Tomorrow Will Never Come—Or Will It?

Tomorrow Will Never Come—Or Will It?

Most heresies consist of a truth taken to an extreme or misapplied. One teaching of Jesus possessing the potential for this type of abuse is found in His instruction in the Sermon on the Mount:

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:34 ESV)

Jesus is teaching that we should not worry about tomorrow, but He is not negating the need to plan for tomorrow or to consider the impact of today’s behaviors on the future. In Proverbs we are instructed to discipline ourselves at planting time so that we will have something to eat when harvest time comes. Frequently Scripture teaches us to consider the consequences of today’s actions on the future, warning that failure to do so will lead to disaster.

One such passage is provided for us by Jeremiah, prophesying at the point in Judah’s history when the Babylonians were about to conquer Jerusalem, an event during which thousands were slaughtered and most of the rest were carried off as slaves. The Babylonians broke down the wall, burned the city, including the temple, and took all of its riches.

Jeremiah identified the reason for this outcome in Lamentations 1:9: “She took no thought of her future; therefore her fall is terrible.” He had warned the nation repeatedly for decades that if they did not repent and recommit themselves to the Lord and His righteousness this would be their fate. Yet, they failed to take seriously the future consequences of their present actions.

Disregarding the future impact of one’s lifestyle has been embraced as a rule of life by America beginning in the sixties, when we adopted the philosophy of the “now generation.” Norman Mailer, a leading literary light of the movement expressed the rationale for ignoring the consequences of our actions by describing life as:

… a changing reality whose laws are remade at each instant by everything living, but most particularly man, man raised to a neo-medieval summit where the truth is not what one has felt yesterday or what one expects to feel tomorrow but rather truth is no more or no less than what one feels at each instant in the perpetual climax of the present.

In essence, Mailer is asserting that reality is totally unstable, that no laws govern the universe, and therefore tomorrow’s world is totally disconnected with one’s behaviors today.

Of course, life does not offer a direct connection between today’s behavior and tomorrow’s results, as any investment commercial is required to tell you. However, Scripture and experience both teach us that a strong connection exists. I love the concept adopted by Jerry Rice: “Today I will do what others won’t so tomorrow I can do what others can’t.” His record-breaking career demonstrates the existence of a vital connection between today’s performance and tomorrow’s results. Likewise, from the negative perspective, taking drugs today places tomorrow at high risk.

Therefore, both Scripture and experience show Mailer and the hippie perspective to be clearly erroneous and dangerous. Our society has nonetheless adopted it because of its powerful attraction. Human nature has always craved immediate gratification, and therefore an approach to life espousing it as a major principle presents an offer too appealing to refuse.

We saw this principle at work on a personal level during the hippie era with the prevalence of drugs and promiscuous sex, practices that opt for immediate gratification without regard for long-term consequences. These trends continue and proliferate today. This philosophy also manifests itself in overeating, smoking, and other American societal trends.

Perhaps more dangerous, we see government employing this disregard for future outcomes in its unsustainable spending. Very few elected officials seem to wonder or care about the impact of this practice on our children. We have also watched this indifference regarding the future at play in the government’s uncontrolled growth and its permitting of unbridled illegal immigration.

We might assume that the brilliant people in Washington really have thought about the future and have a game plan to care for the consequences of their actions that is unknown to us, one perhaps that we are just not smart enough to understand. That this is not the case has been graphically displayed in the current perplexity regarding what to do now that North Korea has nuclear weapons and a delivery system. For years we have “negotiated” with them as they developed these capabilities, seeming oblivious to the future inevitable outcome. However, now we are confronted with the disastrous results only to discover that past administrations had no plan to deal with this situation. As the rulers in Jeremiah’s day, they gave “no thought to the future,” caring only about “peace in our times.” Even more disconcerting are the initiatives taken by the Obama administration to enable Iran to develop the same capability.

We can take some encouragement that President Trump is seeking to deal with these issues, showing the concern for tomorrow that has been missing in Washington for so long. The question is whether his efforts will be too little, too late, and whether he can overcome the opposition of the Washington insiders who still only display concern for the immediate moment.

Perhaps most troubling are indications that the evangelical church in America has adopted this same hippie perspective warned against by Jeremiah, the failure to consider the impact of present behaviors on the future. As our society becomes increasingly evil, as our nation becomes increasingly weaker, as America becomes increasingly more vulnerable in a hostile world, as our country increasingly qualifies to be recipients of the wrath of God, it would seem that the church would be assessing the danger toward which we are headed and committing extensive time to prayer each Sunday morning to plead for God’s mercy and guidance. It would seem that church leaders would be developing a strategy for functioning most effectively as salt and light in our society.

The absence of such responses, the failure of most evangelicals and their leaders to consider the precipice toward which we are heading and act accordingly, reveals that like the prophets and priests in Jeremiah’s time, they are taking the position that tomorrow will not come.

I’m betting that it will. If it does, it will bring the same result experienced by Judah, “Her fall is terrible.”

The Dangers Confronting Us and How We Should Respond

The Dangers Confronting Us and How We Sh...

America is in grave danger on three counts. I will describe the first two briefly since they confront you every day.

We are in danger of internal collapse. Recently I read an article indicating that a major part of the unemployment problem is that a large segment of Americans is too addicted to drugs to work. One employer said that half of the applicants for a certain job either did not show up for the drug test or failed it. I encountered an article yesterday indicating that the number of children in foster care North Carolina has increased by 40% since 2012 due primarily to opioid use.

Though this increase primary entails the use of hard drugs, the legalization of marijuana by some states hardly constitutes a rational response, which leads us to another problem that is promoting internal collapse—the American abandonment of reason. Like President Trump or hate him, a rational analysis leads to the conclusion that most if not all of his initiatives would promote the welfare of America: lower taxes, replacement of ObamaCare, strengthening of the military, energy independence, etc. Yet, all but a very small segment of the powerbrokers in our nation are vehemently opposing him. Other considerations are given precedence over reason.

Virtually countless other factors could be listed that expose American cultural rot, which is leading to our societal demise.

External challenges make our future look equally as bleak. China continues to expand its military capabilities, Russia is becoming more belligerent, Iran, enabled financially by Obama, threatens to destroy us, and North Korea continues to develop its weaponry, presenting a clear and present danger. Reports across the past 24 hours indicate that this latter threat is imminent and serious. In addition, we are exposed to attack by an electromagnetic pulse bomb. Our power grid is vulnerable to enemy destruction. An assault of this type could quickly put us in an economic tailspin, resulting in widespread starvation, riots, and other disasters. Our experience of peace and safety inoculates us against the reality that our way of life could be terminated at almost any moment.

