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548:  Keeping First Things First… Always

548: Keeping First Things First… Always

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We are the Light of the World… Maybe

The problem today in our culture is not the increasing darkness, but the ever-diminishing light in believers.  For darkness is defined as the absence of light.  And when light appears, it immediately vanquishes darkness without a struggle.  But there is more.  Scripture tells us that Christ is light, and therefore, so are we.  We are children of light and are commanded to “walk as children of light” (Eph. 5:8).  And Scripture describes the enemy as darkness.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John (the Baptist).  This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light (Christ), that all through him might believe.  He was not that Light (Christ), but was sent to bear witness of that Light (Christ).
Summary: That was the true Light (Christ) which gives light to every man (was) coming into the world – John 1:6-9.

But it gets even better.  Consider what John later says about light.

This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light (to what degree) and in Him is no darkness at all.  If we say that we have fellowship with Him (light), and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if (condition) we walk in the light (to what degree) as He is in the light, (result) we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin – 1 John 1:6-7.

So it appears the problem today with encroaching darkness is us, those who are light, yet hide our light from the world (Matt. 5:14-16).  Why do we do that?  Maybe it’s because we fear the darkness.  Or maybe we fear the persecution of the world, of being canceled, mocked, de-platformed, or whatever the darkness tries to do to conceal our light.  But no matter.  We have the mandate from our Lord to “let our light shine before men” (Matt. 5:16).

So maybe we should be about just that.  Remember:

Fact: For you were once darkness, but now you are light (where) in the Lord.
Command:  Walk as children of light – Ephesians 5:8.

Note: We are now (present tense) light in the Lord. We possess the Holy Spirit and take on the nature of Christ (Rom. 8:29), who is Light (1 John 1:5).  And that makes us divinely powerful in Him.

So let’s get to it, shall we?


How Do We Live as Light in the World?

So how are we to be light in this dark world?  And how do we fight against the darkness?  Let me tell you how not to fight against the darkness.  Not with anger, revenge, politics, or personal strength.  None of the Rambo stuff.  Nor by plotting, or scheming, or manipulating circumstances to meet our end.  No, that’s what the darkness does.  We let Him do the fighting for us and rest in His promises and commands.

In Him (Christ) was life, and the life was the light of men.  And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend (katalambánō – to take, apprehend, overcome, to seize the position of and defeat, to gain control) it – John 1:4-5.

Did you get that?

When we surrender ourselves to the Lord, we allow Him to fight our battles for us (which was His whole plan in the first place).  We find this command to surrender ourselves all throughout Scripture.  Remember, He gets the glory when we allow Him to fight our battles for us, just like a loving Father.  And He has promises for those who choose to trust Him, even in the thick of battle.

Remember the questions in Romans 8?

“Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect?” – Romans 8:33.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” – Romans 8:35.
And the one where our faith either grows or fails… “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors (how) through Him who loved us” – Romans 8:37.

And we pray and put on the whole armor of God (Eph. 6:10-18).  Not sure what that means or why we should do it?  Then keep listening.

Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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547:  Regeneration – The Greatest Deception in the Church

547: Regeneration – The Greatest Deception in the Church

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The Mark of the End Times?  Deception  

In Matthew 24, Jesus revealed to His disciples the signs to look for when the end of the age appears.  And the number one sign is deception.  He actually began this teaching this way: “Take heed that no one deceives you” (Matt. 24:4).  And how will they, and you and me, be deceived?  Jesus said Satan would unleash all he has in his bag of tricks.

First, “For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many” (Matt. 24:5).

Next, we have false prophets who claim to speak for God.  “Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many” (Matt. 24:11).

This is followed by more false prophets pointing now to false christs who will perform counterfeit signs and wonders that only the real Christ should be able to do.  In fact, the deception is so great, that all but the elect will be deceived.  “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand” (Matthew 24:24).

Scripture warns us it is going to get bad.  Real bad.  And real fast.

But there is a deception going on right now in the church that is just as bad as what is to come, maybe worse.  And this deception strikes at the core of our eternal salvation.  It is literally a matter of heaven and hell.


Have You Experienced Regeneration?

It is the deception regarding your salvation.  Are you really saved?  And if so, how do you know?  Is it based on a prayer you prayed or an emotion you experienced, or is it something else?  How do you know you are really saved?

When we are asked that question, we often rely on external evidence.  But for many in the church today, the external evidence of true salvation is sadly missing.  Why?  Because of a lack of regeneration.

Let me explain.

When salvation truly takes place, everything changes.  God doesn’t make us better or allow us to keep parts of ourselves He now sanctifies.  No, the Scriptures teach everything is now new (born again) and the old has passed away, been buried, done away with.  Hence, the external evidence should be a radically changed life.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; (defined as) old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new – 2 Corinthians 5:17.

But the key to understanding the difference between regeneration (being born again) and faith and conversion (saying the sinner’s prayer), is best explained by trying to understand what this verse really means.

Therefore, if (since, because) anyone (personal) is (what) in Christ (salvation), he is (present tense) a new (kainós – qualitatively new, original and of a kind not seen before) creation (ktísis – an object brought into creation or existence by God); (defined as) old things have passed away (to pass out of use or go out of existence); behold, all things (pas – each, every, the whole, in entirety without exception) have become (gínomai – to begin to be, to come into existence after not existing) new (kainós) – 2 Corinthians 5:17.

This is a picture of true salvation.  It is a description of regeneration.  Regeneration is a secret act of God in which He imparts new spiritual life to us.  How regeneration happens is a mystery to us.  But the fact that it does is the bedrock of the assurance of our salvation.  There are many Scriptures that speak of a spiritual interaction between our spirit and the Holy Spirit.  So the question would be:  Have you had this kind of interaction with the Spirit?

Which brings us to the internal evidence of salvation.  Consider this truth:

The Spirit (emphatic) Himself (what) bears witness (summarturéō – to testify, to witness, to confirm, to provide supporting evidence) with our spirit (human spirit) that we are children of God – Romans 8:16.

