Seems to me that as I study the holy scriptures and the history of man I find the same problem that continually travels in circles of repetition. I see those movements that are raised up by God and built on His Words found in the scripture. And I find movements that question God's Word that eventually bring the first movement to an end. This played out in Israel as God's people and nation eventually turned completely from the Words of God. And in our dispensation we have seen over the last 2,000 years the same thing play out over and over in local churches, and other ministries that once were raised up and standing firmly on God's Word that have gradually moved away from it and eventually have found themselves to deny it completely. History has recorded this in individual lives, corporate groups of believers and in entire denominations. It has happened in communities, cities, states and entire nations. It has happened in every period of time in both Old Testament and New Testament days.
The good news is that the same can be said concerning those movements that have begun by raising the Bible high. It's authority and it's proclamation and teaching. God has always had his men and women who were willing to obey the Bible by diligently HOLDING IT HIGH in their personal lives thus HOLDING IT HIGH in their homes, churches, communities and nations. They have been burdened to see the TRUTH to be handled with honor and respect. They have been burdened to see it proclaimed to their generation and the next. They have been willing to pay the price that comes with standing for truth and getting that truth to as many possible both now and when they are no longer on this earth.
Charles Spurgeon was one of those who had an amazing burden to FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT OF FAITH. He lived in a time of cultural change in his nation of Great Britain. He was saved as a young man and called by God to preach the Word of God. He did so faithfully for over 42 years. For 38 of those years his preaching took place in London at the Metropolitan Tabernacle. Weekly 5,000 people would fill the great auditorium to here this man declare, THUS SAITH THE LORD. They and other followers saw him as supernaturally endowed with gifts and a complete understanding of what he was called to do, Preach the Word in it's entirety. They listened to him and prayed for him as he courageously sought to halt the flood of of infidelity and bring cure to the slow replacement of standing on the whole council of God for only handling portions of God's Word. But the sad fact is that for every one that believed and were willing to stand for truth there were many more who chose to listen to those who proclaimed partial truth. In fact in October of 1887 Spurgeon resigned from the Baptist Union, and in early 1888 he received a "censure" from the Union Council for his continual speaking against their defection from God's Word. He saw the hope of reformation go down in flames in April 1888 with the Union's acceptance of a watered down change in their confession of faith by a vote of 2,000 to 7. His very own brother voted against him. Only 6 council members stood with him for God's Word.
You ask how can that be? Well it does not happen overnight. It happens gradually and it happens because God's men and women begin to think like humans instead of thinking like God. And the reason they don't think like God is because they have begun to handle God's Words in a very careless and casual way. Needless to say any student of history can declare to you what took place with the once powerful nation of Great Britain since the late 1800's and even more importantly what has happened with their once flourishing churches and its once mighty missions emphasis. The movement of questioning parts of God' s Words resulted in questioning all of it.
The last few years of Spurgeon's life was spent in addressing this issue. He witnessed gradual changes that were producing greater error. His burden was not only for his generation but the next. And he was broken hear-ted over how many pastors were going along with this deceptive movement. His effort was not only to other churches and ministries but within his own church including his his Pastor's College and Conference. Surprisingly he had some difficulty instituting these changes to defend God's Word even within his own ministry. In 1891 he began the " The Sword & The Trowel" printing ministry with the main focus of fighting the compromising op-posers of God's divine word. Although often overcome with great depression and discouragement of what seemed to be happening he refused to surrender. Bloodied, seemingly defeated at the moment he would not bow nor compromise he led the remnant to remain victorious and to trust that God's Word would bring God's fruit. As we look back now at the 2,000 to 7 vote we may not know any name of the 2,000 but we do know the name SPURGEON.
With this in mind let me give you some of his statements in his last lectures to his students and sermons to his people. I hope they will move you as much as they have me.
