth he bring his judgment to light, he faileth not; but the unjust knoweth no shame.
Ephesians 5:12 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret.

Shame disappears in a society that is past feeling because of a seared conscience!  There are not many left around who can remember that pregnancy outside of marriage was an occasion for shame, when divorce was an occasion for shame, when profligate living was an occasion for shame.  The prodigal son felt shame our society has no shame!  In fact that which should cause shame is lauded, affirmed, and paraded!

Clearly things are not as bad as they could be or as bad as they will be but make no mistake about it the judgment of God has fallen on the United States of America.  Judgment is not coming, it is here!

Thursday, April 07, 2016

First Century Intimidation

Intimidation has always been a powerful weapon in the armory of the enemy of all righteousness.  Intimidation can come in many different forms.  It can be subtle or obvious.  It can come in the form of mockery, disdain, physical harm and even death.  Intimidation can come from many different sources.  Co-workers, classmates, the culture, religious people, antagonist, family, and government.

Intimidation is nothing new.  Its purpose is to silence the truth.  To push people of faith into a small corner where they cower and whisper.  As we face the transformation of America (which by the way did not start seven years ago it has been underway for at least 60 years) we have probably contemplated the possibility of cultural and governmental intimidation directed at people of faith.  It should be noted that most will capitulate, most already have.  The effect of their capitulation will ramp up the intimidation against those who are standing their ground.

There are probably many places in scripture that could give us courage and wisdom for such a time as this.  This past week I had occasion to spend some time in one such passage.

Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation, And laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison. But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said, Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life. And when they heard that, they entered into the temple early in the morning, and taught. 
Acts 5:17-21a

There are some things worth considering in these few verses.  First:

The Indignation of the Enemy

In verses 17 and 18 the indignation of the enemy is front and center.  There is a particular group of people brought to our attention.  "The high priest and all that were with him".  This is a familiar group of people.  Along with the Pharisees, scribes and lawyers the high priest and his associates were, plainly put, religious zealots who knew not God and opposed the Savior, the Son of God.  This is the very group of people who harassed Jesus throughout his earthly ministry, ultimately having him put to death on a Roman cross.  Now, just a short time later, we find them opposing the disciples of the risen Lord.  The Apostles were not likely surprised by the treatment they were to receive at their hands.  After all Jesus had alerted them in the upper room the night of his betrayal when he said, "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you."
John 15:18,19

The bible tells us that these men "were filled with indignation".  Their passion was up!  They were, as we might put it, HOT!  In an unfavorable sense this word is connected to jealousy.  I think it is safe to say they were indignant because they were envious, jealous.  This is what had been driving them from the beginning.  Even Pilate knew this.  Mark informs us in chapter 15 and verse 10 of his gospel when speaking of Pilate, "For he knew that the chief priest had delivered him (Jesus) for envy."  These were power hungry religious partisans who considered Jesus and now the Apostles as a threat to their influence over the people.

Their indignation caused them to lay "their hands on the Apostles".  In the previous chapter of Acts they had laid their hands on Peter and John after the healing of the man at the gate of the temple.  They had threatened them not to teach or preach anymore in this name (Jesus).  They continued to do so!  The result is that they rounded up all the Apostles.

The put them in the common prison!  If we ever get placed in the common prison may it be because we were uncommon men, living uncommon lives, devoted to an uncommon cause!

We then notice in verses 19,20:

The Help of an Angel

"The angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors".  The common prison had an uncommon visitor.  The angel of the Lord no only opened the prison door but he also "brought them forth".  They were set free.  The indignation of the enemy had put them in the common prison and the infinite power of God brought them forth from the common prison.  Obviously this does not, yea, it has not always happened.  Many of God's most faithful people have been allowed by God to suffer immeasurably from the intimidation of those in power.  We are not to take from this what God will do but what he can do!  This simply reminds us that the Lord can, at his discretion, intervene in a very personal way in the defense of his people and his church!  Our comfort when facing the intimidation is not in know what God will do but in knowing what he can do.  And if he can deliver from the intimidation of the enemy and he does not then he will give grace to face the intimidation of the enemy.  I would remind you that this account concludes at the end of the chapter with these very men being beaten for the message they preached.  And they didn't leave asking why God did not deliver them the second time but rather rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.

Not only does the angel of the Lord deliver them but he also directs them.  "Go, stand, and speak".  There is nothing quite so powerful as a brilliant stroke of brevity.  These three words tells them all they need to know about how to conduct themselves moving forward.

Go (into all the world and preach the gospel)
Stand (stand therefore having your loins girt about with truth)
Speak (boldly, as I ought to speak)

In the face of this intimidation they were to just keep doing what they had been doing.  In the very first part of the next verse (21a) we view:

The Commitment of the Apostles

Their response is remarkable.  They had basically been instructed to go right back into the teeth of the enemy.  There are so many reasonable excuses that could be made.  Yet, they make none.  The bible says, "When they heard that, they entered into the temple early in the morning".  They may have got a few hours sleep, but they certainly didn't sleep in.  They didn't give time for doubt to rush in.  They didn't contemplate; they obeyed!  Hesitation has no doubt been the birthplace of much unbelief and cowardice.  Once we know what to do then we should set out to do it.  They didn't sit around, convene a committee, and parse words.  Go??  Go where?? Stand??  Literally or figuratively?  Speak?? What are we to say?  There was none of this.  The angel said go, stand, speak.  They went, stood, and spoke!

In fact the bible says they "taught".  The very thing for which they had been cast into the common prison they continued to do.  Duty does not retreat in the face of difficulty.

Of course the chapter continues and they are ultimately brought before the enemy and the courage they manifest before these "learned" men is remarkable.  They are threatened, beaten and released.  And the last verse of the chapter reports "And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ."

Twenty first century Baptists may have something to learn from first century Baptists.