What To Do When Your Nation is Dying… 2 Corinthians 4.1-6

american-flag---tattered

The following is the manuscript of my sermon from Sunday, June 28, 2015:

In 22 years of ministry, this is only the 2nd time I have changed a scheduled message. The first time was following the events that took place on 9/11. That week changed the history of our nation and the world. I perceive that the events of this week will change our nation and the world in far more dramatic and fearful ways. My heart is compelled to address from my pulpit the spiritual calamity that has been thrust upon our nation this week. It is a pending disaster of our own making – but a disaster, nonetheless.

Everything changed this week. And yet, nothing really changed. Not yet. Though many of us were shocked, the sun rose this morning in America, despite the Supreme Court decisions handed down this week…

And yet, I have a gnawing and persistent feeling in my soul that our nation has now crossed a line and established a destination from which there can be no return. I believe that we have inexorably set ourselves on a course to abandon the presence, protection, and power of God Almighty without Whom we could have never come so far among the history and nations of the Earth. Such a path requires this Bible-believing American pastor to make clear the belief, distinction, and intention of his own ministry as well as that of the church God has given me to pastor.

First, let me say to our church members here at Redeemer that although we adopted a Constitution and Bylaws just last Sunday, we will vote to amend that Constitution to reflect the spiritual and legal position of our church concerning what the US Supreme Court has legally termed, “Homosexual Marriage.” In a Biblical economy (which is what we endeavor to create here at Redeemer) those two words are incongruous. The state has now annexed the right to authorize unions between whomsoever it chooses, but it is my absolute conviction that marriage is the gift and plan of God to and for humanity. Thus, God does not participate in unions that are clearly, unmistakably condemned in His inerrant Word, the Bible. True marriage takes place only between a man and a woman. I intend to lead this congregation to make and take a clear stand on that principle. Perhaps America can survive for some period of time without that distinction. But the Church will not survive for one minute if it abandons God’s Word and plan. Our constitution will reflect, in some wording, the following:

1) We will neither authorize nor recognize homosexual unions at Redeemer. 2) We will not participate in those unions, (3) nor will we allow those living in such unions to enlist in the membership of this congregation. (4) Our pastors and staff will minister with the support and expectation of the congregation that we will never participate in such a union, whether legal or not. And we will (5) state in our documents that we will not veer from our belief that marriage only takes place between ONE man and ONE woman.

I want to speak to you today on this Subject: What To Do When Your Nation is Dying”

2 Corinthians 4: 

Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart. 2 But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. 5 For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

Hear me today: It is not that I have decided to pull away from my weekly teaching of the Scripture in order to address the social issues of the day. Quite the opposite – I believe that the Scripture IS the social issue of the day, even if rejected by the culture at large.

In this text, Paul is encouraging and even chastising the believers within the early church to stand firm on the path to repentance that is based upon both TRUTH and MERCY. He speaks of ministry being our occupation, mercy being our motivation, truth being our inspiration, and the gospel being our vindication.

That early church was growing and thriving in an evil world – a world that couldn’t even perceive the truth of God, much less understand it. Two thousand years later, we find ourselves living in that same world. The early church at Corinth was weak in the faith because they didn’t know the principles of the Word of God. The American church is in precisely the same conundrum.

There are many today who believe we are now “POST-CHRISTIAN AMERICA.” I believe that AT BEST we have been post-Christian for decades now. And let me emphasize that NATIONS are not Christians. People are Christians. The idea that a nation could be Christian is a theological nightmare that dates back to Constantine in the year 312. It was a bad idea then, and it is a foolish sentiment now. Regardless of whether or not you agree with that premise, there can be little doubt that we now live in an America that has largely rejected the doctrines of Christianity and has consistently abandoned the underpinnings of the Biblical fabric upon which much of our national source documents were penned.

This week, God’s plan for the family didn’t haphazardly fall into a dusty ditch; It was willfully beaten, stabbed, choked, murdered, and left on the interstate for all to see its mangled carcass. This was no accident. It didn’t just happen while no one was watching. No sir. Years of personal abandonment of God’s Word and plan for humanity finally made its way from your house and my house to the White House and even into the hallowed halls of the highest court on Earth. They are to blame. We are to blame. I am to blame. And YOU are to blame. So, what do we do?

Paul tells us FIRST…….DON’T LOSE HEART, v2.  While the SCOTUS ruling this week proves that we as Christians are now legally in the minority, that does not mean we are alone. You are never alone when you stand for the Lord even if the whole world leaves you. Jesus will never forsake you when you stand for Him.