Ouch.  How does that happen?  And what resulted from His confirmation?  How has that experience, Spirit to spirit, changed your life from that point until today?  And if His confirmation of your sonship hasn’t changed your life, Spirit to spirit, should it have?  In what way?  Can you see where deception could creep in?

I sure hope so, because it is a damning deception.  Join us today as we look into the truth of regeneration as we: Examine yourselves as to whether (what) you are in the faith.  Test yourselves.  Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?— unless indeed you are disqualified – 2 Corinthians 13:5.

And nobody wants to find themselves disqualified (adókimos – fraudulent, unapproved, unworthy, spurious, worthless, corrupted).

Nobody.

Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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546:  Spiritual Preparation for the Lord’s Supper, Revisited

546: Spiritual Preparation for the Lord’s Supper, Revisited

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The Two Ordinances of the Church  

There are two ordinances the church celebrates: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper.  Baptism is a once in a lifetime event for the believer that publicly displays their passage from death to life through the salvation offered by the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.  It is a picture of being “born again” (John 3:3, 7).  The Lord’s Supper is something different.  It is an event of self-examination and repentance that is celebrated on an ongoing basis, as often as the church desires, whether it be weekly, monthly, quarterly, or whenever they choose.

The Lord’s Supper is a reenactment of the Last Passover celebrated by Jesus and His disciples, but with one significant change.  During the Last Passover, Jesus gave deeper meaning to the wine and bread.  He said the bread represents His body that was to be “broken” for them (1 Cor. 11:24).  And the wine represents a new covenant He made with us through the shedding of His blood on the cross (1 Cor. 11:25).  Only Jesus didn’t use the word represents.  I did.  He said the bread is His body, and the wine is His blood.  And this is where the plot thickens somewhat.

“Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me” – 1 Corinthians 11:24.

Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you.  For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” – Mathew 26:27-28.

And the debate about the literal or symbolic use of bread and wine has continued until this day, so we won’t spend our time running down that rabbit hole.  But what we are going to look at is the meaning of what this all conveys, especially when Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of Me” (1 Cor. 11:24-25), and how celebrating this feast proclaims “the Lord’s death until He comes” (1 Cor. 11:26).

Which leads us to ask a few questions.

Question:  What happens at the Lord’s Supper?
Answer:  That really depends on you.

How much have you prepared to commune with the Lord today?  Do you have an expectation of meeting with Him?  And if so, how have you prepared yourself to meet with Him?  Do you realize the Lord of the Universe has invited you to come to His table?  And are you coming to His table in a “worthy manner” befitting Him (1 Cor. 11:27)?

Question:  Ok, then what is supposed to happen at the Lord’s Supper?
Answer:  Again, that really depends on you.

Jesus specifically set this time apart for us to experience an intimate communion with Him.  So it is much more than a religious sacrament.  It is actually a time for us to repent of our sins, cleanse our hearts before Him, and then partake in the sufferings (death) and blessings (resurrection) with Him.

We are to experience this union (key phrase) with Him in our soul, not just in our minds.  And the way to do that (the “how” questions) begins with your spiritual preparation and prayer.  After all, He has invited you to dine with Him at His table at His request.


The 1860 Revival of Cape Town 

For over 38 years, Andrew Murray senior, the father of the well-known pastor and devotional writer, Andrew Murray, prayed for revival to take place in the Cape Colony in South Africa.  And for 38 years, nothing.  Then, in 1860, when his son Andrew Murray was a young 32-year-old pastor of a small church, revival broke out, and everything changed.  In fact, eyewitness accounts (this one from Servaas Hofmeyr) of the revival and its aftermath describe it like this:

“Before the days of Revival, the situation of our congregation was lamentable.  Love of the world and sin; no earnestness or heartfelt desire for salvation; sinning and idleness, that was the order of the day for most.  When the Lord started to move among us, how intense were the prayers for revival and the cries for mercy!  ‘I am lost!’ cries one here.  ‘Lord, help me!’ cries another.  Anxious cries were uttered, heart rendering testimonies of conversion were heard.  Visions were seen.  Corporate prayer, even behind bushes and rocks, on mountains and in ravines, men, women, greyheads, children, gentlemen, servants all kneeling on the same ground crying for mercy.  And none of this was expected by anyone, nor prepared by anyone, nor worked up, or preached by anyone.  It was all the Spirit of God, and not for a few hours or days, but months long.”

It was a time of spiritual wonder.  In fact, a local pastor described it by saying:

“Prayer meetings were overflowing and full of fire and zeal.  Early in the morning and late at night, people would come singing to God’s house.  Repentance, renewal, rebirth, and devotion were deepened, and vision widened.  Cases of heartfelt conversion occurred daily.”

Sounds like something right out of Acts 2, doesn’t it?

So what is the point of the 1860 revival and how does it relate to the Lord’s Supper?  Simply this, in 1887 Andrew Murray wrote a book titled, The Lord’s Table:  A Help to the Right Observance of the Holy Supper.  And in this book, Andrew Murray gave clear instructions and, most importantly, heart-felt prayers that helped those who were experiencing revival in his time to spiritually prepare for the Lord’s Supper.  And by following the instructions of someone who has experienced what we are striving for, we can hope for the same results.

You can download the bookHERE.  And I would encourage you to listen to this message as we move forward in likeness to Him as we, at the same time, leave lukewarmness and apathy (Laodicea) behind.

Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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545:  You Do or Don’t Do, There is No Try

545: You Do or Don’t Do, There is No Try

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Trust Grows One Promise at a Time

Undeniably, one of the most difficult aspects of the Christian life is the idea of surrender and sacrifice (Rom. 12:1-2), or of fully understanding the implications of Jesus being not only our Savior, but also our Lord.  Yep, it’s that sinister, four letter word that spells disaster for most… Lord.  Recognizing the Lordship of Jesus means He is predominant over everything, including you and me, what we want to do, and when we want to do it.  And pride always seems like the last holdout of our sinful flesh to recognize His Lordship and fall under its authority.