The third and greatest threat, and one most Americans, including most evangelicals, are unaware consists of the judgment of God. Jeremiah, living in the kingdom of Judah during times in many ways paralleling contemporary America, prophecies frequently of the wrath of God about the fall on the nation. For example, Jeremiah 7:20 warns,

Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, my anger and my wrath will be poured out on this place, upon man and beast, upon the trees of the field and the fruit of the ground; it will burn and not be quenched.

In Jeremiah 21:5-6 the Lord exhorts the people of Judah:

I myself will fight against you with outstretched hand and strong arm, in anger and in fury and in great wrath. And I will strike down the inhabitants of this city, both man and beast. They shall die of a great pestilence.

America has offended God in virtually countless ways. After God has blessed us above any nation in all of history we have shown our thanks by removing His Word from schools and Scripture from the public square, we have not only violated His commandments but also used our influence to promote wickedness around the globe, we have killed our unborn children by the millions, we have made lying a way of life, we fund universities that do all within their power to reject God and teach our children to do so, and so the list could go on.

If God conveyed the great hostility expressed by Jeremiah toward His covenant people in the Old Testament, how much more might we expect He will do the same toward America? This realization should be a concern on any count, but especially so in view of the internal and external power kegs described above on which America sits, which any spark could ignite.

What should be the response of God’s people in light of the precariousness of our existence?

One would think that American pulpits would be warning God’s people of the danger of judgment. In most churches on a given Sunday morning you will hear the love of God mentioned at least several dozen times, but you would have to attend for a month of Sundays before hearing any warning regarding God’s wrath and judgment. You will be assured of God’s unconditional acceptance despite verses such as Jeremiah 12:8, “My heritage has become to me like a lion in the forest; she has lifted up her voice against me; therefore I hate her.” Continually stressing the love of God while totally ignoring His wrath and judgment, especially in the face of our national wickedness, might be viewed as theological malpractice.

During times when we might anticipate the wrath of God, one would think that when we meet together on Sunday morning we would spend time on our faces before God seeking His forgiveness and mercy and asking His healing, beginning with His church. Instead, we sing our happy songs and clap as if everything is okay. This response is understandable because evangelicals have been told that they need not literally fear the Lord, despite many passages indicating that we should.

Unless pastors begin to warn of impending judgment and God’s people begin to pray for His compassion and restoration, we can anticipate the same outcome experienced by Judah, the one prophesied in Jeremiah 11:11,

Therefore, thus says the LORD, Behold, I am bringing disaster upon them that they cannot escape. Though they cry to me, I will not listen to them.

Reading Scripture Again for the First Time—the Cure for Evangelical and American Ills

Reading Scripture Again for the First Ti...

When Josiah, king of Judah, was age 26 one of his administrators informed him that the high priest while rummaging through clutter in the Temple stumbled across “the book of the Law.” Some scholars believe this was the book of Deuteronomy while others think it may have been the entire first five books of Scripture.

They brought this book to Josiah and read it to him. After listening to its message he was highly distressed and said, “… Great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.” (2Kings 22:13)

Josiah’s response might be attributed in part to his youthful inclination to take this Scripture at face value, consequently believing its message of God’s judgment on Israel. If he had been a few decades older and had been subject to rabbinical tutoring he may have learned how to explain away all of those passages incompatible with the current culture.

Our situation today in many ways parallels this story. Evangelicals have lost significant parts of Scripture. Of course, we are inundated with copies of Scripture in all forms and translations. However, we tend to focus on those passages that fit comfortably with our evangelical culture to the exclusion of a very significant segment of Scripture that does not. On this blog I did a four-part series a short while ago about sections of Scripture evangelicals tend to avoid, which turned out to be most of it.

Here is the question. If American evangelicals, who claim commitment to Scripture, would read through the Bible as if they were reading it for the first time, without imposing on it theological templates learned in Sunday school classes or seminaries, what would they conclude to be its message to us? My sense is that they would see God, the Christian life, and our relationship with Him from a substantially different perspective than do most evangelicals today.

For example, evangelicals are fixated almost exclusively on the themes of God’s love and grace. However, if they read through Scripture with fresh eyes they would discover another dimension of the character of God often and strongly conveyed but hardly ever mentioned by evangelicals today. For example, Nahum 1:2 states:

The LORD is a jealous and avenging God; the LORD is avenging and wrathful; the LORD takes vengeance on his adversaries and keeps wrath for his enemies.”

Contemporary scholars might assert that this Old Testament passage refers to the enemies of God but that the New Testament tells us that we are His friends and objects of His love. In response, those reading the Bible for the first time may ask how that perspective fits with passages such as James 4:4, apparently written to Christians.

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

This disconnect between Scripture and the worldview of contemporary evangelicals might also be observed in a video of a sermon by Paul Washer to a youth convention. At the outset he stresses that his message is out of sync with current evangelical beliefs, and the sermon supports that assertion. Yet, this sermon in its entirety is biblical. I would urge you to listen to it because it is excellent and convicting but also demonstrates how out of touch contemporary evangelical teaching is with much of Scripture.

Imagine if every pastor and layperson read through Scripture without bringing to it all the preconceived baggage that they have accumulated across the years, especially those aspects attempting to squeeze it into the mold of contemporary culture, but instead, like a young Josiah, taking God’s message to us at face value. I believe we would find ourselves saying along with Josiah, “… Great is the wrath of the Lord that is kindled against us, because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book, to do according to all that is written concerning us.” American evangelicals desperately need to read through the Bible again for the first time. Doing so would lead to revival in the church and the consequent cure for most of our nation’s problems.

A Comforting Calculation for Troublesome Times

A Comforting Calculation for Troublesome...

One of my high school textbook had a map of the Assyrian Kingdom during biblical times. I found it almost humorous that the Assyrians had conquered all the territory of the whole Middle East except for a barely visible little plot of land that had somehow resisted their assault. How could that be?