" The great weakness of the modern pulpit is that it ignores the justice of God and the punishment of sin. The evil which this brings is incalculably great. You cannot leave out that part of the truth which is so dark and so solemn without weakening the force of all the other truths you preach. You rob of their brightness, and their urgent importance, the truths which concern salvation from the wrath to come. Brethren, leave out nothing. Be bold enough to preach unpalatable and unpopular truth. The evil which we may do by adding to, or taking away from the Word of the Lord, may not happen in our own days; but if it should come to ripeness in another generation we shall be equally guilty. I have no doubt that the omission of certain truths by the earlier churches led afterwards to serious error; while certain additions in the forms of rites and ceremonies, which appeared innocent enough in themselves, led to Ritualism, and afterwards to the great apostasy of Romanism! Be very careful. Do not go an inch beyond the line of Scripture, and do not stay an inch on this side of it. KEEP to the straight line of the Word of God, as far as the Holy Spirit has taught you, and hold back nothing which He has revealed."
May we each make a re-commitment to handle God's Word correctly. And to be balanced as we see God in all of His Holy Character. May we remember that the Word is a revelation of the Lord. To trifle with it is to miss what God is like and to come up with a false God all together. We face the same spiritual infidelity in our day a Spurgeon did in his. Let us be careful to know and proclaim the full council of God which in reality is the full knowledge of God.
GOD HELP US TO BE PART OF THE 7 NOT PART OF THE 2,000!
What Can A Christian Do When Our Nation Rebels Against God?
1. Stand On Authority To Stand For Authority!
God's Word the Bible is our Authority!
Our first allegiance has always been and should remain to be to God and what He has declared as truth in the Bible. The Bible is our law, it is our justice and it is our judge. We will stand before the written and living Word one day and give account to Jesus as to what principles we lived by and to whose practices we followed. Who we believed will determine what we believed and how we behaved. Concerning marriage the Bible affirms and sets forth, that marriage is between one man and one women. Additionally God has spoken in Romans 1:21-28 that homosexuality is a sinful lifestyle that rejects God's design from creation. Although our Supreme Court, some entire denominations, and many individuals in countless churches over our land have caved on this point, we must remain true to God's Word no matter the culture surrounding us!
Being counter-culture is not new to Christianity. True followers of Christ remain steadfast to God's Holy Word. As our spiritual fathers and mothers did through the centuries we find ourselves in similar days today. As they marched forward in the midst of every type of epic movement against God's authority we must follow their example today.
Remember that the gospel of Christ has no need for acceptance of a culture to prosper. History teaches us that in Christianities greatest attacks it THRIVES when the true followers of Christ follow Him and not man's belief's. So may we humbly submit to Christ and His Word and proclaim His truth in life and lip by the power of His Word and Spirit!
2. Find Answers To Give Answers!
In the days we live especially the days to come , believers will be ridiculed, challenged and questioned concerning same sex marriage. We must know what we believe! The Bible has the true answers. It answers everything needing an answer. We need to know the biblical answers to the hot topics of our day. We must be able to answer the challenges and questions on same sex marriage. Not only must we know what we believe but we must be able to explain these biblical beliefs to others.
Many people rejected the Lord and his truth. Others have only been influenced by the ways of man and when presented with the reality of God and His truth will listen and weigh things out. Even though they have been influenced by the ways of the culture they still can be influenced by the Word and Ways of God. The Bible is a powerful and supernatural book. As Christians it is our duty to give answers and trust the Lord to draw people to Himself through those answers. Read 1st Peter 3:15 where it instructs us to " be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you for the reason of the hope that is in you".
3. Choose Suffering Over Comfort!
America has been cursed by our blessings. We have become a people who are driven by ease, fun, and excess. As believers we must admit and confess it has entered into our own lives and churches. We don't like what is happening but we will allow it to continue because of the cost of what it takes to stop it. THUS it continues and in fact worsens. We complain but don't pray because it takes time away from worldly pursuits. We no longer speak up because of the fear of loss of a friend , the loss of a sale, or self advancement in some way. I am not naive enough to think that this very blog may bring some suffering to me in some form. I am taking my stand for God and speaking out. I understand clearly that if the ways of our nation do not quickly turn around that suffering is on the way to those who stand up and speak out against sins defined in the Bible. I am sure that the ruling by the Supreme Court will result in government mandates for Christian ministries and ministers that will put us in a position to decide between obeying the government or scriptural mandates, and that will place a HIGH PRICE on choosing the Scripture!