That’s why the Lord never promises to make us better.  He promises to make us new, to be born again (John 3:16).  For there is nothing in our old life that has any place or serves any value in our new life.  Our old nature is continually at odds with our new nature and only one can reign supreme (Rom. 7:15-25).  And the process of feeding one and starving the other is what we call practical sanctification.  But we’ll dive into that topic on another day.

In order for us to allow Christ to live His life through us, we have to have a changed nature and, especially, a changed mind.  Therefore, Scripture states when we surrender our bodies to Him as a living sacrifice (Rom. 12:1), God miraculously “transforms us by the renewing of our mind” (Rom. 12:2).  And our mind is renewed when we choose (our action) to live by faith and not by what we see, think, or feel.  It is faith, and only faith, that activates all the promises of God.  For without faith, His promises are simply words to us because we refuse to empower them into our lives by believing them as true, and then living like they are.

And what is faith?  Basically, it is believing without seeing (Heb. 11:1).  It is confidently trusting without question or apprehension or doubt.  But our faith cannot be in God’s promises alone.  It must also be in His character, love, integrity, faithfulness, and truthfulness.  In essence, our faith must rest in God and we must believe God is who He says He is, without wavering (Jas. 1:6).


We Must Believe What God Says is True

Since our faith in God grows incrementally or in steps (just like our faith in anything grows), we are going to look at one familiar if/then promise and see if we can trust what He says.  And we find this promise in Proverbs 3:5-6, the if/then promise of God giving us direction for our lives.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths – Proverbs 3:5-6.

First, note the conditions and the promise.  And also the qualifier for the key component, trust.

(if) Trust in the LORD (qualifier) with all your heart,
and (if) lean not on your own understanding;
(if) in all your ways acknowledge Him,
and (then) He shall direct your paths.

Do: Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
Don’t: and lean not on your own understanding;
Do: in all your ways acknowledge Him,
Promise: and He shall direct your paths.

Then, let’s see what the first segment of this truth actually says.

Trust (bāṭaḥ – to be confident, to have faith, to believe.  It expresses the feeling of safety and security that is felt when one can completely rely on someone or something else)

in the Lord (yehōwāh YHWH – the proper name for the God of Israel, the name by which He revealed Himself to Moses, He is the “I AM THAT I AM”)

I am to trust the God who is the ever-present one (Heb. 11:6), the self-existent and self-sufficient God who needs nothing and is dependent on no one.  All of creation is dependent on Him for life, purpose, and existence.  It is the name of God who sent Moses to Pharaoh with a divine mission of deliverance (Ex. 3:14).  He is the God who directed Moses’ paths back then, just as He promises to direct mine, even today.  He is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.  I am to trust the God Whose name is so sacred, the ancient Hebrews refused to write it unless they ritually cleansed themselves first.  And God, whose primary trait is revealed to us as holy, has chosen to make us holy in His sight.

Amazing, isn’t it?   And now, the qualifier for the word, trust.

with all (kōl – each, every, all, everything, the whole, entire, in totality, without exception)

your (personal)

heart (lēḇ – the immaterial self or the seat of one’s inner nature, such as soul, thought, understanding, knowledge, mind, will, emotions, personality, desires, volition, determination, moral character).

The word translated heart represents everything that makes you who you are, someone unique, special.

Which brings us to the crux of this message.  How can I trust Him more than I trust myself?  Or how can I trust God more than my reasoning, logic, understanding, experience, education, maturity, wisdom, feelings, sincerely held convictions, or what I know to be right and wrong or what I know works and doesn’t work for me in this world?  How is that even possible?

Join us today as we discover what happens when we take God at His Word and trust Him with all that makes us who we are, and in doing so, learn how to leave Laodicea behind.

Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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544:  Desire Without Effort Equals Nothing

544: Desire Without Effort Equals Nothing

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Nothing From Nothing Leaves Nothing

In 1974, Billy Preston, affectionally known as the fifth Beatle, had one of his major hits with the song “Nothing from Nothing,” which reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for one week in October of that year.  There was not much substance to the lyrics of his song, just a catchy phrase and an upbeat melody, but the overriding message of the title still rings true today.  If you put nothing in, you’ll get nothing out.  There is no free ride, no free lunch.  Success doesn’t just happen, it’s the result of hard work.  Nothing is ever truly free, it always costs someone, something.

Same is true in our spiritual lives.  Even the free gift of salvation cost Christ His life.  Jesus said we must deny ourselves, pick up our cross daily, in order to follow Him (Luke 9:23).  Likewise, in the wilderness where God provided manna to feed His children for forty years, He still required them to get off their backsides and go out each morning and pick it up.  God didn’t employ Door Dash to foster their laziness.

We see God’s admonitions against the lazy and slothful throughout the Proverbs.  Let’s take this passage, for example.

The soul of a lazy man desires and has nothing; but the soul of the diligent shall be made rich – Proverbs 13:4.

And, as usual, we need to understand what the verse says before we can determine what it means.

The soul (nep̱eš – the inner being with its thoughts and emotions, breath, the entire person, the seat of one’s personality, their mind, will, passions, and volition, everything that makes them who they are)

of a lazy man (ʿāṣēl – sluggish, slothful, useless, someone who will always fail because of laziness that becomes moral failure, a person who is undisciplined to work or exert himself)

desires (ʾāwāh – to want strongly, to long for, to crave)

and has nothing (ʾayin – none, no, not, nothing, nonexistence, without.  Note: “he hates the process by which results are to be obtained”);

but (conjunction, contrast)

the soul (nep̱eš – the inner being with its thoughts and emotions, breath, the entire person, the seat of one’s personality, their mind, will, passions, and volition, everything that makes them who they are)

of the diligent (ḥārûṣ – sharp, industrious, a person who is characterized by care and perseverance in carrying out tasks. Note: diligence is not satisfied with desire, but with possession)

shall be made rich (dāšēn – to be satisfied, to grow fat, having an abundance, thrive, to be made prosperous, to be richly supplied).