Years later I found the explanation in Scripture. In fact, it is recorded twice: 2Kings 19 and Isaiah 37. The story goes that Sennacherib conquered all that part of the country except Jerusalem. He sent a messenger to tell the Hezekiah, King of Judah, and the people of Jerusalem that they might as well give up because they had no chance militarily, and since the gods of all the other nations could not deliver those nations from him, it was obvious that the Lord their God would not stand a chance against him either.

It seems that the Lord did not take kindly to his insults and sent an angel to wipe out 185,000 of his troops in one night. This outcome clued Sennacherib into the possibility that the Lord just might be different than those other gods, and that trying to fight Him was a bad idea. In response he and his remaining soldiers hightailed it back to Nineveh, leaving that tiny territory unconquered by him.

This story leads to some encouraging calculations. They begin with a minor correction. Though all of the major translations of this event in both 2Kings 19 and Isaiah 37 indicate that these soldiers were exterminated by “the angel of the Lord,” in both passages the article is not in the Hebrew text. This work was done by “an angel of the Lord.” In other words, this job was not done by some special angel.

The scenario in heaven might have gone something like this. The angels Michael and Gabriel were sitting around the celestial command center when word came from the Lord that He wanted 185,000 Assyrian soldiers slaughtered. Michael commented that wiping out a mere 185,000 was hardly worth his time, and Gabriel concurred, concerned that doing that small of a job might ruin his reputation. Then Gabriel got an idea. “Hey, how about angel Private Johanni. He should be getting off KP about now. He has a couple hours before going off duty. Let’s send him.” And they did, and he handled the job with no problem. The point is that the biblical account suggests that any ordinary angel can take care of 185,000 enemy soldiers.

Have you ever wondered why when Jesus was being arrested He informed Peter that He could ask His Father for 12 legions of angels? Why twelve legions? The math is quite interesting.

A legion was comprised of about 5,000 soldiers. Therefore, 12 legions would be 60,000 soldiers.

In the case of 12 legions of angels totaling 60,000 angels, if each one had the capacity to decimate 185,000 enemy troops, they would have the combined capability of killing off 11,100,000,000 (11 billion, 100 million) enemies. The current world population is about 7.5 billion people. Therefore, 12 legions of angels could easily deal with the entire world population, with considerable cushion for further population growth.

Whether that’s what Jesus had in mind in stipulating the 12 legion number, that calculation nonetheless provides assurance that the Lord has everything under control.

On those days when Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Chuck Schumer become especially irksome, or George Soros rolls out another scheme for using his money to make our lives miserable, it is good to remember that they are merely pawns in God’s plan of history. Just like Col. Hogan was always several steps ahead of Sgt, Schultz and Col. Klink, so the Lord is in control of every situation, only at a much higher level.

And if they get too rowdy, He might send Private Johanni to deal with them. If at times you are wondering why the Lord isn’t moving faster in dealing with some of these people, maybe He is waiting for Private Johanni to get off of KP duty.

Evangelicals Beat Spiritual Anorexia

Evangelicals Beat Spiritual Anorexia

I love the picture of the 400 pound man wearing a smile of triumph and a T-shirt bearing the inscription, “I beat anorexia.”

Anorexia is no laughing matter. People die from it, and even those who deal with it successfully go through a long period of struggle for them and their loved ones.

Of course, the joke is that the man in the picture not only beat anorexia but is light years away from the danger zone. Imagine holding anorexia seminars for frequent fliers at the all-you-can-eat buffet. You could assure them that their culinary hangout was providing them with a safe space.

The extremes of anorexia and obesity remind us that life is filled with dangers on the further reaches of both ends of the bell curve. We have the spendthrift and the miser, the health nut and the fast food fanatic, the neatnik and the slob, the speedster and slowster, the hypochondriac and medically indifferent.

In Matthew 16:6 Jesus reminds us of extremes in the spiritual world, warning His disciples: “Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” In Mark 8:15 He cautions, “Watch out! Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod.” Since these gospels are recording the same incident, apparently Jesus spoke of the leaven of the Pharisees on one hand and that of the Sadducees and Herod on the other hand.

The Pharisees were so fixated on righteous living, especially as stipulated in their tradition, that they ignored God’s ultimate concern for loving people. They didn’t care about the disciples’ hunger or the healing of the man with a withered hand but only that the disciples and Jesus kept their Sabbath regulations. Living at the opposite pole, the Sadducees and Herod maintained a safe distance from overdoing the law, ignoring its moral teachings almost completely.

We also encounter danger moving too far in either of these directions. For example, in past generations some Christians were so opposed to women using makeup that like the Pharisees they unnecessarily imposed hardships on their daughters attending public school. However, the other extreme of ignoring biblical morality as did the Sadducees and Herod is also possible.

In Jesus’ day the Pharisees were the more aggressive party, often challenging Jesus. As a result, Jesus dealt with their error much more frequently than that of Herod and the Sadducees. Perhaps Scripture gives more attention to the extreme of the Pharisees because it is more subtle, posing as spirituality, while the antics of Herod and the Sadducees where blatantly ungodly.

Because of the scriptural focus on the error of the Pharisees, it is easy to lose sight of the opposite extreme, concluding that the only threat to the Christian life is legalism. That perspective may not have been too troublesome during times when the church was leaning in that direction, or even today if one belongs to an Amish sect.

However, we live at a time when the leaven of the Sadducees and of Herod are overwhelmingly more predominant. With the church riddled with people using pornography, with many if not most evangelicals viewing movies containing nudity, with divorce and cohabitation rampant in the church, and with attending church twice per month being considered normal, like the 400 pound man with the “I beat anorexia” T-shirt, we are a long way from being threatened by legalism.

Despite the current predominance of the leavened by the Sadducees and Herod, evangelicals tend to ignore its incursion and continue to fight the threat of legalism as if it were looming large and ready to pounce and devour at any moment if not beaten off by continual vigilance. We find books assuring us that we need not “perform” to please God as if most evangelical women were on the verge of reverting to culottes and men were getting measured for black shirts and pants. It seems that every other evangelical on twitter describes himself as a “Grace freak,” and “Grace fanatic,” assuring us that his defenses are raised against the legalistic hordes that are storming the church gates.

Just as anorexia is no laughing matter, neither is legalism. However, for the overwhelming majority of evangelicals, their ongoing battle with legalism is tantamount to the 400 pound man fighting anorexia. They are light years away from the danger zone. Perhaps they should have T-shirts made that state, “I beat legalism,” and then stand next to the 400 man who beat anorexia to be photographed, wearing the same victorious smile. Or maybe we should take a new look at the holiness of God and say with Isaiah, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”

Spiritual Success without an Easy Button

Spiritual Success without an Easy Button

My pervious post made the case that God does not provide an easy button for believers but rather that the Christian life requires that we fight the world, the flesh, and the devil, a struggle that demands spiritual strength and endurance to win.

