The Gospel and Politics–John MacArthur

This is an excellent treatment of this critical subject! – Dan C. It’s length, but worth a good read!

The Gospel and Politics

by John MacArthur

For us, as Christians in the United States, it’s easy to get caught up in all the political fervor. It can even be tempting to think that legislation is the key to solving the moral problems that plague American society. But is that a right perspective? John MacArthur addresses this important issue and underscores a biblical response.

There was a time (in the days of our Puritan forefathers), when almost every soul in America acknowledged the Ten Commandments as the cornerstone of ethics and morality. Today most Americans can’t even name three of the Ten.

There was also a time (not so long ago) when Americans universally disapproved of homosexuality, adultery, and divorce; they believed sexual promiscuity is absolutely wrong; they regarded obscene language as inappropriate; they saw abortion as unthinkable; and they held public officials to high moral and ethical standards. Nowadays, most of the behavior society once deemed immoral is defended as an inalienable civil right.

How times and the culture have changed! The strong Christian influence and scriptural standards that shaped Western culture and American society through the end of the nineteenth century have given way to practical atheism and moral relativism. The few vestiges of Christianity in our culture are at best weak and compromising, and to an increasingly pagan society they are cultic and bizarre.

In less than fifty years’ time, our nation’s political leaders, legislative bodies, and courts have adopted a distinctly anti-Christian attitude and agenda. The country has swept away the Christian worldview and its principles in the name of equal rights, political correctness, tolerance, and strict separation of church and state. Gross immorality—including homosexuality, abortion, pornography, and other evils—has been sanctioned not only by society in general but in effect by the government as well. A portion of our tax dollars are now used to fund programs and government agencies that actively engage in blatant advocacy of various immoral practices.

What are Christians to do about it?

Many think this is a political problem that will not be solved without a political strategy. During the past twenty-five years, well-meaning Christians have founded a number of evangelical activist organizations and sunk millions of dollars into them in an effort to use the apparatus of politics—lobbying, legislation, demonstration, and boycott—to counteract the moral decline of American culture. They pour their energy and other resources into efforts to drum up a “Christian” political movement that will fight back against the prevailing anti-Christian culture.

But is that a proper perspective? I believe not. America’s moral decline is a spiritual problem, not a political one, and its solution is the gospel, not partisan politics.

LESSONS FROM HISTORY

This is a lesson evangelicals ought to know from church history. Whenever the church has focused on evangelism and preaching the gospel, her influence has increased. When she has sought power by political, cultural, or military activism, she has damaged or spoiled her testimony.

The Crusades during the Middle Ages were waged for the purpose of regaining Christian control of the Holy Lands. Few believers today would argue that those efforts were fruitful. Even when the crusaders enjoyed military success, the church grew spiritually weaker and more worldly. Other religious wars and campaigns tinged with political motivation (such as the Thirty Years’ War in Europe, Cromwell’s revolution in England, and other skirmishes during the Reformation era) are all viewed with disapproval, or at best curiosity, by Christians today. And rightly so. The military and political ambitions of some of the Reformers turned out to be a weakness, and ultimately an impediment to the Reformation. On the other hand, the strength of the Reformation, and its enduring legacy, was derived from the fact that Reformation theology shone a bright spotlight on the way of salvation and brought clarity to the gospel.

Throughout Protestant history, those segments of the visible church that have turned their attention to social and political issues have also compromised sound doctrine and quickly declined in influence. Early modernists, for example, explicitly argued that social work and moral reform were more important than doctrinal precision, and their movement soon abandoned any semblance of Christianity whatsoever.

Today’s evangelical political activists seem to be unaware of how much their methodology parallels that of liberal Christians at the start of the twentieth century. Like those misguided idealists, contemporary evangelicals have become enamored with temporal issues at the expense of eternal values. Evangelical activists in essence are simply preaching a politically conservative version of the old social gospel, emphasizing social and cultural concerns above spiritual ones.

That kind of thinking fosters the view that government is either our ally (if it supports our special agenda) or our enemy (if it remains opposed or unresponsive to our voice). The political strategy becomes the focus of everything, as if the spiritual fortunes of God’s people rise or fall depending on who is in office. But the truth is that no human government can ultimately do anything either to advance or to thwart God’s kingdom. And the worst, most despotic worldly government in the end cannot halt the power of the Holy Spirit or the spread of God’s Word.

