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Is there a conspiracy afoot to destroy the greatness of America? If there is, it is nothing more than some manifestation of the same "conspiracy" that started in Genesis 3. If we understand human nature in light of God's Word, our country’s problem is more accurately described as a matter of obedience to our eternal Father, not an attack on America's founding fathers. Are we ready to take on on the real culprit, the ineffective church, or is it perhaps easier to blame secular philosophies for the state of our families, country and world?
The Wall of Bronze and Whose Job it is to be It
The Wolf at the Door and Whose Job it is to Take Him On
All right! Well, welcome. We started today, if you were not here, listening to a little song by Toby Keith, "American Soldier," and we talked about how the American soldier has brought us much freedom and peace as we seek to find rest at night and continue in this freedom that we have long enjoyed in our country and, while the American soldier has much to do with preserving the freedom that we so enjoy, there is another soldier who is even more essential than the American soldier, as commonly defined.
It is the soldier of Christ. It is the follower of Christ. It is the individual who understands that there is a God who is good and that he is sovereign over all nations, not just this one, and that all freedom can only be found in him and preserved through him. It is for freedom's sake that we have been set free, but freedom is not the ability to do whatever you want to do whenever you want to do it.
Freedom is the ability to choose not to do what you can do because it's not best for you or for others when you have the freedom to choose what it is that you want to do. It's maturity. It is character, and a society without character cannot long exist. What I want to do today is take some time and talk about what really is the basis for our freedom going forward.
If you are here and your nation, in other words your life, your personal life that you are sovereign over as your own king, the one who is free to choose whom you will serve, is filled with chaos and despair and economic and moral devastation, you're here on a great Sunday because I'm going to tell you what can restore your nation, what can help you as an individual, what can make you a healthy nation or, if you will, family.
It's the healthy family who makes up the healthy church. The healthy church is what, especially in a democratic republic like we live in, makes for a healthy government. What we're really going to talk about today is how kingdom can be accomplished. There's always going to be a number of different people who talk about how kingdom, which is just another way to talk about a situation or a government that you live under, can bring about prosperity and success and joy can be established.
There are all kinds of ideas out there. Utopianism is any philosophy that basically suggests that we can usher in this perfect state. Well, this perfect state, if it is absent of God, is always contrary to God. In other words, we are a nation that, as much as any other that has ever been constituted, has been brought together under what has been commonly called the Judeo-Christian ethic. The Judeo-Christian ethic is ideas that are represented and espoused in Scripture, which is God's revelation to us.
He was trying to explain to you that you're going to always be underneath some authority. The question is…Will that authority be benevolent, kind, and good, or will it ultimately be tyrannical, and will it ultimately lead to your own destruction? The Scripture says, "There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death." The Scripture says, "The one who despises the word will be in debt to it…" The Scripture says, "If you are wise, you are wise for yourself, and if you scoff, you alone will bear it."
What God is trying to do is show us that he loves us, so he wants us to live underneath his rule. Now, we are folks who don't like to live underneath any kind of rule. It is a part of what we call our sin nature. When God created us, he put us in Paradise. He put us in a place that could only be defined by abundant blessing and provision, and we lived in relationship with him, but there was a wolf at the door from the very beginning.
That wolf at that door was what we find in 1 Peter 5, which says it is, "…a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." Now that roaring lion, whom we also find in the book of Revelation, is the individual who hates God, who is called the "…the accuser of the brethren…" who is called the Deceiver, who is called the Father of Lies, who is called Satan. He is prince of this world. He is the god of darkness, and he hates God. He wants to exalt himself, and he wants people to worship him and not God.
The problem is that, because only God is good, if you worship anything less than God, you are worshiping something that is less than good. What the Enemy will do is convince you that you know better than your Father, just like my kids. You know, if I let them alone, they would eat Twinkies and Ding Dongs and Ho Hos and Skittles, and they would drink Mountain Dew. That's what they would do.
Now, I don't have them eat broccoli just so I can show off to other parents and impress them with my great sovereign power. I do it because I love them. I bring about instruction into their lives because I care for them and don't want decay and ruin and unhealth to define their lives. God is the same way. He calls us to things that, if you will, the taste buds of our flesh don't crave because he wants for us what our flesh, which is fallen and corrupted by our choice to leave him and enthrone ourselves, would not otherwise choose.
That is true of us individually, and you need to know that, not just in Americanism but in the world, there is always this competition for who you're going to live under. Now, because we live in America and because it is July the Fourth weekend, I want to talk about what's going on in our country, but it's not really about our country. It's about God's people, and it's about the church.
Because our country has been founded on this Judeo-Christian ethic, there has been a consequent blessing. There is a book that recently came out by a gentleman who wasn't born in our country. He was actually born in India, and he writes about how our living in relationship with the Scripture is part of that great blessing. The book that he wrote is called The Book That Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization, and what he does is he just explores the Bible's impact, not on leading the West, but really in helping his own nation, India, and other nations move to periods of prosperity and success.
Joshua 1:8 says this. "This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth…so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success." Now that doesn't always mean the health, wealth, and prosperity gospel that is way too often espoused by many in positions like mine.