And it is wrong to think that we are at war with the 3.8% of American Homosexuals who sought this ruling. Jesus loves them. And He loved them enough to give His life to pay the ransom from their immorality. Paul reminds us in verse 2 that WE TOO had an old life of shame from which we walk in repentance. If Christ can save me, He can save anyone. It is the culture which has declared war upon us. That does not mean we have to retaliate. Rather, we are called to respond. Who gave us a better example of how to respond to hatred than the Lord Jesus?

God never promised any believer would have religious liberty. Historically, the gospel has flourished in times of persecution. As Americans, we are really the only people in history who HAVE had religious freedom in any real capacity. Those days are coming to a close, though and we should not lose heart even when all seems to be collapsing around us, spiritually.

Paul also reminds us to DON’T LOSE HOPE, v2. I believe that the real enemy of Christianity in America and around the world is the MEDIA. If you don’t believe that the media of this world is controlled by the evil one, you need your head examined. In Ephesians 2.2, Paul said, ““And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience.”

The argument of that passage and this one is that THE PROBLEM in our world is due to the fact that the GOSPEL is HIDDEN to those who are perishing without it. Why should we be surprised that LOST people act LOST?

The problem isn’t political. Our political leaders have become little more than street prostitutes who pander to whoever will pay them most. We don’t need more Republicans. Or Conservatives either, for that matter. Now, God knows I’ve never voted for a Democrat, haha. And if I need to turn LEFT, I just turn RIGHT twice. Politics aren’t the ANSWER to the problem. They are part of the CAUSE of it.

For some strange reason, we in the church expect that people will live by a gospel that they have rejected. They have rejected it because they don’t understand it. They don’t understand it because they don’t want to. They don’t want to because it doesn’t seem palatable to them. It isn’t palatable to them because their hearts are spiritually dead and because their conscience hasn’t been quickened. That’s where we bear some blame. Paul says that we are to “walk not in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.”

Don’t lose hope. God is in control. Are you worried that America will fall?

IT WILL. “The kingdoms of this world will become the Kingdom of Our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” (Revelation 11.11) 

Sometimes we get the idea that it is America against the rest of the world. That may be true, politically. But spiritually, here’s the truth: IT IS THE RULER OF THIS WORLD AGAINST THE RULER OF ETERNITY. And in the end, all humans will choose a side. Which side they choose will determine not only the course of their eternity, but also the direction of their path in life. The ruler gets to set the values. And so our dilemma. The ruler who is setting the values in America is the television. And your grandfather’s preacher told you to turn it off and open your Bible 50 years ago.

That is the biggest issue I have with the SCOTUS ruling as an American. In a democracy (or even our representative republic) the values are supposed to be set by the populace. Constitutionally, the states should have been free to allow the voters to debate this issue and decide it at the ballot box. That ability was literally STOLEN by five justices of an unimpeachable court. Their decision is the law of the land. Forever.

A ruling hierarchy has now replaced the electorate. I do not believe we shall ever return from this path. It is not the government which is corrupt. It is the men in government who are corrupt. Corrupted not by lack of education or intelligence, but by sin. Read v3-4 with me…….

It’s not that they are mean. They are blind. And now, in America, the blind are truly leading the blind. But don’t lose hope. The One we follow saw the end before He created the beginning. He will see us safely home!

1) Don’t lose heart. Christ died for the ungodly. That means He died for you and for me and for them. God’s throne hasn’t been moved one millimeter by the Supreme Court. Stand up for the truth of God’s Word and be counted a humble and faithful servant of Jesus during these difficult times. The trouble we are experiencing now is only a precursor to the true persecution that Christians will doubtless face in the future. Stand on truth. Walk in love.

2) Don’t lose hope. The revival America needs begins with you. And even if that revival never comes to America it can come to you. Don’t expect lost people to act saved. Only Christian people can have Christian values. Do what you can to share those values and to walk in repentance. Allow Jesus to deal with your own sin before you confront the world. Trust God to lead your life and then lead your family to follow Him with reckless abandon.

I believe there is a third truth in this passage that is especially relevant to our struggle today. Here it is: 3) DON’T LOSE HEAVEN, v4-6.

Paul makes it simple: The gospel is the glory of Christ. And Christ is the image of God. The heart of Christianity is in view here as we interpret these verses. The gospel (good news) is that there is Jesus. And the great news is that Jesus is God. The one who will ultimately judge this world is the very one who is totally willing to forgive this world!