So what is this passage saying?  And what lessons can we take home from the life of a lazy, slothful, sluggard?


What Can We Learn from a Lazy Man?

Looking elsewhere in Proverbs, we find the lazy man will begin nothing.  He is content to live in whatever squalor his apathy and laziness provide.  He has no internal motivation to better himself other than the growl in his belly and will work only long enough to silence it for one day.  What a sad state of a human being, especially a Christian.

How long will you slumber, O sluggard? (No answer)  When will you rise from your sleep? (Again, he doesn’t know)  A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep— so shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, and your need like an armed man – Proverbs 6:9-11.

We also discover that, if on a wild whim, the lazy man actually begins something, he will never finish it.  Just beginning zaps all his energy and drive and whatever impulse prompted him to start, it is never enough to see the task to completion.

The lazy man does not roast what he took in hunting, but diligence is man’s precious possession – Proverbs 12:27.

He works to accomplish something and then lets it spoil because he is too tired or too lazy to finish what he began.

A lazy man buries his hand in the bowl, and will not so much as bring it to his mouth again – Proverbs 19:24.

And the next verse tells us the why for the lazy man’s behavior.

The lazy man buries his hand in the bowl; it wearies him to bring it back to his mouth – Proverbs 26:15.

The lazy man is full of excuses why his friends view him as a failure, or maybe a bum.  And any excuse, no matter how bizarre, seems right in his own eyes.

The lazy man says, “There is a lion outside!  I shall be slain in the streets!” – Proverbs 22:13.

And finally, the lazy man has nothing to look forward to other than a tough time.  Why?  Because he has needlessly forfeited many of the blessings belonging to him because of his unwillingness to make the effort to acquire them for himself.

The way of the lazy man is like a hedge of thorns, but the way of the upright is a highway – Proverbs 15:19.

But note, this passage does not refer to money exclusively.  It also refers to our relationship with Him and the effort we are willing to make to grow in our faith.  After all, we put nothing in, we can expect nothing out.  We don’t show up for the game, we will not play.  It’s just that simple.  And it’s no one’s fault but our own.

Join us today and let’s discover the importance of putting in the effort spiritually to grow in our faith as we learn how to leave Laodicea behind.

Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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543:  Remember the Warning – Conformity Kills

543: Remember the Warning – Conformity Kills

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God Didn’t Save Us to Make Us Better…

One of the key elements of salvation is something called sanctification.  This strange word means to be separated unto God.  It is the act of becoming personally more dedicated to God.  Literally, it means living a life of holiness, which is the very reflection of the character of God.  And sanctification is a part of the process of salvation, whereby we become more like Christ and less like the world.  Hence, after salvation, we are commanded not to “walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Romans 8:1), which is the perfect description of sanctification.

And sanctification is a product of our will and a practical result of our obedience to Him.  In fact, most of the commands God gave us after salvation are those we choose to do because of our love for Him.  Consider the implied you in these classic passages.

(You implied) Bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ – 2 Corinthians 10:5.

Finally, my brethren, (you implied) be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
(You implied) Put on the whole armor of God, that (who) you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil – Ephesians 6:10-11.

This is something you have to choose to do.  It is not something done for you.

(You implied) Rejoice always,
(You implied) pray without ceasing,
In everything (you implied) give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for (who) you.
(You implied) Do not quench the Spirit.
(You implied) Do not despise prophecies.
(You implied) Test all things; (you implied) hold fast what is good.
(You implied) Abstain from every form of evil – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22.

Get the point?  And then there is the granddaddy of all sanctification truths, Romans 12:1-2.

I beseech (who) you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that (who) you present (who) your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is (who) your reasonable service.  And (you implied) do not be conformed to this world, but (you implied) be transformed by the renewing of (who) your mind, that (who) you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God – Romans 12:1-2.

So we know what the Scriptures say regarding our responsibility regarding sanctification.  But how do we incorporate these truths into our lives?


He Saved Us to Make Us New

Everything in our relationship with Christ is activated by faith.  That’s right, faith.  We are saved by faith.  We are sanctified by faith?  We live a victorious, overcoming life in Christ by faith?  And we have the assurance of eternal life with Him by faith.  In fact, the faith chapter in Hebrews tells us that “without faith it is impossible to please Him” (Heb. 11:6).  Get that?  Impossible.

And one key command of the Lord, especially regarding sanctification and faith, is for us to not be conformed to the world, but to think, act, live, and feel differently because of Him.  Remember Romans 12:2?

And do not be conformed (to fashion alike, to be behaviorally or socially similar to something or someone, to become shaped, formed, or molded into a certain pattern) to this world (not kósmos but aiṓn) but be transformed (metamorphóō – to change one’s form, to transfigure, to change completely into something else) by the renewing (to renew qualitatively, a renovation to an improved or like-new state) of your mind (noús),

And what happens if we do?

that you (personal promise) may prove (test, discern, judge to be right or commendable, to accept as trustworthy) what is that good (of moral excellence, best, upright, virtuous) and acceptable (well-pleasing, that which gives pleasure and satisfaction) and perfect (complete, finished, having reached its intended goal or purpose, full, wanting nothing) will of God.

But how do we receive this promise personally?  How does what Romans 12:2 says become real to us?  You know the answer.  It’s by faith.

This means that everything we are going to discover together is already yours.  All you have to do is receive it by faith.  And if that is so, then there is really no excuse for not experiencing all the Father promised us as a child of His.  For our Father has already provided for us everything we need to live His abundant life (John 10:10).  All we have to do is believe and live according to our beliefs.

Are you ready?  If so, join us today and let’s learn how conformity to our world brings nothing but death and disaster to a child of His who is being conformed to the image of His Son (Rom. 8:29).

Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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Repentance or Remorse, Heaven or Hell

Repentance or Remorse, Heaven or Hell


They are Not the Same Thing

Last Sunday in church we celebrated the Lord’s Supper and focused on the need we have for self-examination.  I know what you’re thinking, self-examination and the Lord’s Supper don’t seem to go together— at least not in my prior church experience.

I remember all my formative years in a Southern Baptist church and how the Lord’s Supper seemed like just another religious ritual, full of pomp and fluff and feel-good stuff, always heavy on form and light on substance.  There was a great emphasis, an overriding emphasis, on the service looking good and proper from the pews and not necessarily impacting the heart.  Come on, you know what I’m talking about… the deacons standing in military formation, the white linen sheets that covered the “remembrance” table, the solemn looks on the faces of the participants— nobody talking, nobody moving, nobody breathing.

Remember?  Then the elements were passed out as quickly as possible while the organ, or piano, or keyboard, or CD player filled the sanctuary with Christian-like instrumental background music.  Religious Muzak.

We took the bread (uh, actually it was more like a cardboard dough droplet) and the grape juice and followed, on cue, the preacher as he told us when to eat and when to drink and when to pray and when to go home.  When he raised his plastic 1/4 of a shot glass of grape juice, so did we.  When he put the dough droplet in his mouth and looked down in his best “this is a serious moment” preacher posture, we did the same.  When he closed his eyes and prayed, we closed our eyes and prayed as well.

“Great.  All done.  Now we’ve celebrated the Lord’s death until He returns.  Can’t wait until next time.  Let’s hit the road!”

But for me, something was missing, something was conspicuously absent—  almost by design—  and it left me hungry and longing for more.  It was like I was only privy to half the truth about the Lord’s Supper and what it all meant.

Looking back, every preacher I ever sat under would read the words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 in their best James Earl Jones baritone voice as they began the ceremony.  They would say:

For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”  In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood ; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”  For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.

Got it.  But once I became a preacher, I continued reading:

Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord.  But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup.  For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly.  For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep. (1 Corinthians 11:27-30)

Oh, I see.  This paints a completely different picture altogether.  The proverbial “horse of a different color.”

It seems that one of the reasons for the Lord’s Supper is for each of us to take time and draw a line in the sand, as they say, and examine ourselves to make sure we are not taking this Supper in, as Paul puts it, an “unworthy manner.”  And if we do, Scripture says we will bring judgment upon ourselves like many did in the early church, where they became sick and some actually died.

“So this is serious business and not just some lame religious formality.”  Uh, hello.

In our church, I actually try to discourage people from participating in the Lord’s Supper unless they have first thoroughly examined themselves, repented of any known sins, reconciled any fractured relationships, forgiven any unforgivable person, “climb every mountain and ford every stream,” and agreed willingly to obey the Lord in any area of their lives they had previously shaken their fist in His face and defiantly told Him, “No Way, Jose!”  Only after a time of intense self-examination do we ask our people to come and partake of this ordinance with a clean and pure heart and in a “worthy” manner.


Repentance or Remorse

This Sunday, the “unworthy” area we specifically focused on was that of true repentance or simply heart-felt remorse.  How important is the distinction between the two?  It’s essential, vital— one of the non-negotiable of the Christian faith.  One leads to life and the other to death.  One is a a small, hand-painted, inconspicuous sign pointing to the turnstile that leads to eternal life and the other is a bright, flashing, neon sign boldly beckoning all to take the wide path of destruction. (Matt 7:13-14)

“Don’t you think that maybe you’re making a bit too much of this?” I don’t think so.

Consider the definition of repentance.  The root meaning of to repent (Gk: metanoeo) is “to think differently” or “to reconsider.”  Virtually all Greek lexicons agree that to metaneois means “to reconsider” or, as we commonly used it today, “to change one’s mind.” *  But don’t make the mistake of thinking that true repentance is simply mental gymnastics.  No, true repentance involves not only the cognitive change in our way of thinking about sin, but also the will and volition to have our lives changed by Christ to bear more of His fruit and to conform more to His likeness.

Plus, it’s a key, essential, do-or-die element in salvation.  Without repentance and faith, there is no eternal life, no matter what Joel Osteen tells you.  Take a look at the following few Scriptures and note that repentance is more than thinking differently about sin, it is actually changing one’s behavior.

We’ll begin in the Old Testament:

2 Chronicles 7:14
“If My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and (what) turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Note, not just “changing one’s mind about sin” but “turning from their wicked ways.”

Isaiah 1:15-17
“So when you spread out your hands in prayer, I will hide My eyes from you; Yes, even though you multiply prayers, I will not listen.  Your hands are covered with blood.  Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from My sight.  Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.”

Again note, there is action involved, the “fruits in keeping with repentance” that John the Baptist and others talked about. (Luke 3:7-8 and Acts 26:19-20)

Isaiah 55:6-7
“Seek the LORD while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked (what) forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the LORD, and He will have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.”

Forsaking sin and seeking God is the repentance and faith of salvation.

Plus, in the New Testament, repentance was the cornerstone of the preaching of Jesus, John the Baptist, Paul and the early church.  And it always involved more than just feeling sorry for your sins. “Oh, you poor, poor, lil’ sinner.”

Let’s just look at the message preached by our Lord:

Luke 5:30-32
The Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?”  And Jesus answered and said to them, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to (what) repentance.”

Mark 1:1-15
Now after John had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

Luke 3:3
And he (Jesus) came into all the district around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

Even in the Great Commission, Jesus connects repentance and faith as the message to be proclaimed to the entire world.

Luke 24:44-48
Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.  You are witnesses of these things.”

In summary, repentance is a change of mind or attitude toward sin, one’s own sin in particular. It includes remorse (sorrow, grief) and also a sincere desire to be rid of it (the kind David expresses in Psalm 51), as well as a determination to forsake sin and walk before God (see Acts 14:15). *


But What About Remorse?