To gain a thoroughly biblical and Christian perspective on political involvement, we should take to heart the words of the British theologian Robert L. Ottley, delivered at Oxford University more than one hundred years ago:

The Old Testament may be studied. . .as an instructor in social righteousness. It exhibits the moral government of God as attested in his dealings with nations rather than with individuals; and it was their consciousness of the action and presence of God in history that made the prophets preachers, not merely to their countrymen, but to the world at large. . . .There is indeed significance in the fact that in spite of their ardent zeal for social reform they did not as a rule take part in political life or demand political reforms. They desired. . .not better institutions but better men. (Aspects of the Old Testament. The Bampton Lectures, 1897 [London: Longmans, 1898], 430-31)

LESSONS FROM SCRIPTURE

My point is not that Christians should remain totally uninvolved in politics or civic activities and causes. They ought to express their political beliefs in the voting booth, and it is appropriate to support legitimate measures designed to correct a glaring social or political wrong. Complete noninvolvement would be contrary to what God’s Word says about doing good in society: “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10; cf. Titus 3:1-2). It would also display a lack of gratitude for whatever amount of religious freedom the government allows us to enjoy. Furthermore, such pious apathy toward government and politics would reveal a lack of appreciation for the many appropriate legal remedies believers in democracies have for maintaining or improving the civil order. A certain amount of healthy and balanced concern with current trends in government and the community is acceptable, as long as we realize that that interest is not vital to our spiritual growth, our righteous testimony, or the advancement of the kingdom of Christ. Above all, the believer’s political involvement should never displace the priority of preaching and teaching the gospel.

There is certainly no prohibition on believers being directly involved in government as civil servants, as some notable examples in the Old and New Testaments illustrate. Joseph in Egypt and Daniel in Babylon are two excellent models of servants God used in top governmental positions to further His kingdom. The centurion’s servant (Matt. 8:5-13), Zaccheus the tax collector (Luke 19:1-10), and Cornelius the centurion (Acts 10) all continued in public service even after they experienced the healing or saving power of Christ. (As far as we know, the Roman proconsul Sergius Paulus also remained in office after he was converted [Acts 13:4-12].)

The issue again is one of priority. The greatest temporal good we can accomplish through political involvement cannot compare to what the Lord can accomplish through us in the eternal work of His kingdom. Just as God called ancient Israel (Ex. 19:6), He has called the church to be a kingdom of priests, not a kingdom of political activists. The apostle Peter instructs us, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9).

Jesus, as we would expect, perfectly maintained His Father’s perspective on these matters even though He lived in a society that was every bit as pagan and corrupt as today’s culture. In many ways it was much worse than any of us in Western nations has ever faced. Cruel tyrants and dictators ruled throughout the region, the institution of slavery was firmly entrenched—everything was the antithesis of democracy. King Herod, the Idumean vassal of Rome who ruled Samaria and Judea, epitomized the godless kind of autocratic rule: “Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men [concerning the whereabouts of the baby Jesus], was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under” (Matt. 2:16).

Few of us have experienced the sort of economic and legal oppression that the Romans applied to the Jews of Jesus’ day. Tax rates were exorbitant and additional government-sanctioned abuses by the tax collectors exacerbated the financial burden on the people. The Jews in Palestine were afforded almost no civil rights and were treated as an underprivileged minority that could not make an appeal against legal injustices. As a result, some Jews were in constant outward rebellion against Rome.

Fanatical nationalists, known as Zealots, ignored their tax obligations and violently opposed the government. They believed that even recognizing a Gentile ruler was wrong (see Deuteronomy 17:15, “You may not set a foreigner over you, who is not your brother”). Many Zealots became assassins, performing acts of terrorism and violence against both the Romans and other Jews whom they viewed as traitors.

It is also true that the Roman social system was built on slavery. The reality of serious abuses of slaves is part of the historical record. Yet neither Jesus nor any of the apostles attempted to abolish slavery. Instead, they commanded slaves to be obedient and used slavery as a metaphor for believers who were to submit to their Lord and Master.

