Truth is a benefactor and a taskmaster. It illuminates and judges. We live in a time when there is no longer equal justice under the law but rather social justice based upon the ire of the power brokers. I could not have imagined a day when the government of America would "have their foot upon the neck" of those for whom it is to serve. Yet Thomas Paine, in "Common Sense," did correctly portray the government as the enemy. We give away certain of our freedoms to this enemy in the hope of the collective good. Now we live in a world where there exists the mindset that the government should be our benevolent and providential keeper bestowing benefits upon those whom it chooses by stealing from the masses ("spread the wealth around").
Where was the church during all of this? Worshipping the enemy of their soul! What is our plan? Is it to fall on our knees in prayer until the Lord of Lords does here our weeping in sackcloth and ashes? Are we, like the Holy Spirit, weeping for this generation of lost souls? No! Our plan is to elect yet another generation of reprobate politicians and wait with expectation for a better result—which is a apt definition of insanity. And oh by the way God, could you bless me with the perfect parking place? Perhaps we can put our faith in the T.V. preacher who when he debarks from his private jet remarks with great zeal, "the blessing has landed!" What is the name of the tower we have been building in the power of the flesh? "Babel" is already taken.
For those things contemporaneous, perhaps we could reflect back upon the year 1979 when in 200 feet of water the same petroleum engineers were executing operation "sombrero" (aka top kill) off the coast of Mexico. Eleven months later the relief well finally put the well to rest. Should we now hope with excitement while the selfsame entity dances at 5,000 feet?
Satan goes on with mankind as he began with them. He prevailed against our first parents, cast them out of paradise, and suddenly brought all their happiness and glory to an end, by appearing to be a friend to their happy state, and pretending to advance it to higher degrees. So the same cunning serpent that beguiled Eve through his subtlety, by perverting us from the simplicity that is in Christ, hath suddenly prevailed to deprive us of that fair prospect we had, a little while ago, of a kind of paradisiacal state of the church of God in New England.
After religion has revived in the church of God, and enemies appear, people that are engaged to defend its cause are commonly most exposed, where they are least sensible of danger. While they are wholly intent upon the opposition that appears openly before them, in order to make head against that, and while they neglect carefully to look around, the devil comes behind them, and gives a fatal stab unseen; and he has opportunity to give a more home stroke, and to wound the deeper, because he strikes at his leisure, being obstructed by no resistance or guard.…
And so it is likely ever to be in the church, whenever religion revives remarkably, till we have learned well to distinguish between true and false religion, between saving affections and experiences, and those manifold fair shows, and glistering appearances, by which they are counterfeited; the consequences of which, when they are not distinguished, are often inexpressibly dreadful. By this means, the devil gratifies himself, that multitudes should offer to God, under the notion of acceptable service, what is indeed above all things abominable to him. By this means, he deceives great multitudes about the state of their souls; making them think they are something, when they are nothing; and so eternally undoes them: and not only so, but establishes many in a strong confidence of their eminent holiness, who, in God’s sight, are some of the vilest hypocrites. By this means, he many ways damps religion in the hearts of the saints, obscures and deforms it by corrupt mixtures, causes their religious affections woefully to degenerate, and sometimes, for a considerable time, to be like the manna that bred worms and stank; and dreadfully ensnares and confounds the minds of others, brings them into great difficulties and temptations, and entangles them in a wilderness, out of which they can by no means extricate themselves. By this means, Satan mightily encourages the hearts of open enemies, strengthens their hands, fills them with weapons, and makes strong their fortresses; when at the same time, religion and the church of God lie exposed to them, as a city without walls. By this means, he brings it to pass, that men work wickedness under a notion of doing God service, and so sin without restraint, yea with earnest forwardness and zeal, and with all their might. By this means, he brings in even the friends of religion, insensibly, to do the work of enemies, by destroying religion in a far more effectual manner than open enemies can do, under a notion of advancing it. By this means, the devil scatters the flock of Christ, and sets them one against another with great heat of spirit, under a notion of zeal for God; and religion, by degrees, degenerates into vain jangling. During the strife, Satan leads both parties far out of the right way, driving each to great extremes, one on the right hand, and the other on the left, according as he finds they are most inclined, or most easily moved and swayed, till the right path in the middle is almost wholly neglected. In the midst of this confusion, the devil has great opportunity to advance his own interest, to make it strong in ways innumerable, to get the government of all into his own hands, and to work his own will. And by what is seen of the terrible consequences of this counterfeit, when not distinguished from true religion, God’s people in general have their minds unsettled in religion, and know not where to set their foot, or what to think, and many are brought into doubts, whether there be any thing at all in religion; and heresy, infidelity, and atheism greatly prevail.