If believers do not understand this, they will enter the battle of the Christian life without the necessary preparation. Imagine a soldier entering a combat zone without going through basic training, without the essential equipment but wearing shorts and a T-shirt, without realizing that the enemy is shooting at him. The medics would be carrying him off to the field hospital in nanoseconds.

Some preachers prefer to think of the church as a hospital. Certainly this should be one function of the church. But if the church realized that we were in a battle and functioned as a basic training and equipping facility, most of its members would not be hospitalized.

What sort of equipping and training do spiritual soldiers need in order to survive and win the battles in which they will surely be engaged?

Perhaps the primary resource for this fight is Scripture, specifically the whole counsel of God. The contemporary evangelical tendency to believe in a battle-eliminating easy button has resulted in failure of Christians to equip themselves with Scripture. Expository preaching has been replaced by “needs-oriented” sermons. Bible studies have morphed into studies of someone’s book. My mother and mother-in-law both had read through the Bible many times. In fact, my mother-in-law shortly before her death memorized Psalm 119 with its 176 verses. These saints were better equipped for battle than most contemporary soldiers and consequently spent little time in a spiritual hospital. At most they just needed a few Band-Aids along the way.

Prayer also constitutes a major piece of equipment for the battle. Not only has this weapon been neglected in the personal lives of contemporary Christians but also in the church. In the primary service of most churches substantially less time is devoted to prayer than to announcements, especially if we exclude prayer for the offering. Prayer meetings are practically nonexistent, and if they do exist they are attended by only a handful of people and are comprised predominantly of activities other than actual prayer. One hour-long “prayer meeting” I attended recently only devoted about five minutes to prayer. While the enemy is shooting real bullets, wounding many Christian soldiers, contemporary evangelicals tend to be rummaging through their knapsack looking for the TV remote.

Another piece of equipment supplied by the Lord consists of the church, which provides fellowship and teaching. However, recent studies reveal that typical contemporary evangelical church attendance consists of showing up on Sunday morning about twice each month. It was not all that long ago that most believers could be found in church every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. Though Scripture does not designate how often a person should attend church, it can be safely assumed that those who immersed themselves more fully in the equipping and training resulting from church participation were better armed for the spiritual conflicts of life.

Though mention of these resources may sound like tired bromides and a return to legalism to contemporary evangelicals, the fact is that those availing themselves of these provisions were better equipped to fight and win the battle. If most evangelicals are patients, and most of the rest are doctors and nurses, we can’t expect to win too many battles, and in fact we have not. Most conflicts are not won by doctors and nurses and their patients.

Winning must begin by recognizing that God does not provide an easy button for living the Christian life, but that it consists of the battle for which we must be equipped and trained. Only then will we get serious about gearing up for the fight, and only when we do that will we start to win.

Evangelical Beliefs Undermine the Role of Religion in America

Evangelical Beliefs Undermine the Role o...

PragerU offers an excellent video on the role of religion in a free society. It notes that “government isn’t enough. A moral people is also required, that is, a people moral enough to police itself.” George Washing observed that “virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government.”

The video cites the founders’ belief that “the absolute enemy of freedom was a freedom that was absolute and unrestrained.” Yet, absolute freedom is precisely what contemporary evangelicals teach. The message that God loves and accepts people unconditionally in effect offers “a freedom that is absolute and unrestrained.” The assertion that we need not “perform” to please God frees people to live as they please with God’s blessing. My book, Counterattack: Why Evangelicals are Losing the Culture War and How They Can Win, shows these concepts to be unbiblical.

Thomas Jefferson asked, “Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift of God? And that they are not to be violated but with His wrath?” Evangelicals have removed that firm basis by erroneously teaching that God loves and accepts us regardless of how we “perform.” Since the wrath of God does not fit that template they eliminate it by redefining the fear of God as “reverential awe,” despite many passages requiring that the fear of God refers to actual fear.

We know we are in trouble when Thomas Jefferson is more biblical in his understanding of Scripture than evangelicals, the guardians of exegetical accuracy. This Independence Day, let’s acknowledge that Christians must live morally in order to please God and escape His chastening. Then, as Jefferson noted, our freedoms will be much better secured.

Does God Provide an Easy Button for Believers?

Does God Provide an Easy Button for Beli...

This constitutes a serious question because many evangelicals believe that He has, and if He has, what a shame to struggle unnecessarily.

A traditional Easy Buttons offered to believers is framed in the cliché, “Let go and let God.” You don’t have to engage in the struggle. Just let God do it.” I have heard people offer testimonies to the efficacy of this approach. “I kept trying and failing, and then I realized that I was trying to do it instead of just letting God. When I just let go and let God, I experienced victory.”

Faith comprises another Easy Button for Christian living. Instead of struggling with pornography or overeating you should just trust God to deliver you. As the contemporary chorus of a couple of decades ago taught, “It’s not in trying but in trusting.” So if you are trying, making an effort, exerting your will, you are not trusting, employing a biblical approach to Christian living.

Another means of rising above volitional effort is found in the old teaching based on Romans 6 that we should just “reckon ourselves dead to sin.”  Just believe that the sin nature is dead and has been replaced by the new nature that reflects Christ. You struggle with sinful behaviors because you have not accepted this reality by faith.

Note that all of the above really morph together into the same concept. As believers we need to reckon ourselves dead, believe that God has stepped in to fight the battle for us, and let Him do it.

A more subtle and more contemporary Easy Button is found in the teaching that we should not behave biblically because we have to but because we want to. Practicing godly behaviors because we ought to comprises legalism. Instead, we just need to realize that we are accepted regardless of how we live, apart from performance, and doing so will create within us the motivation to live as God would have us live. Therefore, we do not need to struggle to live godly lives but merely to grasp the truth of God’s unconditional love and acceptance, which will motivate us to do so spontaneously.

The problem with these perspectives on Christian living resides in their dissonance with many New Testament passages asserting that living the Christian life is difficult and requires that we struggle.

Paul conveys this reality related to his own life in 1 Corinthians 9:27: “But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” He is asserting that his body prods him to take a more comfortable but sinful path. Living the Christian life requires engaging in and winning that struggle.