Great question.  What about remorse?  Isn’t feeling sorrow or guilt or shame for your sin enough?  After all, isn’t changing one’s mind about sin and feeling bad about it what repentance is all about?

Answer.  Not even close.  This is the well-traveled, wide path that leads to destruction our Lord talked about in His Sermon on the Mount.  Let me elaborate.

Like God, we are also triune in nature— spirit, body and soul.  We are, in fact, a spirit created in the image of God.  We, as a spirit, live in a body that allows us to interact with the physical environment that surrounds us.  And we possess a soul, which is the center of our mind (intellect), emotion (feelings), will (choice), and conscience (moral capacity).  It is in our soul that we choose to “walk according to the flesh or according to the spirit” (Gal. 5:16).  It is our soul that chooses, like Mary, to magnify the Lord (Luke 1:46) and it is our soul that is often troubled, weary and in need of refreshing or restoration by the Lord (Psalm 23:3).

It is also in our soul that true remorse for sin is felt and, if genuine, becomes redeeming repentance.  But, it is also in the soul that remorse can remain remorse and never bring changes in the actions and attitudes of the person that the Scripture refers to as “fruits in keeping with repentance” (Luke 3:7-8).

When a person is under the conviction of the Word by the Holy Spirit, all aspects of the soul are brought into play.  The mind (intellect) must understand the message preached, the standard of God, compared to the fallen life of man.  This understanding brings with it emotion (sorrow, remorse, shame, guilt) for the sin we have committed and the need for forgiveness.  If true repentance follows, then the will (choice, volition) will move to commit to a new way of living, to get rid of the sin and unrighteousness and replace it with righteousness.  In other words, to live a holy life like Christ commands us to.

For repentance to take place, all three— mind, emotion and will— must be active in the life of the repentant sinner.  If only the first two occur, mind and emotion, then the end result is not repentance, but remorse, and salvation does not take place.  Again, we are back on the Yellow Brick Road, leading to death and destruction.

Let me give you a couple of examples from Scripture.


Repentance Example: Acts 2

Peter preaches his incredibly bold and confrontational sermon to a great crowd gathered on the day of Pentecost.  He challenges and accuses them of the murder of Jesus, God’s own Son (Acts 2:22-24). He then appeals to their mind by asserting facts about Jesus:

“Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain (mind) that God has made Him both Lord and Christ— this Jesus who you crucified.” (Act 2:36)

And what was the result?  They were grieved, guilt-ridden, pained, and in great remorse.  So much so they asked Peter and the others what they must to do alleviate the pain of their guilt, shame and sorrow.  Remember?

Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart (guilt, remorse, sorrow), and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what must we do?” (Acts 2:37)

Now this is where we separate the truly repentant from those who are only sorry for their sin.  Peter replies to them:

Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:39.

And some did.  And some didn’t.

In fact, the account tells us a couple of verses later that “3,000 souls” were added to the church that day.  Just 3,000.  Of the great multitude that heard Peter’s message and called out with the others in the pain of their guilt and remorse, “Brethren, what must we do?”— 3,000 chose to respond (will and volition) with repentance and follow in baptism while the others fixated at remorse only and chose not to respond to Peter’s call.

When the soul understand the message (mind, intellect – Step One) and the emotions bring guilt, sorrow and remorse (feelings – Step Two), the individual stands at a crossroads.  How am I to get rid of these unpleasant feelings of guilt, remorse and sorrow for my sin?  I can repent of them and ask the Lord to forgive me, vowing never to commit them again (will, volition – Step Three).  Or, I can walk away and drown them out in drink, food, sex, drugs, entertainment or whatever poison you use to numb your conscience. One path leads to life and one path leads to death.


Remorse Example: Judas, Rich Young Ruler

The Scriptures also show us examples of those who stopped, dug in their heels, and fixated at Step Two – Remorse.  Remember Judas?  He felt remorse for betraying Jesus and returned the 30 pieces of sliver to, in some sort of perverted way, try to remove the pain of his guilt.  “I have sinned (mind and intellect) and betrayed innocent blood!” he cried (Matthew 27:4).  He returned the silver and went out and committed suicide to rid himself of the pain of remorse.  Did he repent?  Scripture says, no.

The following Scripture flow will help illustrate this point:

Intellect:

Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned… (Matthew 27:3a)

Emotion (Remorse):

he felt (what) remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders. saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? See to that yourself!” And he threw the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary and departed; and he went away and hanged himself (Matthew 27:3b-5).

Act of the Will (Volition) – Fruits of Repentance:  None

The Rich Young Ruler fell into the same trap.

Intellect:

And someone came to Him and said, “Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?”  The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?” (Matthew 19:16, 20).

Emotion (Remorse):

Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property. (Matthew 19:20-21)

Act of the Will (Volition) Fruits of Repentance:  None

Same thing with King Saul in 1 Samuel 15:24-25.


* (Systematic Theology, Geisler, Vol. 3, page 512, Bethany House, 2004. Minneapolis, MN.)
* Cottrell, Jack. The Faith Once for All. Joplin, Mo.: College Press Publishing Company, 2002.)


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542:  How to Get Answers to the “How” Questions

542: How to Get Answers to the “How” Questions

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We Need Practical Application, Not Just Theory

In our educational system, the old adage goes, “Those who do, do.  And those who don’t do, teach.”  And the truth sometimes stings, but it is still truth.  In college, for example, most of the professors who teach business classes, even on a graduate level, have never run a business themselves.  They can teach you what others say to do to be successful in the business world, yet they have never lived under the pressure of having to make payroll or survive a tax audit.

And for some strange reason, we are content with learning from those who can only point the way to the Emerald City, but not lead us to where it is because they have never been there themselves.  This is the definition of Convoluted Logic 101.  But, I digress.

Often, we find the same mindset when looking at Scriptures.  We see theory and commands given, sometimes with a reason, yet it is seldom followed up with practical application.  We are told what to do and why, but the “how” part of the equation is missing.  And what we desperately need in our darkening culture is an answer to our many “how” questions.

