I believe that we are soon to see the American church as a persecuted church and our current church model replaced by something more like the current church model found in Communist China. We will grow in numbers and excel in righteousness; we will see sanctification at a level never before seen on this continent. At the same time, we will lose worldly comfort, buildings, and denominational distinctions.
Until and unless we are willing to accept the promise of Matthew 24:9, we will never see the promise of Matthew 24:14 fulfilled.
Somehow, God never gave me the desire or his permission to edit his Word. Separating verses I like, ripping them from context, exaggerating them, emphasizing them and making them say whatever I want them to say, while patently and intentionally leaving out the rest of the Bible, is something I cannot and will not do.
You can take a handful of Bible verses, rip them from context, make them say whatever you want them to say, and build a megachurch… You can become a millionaire… It has been done.
I could tell you that the Bible says that “Judas went and hung himself…” “Go thou and do likewise…” “and “what thou doest, do quickly!” Using those verses, I could out do Jim Jones and form my own suicide cult…
Those may be extremes but in regular churches, some near you, pastors preach biblically sound sermons every week but by choosing to preach only on the happy verses and ignore the rest of the Bible, they grow churches, fill offering plates, and send church members to a Devil’s Hell.
While God promises to care for his children, that is not the Gospel. Those promises apply equally to you and to the Christians suffering in a North Korean Reeducation Camp… If you take it beyond that, you make a great mistake and mislead believers. The same Jesus who made those promises promised that “they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake.” In Philippians, Paul says, “my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Yes, but that must be understood in the light of Jesus’ words in Matthew 16, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?”
In first Timothy, Paul speaks of “people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain”. Paul says that people who see godliness as a means to financial gain have a corrupt mind and have been robbed of the truth… That aside, preachers, all over your town and mine, preach godliness as a means of financial gain almost every Sunday. If your goal is to gain members, build big buildings and fill offering plates… this is a good plan. If your goal is to snatch souls from the gates of Hell, see them saved, sanctified and on their way to Heaven; this is something you must never do!
In a society that believes that truth is whatever you think it is and that the worst sin a person could ever commit is to offend another person, the preaching of the Gospel is seen as the ultimate sin… How can you tell a person that they are wrong? If they believe that what they are doing is right, it is right… end of discussion. The mere idea that God might disapprove of rape, incest or murder is an offence of the first magnitude.
Whatever society may think, there is a God, He has an absolute standard, and He is Absolute Truth. The big problem seems to be that Christians assume all men know what sin is and what God disapproves of. In this, they are absolutely wrong. Fifty years ago, even the drunk in the alley knew right from wrong and was aware that he was a sinner; that is not true today. People honestly believe that abortion is good because it frees women from the burden of childbirth and childcare. More than that, they are convinced, to the depth of their being, that a baby is better dead than born as an unwanted child. Stealing is okay, as long as you do it through government or business and the money you steal helps to support your family or goes to a good cause. Most Christians doubt this but it is the truth; the average man on the street has no sense of right and wrong.
At the same time, society has cowed Christians and Pastors into remaining silent on many issues for fear of offending people. Somehow, in the Church of Jesus Christ, offending a non-Christian has become a sin. If by not offending, you mean not being offensive, that is good. The problem is that not offending now means never reading, quoting or preaching any Scripture that the world might consider offensive. Reading “Thou shalt not steal” might offend a thief, therefore, we had better not read, teach. or preach on the Ten Commandments!
But Scripture still demands repentance and repentance depends on the knowledge of truth and a full awareness of right and wrong. Truth and standards of right and wrong are absolute. They are promulgated by God in his Word. If the church does not preach the Word, no individual will repent or be saved and no Christian will have any idea of the standard to which they have been called. If you assume that they know, you assume too much.
“Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” is a sermon written by an American preacher, Jonathan Edwards. He preached to his own congregation in Northampton, Massachusetts and again in Enfield, Connecticut on July 8, 1741. It was reported that he read this sermon in a monotone voice, yet the preaching of this sermon was the catalyst for the First Great Awakening, perhaps the greatest move of God ever in this nation.
Edward’s sermon, which is still taught in conservative seminaries around the world, contained ten “Considerations:
- God may cast wicked men into Hell at any given moment.
- The wicked deserve to be cast into Hell. Divine justice does not prevent God from destroying the wicked at any moment.
- The wicked, at this moment, suffer under God’s condemnation to Hell.
- The wicked, on earth—at this very moment—suffer a sample of the torments of Hell. The wicked must not think, simply because they are not physically in Hell, that God (in whose hand the wicked now reside) is not—at this very moment—as angry with them as he is with those he is now tormenting in Hell, and who—at this very moment—feel and bear the fierceness of his wrath.
- At any moment God shall permit him, Satan stands ready to fall upon the wicked and seize them as his own.
- If it were not for God’s restraints, there are, in the souls of wicked men, hellish principles reigning which, presently, would kindle and flame out into hellfire.
- Simply because there are not visible means of death before them at any given moment, the wicked should not feel secure.
- Simply because it is natural to care for oneself or to think that others may care for them, men should not think themselves safe from God’s wrath.
- All that wicked men may do to save themselves from Hell’s pains shall afford them nothing if they continue to reject Christ.
- God has never promised to save mankind from Hell, except for those contained in Christ through the covenant of Grace.
That sermon and those considerations stand as true today as they did in 1741.
If we would reach America and the world for Christ, we must overcome our fear of offending sinners. We need to rid the church of all vestiges of the Seeker Friendly heresy. You do not win sinners by behaving like, looking like, and acting like sinners. You do not win them by telling them stories centered on “I’m Okay, You’re Okay”. We win sinners and snatch souls from the Gates of Hell by preaching Gospel Truth.
If we preach the Gospel Truth, we will see the promise of Jesus fulfilled in our time and in our nation:
Matthew 24: 9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. 10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. 11 And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
We will not see verse 14 fulfilled until we are willing to preach in a manner that makes tribulation, death and hate logical consequences of our actions.
IF YOU ARE NOT FACING REAL PERSECUTION AND KICKBACK FROM THE WORLD, YOU ARE DOING SOMETHING WRONG!
David A. Rice