Jesus’ earthly ministry took place right in the midst of that difficult social and political atmosphere. Many of His followers, including the Twelve, to varying degrees expected Him to free them from Rome’s oppressive rule. But our Lord did not come as a political deliverer or social reformer. He never issued a call for such changes, even by peaceful means. Unlike many late twentieth-century evangelicals, Jesus did not rally supporters to some grandiose attempt to “capture the culture” for biblical morality or greater political and religious freedoms.

Christ, however, was not devoid of care and concern for the daily pain and hardships people endured in their personal lives. The Gospels record His great empathy and compassion for sinners. He applied those attitudes in a tangible, practical way by healing thousands of people of every kind of disease and affliction, often at great personal sacrifice to Himself.

Still, as beneficial and appreciated as His ministry to others’ physical needs was, it was not Jesus’ first priority. His divine calling was to speak to the hearts and souls of individual men and women. He proclaimed the good news of redemption that could reconcile them to the Father and grant them eternal life. That message far surpasses any agenda for political, social, or economic reform that can preoccupy us. Christ did not come to promote some new social agenda or establish a new moral order. He did come to establish a new spiritual order, the body of believers from throughout the ages that constitutes His church. He did not come to earth to make the old creation moral through social and governmental reform, but to make new creatures holy through the saving power of the gospel and the transforming work of the Holy Spirit. And our Lord and Savior has commanded us to continue His ministry, with His supreme priorities in view, with the goal that we might advance His kingdom: “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:18-20).

In the truest sense, the moral, social, and political state of a people is irrelevant to the advance of the gospel. Jesus said that His kingdom was not of this world (John 18:36).

THE REAL BATTLE

We can’t protect or expand the cause of Christ by human political and social activism, no matter how great or sincere the efforts. Ours is a spiritual battle waged against worldly ideologies and dogmas arrayed against God, and we achieve victory over them only with the weapon of Scripture. The apostle Paul writes: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:3-5).

We must reject all that is ungodly and false and never compromise God’s standards of righteousness. We can do that in part by desiring the improvement of society’s moral standards and by approving of measures that would conform government more toward righteousness. We do grieve over the rampant indecency, vulgarity, lack of courtesy and respect for others, deceitfulness, self-indulgent materialism, and violence that is corroding society. But in our efforts to support what is good and wholesome, reject what is evil and corrupt, and make a profoundly positive impact on our culture, we must use God’s methods and maintain scriptural priorities.

God is not calling us to wage a culture war that would seek to transform our countries into “Christian nations.” To devote all, or even most, of our time, energy, money, and strategy to putting a façade of morality on the world or over our governmental and political institutions is to badly misunderstand our roles as Christians in a spiritually lost world.

God has above all else called the church to bring sinful people to salvation through Jesus Christ. Even as the apostle Paul described his mission to unbelievers, so it is the primary task of all Christians to reach out to the lost “to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me [Christ]” (Acts 26:18; cf. Ex. 19:6; 1 Pet. 2:5, 9). If we do not evangelize the lost and make disciples of new converts, nothing else we do for people—no matter how beneficial it seems—is of any eternal consequence. Whether a person is an atheist or a theist, a criminal or a model citizen, sexually promiscuous and perverse or strictly moral and virtuous, a greedy materialist or a gracious philanthropist—if he does not have a saving relationship to Christ, he is going to hell. It makes no difference if an unsaved person is for or against abortion, a political liberal or a conservative, a prostitute or a police officer, he will spend eternity apart from God unless he repents and believes the gospel.

When the church takes a stance that emphasizes political activism and social moralizing, it always diverts energy and resources away from evangelization. Such an antagonistic position toward the established secular culture invariably leads believers to feel hostile not only to unsaved government leaders with whom they disagree, but also antagonistic toward the unsaved residents of that culture—neighbors and fellow citizens they ought to love, pray for, and share the gospel with. To me it is unthinkable that we become enemies of the very people we seek to win to Christ, our potential brothers and sisters in the Lord.