Therefore, it greatly concerns us to use our utmost endeavors, clearly to discern, and have it well settled and established, wherein true religion does consist. Till this be done, it may be expected that great revivals of religion will be but of short continuance; till this be done, there is but little good to be expected of all our warm debates, in conversation and from the press, not knowing clearly and distinctly what we ought to contend for. (Jonathan Edwards, The Works of Jonathan Edwards - Volume 1, page 234)
As I look around our world today, I see how really fragile is our life here on planet Earth. I am certainly not a prophet, nor do I wish to try to interpret the events of the day. However, I am beginning to think that the oft quoted words of Tocqueville are having a haunting effect on our current events. This old world continues to be a scary place at times. For those who are suffering from the economic downturn, troubles loom large on the horizon. Who knows what kind of bumps in the road lay ahead of us? I think Pope Benedict got it right! "We Christians" must repent of sins (ours and those of our nation) and recognize mistakes!!!!" Perhaps we flew through the unseen cloud of volcanic ash and our engines flamed out and with them the heat that should be radiating from the pulpit. Instead of the seeker finding salvation, perhaps many find only a millstone cleverly disguised by the enemy. Take a moment today to pray for our nation in a way befitting the attention of Him Who sit upon the throne of Whom the angels sing, "Holy, Holy, Holy."
They are torn from the security of their homes and are brought down to the king of terrors. (Job 18:14 NLT)
We still often search the clouds for the wrath of God to come thinking we have time while all the while judgment has already been pronounced! Death reigns! It remains, as Bildad describes, "the King of Terrors." We need look no further than the nearest cemetery to see wrath inflicted. There is no escape even for the infant who "did not sin in the same way that Adam" solely because of sin imputed from Adams fall. Were it not for the second Adam we would all be lost to eternal separation, the King of Terrors indeed! But for those who are in Christ Jesus, we have the eternal blessing of forever knowing Him who set us free from the bondage of sin and death. Not only so, but also to be able to share from the "hope that is within us" the amazing love we have thus experienced with those around us!
What then shall we choose? Shall we do as the "Heavy Metal" lyrics ascribe and turn death into an object of worship believing that there is nothing beyond the grave. Is that the end of our created being to become worm food? If we evolved out of the primordial soup and have no reason for being except the random act of untamed amino acids then hope is a star trek myth. If however, we are created in the image of the Most High, then perhaps hope is real and Christmas is the greatest gift of all! God come down as a man to save us from our sins!
Sin comes before transgression. With the nation fixated upon the energy crisis you with think that the delusional ramblings of what now masquerades as journalism would refrain from large atmospheric releases of hot air in order to prevent further global warming. However, what really transpires is the continuous Neanderthal homological chest pounding focused upon convincing homosapiens (Latin: wise humans) that perversion is merely the natural extension of orderly Darwinian evolution. The argument used in a recent news magazine is that Jonathan and David were CLOSE friends. Therefore, it is completely permissible to engage in licentious and lascivious conduct. If that were truly the case then we should all commit adultery with Bathsheba and have Uriah the Hittite killed to cover up an unwanted pregnancy in order to exercise planned parenthood. When Jesus said, "let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone" He also said, "go and sin no more!" The reprobate mind thus becomes the swine looking for pearl casters. Except for Grace we would all be in the pit for our foot would "slip in due time." The fact that Jesus came into the world to save sinners does not imply anywhere in Scripture that He condones sin for the purpose of inclusion. He came to save us from our sin not to leave us to expire in the midst of it. I suppose that it would be good here to list a few verses:
Back in Chapter One we mentioned that the wrath of God was being revealed against all ungodliness and all unrighteousness. We ought not be surprise that our ever descending society wishes to replace the wisdom of the Almighty with that of our own and like Israel become lost in the midst of our own sin. Sin is the judgment! We have been "abandoned" in our own sin to do what is right in our own eyes (Romans 1:24, Judges 21:25 paraphrase mine)
I have heard it said that life is all mind over matter. “If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.” (Mark Twain) In the midst of a universe, that from my humble perspective, whose length, breadth and depth are seemingly immeasurable, how can I matter at all? And if my plight should bring me to picturesque mountain top or dark and cavernous valley, what matter?