The World calls such thought as " Civil Disobedience", But Peter and John affirmed, " We Ought to obey God rather than men ( Acts 5:29). And so it is today. Like my spiritual forefathers and mentors of the past. Like all other Bible - believing pastors of today, I cannot support and I cannot lead our church to support same- sex marriage, I , nor any of Liberty Baptist pastor/authorities can or ever will be able to perform ceremonies for same- sex couples. This is not our decision it is God's will and charge. This is our only biblical and obedient course of action.
As a CHRISTIAN AMERICAN,I am a Christian first and I love my Lord. But I am an American and I love my nation. My entire ministry of 42 years I have done all I could to help America stay righteous and I will do all I can to help her return to the God she once knew and to the greatness she once enjoyed. I believe it is important to PRAY for our government officials ( 1st Timothy 2:1-2 says " I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority: that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in godliness and honesty". I also believe that we are to respect their position and obey them in all ways unless we are commanded to disobey the Supreme Commander and His Supreme Commands, Romans 13:1- 7 says " Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God; the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power resisteth the ordinances of God, and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For the rulers are not a terror to good works. but to evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same. For he is the minister of the God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain. For he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all dues: tribute to whom tribute is due: custom to whom custom is due, fear to whom fear: honor to whom honor". In America, we have enjoyed a level of religious freedom that the first century believers never dreamed of and most of the church age has never as well. I pray that our government will protect our religious freedoms so we can live our lives in obedience to God without great suffering. But if it does not we must determine to suffer for Christ if needs be, even as Peter and John who " departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for HIS NAME" (Acts 5:41).
4. Pray Today And Pray Tomorrow!
A nations Spiritual Awakening depends greatly on the prayers of the saints. Let the grief we feel in regards to the decisions of our leaders motivate us to pray and to do so more fervently. To pray for local, regional and national revival. Scripture reveals that two of the greatest revivals in Judah's history came after two of the most wicked kings and leaders in there history. It was then that God heard the prayers of His people and in His mercy He sent better leadership that was enabled to set things straight and bring national revival. Hezekiah and Josiah led a nation back to God at the very heels of national apostasy ( 2nd Chronicles 29-31 and 34-35.) May the church itself return to God via prayer. Prayer of repentance of a lack of passion for God, a loss of knowledge of His Word, a lessening of obedience in service to his Lordship, a selfishness and sensuousness in our souls, and an appreciation of His mercy revealed by an all out sharing of His gospel and glory to a dark world around us. May we stay on our knees until His glory returns first in our own hearts, homes, churches and then in our nation.
5. LOVE YOUR GOD AND LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR!
Our Lord's greatest commandment for us is to love Him first and completely, which includes remaining loyal to His Word. The second commandment is to " love thy neighbor as thyself" ( Matthew 22:37-39).
Love is kind! Love is gracious. Love is merciful! Love is long suffering. Love is patient. Love is not proud. Love is not arrogant! Love is not puffed up and exalt its own principles and priorities. Love is God. And love will confront for the glory of God and the good of man. Without compromising biblical beliefs, real Christianity is to love every person whom God has placed in our lives- including those ignoring and rejecting scriptural teachings. We are to patiently be kind to each of them as we confront them in love with the liberating truth of Christ's gospel and revealed truth. The most loving thing we can do in our society is to warn of that which brings death and to witness of the One who brings life bot earthly and eternal.