Author John Seel pens words that apply in principle to Christians everywhere and summarize well the believer’s perspective on political involvement:

A politicized faith not only blurs our priorities, but weakens our loyalties. Our primary citizenship is not on earth but in heaven. … Though few evangelicals would deny this truth in theory, the language of our spiritual citizenship frequently gets wrapped in the red, white and blue. Rather than acting as resident aliens of a heavenly kingdom, too often we sound [and act] like resident apologists for a Christian America. … Unless we reject the false reliance on the illusion of Christian America, evangelicalism will continue to distort the gospel and thwart a genuine biblical identity…..

American evangelicalism is now covered by layers and layers of historically shaped attitudes that obscure our original biblical core. (The Evangelical Pulpit [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1993], 106-7)

By means of faithful preaching and godly living, believers are to be the conscience of whatever nation they reside in. You can confront the culture not with the political and social activism of man’s wisdom, but with the spiritual power of God’s Word. Using temporal methods to promote legislative and judicial change, and resorting to external efforts of lobbying and intimidation to achieve some sort of “Christian morality” in society is not our calling—and has no eternal value. Only the gospel rescues sinners from sin, death, and hell.

HT: Pulpit Magazine

Will Christianity be Driven Back into the Catacombs?

By Devin Foley, The Charlemagne Institute – Intellectual Takeout

Despite popular opinion, it must be acknowledged that America and the West were once culturally Christian. That doesn’t mean that the government was absolutely Christian, but rather that cultural values were most often shaped by Christian ethics and metaphysics, and that they even shaped the laws of the land. 

Our national holidays have always been around Christian holidays or, in the case of Thanksgiving, a new holiday designated as a time to thank God for our blessings and to pray for the country. Many of our streets, towns, and cities, such as St. Paul, MN or Providence, RI, recall Christian ideas or people. The United States Supreme Court still has the Ten Commandments on its facade. The Washington Monument? It has “Laus Deo” or “Praise be to God” inscribed at its very pinnacle. And that doesn’t begin to touch the number of court cases or government documents that reference or even rely upon Christian ethics for decisions, let alone the number of towns across America that still have Bible verses inscribed in the marble or granite of government buildings and public places.

Only recently have we as a culture and a society turned firmly against Christianity. The Great Apostasy had already begun before the 1960s, but it was that decade that really brought about the rapid decline of Christianity as not only an inspiration, but also as an ethos that shaped our culture and government. Today, of course, Christianity has largely been banished from the Public Square.

Those who still count themselves as devout Christians have shrunk dramatically. They also find that as the dominant secular culture makes its mark on government and civil law, that Christians are often losing the fight. It’s probably safe to say that many devout Christians feel themselves pushed to the fringes of society by a cultural elite who often want nothing to do with Christians or their religion.

Many decades ago, Christopher Dawson, a noted historian, wrote about the changes he foresaw in Christianity and European Culture and his expectation that Christians will find themselves retreating further and further away from today’s secular culture.

…the general study of Christian culture is ignored both in university curricula and by educated opinion at large. Until this has been changed, the secularization of modern civilization will go on unchecked.

Some Christians recognize what’s happening and have raised the idea of “The Benedict Option”, which they model off of St. Benedict’s retreat from society in 529 A.D. and his establishment of a network of monasteries as well as what would become the Order of St. Benedict for monks. These modern, Benedictines believe the best course of action is to retreat from secular society and develop small, Christian communities that would be self-reliant for the most part.

Fascinatingly, Dawson recognized the desire to retreat as a pattern of potential thought when he was writing seventy or eighty years ago:

…there is a kind of Catholic Puritanism which separates itself as far as possible from secular culture and adopts an attitude of withdrawal and intransigency. Now this attitude of withdrawal is perfectly justified on Catholic principles. It is the spirit of the Fathers of the Desert and of the martyrs and confessors of the primitive church. But it means that Christianity must become an underground movement and that the only place for Christian life and for Christian culture is in the desert and the catacombs.

Unfortunately, while Dawson saw the retreat to the catacombs as likely, he questions whether or not Christianity can survive even there. Why? Because of the power, reach, and expectations of the modern, secular state.

Under modern conditions, however, it may be questioned if such a withdrawal is possible. Today the desert no longer exists and the modern state exerts no less authority underground in the subway and the air raid shelter than it does on the earth and in the air. The totalitarian state — and perhaps the modern state in general — is not satisfied with passive obedience; it demands full co-operation from the cradle to the grave.