I had occasion to “recline in the grass” of late for an extended period of time. Truth be known, I am lying there still. More thought provoking yet, I will be lying there for all eternity. If the Lord tarries, then those who come after me may see the end of all matter, yet the "only immortal, invisible, God only wise" will live on and we with Him who have believed in His only begotten Son.
Perhaps the events of life ought to be looked upon as an opportunity for God's love to bless. I have often found myself saying, "God is good" after seeing a joyous event in the lives of His people. But wasn't He also good at the memorial service for the dearly departed? Was His goodness somehow absent as I celebrated my 60th birthday not knowing that a cancer was growing within? Some days later, prostrate in the surgical suite, as well-trained hands deftly removed the “poisoned pill” from my kidney and preserved some of its function, was goodness lacking? Yet only an hour before, another sojourner lost this same organ and was put upon a path of longsuffering and uncertainty called chemotherapy. Was my fate now changed? Or was it only illuminated?
I cannot testify for others but for me His love surrounded me in ways that defy description. Though He did make me lie down in green pastures, I was not alone. Family, friends, elders, and pastor were physically present there with me. I felt the warmth of the prayers of the thousands of saints who were interceding for me "in light inaccessible hid from our eyes." Not only these but "most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days, almighty, victorious," whose great Name I "praise" was also there in our midst.
Where could I choose to go that would be better than to recline in the grass prepared for me in a universe created by Him, for Him and through Him where, because of His "clouds which are fountains of goodness and love," my life matters. It matters to Him!
Is life better if it is longer? Or does the child who dies while yet in the womb held less precious by Him who “To all, life thou givest, to both great and small; in all life thou livest, the true life of all.” When we are allowed to sojourn in green pasture, it is during this reclining that we are able to see Him more fully. Though our gaze be veiled for now, the light revealed to us is most precious! It is the hope upon which we cling until that day when we are allowed to gaze fully upon His face — the face of Him who died for us.
When that day comes, would it not be made more blessed because we have remembrance of the blood moon of Calvary? Will not the first gaze be given greater grandeur because of the travail of tears shed in living sacrifice by the mercies of God?
Peter is right when he reminded us:
We often wrestle with the origin of our present estate. But here clearly is established that sin entered the world through the disobedience of our paradisiac parents. We commit sins because we are sinners (not the other way around). Wesley even reminds us that infants are not excepted. Did we ever have to teach our children to lie, cheat, steal or demonstrate selfishness? To the contrary, we had to spend much time in their training in righteousness. The Scripture is replete with examples of our true nature and death being its consequence. And because of our nature, death came into this satanically controlled world and continues to reign. That is why we needed a Savior!
We often hurry past this amazing verse and in doing so miss out on the revelation of the Greatest Gift Ever Given! What is more amazing than Jesus Himself living in me? The airwaves are replete with country songs sharing the heartaches of unrequited love or love lost. I think as believers we settle for the counterfeit deception that is "mere milk and water" of sorts. If our relationship with the Savior cannot be described as an "ecstasy of love and delight" then we have been deceived already! Fear not because this union with Christ Jesus is available to "everyone who believes"!
Notice that the purpose of "Peace on Earth" is Christian civilization NOT Christian Government. Senator Colquitt endeavors to express that the principal purpose of the Christian faith toward the state is to temper politics and statesmanship NOT to establish a state religion. Yet today, in a government sans Christ in particular and hostile to all things religious, what we have is ill-tempered and waxes more vitriolic with each passing day.