Riots in the Street: a Biblical Perspective

by Jordan Standridge, Source: The Cripplegate

In April of 1992, a jury found two white police officers “not guilty” for their conduct in the arrest of Rodney King a year earlier. The verdict sparked week-long riots in Los Angeles; at least 63 people were killed, 12,000 arrested, and one billion dollars of damage was done.

On May 3 (a Sunday), 1,000 US Marines and 600 soldiers were deployed to the streets of Los Angeles to supplement 6,500 National Guard troops already there.

It was the first Sunday since the riots had begun, and Grace Church (where John MacArthur was in his 23rd year as pastor) is only a few miles away from where the King beating took place. Already five people had been murdered in rioting only blocks from the church, and there were questions as to weather or not it would even be safe for the church to meet that day.

The church did meet, and MacArthur paused his normal sermon series, instead preaching a message titled:  The Los Angeles Riots: A Biblical Perspective

He began by saying:

The problem in our city is not lack of opportunity or lack of education. The problem in our city is not too much possessions, materialism. Those are only symptoms of a problem. The problem in our city is the problem of the wretchedness of the human heart. And nobody escapes that. It knows no race. It knows no color. It knows no location. It is pervasive. Sin is the degenerative and damning power in the human stream that pollutes every man and every woman and every part of life.

He went on to explain why pastors were in many cases part of the problem, not the solution:

We live in a city with churches on every street corner. But most of them don’t make any difference, any impact in their community at all. And as long as these people keep meeting, these reverends with no churches and these churches with no gospel, and as long as politicians and policemen and whoever else meet, presidents and congresses and councils, and try to solve the problem of man educationally or economically, they will never succeed. It cannot be solved there. It is not an environmental problem, it is a nature problem. It doesn’t come from the outside in, it comes from the inside out.

The main point of his message was essentially that the human heart is source of evil and rebellion, but God mitigates against this depravity through common grace. He establishes government to be an authority, and he establishes family to teach the importance of respecting authority.

But Los Angeles as a whole had experienced a culture of corruption in authority, and a culture that systematically dismantled the family, and thus any concept of respect for authority.

This resulted in the riots. But he went even more specific than citing a breakdown in civil authority and family discipline. He went on to identify 13 different causes that combined to make Los Angeles a city engulfed by violence. Last week someone encouraged me to listen to this message, and I did (you can too, here). Today I want to repost his 13 reasons—13 conditions in society that lead to racial riots:

  1. THE TERRIBLE TRAGEDY OF LIVING FOR PLEASURE

He described Los Angeles as a society into cheap thrills, wanting mindless kicks. The entertainment culture created a people that don’t think deeply about issues because they are simply into fun, feelings, and pleasure. People that only live for highs and who take pleasure into wickedness. He pointed to 2 Peter 2:13 which says, “They count it pleasure to riot” and showed how that was what was happening in that day.

  1. THE TERRIBLE REALITY OF SELFISHNESS

Racism, stealing, and pride are all manifestations of selfishness. When athletes claim that they are “the greatest,” and people think that kind of declaration is noble, then it reflects how selfish society has become. This selfishness causes people to adopt a mindset that “I matter above everyone else.” This is why the Bible says that God hates pride (Prov 8:13).

When people become consumed with themselves, everyone else becomes a means of self-gratification. Only humble people can love, only humble people can truly care. So in a world consumed by pride (like the one James was writing to), the people need to be asked this question:

What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? What is it that causes riots and quarrels and fights and wars? Is not the source your pleasure that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have, so you commit murders. James 4:1-2

  1. THE EVIL OF MATERIALISM

We live in a society where things are more important than people, and so then it is only a matter of time before people become a means to an end. For someone to be able to go into a store, shoot someone just to steal a CD player, they must have a materialistic mindset.

  1. THE TRAGEDY OF AMORALITY

MacArthur said that the sexual revolution has caused more deaths than any other revolution in world history. People like Hugh Hefner have advocated sexually deviant lifestyles, which has caused people to accept pornography, violently sexual music, and nasty sexual conversation. We have a culture of people who have substituted their life for their glands, and when people live only for their next sex thrill. They become accustomed to sexual immorality which prepares them to become accustomed to violence.

  1. THE DANGER OF ANGER

The Bible forbids anger, and MacArthur pointed out that anger used to be considered a sin. Society used to find self-control socially valuable, and kids used to get spanked for not exercising it. But now people feel that they have the right to say whatever they want, whenever they want. They feel they should be allowed to vent their venom, hostility and anger.

But the truth, MacArthur reminded people, is that neither police nor citizens have a right to be angry (Eph 4:31, James 1:20, Ecc 7:9). Matthew 5:43 teaches that anger should always be replaced by prayer.