Consequently the challenge of secularism must be met on the cultural level, if it is to be met at all; and if Christians cannot assert their right to exist in the sphere of higher education, they will eventually be pushed not only out of modern culture but out of physical existence.

When we think about the power of the modern state to coerce individuals to submit, we must recognize that it is very real. Whatever set of values the state wants you to follow, the state is increasingly forcing people to do so. 

Now, a variety of individuals from all political stripes will likely argue that secular activists are freeing people from the thumb of religious and patriarchal laws. In a way, that is true. But it is also true that in doing so, the thumb of power is now coming down on Christians. And that is a result of the fact that all government action is a representation of cultural values. There is no such thing as a “values-neutral” government. Even a secular government is upholding and enforcing a set of values.

If cultural values are inherently Christian during a certain period of time, then the government of that time will reflect those beliefs. During such an era Christians will find themselves quite content and largely at peace with the government. Non-Christians, though, may see the way of life that they would like to lead quite impeded. They would then likely press for a cultural revolution that leads to a revolution in government and laws. 

Again though, it’s important to remember that such a secular state as many Americans are building today is not values-neutral. It has values, beliefs, and an ethos. Those values can be seen in the arts, entertainment, education, leisure, celebrations, customs, and, especially, government and laws. Those who share the values of the secular society will likely consider themselves quite free while now it is Christians who will find themselves very much oppressed.

Put simply, government action represents a set of values. If you agree with those values, you will likely not be troubled by government action because it follows your line of thinking. On the other hand, if you do not share the values that drive government action, then you will likely find a lot of government action to be quite oppressive.

At this time in our history, it is probably safe to say that the secular culture is still gaining momentum. It is only just starting to change significant laws and to act in ways that are threatening to many devout Christians. Soon we will probably see battles over the non-profit status of churches that refuse to allow gay marriages. We will also see battles over the non-profit status and licensure of private schools that refuse to comply with various transgender or curriculum requirements developed by the state. Churches will be taxed and Christians likely will find their economic opportunities shrinking if the trends continue. And it probably will be hard for secularized Americans to understand why Christians feel oppressed and why they aren’t happy with the changes in culture and government.   

In light of Christopher Dawson’s foresight and the speed at which our culture is moving from one heavily influenced by Christianity to one that is often hostile to Christianity and organized religion, it is a safe bet that Christianity figuratively will be driven back into the catacombs. It also may happen faster than anyone would expect — much like the speed at which our culture is changing. What happens after that, though, is anyone’s guess.

Devin Foley

Devin is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Charlemagne Institute, which operates Intellectual Takeout, Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, and the Alcuin Internship. He is a graduate of Hillsdale College where he studied history and political science. Prior to co-founding Charlemagne Institute, he served as the Director of Development at the Center of the American Experiment, a state-based think tank in Minnesota.

How’s YOUR Hearing?

“The Parable of the Sower; why did the Lord Jesus give us that parable? Why, but to stir me up to serious inquiry and diligent examination so as to discover which kind of a “hearer” I am. In that parable, Christ likened those who hear the Word unto various sorts of ground upon which seeds fall. He divided them into four different classes. Three out of the four brought no fruit to perfection. That is exceedingly solemn and searching. In one case the Devil catches away the good seed out of the heart (Luke 8:12). In another case, they “for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away” (Luke 8:13). In another case, they are “choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life” (Luke 8:14). Are you, my reader, described in one of these? Do not ignore this question. We beg you: face it honestly, and make sure which of the various soils represent your heart.

But there are some “good ground” hearers. And how are they to be identified? What did the infallible Son of God say of them? How did He describe them? Did He say, “that on the good ground are they who rest on the Word of God and doubt not His promises: are thoroughly persuaded they are saved, and yet go on living the same kind of life as previously”? No. He did not. Instead, He declared, “But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the Word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience” (Luke 8:15).

Ah, dear readers, the test is fruit: not knowledge, not boasting, not orthodoxy, not joy, but FRUIT: and such “fruit” as mere nature cannot produce. It is the fruit of the Vine, namely, likeness to Christ, being conformed to His Image. May the Holy Spirit search each one of us.”

~ Arthur Pink, “The Doctrine of Assurance”

So, How’s YOUR hearing? How’s MINE?