Paul charged Timothy to take on the same struggle. In 1 Timothy 6:12 he commands, “Fight the good fight of the faith.” The Greek word translated “fight” is the source of the English word “agony.” The life of faith is often agonizing, requiring that we discipline ourselves to walk the walk of faith regardless of pressures to do otherwise.

Paul describes this struggle in Galatians 5:17: “For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” The Christian life regularly calls us to engage in and win the struggle against the desires of the flesh.

Jesus addressed this issue in mandating, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23) I believe one reason Scripture includes the experience of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane is to reveal to us the tremendous struggle Christ had in yielding to the cross. Apart from this account we might find Christian romantics gushing, “Jesus loved us so much that he just couldn’t wait to have the nails driven into his hands and feet.” The reality, however, was that facing and enduring the cross was a great struggle for Christ. No doubt bearing the cross that He has for each of us is also painful, requiring a struggle to endure it.

As a result, the New Testament includes many passages teaching the need for endurance, the commitment to keep going when the Christian life becomes hard. Hebrews 12:1 calls us to “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us….”

It is important for believers to know that the Christian life is a struggle so that they engage in the struggle effectively. The teaching that we behave biblically not because we have to but because we want to fails to address the many times daily that we do not want to behave biblically, starting with not wanting to get up in the morning. Unless believers are taught that struggle constitutes a major element of the Christian life, they will not be prepared to engage in the fight. Rather, they will wonder what hit them, and chances are that they will lose the battle.

Also, the realization that the Christian life is a struggle reminds Christian leaders of their responsibility to prepare their people to engage in that struggle. On his first missionary journey, Paul retraced his steps to the churches he had planted for the purpose of “strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22) Paul recognized the importance of warning them about the challenges related to living the Christian life. So today it is necessary for pastors and other Christian leaders to both warn and encourage believers regarding the hardships of Christian living and to teach them how to effectively engage in that battle.

I selected the name “hope that’s real” for this blog because real hope must be firmly founded on the realities of biblical truth. Conveying that God offers an Easy Button for Christian living ultimately undermines real hope, instead creating disillusionment. Facing, preparing for, and engaging in the struggles of Christian living provides the basis for real hope.

Rethinking the Requirement for Salvation

Rethinking the Requirement for Salvation

Perhaps the salient question facing evangelicals today is the one asked by the Philippian jailer: “What must I do to be saved.” (Acts 16:30)

The answer given by Paul seems simple enough: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.” This response, however, requires that we accurately identify “believe.” Since belief comprises the operative element in Paul’s statement, it is crucial that we get the answer right.

Concern regarding ambiguity is aroused by assertions that salvation requires not only a head belief but a heart belief. That distinction is not obvious.

Concern is heightened by scriptural statements such as that of Jesus in Luke 14:27, “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.” This suggests that believing in Jesus Christ entails a commitment to bear our cross and come after Him.

Some contend that this verse does not describe the condition for salvation but for discipleship—that there are two levels of believers: ordinary and disciples. However, this distinction between garden-variety believers and disciple does not enjoy scriptural support. Consequently, this verse suggests that saving faith includes a commitment to follow Christ regardless of the cost.

The popular gospel presentation offering salvation by asking Jesus into one’s heart comes nowhere close to conveying this concept of faith. Consequently, this presentation may be giving seekers confidence that they are headed for heaven when in fact they are destined for damnation. This gospel also leaves those responding unaware of their obligation to follow the Lord regardless of the cost, resulting in spiritual immaturity and unfruitfulness. These two outcomes are producing confusion and weakness in the contemporary evangelical community.

Evangelicals need to rethink the definition of faith before running a special on salvation.

Are Evangelicals Responsible for Telling the Truth?

Are Evangelicals Responsible for Telling...

During a conversation with a friend he swerved into his tirade over President Trump’s withdrawing America from the Paris Accord. He wondered out loud whether this resulted from Trump’s total ignorance or his egotism, assuming that no informed, rational person would make a decision so harmful to America and the planet. The basis for concerns he expressed were irrational. As I began to list disasters that would have resulted from our continued commitment to the agreement it was evident that he was unfamiliar with these facts.

I was again reminded that the Left advances its agenda by replacing the truth with lies. It uses its significant powers to suppress the truth, e.g. banning conservative speakers form university campuses, preventing conservative professors from getting tenure, or omitting reality from the news, and propagating in its place a set of lies, telling these tales often enough through multiple communication sources, that they become reality for most Americans. Many of these assertions comprising the imaginary world of the Left are presented as the findings of science.

Reflect for a minute on the lies that a large segment of the American population has embrace as truths.

  • An unborn baby is merely a part of a woman’s body, and therefore should be assigned no independent rights.
  • The real injustice consists of Pres. Trump colluding with the Russians, of which no evidence exists, while illegal activities of Hillary and Obama are of no concern.
  • Darwinian evolution comprises proven fact, and any opposition to it by Intelligent Design advocates should be rejected as religion and not science.
  • A homosexual orientation is healthy, good for society, and should be celebrated.
  • A person should follow his feelings regarding gender identity, and any attempt to align those feelings with his biological gender is wrong and should be condemned.
  • Women should be allowed to fill any military role.
  • Homosexual and transgender presence in the military do not lessen combat readiness.
  • Transgender biological men should be allowed to compete in women’s sports.
  • People who believe that homosexual behavior is sinful are homophobic haters.
  • The climate change movement is built on proven science, and all those opposing it are ignorant and unconcerned about the environment.
  • Allowing good people to own and carry guns makes society less safe.
  • The nation of Israel is an oppressor and Palestinians are the oppressed.
  • Islam comprises a religion with moral and spiritual benefit comparable to Christianity and therefore should be supported in its efforts to impose its values on our society.
  • Cohabitation provides a valid alternative or precursor to marriage, allowing a couple to test their compatibility before making a commitment.

This list could go on ad infinitum of lies comprising the fake worldview of the Left.

The danger resides in the power of the Left both to propagate this false perspective of life and to impose its related values on our society, and the damage to our society resulting from adoption of this erroneous understanding of reality.

This worldview is imposed forcefully on college campuses, making it extremely difficult for students not to adopt all or at least significant parts of it. Consequently, evangelical students adopt many of its values. Even schools with some evangelical connections such as Baylor and Wheaton manifest the influence of this worldview. To a lesser degree, the same is true of most public schools.