  1. THE DEADLINESS OF VENGEANCE

MacArthur said that:

The child of anger and hate is vengeance. A man strikes a policeman, a policeman strikes back. Then society strikes back. The police have to strike back. And pretty soon you have war. You can’t stop it. There is no place for vengeance, no matter what is done. It is a sin and it is a dominating sin and again it’s that same mentality. “I am the king of my universe, I have a right to anger, I have a right to hate, I have a right to pleasure, I have a right to fulfillment, and I have a right to possessions. And if you get in my way, I am going to give it to you.

MacArthur called everyone who was wronged in the riots to pray that God will forgive the transgressors through Jesus Christ.

  1. THE ABSENCE OF FORGIVENESS

We live in a world where if someone builds a fence six inches into their neighbor’s yard, the neighbor is as likely to kill them for it as they are to forgive them. MacArthur pointed out that this is so unlike Christ, who forgave the unforgivable.

  1. THE DIVISIVENESS OF PREJUDICE

Underneath these other causes is often the disease of prejudice, which God hates. But while God hates it, our society is loaded with it. Our society has essentially fabricated the concept of race, and then uses that to divide and sow hatred. This prejudice will rip, tear and shred families, neighborhoods, cities, nations. (Here is link to similar teaching by Pastor Anyabwile).

  1. THE LOSS OF RESPECT FOR AUTHORITY

MacArthur said that the amount of chaos seen in a riot can only be the result of a concerted effort to destroy a people’s confidence in law enforcement and the entire concept of law and order. The result of that effort will always be death and destruction [at this point—Sunday—the death toll of the riots had already passed 50]. He went on to say that causing people to disrespect those that bear the sword is a deadly sin, and when it becomes accepted in a culture, riots are not far behind. By the way, efforts to sow distrust in police ironically lead to the loss of freedom in the form of curfews and the military deployed in the streets [that Sunday was the first day that the Marines had been deployed in Los Angeles]. MacArthur called it a small taste of a society under police control (1 Peter 2:13-14).

10. THE DISASTER OF CIVIL REBELLION

If pride leads to murder, then disrespect leads to rebellion. MacArthur pointed out a causal connection: if you destroy respect, you encourage rebellion.

11. THE DECLINE IN SWIFT AND SEVERE PUNISHMENT

The loss of fear of punishment for wrongdoing is inextricably linked to our society’s disconnect between a crime and a punishment for that crime. The California culture had embraced slow justice, and thus slow punishment. In that world, the fear of punishment does not restrain crime or cause fear of evil [it had been over a year from the beating of Rodney King to the conclusion of the trial for the police involved].

12. THE EFFECT OF DRUNKENNESS

MacArthur made the point that drugs and alcohol have wrecked families, and more than any other sin are responsible for the destruction of our nation’s cities.

13. WEAK, IMPOTENT, FOOLISH, SELFISH AND SINFUL LEADERSHIP

MacArthur closed by asking this question:

Where are the great leaders? Where are the godly leaders? Where are the virtuous leaders? Where are the great moral men and women? Where are they? Hosea said, “Like people, like priests,” because they’ll never be any better than their leaders. And now we see it. The sins of the fathers have reached the third, the fourth generation.

You look at the society, what do you see? Lust for pleasure, self and things, sexual perversion, anger, hate, vengeance, unforgiveness, prejudice, lack of respect for authority, civil rebellion, drunkenness, weak, foolish, evil leadership that’s more concerned about politics than it is about morality.

Finally MacArthur warned about looking for secular solutions to these problems. He warned:

Nobody can escape, I don’t care if you’re black or white, I don’t care if you’re yellow or brown, or whatever of those simple colors represent the races of our world, nobody can escape the devastating power of his own sin, the wretchedness of the heart… I’ll tell you this, they may put the lid on it this week, but it will go off again. There’s only one thing that’s going to change it and that is the saving power of Jesus Christ. And my final word to you is this, you have an obligation in this society, my friend, if you’re a Christian and so do I and it is this, you are to live a godly life free from all these sins I have mentioned. You are to live a godly life free from these things. Secondly, you are to preach the only message that can transform the human heart, the saving gospel of Jesus Christ. That’s what this world must hear if anything is to change.

Driscoll Drama: To those who sold tickets | the Cripplegate

I don’t remember ever specifically airing my thoughts and opinions about the issue discussed in the below referenced Cripplegate article, nor will I do so now. I just think it’s a well written article that asks questions deserving serious reflection.

Driscoll Drama: To those who sold tickets | the Cripplegate

via Driscoll Drama: To those who sold tickets | the Cripplegate.

John Frame Extended Quote on What is Culture?