It does talk about a kingdom that will allow for prosperity and the kind of life we all long for, the kind utopianists, whatever their worldview is, will suggest that they can accomplish without God through rationalism, educationalism, Communism, socialism, liberalism, anything other than a Judeo-Christian ethic that is put forward; any -ic, -asm, or –spasm that comes down the pike. If it takes it away from the revelation of God, it's going to be a different and lesser kingdom.
America was founded on this idea that God is the one and true and good King, that there is no other good King whom we should entrust ourselves to. That is why, into our Constitution, you have ideas that the church has long espoused. You have what's called subsidiarianism or sphere of influence, which are ideas put forth by the church because the church understood human depravity which is basically this idea that power corrupts and ultimately that power corrupts absolutely.
We understood that because we know our flesh, if left to ourselves, will lead to chaos, destruction, and then we will invite anything to deliver us, which will lead to tyranny, unless in our brokenness, we cry back out to God, who always looks to forgive and to restore. This balance of powers that the legislative branch and the executive branch and the judicial branch should be separate were ideas that we really borrowed from the Magna Carta.
We borrowed it from this great idea that really for about 1,200 years, from AD 300 to about AD 1500, had really strangled the world through both abuses in the church because the church became very bureaucratic and tyrannical and also that it often was wed with political powers. There was no separation of church and state during that 1,200 years, so there was great oppression, and men in the church and in politics really often worked together to oppress the people.
The Word of God, the revelation of God, was not available to common man. In fact, one bishop of Germany said in about the sixteenth century that, if it was not for Luther, we could've made all of Germany eat hay. In other words, we told these people we held the keys to the kingdom. We were the means through which they could have entrance into heaven, so we could be abusive over them. We could exploit them. We could manipulate them, and we could get them to do anything because they wanted what we said we had.
Luther, in his protest, nailed 95 reasons why he was opposed to that type of leadership in the church, and it became the beginning of a reformation, when the church recaptured its heart which led to a time of blessing again that came through God's people. We needed a reformation then, and we need a reformation now.
The reformation America needs now is not to escape from certain burdens imposed upon it by ideologues in Congress, but America needs a reformation from the weakness and the death and the compromise in the church. Why? It's because, in a democratic republic like America, you have a government, as Lincoln said in the Gettysburg Address, of the people, by the people, for the people.
If the government of the people is a government that is defined by the people, it is a government that cannot long stand. We will become divided because there will be no law that we agree on, no common value, and no common ethic, and we will be divided, and we will demonize one another. We will talk about a completely different basis for living that we will be at war with one another, if you will. We will be easily fractured and divided. There has to be a common morality for our country to stand.
I'm going to show you today that Washington and Adams, some of our earliest leaders, understood that, men who were involved, others, in the founding of our country in declaring their independence from the tyranny of oppressive monarchies that did not, in effect, think that there was a law greater than them.
Let me say this. If you are here and you're suffering in your own life, it is because you believe there is no law greater than yourself. You do what seems right to you. The heart wants what it wants, so you just follow it. Truth for you is defined by saying, "If it feels so right, how can it be so wrong?" It's the way which seems right to you, and in the end, it leads to death. Whether your Ding Dongs are Ding Dongs or whether they are illicit sexual relationships or highly leveraged economic strategies, it leads to captivity and tyranny, and somebody will rule over you.
What is the solution? You have to come to the end of yourself, or government has to live in humility under something other than the wisest of its men. This is why you have the idea put forth that there is no executive. There is no political elite that is the sovereign law in our land. We believe in what is called lex rex. The law (lex) is (rex) king. That is, the law is king. Too many people live under the idea that the king is law.
Our Constitution was set up to prevent any one individual from being law. Our president is not above the law. The problem is, when you have the judicial branch, the legislative branch, and the executive branch all appealing to a higher law than the foundational Judeo-Christian ethic that made our country, you will have the same thing you have when you yourself live according to a higher ethic than the Judeo-Christian ethic. It will lead to chaos, it will lead to bondage, and it will lead to welcomed tyranny over us, a master than does not have your best interests in mind.
Today, God is calling you out of that. I want to remind you today what is the hope of our country. It is the church. The problem with our country is not anything that goes on in Washington or any secret plot that is happening behind the scene. This is a plot which has been going on since Genesis 3. What is the plot in Genesis 3?
God created man and called man to live in intimacy and relationship with him, and then he said, "You need to know there is an enemy. There is a wolf at your door, and he seeks to tell you that my Word is not true, that I am not good, and that you should break yourself free from me and follow yourself. Do what thou wilt. God isn't good. His Word can't be trusted, and judgment is not that severe. There's nothing you have to fear that you're in debt to that will be that big of a problem."
We gave ourselves away from following God and living in his kingdom and to be cast out of that kingdom to live in subjection to our own sense of good and evil, and what you have from that moment is God stepping back into that now-chaotic world and calling men back out and inviting them back into relationship with him, where they could live not by the spirit of man but by the Spirit of truth, who is called the Holy Spirit, who is called the Spirit of Christ.