The Good News About God’s Wrath

by Cameron Buettel, Friday, September 18, 2020

Ray Comfort once told me that sinners seek after God in the same way a thief seeks after a policeman. That’s a colorful way of describing the fallen human condition, but it’s also biblically accurate. The apostle Paul put it succinctly: “There is none who seeks for God” (Romans 3:11). John MacArthur expands on this biblical truth in his Romans commentary:    

Men are not naturally inclined to seek God. That truth was proved conclusively in the earthly ministry of Christ. Even when face-to-face with God incarnate, the Light of the world, “men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed” (John 3:19–20). As David had proclaimed hundreds of years earlier, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; there is no one who does good” (Psalm 14:1). Sinful men oppose the idea of a holy God because they innately realize that such a God would hold them accountable for the sins they love and do not want to relinquish.

Every person, no matter how isolated from God’s written Word or the clear proclamation of His gospel, has enough divine truth evident both within and around him (Romans 1:19–20) to enable him to know and be reconciled to God if his desire is genuine. It is because men refuse to respond to that evidence that they are under God’s wrath and condemnation. “This is the judgment,” Jesus said, “that . . . men loved the darkness rather than the Light” (John 3:19). Thus “God is angry with the wicked every day” (Psalm 7:11, KJV). [1]

Due to our dire sinful predicament, we actually need God to seek us—and He begins that work by alerting us to impending danger. We should heed the words of John the Baptist, who warned his hearers to “flee from the wrath to come” (Luke 3:7). God’s wrath is integral in awakening us to our greatest problem—but it also points us to God’s solution to that problem.

Satisfying God’s Wrath

Paul’s great gospel discourse begins with the revelation of God’s wrath in Romans 1:18. And it climaxes two chapters later with the propitiation of God’s wrath.

But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:21–26, emphasis added)

For the sake of our current theme, I want to zero in on three crucial theological points from this passage concerning God’s wrath. First, that we are all guilty “for all have sinned” (Romans 3:23), and therefore deserve God’s wrath. Second, we can be “justified”—gain a righteous legal standing before God and no longer be under His wrath—by grace through Christ’s redemptive work (Romans 3:24). And third, God can justify sinners (without compromising His justice) because Christ has now satisfied God’s wrath—being “displayed publically as a propitiation”—as a substitute for His people. As John MacArthur explains, reconciliation between God and man hinges on Christ propitiating—or satisfying—God’s righteous wrath against sinners:

Romans 3:25, 1 John 4:10 and 1 John 2:2 all say that Christ made propitiation for our sins, meaning that His sacrifice on the cross satisfied God. The offering of Christ was sufficient to placate God’s wrath against sin and fulfill all the holy demands of His perfect justice. God could not be satisfied with us until His own Son’s sacrifice fully paid the price of our sin. He could not take us into His family until His bought our forgiveness.

How do we know God was satisfied? Because He raised Christ from the dead, took Him into glory, and seated Him at His own right hand (Hebrews 1:3).

When we talk about being saved, when we talk about being delivered, it’s important to know what we are being saved from. We are delivered from our own sin, of course. We are saved from an eternity in hell. But those things are possible only because God Himself safeguards us from His judgment, through the sacrifice of His only begotten Son. [2]

Ultimately, God saves sinners from Himself—from the judgment that His justice demands. That’s why the gospel of Christ is robbed of its true meaning without the essential component of God’s wrath. It affirms God’s justice. It necessitates a Savior. And it explains the cross. We provoked God’s wrath by our sin, and Christ satisfied it by His substitutionary atonement. That’s what makes the good news actually good news.

When preachers ignore—or even deny—the doctrine of God’s wrath, the repercussions are devastating. Their god becomes a vain idol who is indifferent to evil. The perpetrators become the victims. Their savior doesn’t really save us from anything. And their cross becomes a tragic death—not a triumphant victory.

We cannot afford to live in ignorance of this glorious doctrine. It must be affirmed. It must be proclaimed. And it must be embraced as the truth that necessitated our glorious Savior. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him” (Romans 5:8–9).