Like many students of Scripture, I understand that homosexuality is not the end-it-all sin. It is yet another perversion of human sexuality that is on par with adultery, fornication, and pornography. It is always easy to bash someone who struggles with a sin that you don’t struggle with. We have done that well in the modern-day church. We have been quiet in the pulpit about adultery that is rampant in sight of the whole congregation all while seeking the “amens” that come with the whole “Adam-and-Eve-not-Adam-and-Steve” thing. May God forgive us. Perversion is perversion and God does not favor one brand over another. There are few innocent. In fact, I don’t know anyone who is.

The problem with what happened at the Supreme Court in America is not homosexuality. The problem is that our culture now has a legal mandate to NOT REPENT of immorality. Rather, we are to embrace it. The rights and convictions of the millions of religious people have been transformed legally into the unimportant embracing of a fairy tale. Our convictions cannot be held in public life to any measurable standard. And this Supreme Court decision will allow for the rapid acceleration of America’s moral degeneration. We will legally redefine all sin. Oh, I know it doesn’t seem that way. Yet.

But if you think that the media and the gay community will stop with this “win” then you are insane. They will now do everything possible to silence any dissent toward that lifestyle. The Christian worldview will be henceforth cast aside at almost every opportunity as “outdated, hateful, bigotry” that impedes the “progress” (President Obama’s word to describe the ruling) of “normal” American life. AND THE SUPREME COURT RULING HAS NOW MADE THAT LEGAL. No longer will states and voters be able to determine the course of the nation. Now, those in power will make those determinations for us. And those in power will be chosen by those whom Paul says have been “blinded by the god of this age.” 

Repentance has now been buried in a shallow grave on American soil. There is no need to repent of anything that is “right,” right?

The Word of God universally pronounces judgment on any nation that would reclassify evil as good, darkness as light, and bitter as sweet (see Isaiah 5:20). As a nation, America now resides squarely in the crosshairs of God’s judgment. I am horrified to think that His finger is on the trigger as I speak today.

So, now, let us come to the heart of the matter. And the heart of the matter is the matter of the heart.

Have you repented of your sin? As our culture has increased its velocity on the path to hell the church has sat by and said, “Believe, believe!” We have failed to share the other side of the coin of salvation. One side pleads with us to believe and the other side commands us to repent. You cannot do one without doing the other, spiritually!

It is easier to get to heaven from America than probably any place on earth. There are churches and preachers and Christians everywhere who can point the way. Americans are without excuse when it comes to the gospel. You have to reject the gospel here in order to free yourself from its influence. And yet it is also easier to go to hell from America than perhaps any place on earth. And it gets easier every day.

Today in America, God has been relegated to the position of “senile old grandfather” who watched as the universe sprang into existence on its own and who has no real clue what’s going on. He changed his mind on moral issues back in the 20th century and wants you to figure it out on your own and He’s really pulling for you along the way. In fact, He wants you to be rich and happy on your journey. Try to work Him in if you can and He will bless you. And God bless America. And. All. That. Nonsense.

No sir. No ma’am. The God of Christianity is The Almighty. He is Holy. He is Immutable. He is not pleading for your heart. He is demanding your unconditional surrender. Whatever is surrendered to Him will alone be saved from this world. All else will be consigned to an eternal burning garbage dump in a never-ending hole in all-consuming darkness.

Don’t miss heaven thinking you are part of a Christian nation. You never were and you never will be. Nations don’t believe and repent. People do. God requires men everywhere to repent and surrender to Him. Nothing more, nothing less, and nothing else. With that surrender to Him, HE will transform your life and set you free from your painful past and poisonous perversion.

Thousands of years ago, God set a rainbow in the sky to remind Himself to withhold His anger and also to show a man and his family that He had been merciful to them when He poured His wrath upon the earth. It is shameful to admit what people in our nation think nowadays when we see a rainbow. What used to be a symbol of mercy is now a symbol of abomination and mockery. But God will not be mocked forever. Especially not by a nation full of spoiled brats and punks who have been loved and protected like no other people in history. He will deal with us. And we may well never hear the shot that killed us.

When you go home today, open Google maps and do a search for “Sodom and Gomorrah.” You will find pictures of a seaside with two unmistakable areas of scorched earth with a sodium content that makes the ground there uninhabitable forever.

THAT is what God thinks of immorality. THAT is how God responds to people who mock Him and His Word. THAT is what happens to a nation that rebels against Him. THAT is what happens to people who are so delusional that they can no longer repent.

The Bible says TODAY is the day of salvation. That means TODAY is the day of repentance. And we are the people. And this is the place. And now is the time.

May God save America. Only He can. 

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