Archive for the ‘In the News’ Category
I recognize that there are many thousands of disciples suffering for the Lord Jesus in many parts of the world. In places such as China, Iran, Sudan, Vietnam, and many other places, disciples are not just suffering at the hands of evil people but are dying for the gospel. How many disciples have been killed in the Middle East alone? So I write this post with an eye not on suffering per se but simply how the West is slowly leading toward this. A day will come when we will be persecuted in the West for the gospel. At this point, we must deal with arrests and with mockery more so than with actual violence though I am seeing more and more of that toward open air preachers than before.
In the past day I have read of two brothers arrested by the police for preaching the gospel. One was a brother at a Florida beach who was arrested for preaching. In the video I watched, the policeman was harsh toward the open air preacher not because they had violated any law but simply for the message preached. The policeman vented that people should not be told that they are going to hell in light of mass killings that are taking place today. They need to hear that God is good and loving and not that He will pour out His wrath on sinners who do not repent. It was ironic to hear a policeman lecture an open air preacher about how to preach instead of enforcing the law.
In the second event, brother Josh Williamson was arrested in Scotland for preaching the gospel. His gospel was not offensive other than pleading with sinners to turn from their sins and be saved. His text was John 8:31-38. Josh was arrested because some people didn’t like what he said. The police, rather than enforcing Josh’s right to open air preach, instead arrested him simply because of the offense of the gospel (1 Corinthians 1:23).
All the open air preachers and evangelists I know seek to abide by the laws of the land. They don’t preach in private places, do not trespass, and are sensitive to the laws. I don’t doubt there are lone ranger evangelists out there who do violate the laws but we are under obligation to obey just laws according to Romans 13:1-7 and Titus 3:1. The only time we must violate the laws of the land is when the gospel is being prevented by unjust laws (Acts 5:19-20). In the West we enjoy, at this time, freedom of speech. Muslims can preach. Jehovah’s Witnesses can go door to door as do Mormons. Atheists can put up signs protesting Ray Comfort. People are allowed to have public discourse. But more and more, disciples of Jesus are being silenced simply because of the gospel. We should expect this (1 Peter 4:12-19) and we know that the world hates us (John 15:18-25; 1 John 2:15-17) but it is disheartening to see places such as a land where John Knox once open air preached in Scotland or here in the United States where open air preaching has been part of our lives since the dawn of our nation, that the police are now seeking to arrest disciples for preaching.
My time has not come. I have not had any legal issues with police. I suppose that the South is still pretty conservative toward this issue but I am seeing more and more people hating the message. I use to read how people would pick up stones to attack John Wesley for preaching justification by faith. I wondered why would English people despise Wesley’s preaching on salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Now I know. People hate this teaching. They want to believe that we are all going to heaven or that we can earn our salvation by our good works. When you show them the foolishness of both beliefs, they don’t try to reason with you. That just hate you and would rather kill you than submit to God’s Word. Romans 4:5 is a slap in the face of the self-righteous and prideful who think that God is obligated to save them just because they exist.
Let us pray for the West to repent and for the gospel to go forth. Even if a time comes in the West that we lose our “rights” I pray that we will still preach the gospel until they kill us. Better to obey God than man.
Here is a link to the official statement issued by General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God, Dr. George Wood, on the United States Supreme Court ruling concerning same-sex “marriage.” It is a good statement and one that I agree with. May we pray for revival in the United States (and around the world as sin increases and wickedness is accepted). God, by His grace, can turn the tide of sin and save sinners who repent.
You can read the statement here.
Today the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) ruled in two forms regarding same-sex “marriage” in the land. First, the Court struck down parts of the Defense of Marriage Act from 1996 that was signed into law by President Clinton. The DOMA defined marriage as only between a man and a woman. The Court ruled that the Federal Government could not discriminate against same-sex couples. The second case that the Court ruled on was California’s Proposition 8 which defined marriage as between one man and one woman. The Court passed on ruling on this case and thus made the issue of same-sex “marriage” a state-by-state issue. However, Dr. Albert Mohler rightly points out that the Court opened the door for homosexuals to challenge the Constitutional ban on same-sex “marriages” in states where such bans exist. Essentially, you’ll see same-sex “marriage” continue in states where it is legal (8 states at this time) and will be challenged in all 50 in due time. In Dr. Mohler’s view, same-sex “marriage” will be the law of the land soon in the United States.
