Summary: In a time of high emotion and turbulence Christians must carefully anchor their decisions in biblical principles. This message addresses how we must fight the current cultural battle and where the focus of our efforts must be.
America is in a serious time of crisis. Most of us can easily see that. The crisis poses a serious question as to what we should do now. A lot of energy has been expended in recent months by both liberals and conservatives in the political process. As conservatives, we are disappointed and concerned about the future. Already forces are at work to silence the conservative voice. How long will we be able to publicly preach the Bible like we are doing this morning?
I don’t see much opposition in the days ahead to a generic message that God loves you. Arrogant sinners not only agree with that message, but they cannot imagine a God that does not love them. After all they love themselves, and what kind of a God wouldn’t love them.i Nobody gets saved with half a gospel. And the world does not mind us preaching that half of the gospel. Does God love sinners? If He didn’t none of us would be saved. If He didn’t, He would not have sent Christ to die on the cross to make a way for our salvation. John 3:16 tells us the Father sent the Son to provide redemption to anyone who will put their faith in Christ. So, an important part of our message is that God love you.
But John the Baptist would have never been beheaded if he had simply told Herod that God loves him. It was when John confronted Herod’s sin that the opposition came.ii Jesus would have never been crucified by the Jewish leaders if He had only told them that God loves them.iii In John 7:7 Jesus said the world hated Him because He told them their works were evil. After talking about God’s love for people in John 3:16-17, Jesus goes on to say in the next two verses, “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”iv
That’s the part of the message that gets the messenger in trouble. It’s when you say, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” that you encounter opposition.v If you want to avoid persecution in the days ahead, don’t tell people to repent. Don’t confront their sin and rebellion against God and His commandments. Just tell them that God loves them and has a wonderful plan for their lives.
As the pressure increases, how many preachers will shift in that direction? How many have already shifted in that direction? How many Christians will stop condemning sexual sin, murder of unborn children, and other violations of God’s commandments? Will we have the backbone to keep preaching a whole gospel? Will our message include God’s demand for repentance, or will it be a message of sloppy love and tolerance that disturbs no one?
It’s hard for me to see a future in America that does not include increased persecution of Christians. I don’t know how severe that persecution will be. It will likely involve increased social pressure to back off the true gospel of Christ. It will likely label some preaching against sin as hate speech. It will probably entail some financial pressures. Those we have already experienced, but they will likely increase in severity. How physical the persecution becomes remains to be seen? But we had better brace ourselves for whatever comes. Put your roots down deep in Christ. Tend to your inner life so that nothing disturbs your peace. Keep your eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith.vi
Last week, in the context of our current crisis, I shared two biblical principles that we should keep in mind as we navigate our course for the days ahead. I will not go back into those. What I want to do today is share with you two more principles that will help us stay on course. In turbulent times like these, it is very important to anchor our decisions in biblical revelation. We need the stability that comes in the solid ground of God’s word. Our first principle today is this:
I. THE WEAPONS OF OUR WARFARE ARE NOT CARNAL
We begin by examining the political environment in Jerusalem during the first century. We get some insight on that from a statement made by the Jewish Rabbi Gamaliel in Acts 5:34-40. This statement comes during a trial of the apostles for preaching Jesus. They are brought before the Sanhedrin for violating their command to stop preaching Christ. Verse 29 records the response of the apostles: “But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: ‘We ought to obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree.’” Notice how confrontive the apostles’ message is: “whom you murdered by hanging on a tree.” Not very diplomatic! This is why the Sanhedrin is persecuting them. The message exposes their sin. Verse 33 tells us the Sanhedrin was furious and was planning to kill the apostles. They wanted this message silenced.