The dominance of the worldview of the Left is making it increasingly more difficult for people holding a biblical worldview to survive in the workplace. Often the price of survival is for evangelicals to remain silent regarding their beliefs while those embracing the narrative of the Left are given free rein to express theirs, the end result being the inexorable advance of the Left’s representation of reality.

This imposition of the false narrative of the Left on society is producing chaos and devastation. For example, the proliferation of cohabitation is leaving many children without a stable family environment and consigning many women to the hardships of the single mom role. This results in a serious drain on our economy and government. Countless other examples could be cited revealing the damage inflicted by the worldview of the Left.

The question confronting evangelicals is whether we are responsible for exposing this fake worldview and promoting the truth as aggressively as possible? The answer to that question resides at least partially in the consequences for the church, our nation, and our children if we do not. My book, Counterattack: Why Evangelicals Are Losing the Culture War and How They Can Win, describes how the evangelical church in America can respond effectively to the dishonest perspective of the world promoted by the Left. If we do not utilize our God-given capacity to do so, we will be responsible for consequences suffered by the church, our nation, and our children.

The Most Crucial Question Confronting Evangelical Christians

The Most Crucial Question Confronting Ev...

Prospects for America are not encouraging. Even with Republican control of both Houses of Congress and the White House, the Left continues to prevent conservatives from making major gains while it moves its agenda inexorably forward.

Repeal of ObamaCare keeps getting watered down and delayed, President Trump can’t get his budget through Congress, the courts keep blocking his efforts to protect Americans from unvetted refugees, and the deep state continues to create chaos. Meanwhile, the media creates issues out of thin air that gain sufficient traction to engender special investigations. Our college campuses are virtual hotbeds of unabashed Leftist indoctrination. LGBT advocates continue to advance their agenda, and Planned Parenthood still receives government subsidies that fund the killing of unborn babies.

A compelling question confronting Christians is how we should respond.

We have several options.

First, we might conclude that society is headed in the right direction, and given time things will work out. Therefore, we just need to keep doing what we are doing. The problem with this perspective is that from all indications we are losing our nation to the godless Left that is committed to discredit and deactivate the church.

We can also conclude that there is nothing we can do, and that we must just reconcile ourselves to coming persecution. Some evangelicals even wear this conclusion as a badge of honor. They are willing to suffer for Christ.

In reality, cultural and political victory is within the reach of the evangelical church if we unify and develop an effective strategy. I describe the path to victory in my book, Counterattack: Why Evangelicals Are Losing the Culture War and How They Can Win. The most crucial question confronting us is whether we will rise above our lethargy and fight.

Big Money against the American People

Big Money against the American People

Texas is seeking to protect the modesty and safety of women by passing a law related to transgender biological men in women’s bathrooms and shower rooms. The bill did not make it out of committee during the legislative session, so now Governor Greg Abbott may call a special session to force the issue.

A Family Research Council article reports that a group of rich tech companies to include Salesforce, Apple, IBM, Microsoft, Facebook, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, Dell, Cisco, Amazon, Google, Silicon Labs, Celanese Corp., GSD&M, and Gearbox Software are seeking to use their influence to subvert the will of the people of Texas on this issue.

This is not the first time big tech companies employed their monetary muscle to force their gay and transgender agenda down the throats of the American people. When Indiana sought to pass a law protecting citizen’s religious liberties against homosexual tyranny, many of these same players intimidated that state. Some of them also used their influence to oppose North Carolina’s HB2, along with other financial powerhouses such as the NBA and NCAA.

The Family Research Council article notes that even though these companies attempt to economically coerce states to adopt pro-transgender policies, they have not adopted these policies in their own companies. One can understand why. In posturing as great civil rights crusaders, fighting for the rights of transgenders, they are trampling the rights of women and placing them in danger.

Doing so is especially ludicrous since the problem could easily be solved by providing a separate bathroom for the 0.6 percent of the adult population identifying as transgender. This arrangement does not suit the Left, apparently because their ultimate goal is not to solve the problem but to force a sexually perverse arrangement on the American people.

The Dictatorial Left

The Dictatorial Left

Somewhere in the ancient past the terms “liberal” and “the Left” became viewed as synonyms. However, today’s “Left” is anything but liberal. One definition of liberal has it promoting “the freedom of the individual and governmental guarantees of individual rights and liberties.”

Though the Left seeks to self-identify as liberal, with historical connections to initiatives such as the free speech movement, we have witnessed in recent days its practice of silencing any speech not conforming to its ideology.

Other non-liberal practices of the Left include forcing Christian bakers and photographers to employee their skills for homosexual weddings. These homosexuals, not satisfied with the liberty to marry whom they choose, are bent on forcing those with differing beliefs to violate those beliefs or suffer severe consequences. This is not liberalism but totalitarianism.

Likewise, the Left, not satisfied with a transgender biological male having his own bathroom, demands that this biological male be given access to girls’ shower rooms, depriving women of their modesty and safety. In this issue the Left exercises power over women at one of the most intimate levels, insisting that wives and daughters expose their bodies to the view of another man. This comprises totalitarianism in its most demeaning form.

The latest dictatorial demand of the illiberal Left manifests itself in the Canadian requirement for doctors to provide euthanasia to patients, either personally or by finding a doctor who will. Either option implicates the doctor, mandating that those rejecting this practice for religious reasons violate their conscience. Patients in Canada desiring euthanasia could easily find a doctor to perform this act themselves, but that would never do. The Left is committed to forcing those disagreeing with its ideologies to deny their convictions.

The antithesis of liberal is dictatorial. The latter term defines the Left.

A Word of Hope for America this Memorial Day

A Word of Hope for America this Memorial...

I am reading through the Bible this year. Today’s reading included 2 Chronicles 7:14, “(I)f My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

Any attempt to apply this verse to our nation quickly elicits a chorus of voices, some prominent ones, objecting that because this verse is addressed to Israel, we cannot claim its promises for America.

Though technically this may be true, this position misses the point that this verse embodies a spiritual principle. The fact is that God will hear, forgive, and bless any nation that calls on His name, humbles itself, prays, seeks His face, and turns from its wickedness. We know that to be true because we can observe God functioning in this way throughout history.

Consider God’s mercy on Nineveh in response to their repentance. In fact, it was the predictability of God’s mercy that made Jonah reluctant to go and preach to this enemy of Israel.