The question is…Does the organization, does the organism, the living body that is to be the voice of that Spirit of truth, remain faithful to him so that, while the wolf continues to prey on unwilling souls and to try and seduce uneducated minds, will we do our job? There are three divine institutions. One is family. God gave family, and it's through the priesthood of the father and the mother that the children are to be raised specifically to understand the goodness of God and who he is. The family's job is to educate.
The second divine institution is the church. The job of the church is to remind. It is to reprove. It is to correct, and it is to corporately care for individual families and help them do their job of educating. The third institution is government, and the job of government is to prosecute evil and to protect against, if you will, those who would seek to harm the good and the right.
The problem is that, when you have a government that doesn't define right the way God does, it will prosecute the wrong things and will call that which is evil good and that which is good evil, but it's never the government's problem. The government is to, if you will, protect truth and never to define truth. When can the government define truth? It's when the family doesn't teach truth and teach its children, if you will, the merits of it, where it comes from and the benefits of following it.
That's what I was going to share with you in this little book that was written by this gentleman, The Book That Made Your World. He just goes through, and he examines the intellectual roots of Western civilization, specifically showing its origins in the Judeo-Christian ethic, and he shows that dignity, reason, morality, science, liberty, and self-sacrificial heroism… He says that each of these concepts grew out of the Scriptures.
Now, when you despise the Scriptures, you will later be in debt to it. In other words, "If you are wise, you are wise for yourself, and if you scoff, you alone will bear it." Where is all this going? Well, it's going here. I am not a conspiracist. In other words, I don't think there are a bunch of guys in a smoke-filled room plotting the takedown of America because I think America is just one of a long line of groups of people who have decided to associate a certain way.
I will tell you this. America has never been the only enemy. America is the enemy of anybody who wants to take down anything or anyone who stands for a Judeo-Christian ethic. Is there a plot by Communists to take down America? Is there a plot by Islamicists to take down America? Is there a plot by liberalists, by progressives, to take down America? Here's what I want to share with you. The answer is…maybe.
They are just all symptoms of something that is clearly articulated not in the wild imaginations of man but in the Scriptures, that there is somebody who does not have your best interests in mind, and whenever there is an organization that stands for what our country stands for, which is something like this. (Have you ever heard these words?) "We hold these truths to be self-evident."
In other words, these are truths you don't even need to discuss. They just exist, and we all know they exist, and that is that all men are created equal. In other words, if you're a human life, you have dignity. No matter who you are, what your utilitarian value is, we believe that you have dignity and that you have been given that dignity by the fact that there is a Creator and that these rights are inalienable, the rights to pursue life, liberty, and happiness.
Now here's the deal. When you get a country that defines happiness as something other than God defines happiness, it will not stand under the blessing of that Creator. That is the preamble to our Declaration of Independence. The way our Declaration of Independence ends is this:
"We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions… And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor."
In other words, sacredness of life and appeal to protection of God are woven into the very heart of our country's declaration to exist. We have always been a nation under God. Now that has been the intent. Now we have not lived that way very well, especially lately. There is no longer an agreement on what the pursuit of happiness looks like and what morality is. You do have some who, for whatever reason, want to escape underneath this oppressive Godness that our country was founded on.
If you don't believe me, just watch this. Again, smoke-filled room, conspiracy, even well-thought-out agenda… I don't know. I just think it's human nature, which always wants to kick against God and think that it knows better what its diet should be than a loving Father. Now many of us have the experience of knowing that filling our hearts with what our hearts desire leads to death.
What God wants you to do, before you go and ruin your life and learn through scars, is just to learn through love and revelation. If you have learned that way, either through scars or revelation, be a herald of righteousness. Stand at the door against the wolf and remind, rebuke, reprove, correct, care, and educate. That's how you remake a country and preserve your own freedom.
A couple of weeks ago, the US Open was on, though, and as the entrance to that US Open, you'll see one network that decided to share with you what our allegiances, they think, should be to in our country. I'm sure many of you have already heard about this, but let me let you watch it for yourself, and I will explain to you again the implications of where we're headed with this. Check it out.
Bob Costas: Now, with an eight-shot advantage, will the young man who is potentially the best player of a new generation claim his first major title as the US Open returns to the nation's capital?
Class of Students: I pledge allegiance to the flag…
Male Soldier: Present arms.
Class of Students: …of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation…
Male Soldier: Order arms.
Class of Students: …with liberty and justice for all.
Bob Costas: They are the virtues that have been passed down through generations that live on in the great halls of this country, and in the shadows of the nation's capital, Congressional Country Club is poised to welcome the latest winner of America's championship, and for the Americans who have won it, there has come an indescribable surge of emotion and patriotic pride. It's a more than century-old renewal that has become a total global quest, and today, another has a chance at his own transcendent moment. It's the United States Open Championship.
Class of Students: I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands…
Male: This is the greatest golf tournament in the world.
Male: The Open Championship of the United States of America.
Class of Students: …with liberty and justice for all.
[End of Video]
Now what's interesting is that, not once but twice, they recited the pledge, and you can only say it was very intentional to take out what they took out. Now NBC first said something like, "Well, we just didn't want to take up too much time" and later came back and just flat-out apologized. What did they take out? "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America…" What they took out was "under God, indivisible…" Why?
