|Volume 17 Number 7 July 2015||
Louis Rushmore, Editor
That the words “Yet I have set My King On My holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: The Lord has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You’” (Psalms 2:6-7 NKJV) refer to Jesus Christ there can be no doubt since by inspiration the apostle Peter made that connection and the inspired penman Luke recorded it (Acts 13:33; cf. Hebrews 1:5; 5:5). Hence, Jesus Christ was prophesied to be King (Genesis 49:10; Isaiah 6:1-3; 9:6-7; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Daniel 7:13-14). He is called “the LORD of hosts, He is the King of glory” (Psalm 24:10). Gentiles and Jews alike were aware of King Jesus coming to earth (Matthew 2:2). Jesus of Nazareth declared Himself to be that prophesied King (Matthew 21:5; 27:11; John 12:15; 18:36-37).
Spiritually minded souls have always acknowledged the rightful place of King Jesus in their lives. “Nathanael answered and said to Him, ‘Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!’” (John 1:49; cf. 12:13). Jesus Christ is presently reigning as King, and He will continue in that role until the end of time (1 Corinthians 15:23-28). The apostle Paul attributed to Jesus the position of being “the King of kings” (1 Timothy 6:15); the apostle John did likewise (Revelation 1:5; 19:16). No earthly ruler surpasses Jesus Christ in authority (Matthew 28:18)!
Anyone in any age who possessed reverence for God exhibited an irrepressible compulsion to speak only in accordance with the revealed divine will. “And Balaam said to Balak, ‘Look, I have come to you! Now, have I any power at all to say anything? The word that God puts in my mouth, that I must speak’” (Numbers 22:38). “And Micaiah said, ‘As the Lord lives, whatever the Lord says to me, that I will speak’” (1 Kings 22:14). “But Peter and John answered and said to them, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard’” (Acts 4:19-20).
Furthermore, faithful children of God have always opted to obey God rather than to obey earthly rulers whenever God’s law and man’s law collided in conflict and contradiction. “By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king's command” (Hebrews 11:23). “But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: ‘We ought to obey God rather than men’” (Acts 5:29).
For many years, national laws have legalized activities deemed in Scripture to be sinful (e.g., alcoholic beverages and other recreational drugs, fornication, adultery, homosexuality, nudity, prostitution, gambling, abortion, etc., 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21). Drinking alcoholic beverages was softened to “social drinking.” Attempts to legitimize adultery led it to be styled as “marriage” as marriage-divorce and remarriage became commonplace. Homosexuality was dubbed as “an alternative lifestyle.” Hitherto, Bible-believers were not required to participate in the sinful activities that governments legalized, taxed and tried to regulate. Christians could remain aloof from obligatory involvement in government sanctioned sin.
With the state-by-state and now federal legal promotion of homosexuality, it is no longer the case that Bible-believers may sidestep the lawful endorsement especially of the sin of Sodom. Florists, bakers, caterers, ministers and generally businesses operated by people favorable to the Christian faith are expressly the targets for prosecution by homosexuals, lesbians and the judiciary in the USA. The active persecution of Christians in America has just begun, and unfortunately, it is only going to get worse.
What, then, ought the child of God do under worsening circumstances such as these? We will be faced with punitive financial ruination. We will be subjected to brainwashing, court-ordered sensitivity classes, reminiscent of the Chinese Cultural Revolution when vast numbers of people were the victims of public humiliation, imprisonment, harassment, seizure of property and displacement to reservations for social rehabilitation. Viewed as class enemies, we will experience purported reeducation similar in purpose to the Soviet Gulag (government collective labor camps or colonies). Should the Christian, therefore, voluntarily succumb to anti-biblical, anti-scriptural human laws to avoid suffering such unwarranted and hurtful persecution?
May we remind ourselves that Jesus Christ possesses “all authority… in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18). Jesus Christ is one of three persons of the Godhead (Matthew 28:19; Philippians 2:5-6). Hence, the faithful child of God must speak for God and for Jesus Christ similarly as did Baalim (Numbers 22:38), Micaiah (1 Kings 22:14) and the apostles of Christ (Acts 4:19-20).
Along with the apostle Peter, we must courageously determine “…to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). If necessary, we must be willing to be thrust into a fiery furnace as were Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-Nego (Daniel 3:20) or to be thrown into a den of lions as was Daniel (Daniel 6:16). It is unlikely today, of course, that fiery furnaces and dens of lions will be the tools of our tormentors, at least in western nations. Yet sadly, Christians are suffering already and will suffer even more in the near future by modern devices, even in western society – for no other reason than espousing biblical beliefs.