Originally posted on The Domain for Truth:

John-Frame

Here’s an extended quote from John Frame on defining culture.  He begins first with two definitions of cultures given by others and work on a more nuance definition.  It is important to make a good definition for culture if one is engage in cultural apologetics, Christian ethics and engage in the thinking of the Christian Worldview.

The Lausanne Committee on World Evangelism defined culture as “an intergrated system of beliefs, values, customs, and institutions which binds a society together and gives it a sense of identity, dignity, security, and continuity.”  Ken Myers writes that culture is “a dynamic pattern, an ever-changing marix of objects, artifacts, sounds, institutions, philosophies, fashions, enthusiasms, myths, all embodied in individual people, in groups and collectives and associations of people (many of whom do not know they are associated), in books, in buildings, in the use of time and space, in wars, in jokes, and in…

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If I hadn’t been banned from commenting. . . .

Over at Patheos.com, in an article aout gay marriage being harmful, and after a response indicated that God had created two complimentary sexes, I received the following comment, among others, not quite as fuzzy in the logic department:

WilmRoget

" like God having created Adam and Eve,"

Ah yeah, the heterosexual couple who introduced sin into the world. The couple who raised the world’s first murderer, if Genesis is taken literally. The couple who brought down on humanity God’s first curse, which just happens to target the fruit of heterosexual intercourse.

Good example there. Not to mention the way Adam tries to blame it all on Eve, instead of standing up for her like a real man. And then he blames God.

"Jesus teaching on marriage?"

Like when He said that remarriage after a divorce for any reason other than adultery is adultery?

You think because you and your peers murder and rape and brutalize GLBTQ people, and then blame the Bible, it makes your sin any less evil?

 

I wanted to suggest that if God had created Adam and Steve, there would b e no WilmRoget. He has obviously read some Bible, for which I commend him. That his heart is hardened against God is deeply sad.

 His final sentence is perhaps the most problematic. To that I wanted to say that both MY sin and HIS sin are equally deplorable in the sight of God and that we ALL have sinned and fallen short, but that there is redemption in Christ. But alas, I have been banned from commenting, which just might mean that something I said struck home and that the anger that banned me was provoked a small amount of Holy Spirit conviction.

Please join me in praying for WilmRoget, as well as all those trapped in their bondage to sin, as we all once were.

1 Kings 19 is one of the top three most abused, molested, eisegeted, twisted, and assumed verses in the entire Bible

Originally posted on Pulpit & Pen:

But let me tell you how I REALLY feel.

 Then He said, “Go out, and stand on the mountain before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire,but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice”  1 Kings 19: 11-12. NKJV

If you grew up in any mainline protestant evangelical Church, it’s likely that you’ve been quoted that verse your whole life when being told and taught about prayer and hearing from God. That’s THE BIG ONE that people look to and reference as they tell you that when you pray you…

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Can Fighting for Our ‘Rights’ as Christians Ever Be ‘Wrong‘?

That’s a question I’ve been considering (off and on) for some time. The recent issue with Gideon Bibles in Navy Lodging facilities turned it back on again. Bibles were out and are now back in, at least temporarily, while the issue gets ‘higher’ leadership review. How will it end? God knows, and I’m not even going to hazard a guess, at least in this article. What I will do is repeat the above question:

Can fighting for our ‘rights’ as Christians ever be ‘wrong’?

After giving it a lot of thought, my answer is a resounding ‘Yes!” Let me explain.

First of all, please know that I don’t believe that we should just roll over whenever an atheist starts complaining about the mention of God in the public square (or a Bible in a Navy Lodge nightstand). Neither do I have an issue with legal entities or constitutionalists fighting about it – it’s what they do. I’ll answer the question at hand with another question:

What’s more important, our religions ‘rights’ or the eternal souls of those who rail against God?

To most, if not all believers, that should be a rhetorical question. I like the German term for it – ‘selbtsverstandlich’, or ‘self-understood’. It’s the answer I received from everyone in our Sunday morning Bible study at the Chapel I attend on Ft. Carson, CO. While the answer was automatic, it was also followed by a ‘but’ in some cases and a discussion about America’s founding fathers and the Constitution. Therein lies my point.

There is a lot of fighting for ‘our’ rights going on these days and not a small number of organizations, with the ‘Christian’ flag flying high, engaged in the battle against those pesky ‘atheists’. While it is commendable to take a stand for ‘rights’, what I almost never hear in the midst of all the ‘us’ vs. ‘them’ rhetoric is concern for the lost and dying ‘them’ who are rushing headlong into a Christless eternity while they rail against the God they know exists.