___________

[1] John MacArthur, The Gospel According to Paul (Nashville, TN: Nelson Books 2017) 162

[2] John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary : Romans 1-8 (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 1991), 67-68

The Cry for Revival – Robert Murray M’Cheyne

The Battle Cry

“Wilt thou not revive us again, that thy people may rejoice in thee?” Psalm 85:6.

It is interesting to notice the time when this prayer was offered. It was a time of mercy. “Lord, thou hast been favorable unto thy land.” It was a time when God had led many to the knowledge of Christ, and covered many sins. “Thou has forgotten the iniquity of thy people.” It was now they began to feel their need of another visit of mercy — “Wilt thou not revive us again?”

The thing prayed for. “Revive us again,” or literally, return and make us live anew. It is the prayer of those who have received some life, but feel their need of more. They had been made alive by the Holy Spirit. They felt the sweetness and excellence of this new, hidden, divine life. They pant for more — “Wilt thou not revive…

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“O Sacred “Neck” Now Wounded” ?????????

The above is not just another messed up classic hymn. stripped of it’s rich theology. It’s far worse, in my opinion. I’ll let you be the judge:

“O Sacred Neck Now Wounded”

Featuring Jon Guerra & Matt Maher

[Verse 1]
O, Sacred Neck, now wounded
Pressed down by blows and knees
This son of God surrounded
By silent enemies
Will no one stop and listen?
Will no one rise and speak
Of violence and oppression
Which hanged You from that tree?

O, Sacred Head, discounted
Lies crowned in locks and sweat
See thorns and curls now found
In Your weeping mother’s hands
O, sun-kissed King of glory
What honor once was yours
Yet now despised and gory
Our still and lifeless Lord

[Chorus]
O, man of sorrows, beaten down
Our brother’s blood cries from the ground
You bore our sin, we turned our eyes
From You, the Lamb of God

[Verse 3]
O, Sacred Body, wounded
Now breathless in the street
Your people here press onward
To be Your hands and feet
Your mouth to speak your justice
Your heartbeat for the poor
Your life, it flows within us
To break down prison doors

[Chorus]
O, man of sorrows, beaten down
Our brother’s blood cries from the ground
You bore our sin, we turn our eyes
To You, the Lamb of God

I cannot, for the life of me, understand how a professing ‘Christian’ musician could be a part of this.

The Source of God’s Wrath

by John MacArthur,  (Adapted from The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Romans 1–8)

The wrath of God isn’t some mystical phenomenon. Nor is it limited to judgment events at the end of time. The Bible speaks of God’s wrath as a present and tangible reality coming down from heaven. That’s what the apostle Paul meant when he said that “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven” (Romans 1:18, emphasis added).

God’s wrath is rendered from “heaven.” Despite Satan’s present power as prince of the air and of this world, the earth is ultimately dominated by heaven, the throne of God, from which His wrath is constantly and dynamically manifested in the world of men.

Paul frequently speaks about the wrath, indicating a specific time or type of wrath. Although the NASB rendering does not indicate it, there is a definite article before “wrath” in Romans 3:5, which should read, “who inflicts the wrath.” It is a subject Paul continually makes reference to throughout his epistle to Rome. In chapter 5 he speaks of our being “saved from the wrath of God through” Christ (Romans 5:9). In chapter 12 he instructs those who are vengeful to “leave room for the wrath of God” (Romans 12:19). And in chapter 13 he reminds his readership to be in subjection to God “not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake” (Romans 13:5). Around five years earlier he assured the fearful Christians in Thessalonica that Jesus delivers them “from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:10).

Heaven reveals God’s wrath in two ways: through His moral order and through His personal intervention. When God made the world, He built in certain moral as well as physical laws that have since governed its operation. Just as a person falls to the ground when he jumps from a high building, so does he fall into God’s judgment when he deviates from God’s moral law. That is built-in wrath. When a person sins, there is a built-in consequence that inexorably works. In this sense God is not specifically intervening, but is letting the law of moral cause and effect work.

The second way in which God reveals His wrath from heaven is through His direct and personal intervention. He is not an impersonal cosmic force that set the universe in motion to run its own course. God’s wrath is executed exactly according to His divine will.