When we are not under God, when law is not king (the revelation of God in the Judeo-Christian ethic), when there is not one universal morality, we are divisible, and the idea there being put forth, whether intentionally or not… It wasn't just once. It was twice. Even when the children said it, they didn't let the children say it. They took it out. We will be divisible.
Let me just say this. If there is a wolf at our door (you can call it Communism, liberalism, progressivism…I don't really care what you call it…or you can just call it anything which stands against a group of people who want to exist as God says they should exist in humility underneath him), it's always going to attack the idea that there is revelation that should unify you. It's going to say, "Be broken free from this ancient constitution, these forefathers who now have really no relevance to your life today."
Does that sound familiar? "Hey, that ancient book, the Bible, and the guys who wrote it, they really can't speak into 2011. We need to be progressive." Let me just say this. I am not against progressiveness. Change is good in technology, in healthcare. Change is good in all forms of ways that we can improve our science and industrial nation, but when you talk about changing truth, if truth is by definition that which always is right, then anytime you are progressive in relationship to truth, you have perverted truth, and you lead to error.
Progressivists, when they're dealing with truth… In other words, creativity in teaching truth is a virtue, but creativity in defining truth is a problem. The government's job is to enforce truth, but when it seeks to define it, you have issues. In our country, it's a government of the people, by the people, for the people, so if the people are not informed by the truth, you will have a nation that is very divided because it's not under God. Chaos will come.
This has been pretty true throughout history. If you go back and you look at history, you'll see that there's always a pretty similar march. There is bondage, and bondage brings humility. Humility will have folks look outside themselves for help, which will lead to faith. Faith will lead to great courage because they think that there is truth they have found.
That courage will lead to liberty. That liberty will lead to abundance. That abundance leads itself to really selfish pursuit of more abundance if it's not restrained by morality, which will eventually lead to complacency, which will eventually lead to apathy, and apathy itself will lead to dependency on something, and dependency is bondage.
That is the typical cycle that, not just nations, but that individuals go through. "It's you! Oh, God! Just get me out of this. I'll never do it again!" and he maybe gets you out of it. There is liberty, but then there's success, and there's a desire for more. The next thing you know, you find yourself apathetic towards those truths that brought about that liberty, and then you come to chaos again, which leads to tyranny over you until, in your brokenness and oppression, you cry out for deliverance again, hopefully from the benevolent and kind dictator.
How does all this relate to us? Well, I think that the greatest issue in America today is not some broad plot. I will tell you, there are many folks who are watching Fox. There are many folks who are reading books. There are many folks who are watching movies. There's a little deal going around right now called agenda. There's a guy on Fox called Glenn Beck, and they're putting all these things that are out.
I want to say something about all this stuff. It is much bigger than anything we would see rooted in one particular ideology. There is a book, in fact, that Glenn Beck referred to called The Naked Communist, which really has been around since 1958. Now The Naked Communist was written by a guy who was an ex-FBI agent with a bit of a speckled past.
There is an indication that the Congressional Record, our Congressional Record, has not been digitized all the way. The excerpts from this book have been read into our Congressional Record, as far back as 1963. Sometimes, they say it's nine points. Sometimes, they say it's 50 points. I just want to show you, whether or not this was ever read into the Congressional Record or not…
The best I can tell some people would suggest that it was. I want to just show you this book that was written in 1958. What this book does is it talks about Communism from the perspective of this FBI agent, but I want to show you that, whether or not he's right, these ideas are always part of the wolf at the door.
I think you're going to make yourself an individual who is easily marginalized, criticized, and discounted if you make it about some conspiracy, even about somebody's put-forth agenda, other than one that you can be sure is a legitimate agenda, which is that there is an Enemy who hates God and hates you. He wants you to not follow God, and he wants you to believe other things than what he says.
Whether or not it was read into Congress or not in 1963, here are ideas that are in this book in 1958. This is what he says the communist agenda is, clearly articulated. First it says, "Promote the U.N. as the only hope for mankind. If its charter is rewritten, demand that it be set up as a one-world government with its own independent armed forces." Now let's just go quickly through some of these.
The Communists are looking to bring down America, in other words, bring forward another idea about how kingdom can be established. This is what he's suggesting. I am suggesting you shouldn't make it about any one thing other than any -ism, any -ology other than the theology of the Scripture. It always leads to chaos and breakdown, whether it be of a nation or of an individual.
"Do away with all loyalty oaths," he said. How about that? Do see any loyalty oaths that are being compromised and trying to take away allegiances to certain things (see also a couple of weeks ago)? "Capture one or both of the political parties in the United States. Use technical decisions of the courts to weaken basic American institutions by claiming their activities violate civil rights.
Get control of the schools. Use them as transmission belts for socialism and current Communist propaganda. Soften the curriculum. Get control of teachers' associations. Put the party line in textbooks. […] Infiltrate the press. Get control of book-review assignments, editorial writing, policymaking positions. Gain control of key positions in radio, TV, and motion pictures. […] Eliminate all laws governing obscenity by calling them 'censorship' and a violation of free speech and free press."