While on one hand I don’t hear much about what we freely answer is more important than our ‘rights’, on the other hand I sense an air of prideful self-righteousness as we stick out our bony ‘Christian’ chests while making our demands. Somewhere we’ve crossed a hard to detect line in the sand and lost sight of the Great Commission – the making of disciples of all nations that, by nature, begins with sharing the gospel with the lost and dying. And I’m guilty. It’s probably connected to the ‘sin hangover’ we all have.

And that’s when I think that fighting for our ‘rights’ can be ‘wrong – when we cross that line. Sadly, one of the results of crossing the line is the image of ‘Christians’ that’s projected to the same lost and dying we should be reaching with the message of the gospel. The ‘us’ vs. ‘them fight that they see eclipses whatever else we are trying to communicate about our Christianity. In a way we’ve aided and abetted the enemy in his never ending quest to discredit our testimony.

So can fighting for our ‘rights’ ever be ‘wrong’? Absolutely! When our rights become a higher priority to us than sharing the gospel, even with those ‘pesky atheists’, we’re wrong.

Think about it.

RIP?

RIP?

Posted: 13 Aug 2014 12:01 AM PDT at The Cripplegate

What did you think about when you heard of Robin Williams suicide? What was your first thought? For a friend of mine it was the following words:

Everyday they pass me by,

I can see it in their eyes.

Empty people filled with care,

Headed who knows where?

On they go through private pain,

Living fear to fear.

Laughter hides their silent cries,

Only Jesus hears.

Love or hate Steve Green–but there’s a whole lot of truth to this song. 

We live in a world full of empty people. No-one is exempt.

We live in a world full of hell-bound people. No-one is exempt.

We live in a world full of souls, who will spend eternity somewhere. No-one is exempt.

The moment someone’s life on earth ends it immediately continues. The moment someone’s life on earth ends they immediately stand before God. Like a runner sprinting for the finish line, the moment he crosses the line he immediately goes from being in a race to done with a race, but his life continues, his consciousness continues. So it is with death. It is a word we use for the ending of life on earth, but life does not end at death, it is just beginning.

For that reason, it is disappointing, frustrating, and excruciating to see Christians say things (or post things, tweet things, etc.) that minimize the monumental truth that any one of the billions of people who have lived are all somewhere right now…very much existing. It brings tears to my eyes to think about the implications of death apart from Christ.

Christian: You must understand that the words you say reveal what is in your heart. When well meaning Christians say things like:

“Thank you Steve Jobs for “thinking outside the box!” A true game changer if there ever was one. RIP.”

Or:

“Robin thanks for all the laughs. Such a talented man! Thanks for providing me with indescribable joy. R.I.P.

I want to challenge you to think about the implications of writing something like this.

I am not claiming to know where each person is. Nor do I feel like guessing. The point I’m trying to make is did it even cross your mind that they are in eternity? When you think of death, and when you think about people, what is your first thought? Part of working towards being better evangelists is by changing our thinking.

Culture dictates the way we talk, and we are used to saying certain things when certain things happen. But I have to wonder, is the Gospel on the forefront of your mind, if you are writing statements like this?

When you see people walking around what do you see? Do you see a soul that will spend eternity somewhere?

You must understand that Robin Williams and Steve Jobs are not in a coffin somewhere sleeping right now, but they are actively conscious. As I type.

They are somewhere. No-one is exempt. The moment a human being is born he or she will never, ever stop being conscious.

People need the Lord, people need the Lord.

At the end of broken dreams, He’s the open door.

People need the Lord, people need the Lord.

When will we realize, people need the Lord?

My prayer today is that Believers will live lives understanding the implications of the Gospel. That we would live lives devoted to Christ. that we would go all in. That we would start making decisions based on evangelism. That we say, as Paul did in 2 Corinthians 5:16: “From now on, we purpose to not think of anyone in a purely human way.” That we would choose what house to live in, or what city to move to, or what grocery store line to pay for my groceries, based on a love of Jesus and a devotion to telling people about Him.

We are called to take His light

To a world where wrong seems right.

What could be too great a cost

For sharing Life with one who’s lost?

Through His love our hearts can feel

All the grief they bear.

They must hear the Words of Life

Only we can share.

Who else but you? God has sovereignly placed you uniquely somewhere where few other Christians can be–maybe none other than you. Whether its your neighborhood, job, college campus or family, chances are that you are one of the only Christians there. Who is going to let them know about Christ? Who is going to bring them the good news?

Only you can. And when you live with that kind of urgency, you will not be inclined to see hear of someone who died, and think, “rest in peace.”

People need the Lord, people need the Lord

At the end of broken dreams, He’s the open door.

People need the Lord, people need the Lord.

When will we realize that we must give our lives,

For people need the Lord.

Give your life away! No Christian should be exempt from this kind of urgency.