6. Live Your Life Eternally not Temporally!
Moment by moment may we seek to see the BIG-TIME PICTURE, the LONG-TERM PERSPECTIVE has not in any way been affected by the Supreme Court's ruling because our God still rules. Our purposes, priorities, principles and perspectives have not changed. Our main goal today is the same as it was 4 weeks ago, 4 years ago, 4 decades ago. It is to Glorify God. We will simply continue believing and behaving as Bible Believing Christians have always done. We will seek to know God as He has revealed Himself to us in His inspired Bible. We will love God, walk in the Spirit, obey His Word, proclaim the gospel, participate in His building His church, and watch for His return. When everything will be made right by the SUPREME JUDGE in HIS SUPREME COURT!
It has been several weeks since the landmark 5-4 ruling by our United States Supreme Court in favor of same-sex marriage.
As a Christian husband, father, grandfather and pastor it is still very alarming and grieving to me because it reveals the modern Court is still choosing to act completely different than their predecessors did for nearly 200 years. Our Judicial system was founded upon biblical justice and most of our justices were very influenced by what God's Word the Bible had to say. Over the last 50 years we have seen a very visible change in that attitude including such decisions to mention only a few, taking prayer out of public schools, the Ten Commandments not allowed to be in public institutions, abortion, and now same sex- marriage.
A month later I still find my heart is grieving at the Court's decision mainly because in their ignoring biblical revelation they are attempting to redefine the creator God's holy institution of marriage.
Make no doubt about it, marriage was God's idea, and He has clearly instituted it for His divine purposes. He is the ONE who knows what it is for and how it is to work. He created man and women for such and how He created us in body, soul and mind is how it is to work for God's glory and mans good. From Creation itself, God made marriage a sacred union between a man and a women and nature itself teaches us this is how we have been created. The problem is that the first man and women rebelled against God and sin entered the world along with its curse. Now everyone born of women has a sin nature that wants to rebel against God in multiple ways including what He has said about marriage.
The Bible is God's divine WORD. Creator God chose to give to humanity His Word in written form. He chose to come upon use certain men to write out what he wanted to tell humans about Himself , themselves and how to live in harmony with Him and with each other on this earth, which He created. We find this in 1st Peter 1:21 and many other places in the Bible. Those who follow the ONE and True Living God believe that God's Word is authoritative and is the source of all truth. Because of this we choose to listen to God rather than man. The Bible teaches us in it's first chapter of its first book that God created man and women and in the second chapter of the first book He said, " Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." Genesis 2:24. And in the first book of the New Testament Matthew records our Lord Jesus quoting from this passage, affirming that marriage between a man and a women was God's special institution " at the beginning", thus it should still be obeyed and practiced in this dispensation. Matthew 19:4-5.
Let know one misunderstand the action of our Supreme Court and the desire of many in our nation including President Obama that it is an attempt to redefine marriage to be what man says and not what God says. It is a bold proclamation that they don't believe that God is sacred and sovereign. And that His divine revelation the Bible is not to be believed or practiced. It boldly proclaims that there is no God to be accounted to and man is smart enough to define anything it wants to define. Make no mistake this arrogant rebellion did not start here and it will not end here. What is taking place with the Court's decision will not stop with that decision. There will be many more rebellious decisions until Jesus returns.
Any decision that is made contrary to God's Word will bring devastating results to mankind. At first it may seem that things will work but in reality if we do not work things the way God says they will not work in the long haul. So unless this decision is turned around and others that preceded it, America can count on a deep slide into greater depravity bringing difficulty, disasters and inevitable destruction because she has lost the blessings of God that come by believing God's ways are holy and healthy. Practicing God's principles bring life while rejecting and redefining right only brings death.
In the next BishirBlog I will address how Christians should continue to respond to many of our national leaders who are reflections of so many in our nation yet thankfully I have hope that there are still enough righteous people to make a huge difference for Christ in America !
Terry has been the Senior Pastor of Liberty for 30 years. He and his wife, Karen, have 4 children, 11 grandchildren, and 1 spoiled dog named Cooper.