We also see God’s blessing on England and America during the years when they were following God. Of course, no nation is perfect, but God in his mercy brings blessing in response to general commitment to Him.

More recently God displayed His blessing on the Fiji Islands in response to repentance and revival. He not only brought political and economic restoration, but He actually healed the land and seas, bring fruit and fish where there had been barrenness.

Not only does God hold out hope for America, but the solution is simple. We just need to follow the principles of 2 Chronicles 7:14.

The Gospel and the Future of America

The Gospel and the Future of America

A recent Barna poll divides Americans into four religious categories, measuring their percentages of the American population: evangelical Christians (6%), non-evangelical born-again Christians (25%), notional Christians (42%), adherents of non-Christian faiths (6%), and religious skeptics (23%).

A remarkable finding resides in the significant number of non-evangelical born-again Christians—one quarter of the American population. This group claims to have made “a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is still important in their life today and believe that when they die they will go to Heaven because they have confessed their sins and accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior.”

They differ, however, from evangelicals in that they do not agree with all of seven other criteria embraced by the 6% of evangelicals. Those criteria include a responsibility to share their faith, belief in the existence of Satan, belief that salvation is only through grace and not works, belief that Jesus lived a sinless life, belief in the validity of the principles taught in Scripture, and belief in the existence of an all-knowing, all-powerful God, who created the universe and rules it today.

We can understand the existence in our society of skeptics and people of other religions. With the presence of liberal denominations we also anticipate a substantial number of notional Christians who make no claim to a born again experience. However, how do we explain the presence of this 25% of our society with an evangelical salvation-type experience and the related hope of heaven but without an evangelical spiritual belief system? It is rather astounding that this group is over four times larger than the evangelical category. How do we explain their existence?

My first thought was that perhaps the demand of meeting all seven other criteria for being an evangelical was excessive, creating a larger chasm between this group and evangelicals then was warranted. However, after revisiting that list of seven criteria I realized that they were all cardinal Christian concepts. The beliefs regarding God and Jesus are foundational to the Christian faith, that Satan is a personal being is clearly taught in the account of the testing of Christ in wilderness, etc. Denial of any of the seven displays a serious rejection of the authority of Scripture. The fact that 46% of these “non-evangelical born again Christians believe that “Jesus sinned during his time on earth” calls into question the basis of their faith. How could a sinful Jesus redeem sinners? In other words, this group of people secure in their heavenly destination manifest some serious spiritual deficiencies.

Their existence is best explained by the nature of the contemporary evangelical gospel, which emphasizes the “free gift” dimension but omits, and even rejects the commitment component of faith. Therefore, they have assurance of heaven without an awareness of the obligations related to the Christian life. Are they actually headed for heaven? Have they expressed genuine saving faith? Only the Lord know; however, it is a scary prospect to think that a significant mass of humanity may be unwittingly destined for eternal doom.

Another concern is that this ticket-to-heaven-on-your-terms gospel is failing to produce biblically oriented Christians related to social issues, resulting in the continued moral slide of American society. Only 59% of non-evangelical born again Christians identify as social conservatives. On the abortion issue 37% are not pro-life, and 27% advocate for gay rights

Imagine if evangelicals presented a gospel that clearly conveyed that saving faith included a commitment to Christ, and if those responding would aggressively interject Christian truth into our society. Visualize how different our nation would be if the percentages were reversed, if only 6% belonged to the non-evangelical born again category and 25% were evangelicals. I further address this issue in my book, Counterattack: Why Evangelicals are Losing the Culture War and How They Can Win.

The future of America depends on the church’s presentation of Jesus as Lord and not just a conductor on the train to heaven. The eternal future of many human beings is at stake also.

The Rainbow Coalition Represents You

The Rainbow Coalition Represents You

A Family Research Council article reports that the American Embassy in Macedonia flew the Rainbow Coalition flag along with the American flag to celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, & Biphobia.

The message conveyed by this action is troubling since, as the article suggests, the overwhelming majority of the Macedonian population is opposed to the LGBT agenda. Consequently, as guests in that country our embassy is promoting a cause that conflicts with the moral position of the people hosting us, a display of gross inconsideration.

Our embassy gets away with this shameful and shameless disregard for Macedonian hospitality because of its strength and money. The American Left loves to criticize our nation for flexing its muscles around the world. Yet, they don’t mind doing so in promotion of their own causes.

Another problem with this practice, in which American embassies in other nations have participated, is its identification of the American people with the LGBT agenda. By flying the Rainbow Coalition flag an embassy, which represents the American people, connotes that this orientation characterizes the position of the American people, which is patently not the case. Less than 3% of the American public is homosexual, and when pro-LGBT issues have been put to a vote in various states, they have almost always been voted down.

This practice, begun under the Obama administration, continues because influential members of the deep state at the State Department are aggressively pro-LGBT. In addition, Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, provided substantial impetus to changing the Boy Scouts toward a pro-gay position. Therefore, we can expect that he will not oppose this practice.

These developments demonstrate that unless the evangelical church provides united, aggressive opposition to the LGBT movement, it will succeed in its objective of dominating American culture.

They Do Anything with Impunity; We Do Nothing with Recrimination

They Do Anything with Impunity; We Do No...

The comparison is spectacular. It would be bad enough if liberals went scot-free in the face of blatant and serious misconduct or if conservatives were incriminated even when innocent, but for Hillary and Obama to do their Bonnie and Clyde routine for years without consequence and then for President Trump to be drawn and quartered without substantive charges makes the double standard and the dishonesty supporting it breathtakingly blatant.

How can it possibly be that in the face of Fast and Furious, the IRS scandal, Benghazi, classified documents on Hillary’s private server, and pay for play, no special counsel was appointed, but unsupported accusations from undisclosed sources makes one essential for President Trump?

Unfortunately, the answers are all too obvious. First, in America, the media create reality. If they assure us that there is nothing to see here, it’s all cool, facts notwithstanding. However, if commentators display attitudes of deep concern, even when the basis of their deep concern is obscure, the charges are serious and something must be done—and it is. Consequently, not elections or government but the mainstream media ultimately control our country.

This outcome is secured by several factors.

The first resides in the cowardice of many conservatives who scramble like roaches when the light goes on whenever the media assaults a conservative person or cause. Reelection is the name of the game, which means avoidance of anything that would diminish those prospects. Forget standing for principal.