Ironically, Europeans emigrated from their continent to North America, as untamed and foreboding as it was, to escape religious persecution. The United States of America was established with provisions to guarantee the freedom of religion – not the freedom from religion. Now, however, the fundamentals on which this once greater country was founded are the object of ungodly as well as governmental forces to destroy them and all those who yet cherish them.
Nevertheless, King Jesus rules in the lives of Christians. Faithful children of God will not bow down to any earthly “king” or his henchmen to embrace legalized ungodliness and sinfulness, not even to avoid aggravated persecution by the collusion of fellowmen and the government. We will not a salute a flag of stars and rainbow stripes.
Christians are obligated to submit to governmental law to the extent that it does not conflict with the higher law of God (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-15). Further, we determine, “If it is possible… [to] live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18). Yet, we will not go along to get along when it comes to choosing between King Jesus and legitimized sin no matter if it is promoted by government.
Things may get worse before they get any better for the child of God in this era of politically correct debauchery. Christians may suffer horribly, but two things will occur that will ultimately produce a refined-in-the-fire Christianity. First, the ranks of those idly professing Christianity will be significantly culled. Second, true Christianity will flourish, as it always has historically in the face of severe persecution. The question remains for each of us who heartily hold to primitive and pure Christianity, namely, not what may happen to us, but rather how will we react to whatever persecution that may come our way (Matthew 10:32-33; 1 Corinthians 15:58; Revelation 2:10).
An Age-Old Problem!
Rodney Nulph, Associate Editor
During the days of Hosea, an age-old problem plagued the people, and it continues to loom still over the church and the land today! “Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land” (Hosea 4:1). Knowledge is priceless! The Word of God places special emphasis on knowledge. “Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold” (Proverbs 8:10). “…fools hate knowledge” (Proverbs 1:22b), but “Wise men lay up knowledge…” (Proverbs 10:14a; cf. Proverbs 1:5). God intended for knowledge to play a crucial role in the lives of His people. We are to abound in knowledge (2 Corinthians 8:7) and to “grow in knowledge” (2 Peter 3:18). Knowledge is one of the necessary “Christian graces” that must abound in our daily lives (2 Peter 1:5-9). God placed such a premium on knowledge that He told Israel of old He “desired knowledge of God more than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6). Knowledge is priceless!
If one doubts that the lack of knowledge is an age-old problem that still exists today, conduct a survey in the local congregation where you attend. Ask such questions as: “Can you prove on what day the church was established?”; “Who was the first Gentile convert, and where is the account found in Scripture?”; “Who accompanied Paul on his first missionary journey?” Possibly even sadder still is to ask many “seasoned” Christians to recite the books of the Bible, and see them stumble. Obviously, these are just a few random questions, but many others could be asked with similar results. With Bible ignorance prevailing in the church of our Lord as it does, each member should be trembling at our sure destruction (Hosea 4:6)!
The often recited phrase “ignorance is bliss” is a maxim of the devil! Throughout Holy Writ the curses of ignorance are clearly seen. Ignorance was one of the sins that crucified Jesus (Acts 3:17; 1 Corinthians 2:8). Ignorance isolates us from “the life of God” (Ephesians 4:18). Ignorance leads a person to “wrest” the Scriptures to destruction (2 Peter 3:16). Saddest of all, ignorance will cause a person to be eternally lost (Acts 17:30-31; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10)!
What can be done? Is all hope lost? Hope can be revived if two things take place. Firstly, we must do better individually! We must recognize our deficiency of knowing the Word of God. “And if any man think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know” (1 Corinthians 8:2). We must rededicate our desire in knowing the Word of God! “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6). Secondly, we must do better congregationally! Sadly, what often passes for Bible class is no more than a surface discussion group, where far too often a Bible text is not even dissected and explained. I have personally witnessed my children who were supposed to be in a Bible class, color an American flag, draw a snowman or some other “time taking” activity. Our Bible classes must be dynamic. Bible class comes as a result of preplanning and preparing passionate, Scripture-filled lessons that challenge each student, regardless of age, to grow, mature and want more. We have lived by the proverbial saying, “you can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink” far too long! As Bible class teachers, our motto should be to make the students thirsty! When a teacher is serious about the lesson, he or she can ignite a passion for learning. However, the opposite is true as well.
This article flows from a concerned heart. If things do not change in many congregations and homes, each generation will wax worse and worse – being filled with ignorance. May God hasten the day when “the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” (Habakkuk 2:14)! “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).