According to the secular media and even Lifeway Christian Bookstores, the majority of Americans are in favor of allowing same-sex “marriages” and believe that such unions will not hurt the nation. It seems many in the evangelical church are also buying into the propaganda, that same-sex “marriage” should be allowed and even encouraged in the United States. No doubt, today was a victory for the homosexuals.
How do I respond?
First, the SCOTUS ruling tells the Church that we are a minority. Clearly, Christianity has been eroded in this nation. While I am not going to argue that the United States is a Christian nation, I would argue that, like most of Europe and our English-speaking brethren in Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, we are based on Christian morals and teachings. The Protestant work ethic is strong in the United States with a strong focus on individualism. Yet postmodernism has swept the nation and we are now following our own ideas and values. The only ones that most Americans despise are those who would say that their value is the only true value if that value is against their values. Thus when it comes to morality, people now despise Christianity because it says that it alone is the truth of God and that it alone speaks for God. Ironically, the secular media often defends Islam here in the US despite it claiming the same in many ways. The fact remains that the Christian moral base that was around even when I was younger is fading fast.
Secondly, the Church can rise up and preach the gospel! What is going to turn the tide of sin in the United States will be the gospel. Sinners need to hear the gospel and this ruling by the SCOTUS simply shows that we must rise up and preach the gospel that saves sinners from sin (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Now is the time to preach the law of God to the lost (1 Timothy 1:8-11) and to declare that Jesus saves from sin (Romans 1:16-17). God has promised us the power of the Spirit to do just that (Acts 1:8). What will turn the culture toward biblical marriage (that alone is true marriage) will be the preaching of the gospel. While it certainly is a very dark time in our nation, the Lord God can save the lost. Remember that even in the dark book of Judges, God always had His remnant and He always was in control. Even in the United States, Jesus is still Lord even if the majority of people reject Him as Lord. He will still be Lord of all and He will still judge all (Hebrews 9:27-28).
Lastly, the SCOTUS ruling will not bring the wrath of God. It is simply a sign of that reality. Romans 1:18-32 is clear that the wrath of God is God giving people up to their own sinful desires (vv. 24, 26, 28). Same-sex “marriage” is just another sign of God giving us over to our depravity. The result of sin is always the same: death (Romans 6:23). Whether it be death by sexually transmitted diseases or death by other means, sin always results in death.
The child of God should rejoice though that God is sovereign. The SCOTUS ruling does not do anything to His authority nor His kingdom. He will still reign. Psalm 2:1-6 is worth reading at this time:
Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
2 The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,
3 “Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us.”
4 He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord holds them in derision.
5 Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
6 “As for me, I have set my King
on Zion, my holy hill.”
Rejoice oh child of the King, Jesus is still in control!
I was amused when I heard a radio program that was debating the recent decision by the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to allow homosexual boys to participate in the BSA while still banning openly gay men from being leaders in the BSA. Some, including the LDS Church, agreed with the BSA move and welcomed boys struggling with same-sex attraction. For others, conservative Boy Scout chapters, this move violates what they believe the BSA should stand for and that is the boys should be “morally upright.” They believe that homosexuality is hardly “morally upright.” The LDS Church, however, responded saying that all boys should be welcomed to participate in BSA but should be taught to not act on their sinful desires for same-sex sex.
What I find humorous is that people see the “god” of the BSA as the God of Christianity. While I would not deny that the BSA have based much of their views on God or people or morality upon the Christian concept of God, they are not one and the same. Simply because the United States has “God” on their money or that the BSA has “God” in their bylaws does nothing to affirm the true God of the Bible. Again, I note that the BSA has secular packs, LDS packs, Methodist packs, and many other charter groups. All of them affirm “God” in their bylaws. The Boy Scouts oath is:
On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally straight.
While God is mentioned, who is this God? In the BSA that god could be the god of Mormonism or the god of this group or that. God is not defined.
The reality is that the secular god cannot save. The secular god of the Boy Scouts or the god of a business is not always the God of the Bible and often God is left undefined. The God of Scripture is not to be added to among our other pursuits. The God of Scripture demands that we repent and make Him our lives (Luke 14:25-35). The God of Scripture demands that we live lives of holiness and that we hate what He hates and we love what He loves. The God of the Bible does not allow us to follow the dictates of the culture. The God of the Bible demands total worship and adoration. Our entire being is to be consumed by Him (Romans 12:1-2). The God of the Bible is to be our highest passion and desire (Philippians 3:12-14).