A second factor that allows media to rule America resides in the fragmentation on the conservative side of the aisle. When a person or cause on the Left encounters political problems they circle the wagons and declare war on the enemy. As soon as North Carolina passed HB2, everyone from the NBA to the NCAA showed up in force to punish a state that would dare protect the safety and modesty of women by barring biological males from their shower rooms.

But let someone in our camp get in trouble, and we can count on Senator McCain to share the liberal concern, often forming a gang of eight or 10. But worse than that, the RINOs in general, and even many reputed to be faithful to the cause, will abandon ship, leaving the beleaguered colleague, currently being Pres. Trump, to suffer the full wrath of the media and Democrats.

This splintered conservative configuration shows itself in the amorphous nature of the Tea Party, seeming to have no comprehensive organization or leader and consequently minimal political power. In situations such as the current one, they have no voice and provide no substantive help.

Last, but perhaps most significant, the conservative person under fire fails to receive any meaningful help from the evangelical community. Some prominent evangelicals will occasionally rise to the occasion, but the church as the church is AWOL. This absence comprises a serious matter because the evangelical community constitutes the largest body of conservatives in America. If it were united and engaged, it would be capable of launching an effective counterattack against the media and the Left in general.

Several reasons exist for lack of evangelical engagement in the battle. I discuss these in my book, Counterattack: Why Evangelicals are Losing the Culture War and How They Can Win. For starters, evangelicals have their share of RINOs at heart, which prevents them from presenting a united conservative front.

Then there are significant numbers who claim that politics resides outside the circle of appropriate ecclesiastical involvement. This position can be difficult to understand in light of the many moral issues currently at stake in the political arena. Nonetheless, this belief prevents many from engaging in the battle. One suspects that fear of the sight of blood might provide added incentive for this position.

Perhaps the most prevalent and most disturbing factor preventing evangelicals from enlisting is found in their seeming oblivion to the crisis of the hour. They sing their choruses, enjoy a sermon on God’s unconditional love, and leave for Sunday dinner, seeming not to notice that the Left has taken over our nation and is imposing their morality on our society. They seem unaware or unconcerned that their children and grandchildren will either be immersed in a moral cesspool or made to fight their way around it, a fight from which their parents reneged.

So while the Left can do virtually anything without negative repercussions, they can use a fabricated narrative to destroy conservatives. If only we could learn to believe like conservatives and fight like liberals. That might just give President Trump a fighting chance.

Let Your Culture Be Your Guide

Let Your Culture Be Your Guide

A recent training program for faculty and staff at Clemson University advised them to accommodate and make adjustments for students arriving late to classes and meetings whose cultures approved of tardiness.

This cultural relativism raises numerous questions.

  • What if the culture of others in the class values punctuality? Is their culture to be disregarded? Do their cultural sensitivities not matter? If not, why not?
  • Does time lost by punctual people in the class or meeting to accommodate this tardiness have no value? Is the only consideration culture?
  • If the class accommodates tardiness, students will learn less. Does education matter? If learning does not matter, why are students attending Clemson?
  • If Clemson accommodates tardiness for cultural reasons, how about wife beating and honor killings? Will Clemson force its Western values on Muslim students regarding these practices? If not, why not? They can’t excuse these exceptions because they hurt others, since as noted above, tardiness hurts people, also.

So the list could continue of question for which I am confident the Clemson administration has no rational answers.

My book, Counterattack: Why Evangelicals Are Losing the Culture War and How They Can Win, notes that having traded our Christian foundation for a post-Christian culture America has no functional guide, consequently consigning us to this chaos. I assert that our only moral principle is unconditional acceptance, a conclusion confirmed by this training course. That moral standard leaves us asking, “Who gets accepted and who is forced to do the accepting?” Be sure that Christian values, which have produced our success, draw the short straw.

One more question. Does this acceptance of tardiness apply to Clemson’s national championship football team? I’ll let you guess the answer? The Clemson administration may be irrational, but it knows what’s important.

A Microscopic Look at God’s Goodness

A Microscopic Look at God’s Goodness

We tend to become so entangled in the immediate challenges of life that we fail to step back and study the big picture. David does that for us in Psalm 145, where he makes two observations regarding God’s dealing with humanity. He speaks of God’s goodness to all people, “giving them their food in due time” and ”satisfying the desire of every living thing.” Yet, the psalmist also observes, “The Lord preserves all who love him, and all the wicked He will destroy.”

A glance at our world reveals God doing both of these phenomena.

First, He has designed and maintains the world so that ordinarily the daily needs of human beings are met. Most people in this world have homes to live in, food to eat, families to enjoy, and a semblance of societal stability.

The absence of these blessings does not find its cause in God’s failure to provide but instead in human wickedness that needlessly consumes resources and creates havoc. Imagine the wealth that the world would enjoy without warfare and sinful behavior. Every human being could enjoy affluence. God has provided such bounty that even though much is consumed by sinfulness, sufficient still remains for most people to be satisfied with the necessities of life.

The big picture also reveals David’s second observation, that God blesses those who love Him but punishes the wicked. History manifests God’s special kindness to nations where love for Him is prevalent. Consider God’s blessing on England during the Victorian era and the United States prior to the 60s. On the other hand, contemplate the poverty and chaos of communist, Muslim, and Hindu countries and even America during our post-Christian fling.

God is so good. If people would only love and listen to Him.

The Worst Deception

The Worst Deception

What could be worse than a person with assurance he is headed for heaven, breathing his last only to discover that he has arrived in an eternal hell?

Paul had such great concern about people being deceived in this regard that twice in addressing this issue warned, “Do not be deceived.”

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)

For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. (Ephesians 5:5-6)

Scripture also teaches that salvation is by grace through faith and not works. Nonetheless, the same apostle who most aggressively taught that truth also penned the words above. Both of these truths are inspired by God and therefore can be reconciled,

However we achieve that reconciliation in our thinking, it is essential that we do not accomplish that objective by ignoring the verses above.

Some contemporary evangelical teachers contend that because we are saved by grace, our performance (read behavior) does not matter. Such teaching deceives the person whose lifestyle is characterized by the sinful behaviors listed in the passages above. This false message is an easy sell since people practicing a profligate lifestyle want to believe that ultimately they will arrive in heaven.

Those believing this message, contrary to the warnings of these passages, are allowing themselves to be deceived to their own eternal peril.

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