Why? It's because, if you break down the moral makeup of a country, it doesn't stand together. You just feed them what they want. Let me just stop right here. Rome was the greatest nation that ever existed in history with a strong powerful force. What happened to Rome? Rome, we all know, was destroyed from within. The vandals which were much weaker than Rome that took Rome down really didn't take Rome down. What happened is the people of Rome were in love with free bread and circuses, and they became weakened.
Babylon, a great and mighty power, was in love with luxury, so the Medes and the Persians came in and divided them and destroyed them in their drunkenness. This idea of saying, "Just give them what their hearts desire. Do what thou wilt. Rebel against God. Don't call it obscene and perverse. Follow your flesh" will always destroy an individual or a nation of individuals.
"Break down cultural standards of morality by promoting pornography and obscenity in books, magazines, motion pictures, radio, and TV." Look, this is The Naked Communist. What I'm telling you is this is the naked intention of anything that is opposite of God. Don't limit it to one, and don't make it all about this Communist plot. Communism is just one useful idiot amongst all the useful idiots that exist out there.
One of the things I want to say today is that, in order to really make a difference in our culture, you're going to have to learn to do it in a winsome and gentle and loving way. Now you go, "Well Todd, you just called people who believe things other than you idiots." Okay, let me explain this. Here's what I want to tell you. One of my points today is that you have to be wise as a fox, not like the guys who are on Fox who maybe get all wound up and worked up and who call people names.
"Well Todd, you just said 'idiots.'" I'm going to use it etymologically correctly. Idiot is one of the words we have brought across from ancient language to ours. Idios is the word which means basically to own, to own yourself. It's used of a person who owns their own business. Literally, it's a person who owns their own business, who thinks that there is no idea outside their own sphere of understanding which is right to them. They are not under God. They are under themselves, and they will do what they think is right to do.
Enlightenment and rationalism, the idea that the hope can be found in humanism and education, is an idiotic idea. In other words, it is contrary Scripture, which says that there's a way that seems right to you, but in the end, it's the way of death. "The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God.'" Therefore, he has to be his own god. That's what an idiot by definition is. All I'm saying is what Stalin and Lenin and Khrushchev and those other guys… Do you know what? They didn't try and convert the masses to Communism.
They actually used the phrase that the populous was just a bunch of "useful idiots." They said something like, "Give them free bread and circuses, and it will break down the society which they are in, which will call for another type of society where we can advance our Marxist ideas. They're just useful idiots. They're useful people who will follow their cravings and their flesh, if they're not informed by the opiate of the masses," which he said was the revelation of God.
He called it religion, and people thought they were being freed. When you're being led away from God, you're not moving into light. You're moving into darkness. You're not moving into freedom. You're moving into bondage. What you see is happening in our country is there are people who are moving into that which has given us the freedoms and liberties we enjoy, and here's the problem. The people who are supposed to be the soldiers who take on the wolf at the door are biblically illiterate. They are themselves compromised.
They are themselves not able to, in a winsome, clear way, articulate in civil discourse the goodness of God, the rightness of his way, and the hope that we find in Jesus. The problem with America is the dead, ineffective church. It is the lack of a disciple-making, Christ-following, humble-before-Scripture, Spirit-led community of soldiers who do not entangle themselves in the affairs of everyday life.
That is why your life individually is in chaos. It is why that which is made up of individuals is in chaos. Let me say this again. The problem is that people who gather in places like ours are no longer engaging the lost world with Christ, no longer making disciples. We're going after symptoms. We're going after issues like same-sex marriage. We're going after issues like choice and all of these things that all they are, are symptoms of the root problem.
People sometimes ask, "Todd, why don't you get on board with this? Why don't you fight these things?" My answer is that, because when people come to understand who Christ is and the goodness of God and follow Jesus, their hearts change, and then that changes their views on life. That changes their views on power and on politics and on marriage.
Now we should speak about why, if you follow marriage that way, even apart from Christ, it's going to bring about chaos in society, and why, if you talk about life this way, it's going to bring about horrors to you in ways you can't imagine, but at the end of the day, we have to always take it back to the fact that this is a spiritual issue, not just an issue related to certain ideals.
The thing which made us so vulnerable is that the certain foundations were crumbled…that there is no creator, that we evolved from chaos plus time and chance into order and we're just really beasts ourselves, that there is no God. That's what introduced all the possibilities that maybe the things that God said shouldn't be followed because God himself doesn't exist. Are you with me? Do you see the issue? If you are asked the question, "What is the hope of our country?" and you say, "The Republican Party," shame on you. Shame on you.
Here's what I will say. You find candidates (I don't care what they call themselves) whose platform is consistent with Scriptures, and you may find that manifests more in one party or another, but don't blindly get involved with any political party other than the party of Christ. You are a Christian, not a Republican, not a Democrat, and not even an Independent. You are a Christ follower. That's who you are. That's who I am, and it's appropriate for you to say, "I want to know the answer to these questions. 'Who rules my ruler? What is his foundation?'"
Let me just finish this list just for the sake of letting you know these ideas are out there. "Break down cultural standards of morality by promoting pornography and obscenity in books, magazines, motion pictures, radio, and TV. Present homosexuality, degeneracy and promiscuity as 'normal, natural, healthy.' Infiltrate the churches and replace revealed religion with 'social' religion. Discredit the Bible and emphasize the need for intellectual maturity which does not need a 'religious crutch.'"