Let me give you a simple example from a well-known passage.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that (what) you (something I need to do and not something God does for me) present your bodies a living sacrifice (ok, but how?), holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service – Romans 12:1.

We know what the truth means and the reason why it is given, but often struggle with the “how” to do it.  This verse talks about theory and the reason why, but is conspicuously short when it comes to the how part.

I mean, how do I present my body as a living sacrifice?  And what does living sacrifice even mean?  And why only my body?   What about my mind, soul, spirit, or anything else I can offer?  What is this passage saying and how is it done in real time?


But Sometimes We are Given the Application

Sometimes, the Lord provides for us some concrete examples to the commands He gives us.  And sometimes these examples show us the depth of the command and the cost of obedience.  Let me share a few from the Sermon on the Mount.

Theory: “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’  But I tell you not to resist an evil person.”

Application: (How?)  “But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.  If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also” – Matthew 5:38-40.

And the application continues.

Application: (How?) “And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.  Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away” – Matthew 5:41-42.

And then Jesus gives us more theory, more commands that He chooses not to reveal the application.  Why?  Because the reason should be enough.

Theory: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” – Matthew 43-44.

Application: (How?) None

Reason: “that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” – Matthew 5:45.

And to understand the command based on the reason alone, assumes an inner desire to be more like our Lord.  Or an experience with the Higher Christian Life.

Is being like your heavenly Father enough for you, or do you need a bullet-point list to follow?  Are you content with theory, or do you require the Law to follow?

Join us as we begin our journey of discovery to uncover the answers to the “how” questions in Scripture as we learn to leave Laodicea behind.

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541:  Connecting Narcissism and the Debased Mind

541: Connecting Narcissism and the Debased Mind

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The Three Phases of a Dying Culture

In Romans 1, the Holy Spirit reveals the three phases a dying culture goes through when God removes His hand of grace and allows a people to experience the consequences of their own sin.  We have seen this unfold in our own country over the last 60 years.  And unfortunately, once a culture reaches the third phase, the debased mind, there is no return.  The dye is cast, and the day of grace has passed.

These three phases are introduced by the phrase, “God gave them over” or “God gave them up” (Rom: 1:24, 26, 28).  Literally, it describes a people who have rejected His Word, demanded their independence, and received just that.  God removes His hand of protection and allows those in active rebellion to experience, first-hand, the consequences of their sin as they strive, by their actions, to look less and less like Jesus and become more and more like Satan.

And we can see the downward trajectory our own culture is following.  The first phase, or the first curse of God on a culture under judgment, is sexual sin.  We experienced the beginning of this in the 60s.  And now, on every level, we are living in a sex saturated society.

Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature (flesh, their bodies) rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever.  Amen – Romans 1:24-25.

No longer satisfied with sexual sin, the next curse, phase two, is homosexuality.  Our collective “coming out” as a culture began in the late 80s and homosexuality is now an accepted part of the fabric of who we are as a people, regardless of what the Word of God says.

For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.  Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due – Romans 1:26-27.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, the third and final phase is what the Scripture calls a “debased mind.”  No longer do we even think logically as a people.  Now, men can choose to become women and have children, or so we affirm, regardless of what history, science, and logic tell us.  We teach our children they can choose their gender while in kindergarten before they are old enough to read without help or have mastered their multiplication tables.  And then we encourage them to undergo medical mutilations in order for them to feel better about being who God did not create them to be.  This is a debased mind.

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting – Romans 1:28.

But there is more.  If you look around, you will see the plague of what we call narcissism infecting the psyche of our society.  Everywhere we turn, someone is talking about the pain and suffering they have experienced by a loved one who is a narcissist.

Is there a connection between the “debased mind” in Romans 1:28 and the growing epidemic of narcissism we see today?  In a word, absolutely.


A Debased Mind is Another Term for Narcissism

Narcissism is not a mental disorder.  It is a spiritual curse that has infected the members of our society and has caused untold misery to those who have fallen prey to the deceit and manipulation of a narcissist.  And narcissism is the perfect description of what God calls a “debased mind.”  In fact, narcissism is the literal personification of the personality and characteristics of Satan himself, clearly manifested in a human being.

Let me give you a brief description of a narcissist.

•   Obsessed with fantasies of unlimited success, fame, fearsome power or omnipotence.
•   Firmly convinced that he or she is unique and, being special, can only be understood by other special or unique people of high status.
•   Requires excessive admiration, adulation, attention and affirmation.
•   Feels entitled.  Expects unreasonable or special and favorable priority treatment.
•   Uses others to achieve his or her own ends.
•   Devoid of empathy. Is unable or unwilling to identify with or acknowledge the feelings and needs of others.
•   Constantly envious of others or believes that they feel the same about him or her.
•   Arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes coupled with rage when frustrated, contradicted, or confronted.

And this is only scratching the surface.  Go Google narcissism yourself and you will see the depth of this spiritual disorder.  Yet compare the characteristics of a narcissist with what Scripture describes as a “debased mind” and you’ll see this is all part of the final curse of God, phase three, before He brings a culture down to destruction.   And we are well on our way.

The following, from Romans 1:18-32, is the description of both a narcissist and one who has a “debased mind.”