Several Hebrew words which convey a highly personal character are used in the Old Testament to describe God’s anger. Charah is used ninety-one times. It refers to becoming heated, to burning with fury, and is frequently used of God (see, e.g., Genesis 18:30). Charon is used forty-one times. It refers exclusively to divine anger and means “a burning, fierce wrath” (see, e.g., Exodus 15:7). Qatsaph, which means bitter, is used thirty-four times, most of which refer to God (see, e.g., Deuteronomy 1:34). The fourth term for wrath is chemah, which also refers to a venom or poison, is frequently associated with jealousy and is used most often of God (see, e.g., 2 Kings 22:13). David declared that “God is a righteous judge, and a God who has indignation every day” (Psalm 7:11). “Indignation” translates zaam, which means to foam at the mouth, and is used over twenty times in the Old Testament, often of God’s wrath.

Some people try to downplay God’s role in the wrath we see in Scripture by blaming the devil. But this is not a form of wrath that is satanic in origin. Whether it is cause and effect wrath or the personal fury of God being meted out, that wrath originates in heaven.

And we can find comfort—as well as fear—in that fact. We should flee God’s wrath in fear, but we can take comfort in the knowledge that our sovereign has provided a us with a certain means of escape—the Savior whom He also sent from heaven.

Jellyfish Christianity

by J. C. Ryle

evanjellyfish One plague of our age is this widespread dislike to distinct biblical doctrine. In the place of it, the idol of the day is a kind of jellyfish Christianity – a Christianity without bone, or muscle, or sinew, without any distinct teaching about the atonement or the work of the Spirit, or justification, or the way of peace with God – a vague, foggy, misty Christianity, of which the only watchwords seem to be, “You must be liberal and kind. You must condemn no man’s doctrinal views. You must consider everybody is right and nobody is wrong.”

And this creedless kind of religion, we are told, is to give us peace of conscience! And not to be satisfied with it in a sorrowful, dying world, is a proof that you are very narrow-minded! Satisfied, indeed! Such a religion might possibly do for unfallen angels! But to tell sinful, dying men and women, with the blood of our father Adam in our veins, to be satisfied with it, is an insult to common sense and a mockery of our distress. We need something far better than this. We need the blood of Christ.

Jellyfish Christianity epidemic

Dislike of dogma is an epidemic which is just now doing great harm, and specially among young people. It produces what I must venture to call a jellyfish Christianity in the land: that is, a Christianity without bone, or muscle, or power.

A jellyfish is a pretty and graceful object when it floats in the sea, contracting and expanding like a little, delicate, transparent umbrella. Yet the same jellyfish, when cast on the shore, is a mere helpless lump, without capacity for movement, self-defense, or self-preservation. Alas! It is a vivid type of much of the religion of this day, of which the leading principle is, “No dogma, no distinct tenets, no positive doctrine.”

We have hundreds of jellyfish clergymen, who seem not to have a single bone in their body of divinity. They have not definite opinions; they belong to no school or party; they are so afraid of “extreme views” that they have no views at all.

We have thousands of jellyfish sermons preached every year, sermons without an edge, or a point, or a corner, smooth as billiard balls, awakening no sinner, and edifying no saint.

We have Legions of jellyfish young men annually turned out from our Universities, armed with a few scraps of second-hand philosophy, who think it a mark of cleverness and intellect to have no decided opinions about anything in religion, and to be utterly unable to make up their minds as to what is Christian truth. They live apparently in a state of suspense, like Mohamet’s fabled coffin, hanging between heaven and earth and last.

Worst of all, we have myriads of jellyfish worshippers — respectable church-going people, who have no distinct and definite views about any point in theology. They cannot discern things that differ, any more than color-blind people can distinguish colors.

They think everybody is right and nobody wrong, everything is true and nothing is false, all sermons are good and none are bad, every clergyman is sound and no clergyman is unsound. They are “tossed to and fro, like children, by every wind of doctrine”; often carried away by any new excitement and sensational movement; ever ready for new things, because they have no firm grasp on the old; and utterly unable to “render a reason of the hope that is in them.”

Never was it so important for laymen to hold systematic views of truth, and for ordained ministers to enunciate dogma very clearly and distinctly in their teaching.

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Excerpt from JC Ryle, Principles for Churchmen

Charles Ryle (10 May 1816 – 10 June 1900) was an English evangelical Anglican bishop. He was the first Anglican bishop of Liverpool

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