Let me just say this to you twentysomethings, especially. This whole idea of social justice is such an attractive idea to you today, but let me just tell you something. Any time you put an adjective on the word justice, you are compromising it. Justice doesn't need an adjective. It's what we always loved. We want justice. That's God's idea. Social justice is the idea of let's pursue this separate and apart from this foundation of who God is.
At Watermark, we feed the hungry. We clothe the naked. We visit the prisoner. It's not because it makes us feel good but because it allows us to represent God, who loves the weak and the poor and the oppressed. We don't do it for us. We don't even do it for them. We do it because God is good, and that's how God loves.
We are a shadow and a fragrance of who he is, and we don't ever pursue social justice just for society's sake. We do it for kingdom's sake. This is God's kingdom. Justice is good, and the problem and the reason that social justice apart from God has had a voice with so many people is because the church has not been concerned about justice for a long time. The church has been on the good side of injustice by and large, so we are quiet against racial injustice, educational injustice, societal injustices.
The church of the 60s and the 50s was corrupt and needed a prophet like Martin Luther King Jr. who stood up and repented and essentially said, "This is not a race issue. This is a spiritual issue," and by and large, many white churches were very late adopters in calling that injustice what it was because, if they were Christ followers, they would've been at the lead of those marches, and we wouldn't have put Dr. Martin Luther King through that.
We would've put ourselves through that, which is where I'm driving you today. Our call is to be individuals as the church to effectively represent God. It doesn't surprise us that the Communists, the progressives, and the liberals want to discredit the Bible. Why? Any -ism apart from Christianity, any idea or ideology apart from the theology espoused in God's revealed Word is always going to try and discredit God's Word. It's a way that seems right to man.
What should you do? Answer: Prepare yourself. Go to Matthew, chapter 10. I said this already. Don't be like the guys on Fox but be wise as a fox. Jesus said it this way. "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents…" But don't be like the guys on Fox who are going to get wrapped up in emotional, ad hominem arguments. Be "…innocent as doves."
Let me just say this to you. Insert this right here.In 1 Peter 3:15 is the solution. Church, you are the salt and light of this country. You are the preserving agent. You are what is to give it taste and vibrance and health. You are light, and if you're not there, it is going become a tasteless, unpreserved, dark society.
What is the problem with our world? I am going to tell you that the problem with our country is the dead church, that we are not living repentant, holy, biblically informed lives. Our country (you're going to find out) is becoming like its teacher. The church's job is to reprove, remind, rebuke, and exhort. The family's job is to educate.
The church hasn't educated the family how to educate it's children, so we have a whole society of folks who don't know where morality comes from, and they're looking to find a better way because they see hypocrisy and injustice in the church, so whatever the solution is, it must not be in the Judeo-Christian God. We have set them up for this, and we are, as we repent, the solution to them being brought back from this. You need to know what's coming. He says:
"…beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues; and you will even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say."
Let me stop you right here, because you're like, "Oh, that's good news because I want to serve God when it gets ugly, and I'll just wait for him to just fill my heart with his Word, and I'll say the right thing." Let me just tell you this. There's an old story about a guy, a pastor, who kind of let his flesh, his circuses and free bread, get in his way.
He didn't discipline himself for the purpose of godliness, but he was a Spirit-filled pastor, and he wanted to serve his people, so prayerfully, as he walked up to his pulpit on Sunday, he said, "God, I know you love the people. You told me you'd give the words to say in that hour, so as I get ready to preach, what should I say to them this morning." The Spirit spoke to him and said, "Tell them you are not prepared."
What I want to let you know is this. I believe that God will give you words to say in that hour but guess where it's going to come from. It's going to come from the fact that you have disciplined yourself for the purpose of godliness. You are a prophet who can speak his Word because you know his Word.
You have hidden it in your heart, so when they burn your Bibles and they make it illegal to own one, it is not dead because it lives in your heart, and until they've burned your heart, they will not have burned the Scripture. When they deliver you up, you can be like Stephen. You can be faithful, and you can represent the truth, and you can deliver them to hope.
Are you ready, or are you going to go, "You know, I wish I would've not walked in the way of the wicked and just filled my mind up with whatever was on TV and stood in the path of sinners and sat in the seat of scoffers. I wish I would've delighted myself in the law of the Lord and, on that law, meditated day and night so that now I can communicate in a winsome, compelling way"?
"…sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence…" and "…innocent as doves." Do you see how this all comes together? This is from Genesis 3 through 2011. They're going to deliver you up. Are you ready to say it?
They're delivering you up right now without even persecution at Starbucks, at your PTA meetings as you discourse about things that are happening in society. Are you ready to have on your tongue what you are to say? "Well, Todd, where do I get it?" It's from the Bible, the Scripture, listening to messages like this, becoming conversant in the ideas, reading books like The Book That Made Your World, talking to them.
"For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved."
In other words, you'll be the one who will be preserving truth to the very end. You're not going to get sucked up in the vortex of self-love, but he says, "Look, you need to know this. Persecution is coming. You're already being marginalized as a simpleton who believes in the old crutches of religion." Are you ready to respond to that?
