Yesterday President Obama announced that he will push to make it illegal to call homosexuals to repentance. Once the transition from man to “woman” or woman to “man” is complete, there will be no help for the conscience of the man or woman who discovers the disaster of sin and the glory of God’s design. Transitioning is a one-way street, they say, though they assert that gender is a choice, a social construct, a choose-your-own-adventure tale. Such moral clarity…
Christian, are you ready for Biblical sexuality itself to be outlawed? Are you ready for fertility to be restricted? Are you preparing yourself and your children to obey God rather than man?
To understand persecution today read about persecution in the early church. My friends at ClearNote Church have recently reissued Herbert Workman’s Persecution in the Early Church. Here’s a bit to whet your appetite:
In opposition to the infant Church there arose the might of Rome. The conflict was inevitable, the direct result of the genius of Christianity. A Christianity which had ceased to be aggressive would speedily have ceased to exist. Christ came not to send peace on earth but a sword; against the restless and resistless force of the new religion the gates of hell should not prevail. But polytheism could not be dethroned without a struggle; nor mankind regenerated without a baptism of blood. Persecution, in fact, is the other side of aggression, the inevitable outcome of a truly missionary spirit; the two are linked together as action and reaction.
Buy the book and read it to gain some understanding about the persecution of Christians well under way in our country…
Rome was cruel, and its cruelty can perhaps be best pictured by the events which took place in the arena in Rome itself. People seated above the arena floor watched gladiator contests and Christians thrown to the beasts. Let us not forget why the Christians were killed. The were not killed because they worshipped Jesus. Various religions covered the whole Roman world. One such was the cult of Mithras, a popular form of Zoroastrianism which had reached Rome by 67 b.c. Nobody cared who worshiped whom so long as the worshiper did not disrupt the unity of the state, centered in the formal worship of Caesar. The reason the Christians were killed was because they were rebels. This was especially so after their growing rejection by the Jewish synagogues lost for them the immunity granted to the Jews since Julius Caesar’s time.
We may express the nature of their rebellion in two ways, both of which are true. First, we can say they worshiped Jesus as God and they worshiped the infinite-personal God only. The Caesars would not tolerate this worshiping of the one God only. It was counted as treason. Thus their worship because a special threat to the unity of the state during the third century and during the reign of Diocletian (283-305), when people of the higher classes began to become Christians in larger numbers. If they had worshiped Jesus and Caesar, they would have gone unharmed, but they rejected all forms of syncretism. They worshiped the God who had revealed himself in the Old Testament, through Christ, and in the New Testament which had gradually been written. And they worshiped him as the only God. They allowed no mixture: All other Gods were seen as false gods.
We can also express in a second way why the Christians were killed: No totalitarian authority nor authoritarian state can tolerate those who have an absolute by which to judge that state and its actions. The Christian had that absolute in God’s revelation. Because the Christians had an absolute, universal standard by which to judge not only personal morals but the state, they were counted as enemies of totalitarian Rome and were thrown to the beasts. (pages 25-26)
37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated 38 (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground (Heb. 11:37-38).
Of verse 38, the Puritan pastor John Owen writes:
Of this world it is said, that it was “not worthy” of those sufferers. It was not so in the ages and seasons wherein they lived; nor is so of them who suffer in any other age whatever. The world thinks them not worthy of it, or to live in it, to enjoy any name or place among the men of it. Here is a testimony given to the contrary, — that the world is not worthy of them. Nor can any thing be spoken to the greater provocation of it. To tell the great, the mighty, the wealthy, the rulers of the world, that they are not worthy of the society of such as in their days are poor, destitute, despised, wanderers, whom they hurt and persecute, as the “offscouring of all things,” is that which fills them with indignation. There is not an informer or apparitor but would think himself disparaged by it. But they may esteem of it as they please; we know that this testimony is true, and the world one day shall confess it so to be.
Reflecting on this verse, Owen makes this observation:
It becomes us to be filled with thoughts of and affections unto spiritual things, to labor for an anticipation of glory, that we faint not in the consideration of the evils that may befall us on the account of the gospel.
Parents, how are you cultivating the above mindset in yourself and then in your children? Continue reading →
If we believe the coming generation will face more hostility from our pagan culture, how do we switch gears from raising them for worldly success—as we have been doing, let’s be honest—to raising them for warfare, suffering, and loss? (We should have been doing that all along!) Here’s my list (Add others in the comments, please):
1. Discipline your children with the rod and with the Word. Proverbs 22:15, 23:13, 29:15. Love them through discipline (Prov. 13:24). Want them to have a right regard for authority?—one where they know that the ultimate authority is God whose throne is in heaven? Show your children your own fear of God and submission to His will in this task. Rebuke them and train them with the Word. Spank and speak. Give the no and the yes. Punish for sin and go to God’s Word to show them the right path.
Remember, we are no longer training them for success in the world, we are training them for success in battle… Continue reading →
The church must get serious about training the next generation—our five year-old sons and daughters—to suffer for the faith. Gone are going to be the days when Christian parents can cover their worldly ambitions for their children with a thin veneer of Christian conservatism and go happily on their way. The new pagan orthodoxy won’t allow such softness. For many parents this will be to die the worst kind of death. Their sons and (especially) daughters won’t be permitted to matriculate at an Ivy League college. They won’t be able to become Christian-ish investment bankers and Christian-ish lawyers and Christian-ish professors and Christian-ish Senators.
In his book Knowing God, written back in 1973, J.I. Packer laments the feebleness of faith and worship demonstrated by Christians of his day. I’d argue Christians of 2014 can add flaccidness to 1973’s feebleness. Packer writes,
“When you start reading Luther, or Edwards, or Whitefield, though your doctrine may be theirs, you soon find yourself wondering whether you have any acquaintance at all with the mighty God whom they knew so intimately” (83).
When I worked through Luther’s Bondage of the Will, I had that impression. Every time I read a sermon by Edwards, Whitefield, Spurgeon, Calvin, or Lloyd-Jones I have the same impression. They knew and therefore feared God in a way that few in the church know and fear Him today, particularly those who speak from her pulpits. When I compare my sermons with these men, I am forced to examine my calling and my faith. Just now I stumbled on an example of a godly forefather’s sobriety that caused me to think again about today’s abhorrence of discipline and fearlessness before God Almighty… Continue reading →