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased (morally reprehensible, worthless, deceitful, corrupted) mind (that which is responsible for one’s thoughts and feelings, the seat of reason), to do those things which are not fitting; being filled (to contain as much as possible, to fill completely, to overflow) with all (pás)
unrighteousness (failure to adhere to moral principles, commands, or laws, doing what is wrong),
sexual immorality,
wickedness (evil nature, depravity, malice, the perverting of virtue and moral principles),
covetousness (greed, desire, lust, envy for wealth),
maliciousness (mental wickedness); full (filled up, stuffed, to the brim) of
envy (jealousy, resentment felt at the sight of excellence or happiness),
murder,
strife (bitter conflict, contention, discord),
deceit (to bait, fraud, guile, treachery),
evil-mindedness (character trait that feels a need to see others suffer); they are
whisperers (gossiper, secret slanderer),
backbiters (one who attacks the reputation of another by slander),
haters of God,
violent (an insolent persecutor of others who mistreats them for pleasure, which the affliction of the wrong brings him),
proud (arrogant, haughty, contemptuous, one characterized by feelings of unwarranted importance),
boasters (braggart, arrogant, one who is self-exalting, having self-absorbed conceit in their own superiority),
inventors of evil things (one who comes up with new ways to exhibit wicked, evil, and morally objectionable behavior),
disobedient (unwilling to be persuaded, unbelieving, rejecting authority) to parents,
undiscerning (without insight or understanding, lacking the ability to understand the meaning or importance of something),
untrustworthy (without faithfulness, a breaker of a covenant),
unloving (without family love or the natural affection between family members),
unforgiving (incapable of reconciliation, being in a state of war perpetually),
unmerciful (having or showing no mercy);
who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice (one who does repeatedly, continually, habitually) such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve (to agree, think well of, take pleasure in) of those who practice (one who does repeatedly, continually, habitually) them – Romans 1:28-32.

Frightening, isn’t it?  Join us as we discover the depth of the narcissistic, “debased mind” described in Romans 1, and how it prophetically points to the soon return of Jesus Christ.

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540:  We Have Asked God to Judge Our Nation

540: We Have Asked God to Judge Our Nation

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And Unfortunately, He Has Granted Our Request

It appears we, as a culture and a nation, may have tested the patience of God one time too many.  We have, for example, murdered over 60 million innocent, unborn children in their mother’s womb while the church has basically remained silent.  As Ruth Graham once said, “If God doesn’t judge America, He will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.”  And just this week, after the Supreme Court ruling regarding Roe v. Wade, President Biden signed an Executive Order basically promoting abortion in our nation.  So the killing will continue, and God’s judgment is sure to come.

As a nation, we have asked, and are still asking with even a louder voice, for the Lord’s judgment.  How?  By killing more babies and shaking our fist in His face in open, blatant defiance.  And when the judgment falls (and I believe we are now under His judgment), the church is not immune.  Again, why?  Because we have remained silent while His little ones die in agony.  And God is not blind to our sin.

Remember this truth:

For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? – 1 Peter 4:17.

So the question is this: When God judges a nation, what happens to the people in that nation that love Him and live righteously?  Are they swept away with the unrighteous?  Or does God preserve them, like He did His children during the plagues of Egypt, by sequestering them in the land of Goshen?

Does judgment, like rain, fall on the just and the unjust at the same time?


What Happens to Us When Judgment Comes?

That is a great question, and only God knows the answer.  But we can get some insight and encouragement by looking at the first chapter of the small book of Nahum.

In Nahum, God is proclaiming His judgment on the city of Nineveh.  As you will recall, Nineveh was the city to which Jonah went to preach judgment, leading to repentance, although reluctantly.  And one of the greatest miracles in all the Old Testament happened after the hapless preaching of Jonah.  That evil fortress of a city repented and a great revival broke out at the preaching of God’s Word.  Child sacrifices ceased, the king called the city to repentance, and God forestalled His hand of judgment and offered Nineveh His grace.

But by the time of Nahum, over a hundred years had passed and Nineveh had gone back to their sinful ways.  The city was awash in idolatry and God, once again, was bringing judgment on those who had rejected His ways.

The first chapter of Nahum comprises 15 verses of railing judgment against the citizens of that great city.  Nahum uses phrases like “the Lord avenges” and the “Lord will take vengeance” (1:2).  He talks about the Lord’s “indignation” and the “fierceness of His anger” (1:6).  Nahum describes the coming judgment as “they shall be devoured like stubble fully dried” (1:10), and he records God saying, “I will dig your grave, for you are vile” (1:14).  Needless to say, God is not pleased with the people of Nineveh who have spurned His grace and spit in the face of His mercy.

So judgment is on its way, and it will come swiftly.

But the encouraging word for us, who also face the judgment of God, is found in verse 7.  It is the only positive verse in this chapter.  In this statement, God lets us know what He does with those who still love Him yet live among those He judges.  Nahum 1:7 reads:

The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows (yāḏaʿ) those who trust in Him – Nahum 1:7.

Or, to define some terms:

The LORD is good (of moral excellence), a stronghold (refuge, fortress, shelter, a place where one turns for assistance or protection) in the day of trouble (distress, anguish, an oppressive state of physical, mental, social, or economic adversity); and He knows (yāḏaʿ) those who trust in Him – Nahum 1:7.

What does it mean, “He knows those who trust in Him”?  The Hebrew word translated know is yāḏaʿ and is translated in the Septuagint as ginōskō.  So what does this passage say now?  And what are the implications for you and me in the times in which we live?  Remember how Jesus used that word to describe His relationship with His sheep?

“I am the good shepherd; and I know (ginōskō) My sheep, and am known (ginōskō) by My own.  As the Father knows (ginōskō) Me, even so I know (ginōskō) the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep” – John 10:14-15.

Note the qualifier: “those who trust in Him.”  The word trust means “to seek, to take refuge.  Literally, the word is used in reference to seeking a tree’s shade or protection from the heat.”  Elsewhere in the Old Testament it is translated as “take refuge, put their trust, put my trust, sought refuge, take shelter, and trust or trusts.”

Now, read the promise in context.  Note the judgments of God on a former repentant city that returned to idolatry, violence, and sin (3:1).  But also note how God promises His love and attention to those who trust Him, even while living in a nation/city under judgment.  Can you see any parallels to our situation today?  Do you see how our Lord can rescue the righteous from His judgment even though they live in a culture under His judgment?  Do you believe that is true, even today?

I sure hope so.  So join us as we discover how to rest in His love, even while our culture falls in around our ears as we learn how to leave Laodicea behind.

Leaving Laodicea | The Survival Manual for the Coming Underground Church

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