It says, "But whenever they persecute you in one city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes." This idea is specifically related to end times as it relates to Israel but relates also to the church. He says, "A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master.""What happened to me is going to happen to you."
He says, "It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house [a devil] Beelzebul, how much more will they malign the members of [the household of God] ." In other words, "Hey, look. When I did this, if they criticized me. I got nailed to a cross. If you want to do what I want to do as a good soldier, guess what? Some of you are going to be devoured by the wolf. Some of you, when they burn Bibles and your heart is the only Bible left, they are going to burn your heart."
Are you okay with that? That's what I'm calling you to this morning. Are you ready for that? See, freedom doesn't come free, and we're losing freedom in this country because some people just want their free bread and circuses, and the soldiers who are to preserve our society, if you will the kingdom that God will lead us to if we'll follow him, are asleep. Do you see what's at risk?
If you want to go and do this thing, you need to know something. You're going to be headed right where Jesus was headed, rejected by the powers that be and nailed to a cross. Are you ready for that? A lot of folks aren't, and that's why they're compromised and quiet, and all it takes for tyranny to exist or for evil to continue is for good men to remain silent.
That's why you see the corruption in our country. That's why you see more people believing that marriage defined the way God says is not a big deal, because there's a lack of education, reproof, rebuke, care, and correction, so our government will represent that which the people who have not been educated believe, and we have no idea what's coming, even though it's just happened again and again all around the world. There's example after example like that.
He says, "What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops." That's what Jesus says we should do according to Matthew 10. Here's what you need to know about the cross you're headed to. Jesus says, "Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."
What he's saying is, "Look, the powers that be are not the powers that have been and will be. They are just floating through, so you do what you can to speak against them. You do what you can through a gentleness and reverence to talk about where real liberty comes from, and if they kill you and take your head off, then you have just done well as a soldier."
Jesus would say, "I am asking you to give your life, not for your country but for the kingdom of Christ. I'm asking you to give your life for your neighbor. I'm asking you to give your life for truth. You are soldiers who should not entangle yourselves in the affairs of everyday life, and the church is compromised."
Now I just want to tell you where we are as a country, and then we're going to close with two quick songs, one that's been around forever and that you're going to hear this weekend played at fireworks shows and that our country has no idea as to what it's calling for and then one that I and Patrick wrote about a year ago in just preparation for equipping the church for what's coming.
Let me just show you this. Do you see what this is right here? This, my friends, is appetizing. Does that look good? That looks good! Zoom in on that. Give that a good, tight shot right there. That is a cornucopia of summer gladness right there. That's what that is, and it is beautiful, and we love it, and it is ripe. What do you do with ripe stuff? You'd better eat it, devour it.
Amos, chapter 8: "Thus the Lord God showed me [Amos] , and behold, there was a basket of summer fruit. He said, 'What do you see, Amos?'" He saw what you just saw. "'…a basket of summer fruit.' Then the Lord said to me, 'The end has come for My people Israel. I will spare them no longer. The songs of the palace will turn to wailing in that day,' declares the Lord God. 'Many will be the corpses; in every place they will cast them forth in silence.' Hear this [O people] …"
Then he goes on to talk about what that's going to look like. What God is doing with Amos is he's saying, "Hey, Amos, do you know what that is? That is the nation of Israel. That is the nation that is no longer what it should be, and it is ripe to be devoured by…who? By a God of justice." What he's saying is, "There is so much injustice in Israel, there is so much injustice in the land, there is so much injustice in the church that I'm going to devour the perverted and weak church.
I'm going to devour the institution that should be built on the church in America that is a government of the people, by the people, for the people. I can't stand for this country any longer to exist. It is ripe to be devoured. In its arrogance, it mocks me. It doesn't want to be under me, or worse yet, those who are under me are not under me, and I'm going to devour it." This is God's Word to Amos. It was prophetic and true for Israel.
The question is…How ripe are we, and how ready are we to go down? I'll just tell you, if we keep on the course that we're on and God doesn't devour us, he's going to have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah. There is a famine, and what he goes on to say is that a different kind of famine is coming where you won't have this kind of fruit anymore, but there's going to be the real famine.
It's verses 10 and 11 of chapter 8. He says, "…and the end of it will be like a bitter day. Behold…not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, but rather for hearing the words of the Lord." The problem with Israel is the problem with America. There are no prophets and priests and, therefore, no people who can tell people the truth.
Because there is no truth to protect them from that which can promise them free bread and circuses, the wolf just walks right in and devours the sheep. They don't need to attack us from without because we're destroying ourselves from within, because that which is to make us strong within is without responsibility and faithfulness, the church.
Are you ready to go to war? Are you ready to keep some independence, which is to say not freedom to do what we want but the freedom to do what is right? That only comes when you live in humility before Christ and follow his Word, and the people who are to communicate the goodness of God and to evangelize and make disciples have been silent.
Let me ask you a question. Since July 4, 2010, how many people will come to you and say, "You know what? Because of you, my life has been transformed. Because of you, I've heard the Word of the Lord. Because of you, I've come to understand that I want to live under God, that God is good. He's not to be despised. He is to be sought. He is a forgiving and loving God who has my best interests in mind.
