Epic wildfires in California, multiple hurricanes with catastrophic flooding on several coasts, and a slaughter in Las Vegas, have recently taken a toll on the people and resources of our country. Some, having a sense that there may be a god or force “out there”, do wonder WHY such a cluster of events have been taking place (and wonder are there more to come?). Others, seeing themselves as less superstitious and more scientific, just see these things as the uncontrollable forces of “mother nature” (or in the case of Las Vegas, another evidence of the madness that people are capable of). Still others see this as the judgments of God who doesn’t like the arrogant disregard of people for Himself and His ways.
From a biblical perspective, the Creator God has used (and will use in the future) the natural world to discipline wayward people. As evidence, we can see the flood of Noah’s day (Gen. 6), the plagues on Egypt (Exo. 7-9), the seven years of famine on Egypt (Gen. 41) and literally dozens of other examples in the Bible. So, is that is what is happening in America? Some say “yes”, claiming that they have gotten a special word from God Himself on the subject. I can make no such claim. But I am convinced that Jesus has an important point on the matter. In Luke 13:4, Jesus talked about a recent tragedy in His day:
“DO YOU SUPPOSE THAT THOSE 18 ON WHOM THE TOWER IN SILOAM FELL AND KILLED THEM, WERE WORSE CULPRITS THAN ALL THE MEN WHO LIVE IN JERUSALEM? I TELL YOU, “NO”, BUT UNLESS YOU REPENT, YOU WILL ALL LIKEWISE PERISH.”
Jesus does not answer our “why” question nor does He dismiss such events as random and uncontrollable. What He does say, is that we are to seriously consider these events and recognize that we could be the ones entering eternity. With that in mind, according to Jesus, repenting of our sin would be the prudent thing to do. To face eternity without a clear knowledge of where that eternity will be spent is the most reckless thing that a person can do. Fortunately, John 3:16 is still in play.
On September 23, 2017 the rapture did not occur, millions did not die, Revelation 12 was not fulfilled, and the world as we know it did not come to an end. And yet, prior to that date the internet was buzzing with multiple people prophesying of wonderful or terrible events that would take place on that date. Aside from me missing lunch that day and new neighbors moving in, nothing remarkable happened.
These self-styled prophets deservedly are seen as religious hucksters who lack any real credibility. But the real problem in all of this is that the Bible itself takes a hit. The Bible is filled with yet unfulfilled prophecies and these are designed to alert us to ultimate realities, such as the sovereign workings of God and the need for people to get into a right relation with God through Jesus Christ. The Bible lets us know that there is an eternity lying ahead for everyone and it tells us just what God is going to do to bring His purposes to fulfillment. But these self-styled receivers of revelation fabricate predictions to call attention to themselves, make money or see how many “likes” they can accumulate. But the damage they do is immense because many people come to view all prophetic teaching as nonsense or irrelevant.
The Apostles of the New Testament and the prophets of the Old Testament warn us time and again about the presence of those who claim they speak for God, but whose prophecies are the products of their own imaginations. Does not Jeremiah 23 and Ezekiel 13 accurately portray the prophets of September 23, 2017?
It is not new news to believers that the folks around us need to hear the good news about Jesus. There is, however, some bad news that is attached to the good news, but is hardly ever talked about.
Simply put, the bad news is that if a person does not embrace the good news and trust in the God-man, Jesus Christ who died and rose again, these will end up in the “lake of fire” forever. There is a terrible consequence for a person who does not receive God’s free gift of salvation through Christ. The Book of Revelation refers to it as the “second death”, which means that an individual is forever separated from God. Jesus spoke often of darkness, deep grief and extreme anguish for those who do not possess eternal life. The Apostle Paul described this second death as eternal, meaning existence where Christ rejecters will experience total ruination of what human life was supposed to be; a kind of constant depression. So the bad news really is bad.
When was the last time you heard a sermon devoted to the consequences of rejecting or neglecting the good news? Or a Bible study which was focused on eternal damnation that awaits an unbelieving person. Have we really given the complete good news if we fail to include the consequences—the bad news? Our culture of tolerance and broadmindedness has muffled our voices on this important matter; and we are fearful that we will be branded as narrow, unloving or other negatives.
Up until now, the heated debate has been over the matter of abortion; the termination of pregnancy before birth takes place. Abortion is seen by so many as part of a woman’s “right”; that is, she ought not be saddled with an unwanted baby. Now it seems that another step could be taken soon.
Professor Jerry Coyne of the University of Chicago argues that it is just as morally right to euthanize a newborn baby with birth defects as it is to abort the fetus (read “child”) before birth. He insists that this would be the morally superior thing to do, rather than have parents deal with a lifetime of defects in a child. He makes the point that a newborn, like a fetus, lacks any awareness of death, and has no ability to make decisions. He then predicts that such termination of life will one day be common.
The Professor has a point, of course. If you allow the arguments for abortion, then those same arguments can be extended to the “defective” new born. (We can only imagine what the term “defective” might grow to include). But if God’s standards and principles are adhered to, then neither the ending of life before birth nor the ending of life immediately after birth are acceptable. So we need to be aware that if we, as followers of Christ, give ground on the matter of abortion then we have opened the door to infanticide. It is just a matter of time before killing “defective” newborns will be taking place. And maybe, the removing of “non-defective” babies might be included, especially if the newborn child is unwanted. Such became the case in ancient Rome where unwanted newborns were taken out and “exposed” to the elements; many dying by such exposure and others by wild animals, and many more taken to be raised as slaves and temple prostitutes.
God, the giver of life, has set His principles in place and we reject or neglect those truths to our own harm. And in light of Professor Coyne’s idea, the abortion battle may have a broader scope to it than many have thought.
I for one am thankful for the men and women in Washington DC who are faithful followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. I do believe that they make a difference in slowing down the spiritual and moral decay that now characterizes our culture. These are the ones who speak out for the sanctity of marriage as God defines marriage (the union of one man and one woman); these work against groups like Planned Parenthood who are responsible for the death of countless babies; these are those who know that debt destroys just as the Bible teaches. They have aligned themselves on many issues with God’s standards as found in the Bible.
But it is not Washington DC that holds the key to solving the huge problems facing America. It is the church which is tasked with the proclamation of God’s truth; that truth which addresses these great issues. But each Sunday, hundreds of thousands of people enter churches only to hear sermons that are devoid of solid biblical content. Churches have largely become market-driven religious entertainment centers, and not places where believers are taught to think (and behave) as authentic followers of the Savior. If we are going to recoup our national situation, it will begin with the pulpit. Romans 1 is clear that when a person (or culture or nation) rejects/neglects God Truth then two things will always happen: (1) a decline into idolatry, and (2) the invasion of immorality of all kinds. These two realities characterize America today. Washington DC cannot bring a change of heart which then brings a change in both belief and practice. But the Word of God does this very well, powerfully and effectively. But it starts with America’s pulpits which must declare God’s truth and not tolerant, political correct narratives.