My point in all of this is that the god of the Boy Scouts is not defined. The god of the BSA is the same secular god who is on our money. He is given some acknowledgement but He is not viewed as the sovereign God of the Bible who rules and reigns and who demands repentance. We should be shocked to see the BSA opening themselves to the sins of our culture. Their god cannot save. Their god is their own god that they created. The God of the Bible, however, does not change (Malachi 3:6). What God demanded of His people 2000 years ago, He still demands today. Let us then fear Him and stand in awe of the one true and living God of the Bible.
It was bound to happen, an athlete was bound to “come out” and announce they were gay. While this has happened in women’s sports such as the WNBA (which no one watches), it had not happened in a major men’s sport. Now Jason Collins has “come out” as an openly gay NBA player. Collins is a backup and so while his story will make waves a while on the major sports venues such as ESPN or Fox Sports, it will die out because Collins is not a star. Now if Lebron James or Kobe Bryant came out as gay, that would make huge news.
My thoughts flow of course from my love for Christ and a biblical worldview so keep that in mind as you read this.
First, this was going to happen. Homosexuality is the “social” cause of the generation right now. It is their “civil rights” era. It is their fight. Liberal media groups wanted an openly gay athlete and had been asking for this for years. I remember hearing of this “coming out” by players several years ago while listening to ESPN radio one night. Even five years ago ESPN was pushing for a gay athlete to stand up. They wanted to show homosexual groups (and especially those who oppose them) that there are gay people even in major sports. Collins, while a story they will no doubt jump on, is not a star. He never will be. In fact, I have long said that for some of these “gay” players, it will be nothing more than a desire to either remain in the league (how do you cut Collins now?) or for money.
Secondly, when it comes to major sports, teams just want to win. I don’t think that the Lakers or the Yankees care if you are a homosexual. They want to win. Their fans want to win. Sadly this is where most people are when it comes to morality and sports. They will tear up a Tim Tebow for his faith while defending wife beaters and drug felons simply because they win. When Michael Vick was in trouble in Atlanta for dog fighting, I remember people in Atlanta saying that it was no big deal and that we should just drop the issue. Vick went to prison for his crimes (while abortion doctors every day slaughter unborn babies in their own mother’s wombs) yet Vick is still attacked regularly for his sins. Tebow as well yet Tebow has not sinned. He just is a good man.
Thirdly, no one is allowed to say that homosexuality is a sin. Former South Carolina Gamecock Chris Culliver, with the San Francisco 49ers, was asked during the week of the Super Bowl about homosexuality and he said that he wasn’t “down with that” and the media went crazy. Culliver shared his own opinion after a question was posed to him yet the NFL required Culliver to take sensitivity training following the Super Bowl for his critical remarks. Why? Because Culliver stated his opinion? He is now a bigot? The NFL, MLB, NHL, and the NBA all follow the same line of reasoning: don’t speak out on cultural issues unless your views are in favor of the views of the culture. Players cannot say that a homosexual is in sin or that he must repent or perish. They are to stay quiet on the issue or face dire consequences.
Lastly, more and more players will start “coming out” because this will do three things for them. First, if they are the first say in the NFL, they will get a book or a movie deal. Then they will be harder to cut for teams. This allows players to remain in the league a bit longer such as Jason Collins who no doubt will land with a team now that he is openly gay. And thirdly, their “coming out” will produce money for them as they will be asked to speak here and there and will be featured on magazines, blogs, TV interviews, etc.
For the Christian, homosexuality is a sin. Like all sins, it can be forgiven (1 Corinthians 6:9-11) and a person who struggles with homosexuality can be set free from their sin (John 8:34-36; Romans 6:1-4). The grace of God enables the disciple of Jesus to overcome sin (Titus 2:12) and there is no sin that God cannot empower us to overcome (1 Corinthians 10:13). We all struggle with our flesh (Galatians 5:16-17) but we can be free through Christ (1 John 1:9; 3:6; 5:18). This doesn’t mean that we don’t still face temptation but we have the power of the Holy Spirit now to help us be free from sin’s grip. Praise God for His liberating power and His precious gospel (Romans 1:16-17).