I used to live by my Ho Hos and Twinkies and Ding Dongs and Skittles and pursuing what I wanted all the while, and all that while, I was in the tyranny of self and slavery and addiction or just hopeless, and then you showed me Christ, and you didn't just show me Christ, you discipled me, and now, a year later, my life is radically different, and I am living free. I'm no longer dependent on my flesh and the ways of the world and the spirit of the age, but I am free to follow God, and there is order in my house, and I am now a soldier for him."
How many folks can say that directly related to you? In other words, if you don't have a disciple over this last year, we're the problem. You see, you're the one who's supposed to expand faithfulness. How are you doing, church, in evangelizing, disciple-making, gently, reverently-giving-an-answer-in-civil-discourse?
Don't you dare think the government's the problem. Don't you dare get disgusted at politicians. Politicians are only people who weak people put in power if those people are not Christ followers. Our country is just becoming like its teacher. A weak and compromised church leads to a weak and compromised government.
How are you doing at evangelizing? How are you doing at disciple making? How are you doing at keeping us from being ripe from judgment? Does holiness, accountability, personal purity, biblical literacy, theological exactness define your life? Well, if you're the soldier, why are you surprised that we're being weakened? That's why we call you to come.
I am amazed at how many folks go, "Oh, you guys talk about Community. I don't want to be in Community. Community is awkward. Community is hard." Community is where discipleship happens, friends. Community is where repentance happens. Community is where you're held accountable because you count; you matter. How are you doing?
Okay, so what are we going to do? (Other than somebody, please, going over and telling Children's we're going to be six minutes late. Seriously, if somebody would do that who works with me, that'll save me a long conversation.) What I want to tell you is this. There is a song that we sing, and guess what it's calling for? It's calling for Amos 8:1 to happen, and it's a song that is rooted in Isaiah 63, Revelation 14, Revelation 19, and other pieces of the Scripture…2 Corinthians 10. It's called the "Battle Hymn of the Republic."
It is infused with Scripture, and when we sing, "Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!" we're saying, "I don't care what agenda, what -ism marches against this, there is a God who, before the world began, has been the King of Kings, and he will always be the King of Kings. Though some of his people will be nailed to crosses and though the true church will be persecuted and done away, the story ain't over, and God is going to reward the faithful, even those who are in the losing minority side in that day. His truth will march on."
The question is…Are you marching with truth? Listen to the words of this song. Sing with us. You want glory, glory to come? Be part of the glory, and if you're not, today's your day to say, "I'd better start marching with the one who is from everlasting to everlasting, who was in the beginning, and who is the Alpha and Omega." Let's stand together.
Mine eyes hath seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;
He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword;
His truth is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! His truth is marching on.
He has sounded forth the trumpet
That shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men
Before His judgement seat;
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him;
Be jubilant, my feet;
Our God is marching on.
In the beauty of the lilies
Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom
That transfigures you and me;
As He died to make men holy,
Let us [live] to make men free;
While God is marching on.
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!
[Our God] is marching on.
[End of song]
Well, how is our God marching on? It is through the army of saints who do not entangle themselves in the affairs of everyday life. You have to go and be equipped and be trained as a soldier, and if we don't do it, why are we surprised that the wolf isn't just at the door but it's in devouring our children, our youth, or societal structures? It's because of us not marching with his truth with humility and gentleness and clarity and power.
How have you done at reaching those who are far from God, taking captive every thought to the obedience of Christ, for our weapons of warfare are not of this world but are divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses? How are you doing at being informed by that spirit of truth, soldier? Let's go! Let's go! I've often said when they start to shut down churches that speak certain ways because they call it hate speech, may this be the first church they shut down, and may we be the last one that shuts up.
I'm asking you to come and die with me and be separated from your families and be imprisoned, if that is what it takes, knowing that, if they destroy the body, the story ain't over because the Sovereign One of the soul will eventually accomplish his purposes. Look, you either believe that or you don't, and I'm just asking you to be ready. Here's the thing. You're not even being imprisoned or persecuted yet. You're just being called names, called crazy and irrelevant and out of touch. Do you know why you're not, and are you being faithful?
About a year ago, I sat down with Pat here, and I said, "We have to write a song that says this, and I want our church to sing it consistently," so you're going to hear this song. We're reintroducing it this morning. It's "I'll Stand." It is infused with Scripture, just like that one was, but it's just a little bit more modernized. You probably won't hear it yet at a fireworks show, but coming soon, we hope, in decades ahead.
It is our song that we've just kind of thrown together that I want to sing with you, and then we're out of here. Run and get your kids and go make children for Christ. Are you ready to worship him that way? If you're here this morning and your nation is under siege and there is chaos and tyranny over you, can I suggest to you that being under God is where freedom is found?
God has made a way for you through his soldier, Jesus Christ, who is his Son who died for you, that if you will accept his provision, you will be reconciled to the Spirit of truth and no longer live according to the spirit of error. There is life with Jesus Christ. Be free. Those of you who are free, will you coalesce together and be the body of Christ? May his truth march on. Amen? Let's sing this last song. Here we go.