Blog

Right but Wrong

Revelation 2:1–7 – 1 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands.

2 “ ‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. 3 I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. 4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. 6 Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’

The people of Ephesus were right. The people of Ephesus were wrong. These two things were true at the same time, but not in exactly the same way. And, if we pay attention, we will grasp that this danger is ours as well.

How were the Ephesians right in the days that Christ sent them a little note in the book of Revelation? We see a couple of significant positives. The Ephesians were hard workers (v2). They endured hardship and pressed on (v3). They knew enough of Scripture that they could test false teachers, find them wanting, and turn them away (v2). (.

In verse 6, we even see a particular commendation from the Savior. The Ephesians hated the works of the Nicolaitans. While we do not know much about the Nicolaitans, for sure, we see that they are false teachers and perhaps have some tie to the gnostic false teaching that says a Christian can do whatever he wants with his body, because only the spiritual matters. The Ephesians knew better than to give into whatever was the false teaching of the Nicolaitans, and Christ commends this.

Let’s be honest, there are Christians today who need the Ephesians’ Commitment to doctrine and Christian morality. And, thankfully, there are Christians who have the same sort of doctrinal passion. There are Christians who can spot false teachers, expose bad doctrine, and call out sinful practices. And make no mistake, such commitment and discernment is good.

But the Ephesians were also wrong. How? Christ says that they had forsaken their first love (v4). What is our first love to be? We are to love the Lord our God with everything we have (Mat. 22:37-38). In case you’re curious, our second love is to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mat. 22:39). It is a fair deduction to suggest that the Ephesians, though they had solid doctrine and high moral standards, somehow failed to love the Lord their God along the way. And this failure, if not corrected, would result in Christ removing that church from existence (v5).

Here is the question you must not miss. Could this happen to us? Is it possible for us to get our doctrine right and hold our morality high while we fail to love the Lord our God? If so, then we must guard against being right but being terribly wrong. We must guard against having only right doctrine and right practice without having a right heart.

Be careful here. I am not, and the Lord is certainly not, suggesting that we ought to ignore right doctrine or proper morality. Christ commended the Ephesians for championing godly morality based on solid, biblical doctrine. To let that go is deadly, sinful, and dishonoring to God. Never once think for one moment that you should stop studying, stop correcting false teaching, or stop calling people to God’s standard for Christian living.

But, and this is our danger, watch your heart in the process. There are some whose hearts grow colder and colder as they do the things that Christ commended in the Ephesians. Ask yourself, as you study, as you correct, as you endure, is your heart growing cold? Does your study make you love the Lord more? Does your protecting the doctrine in the church help you see Jesus as beautiful—not just intellectually appealing but actually heart-capturingly glorious? Do you have more anger in your heart for the way that some falsely handle Scripture than you have love for Jesus? Are you more often mad at the world around you than joyful over the gospel?

Never let go of biblical doctrine. Never let false teachers have their way. Never let yourself or other brothers and sisters in Christ embrace sinful practices. And, along with this, never let your heart get so full of anger over wrong that you forget to deeply love the Lord whose word you claim to defend. Never let your heart be fuller of anger at wrong than of amazement at God’s grace. Love the Lord first. Do not let your love fade. Right doctrine, if it is truly right doctrine, produces love of the Lord your God. Remember that and let it cause you to check your own heart so that you will not be right but wrong.

The Reverend Doctor Mudge Printing Mishap

Just a little story to brighten your day –

…A little over a hundred years ago the editor of an English newspaper opened a copy of his paper—after it was already for sale—only to find in it a most embarrassing, unintentional typographical conflation of two stories, one about a patented pig-killing and sausage-making machine, and the other about a gathering in honor of a local clergyman, the Reverend Doctor Mudge, at which he was presented with a gold-headed cane. A portion of it read as follows:

Several of Rev. Dr. Mudge’s friends called upon him yesterday, and after a conversation the unsuspecting pig was seized by the hind leg, and slid along a beam until he reached the hot-water tank. . . . Thereupon he came forward and said that there were times when the feelings overpowered one, and for that reason he would not attempt to do more than thank those around him for the manner in which such a huge animal was cut into fragments was simply astonishing. The doctor concluded his remarks, when the machine seized him and, in less time than it takes to write it, the pig was cut into fragments and worked up into a delicious sausage. The occasion will be long remembered by the doctor’s friends as one of the most delightful of their lives. The best pieces can be procured for tenpence a pound, and we are sure that those who have sat so long under his ministry will rejoice that he has been treated so handsomely.*

*Mark Dever, The Gospel and Personal Evangelism, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2007), 31-32.

Comfort in Tribulation

Revelation 7:13-17 – 13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

15 “Therefore they are before the throne of God,
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.
16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
the sun shall not strike them,
nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Let’s not argue about timelines and tribulations. But let’s not lose the glorious hope that is to be found for the believer in the book of Revelation. In this glorious book, God wants his church to know a few things that are spelled out beautifully, regardless of your best guess as to the future timeline.

Chapter 7 begins with God sending angels to hold back the four winds until God’s servants are sealed for his protection. A look at Revelation will show us that this seal does not protect God’s servants from the persecuting hatred of the evil on earth. But that seal is certainly a mark that shows that God’s children are not appointed to receive God’s wrath.

Another thing we see pretty easily in Revelation is that, though we are kept and cared for by God, believers may suffer hardship, torture, even death at the hands of evil men who hate God and oppose his church. This is no surprise. Jesus promised his disciples the very same thing. As followers of Jesus, we will see the glory of God and watch the church grow. As followers of Jesus, we will face the hatred of a world that rejected the perfect God-Man and will certainly reject us the more we point to Jesus.

But, and this is what grabs my attention this morning, Even if the world hates us, kills us, turns against us in every way, God never ever loses his own. Instead, if we are willing to follow Jesus and testify to his glory, even in the face of persecution, we see the reward. Jesus clothes us in white robes, comforts us for all the pains we have ever faced, and keeps us with him eternally.

Friends, we may face hardship in this life. If we love Jesus in the face of this world, we definitely will face hardship. But it is so worth it. The glory of Jesus is worth it. The reward of Christ’s comfort, shelter, and presence is worth it. Jesus will dry all our tears. He will give us a place to serve him forever. And this will delight our souls forever.

[end]

Pay Attention or Drift

Hebrews 2:1 – Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.

What do you do to stay strong in the faith? Several spiritual disciplines should come to mind. We read the Bible, pray, take part in gathered worship, memorize Scripture, study, read good books, fellowship, participate in Lord’s Supper, share the gospel, etc.

Think over the spiritual disciplines and consider just how many of them are summarized in the verse above. Pay attention, much closer attention, to what you have been taught in the word of God. As the author of the letter to the Hebrews warns his readers of a danger they face, we should be on notice. If we do not pay attention, close attention, even closer attention than we have done so far, we may be at risk of drifting away. In Hebrews, the danger was the drift away from true Christianity and back to forms of temple Judaism. For us, the danger is a drift into worldliness, sinfulness, compromise, and other such folly.

I’ll not try to make this clever, just honest. Failing to focus on the word of God leads to drifting away. Failing to gather with other Christians to sit under the word of God preached leads to drifting away. Failing to let the word you study go to your heart leads to drifting away. Reasoning first from your own logic instead of from the word of God and sound doctrine leads to drifting away.

Drifting is easy. Paying much closer attention is hard. But there is great joy and true reward in clinging to God’s word and doing what God says.

Thank God for the call in the verse above to pay much closer attention to what we have heard in his word. That call reminds me that, when I have drifted, or when I have begun to start the process of drifting, the Lord calls me back. The Lord welcomes his children’s repentance. The Lord is eager to renew our focus on and love for him and his word.

They Will be Shocked

1 Peter 4:3-5 – 3 For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. 4 With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you; 5 but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.

What should the church expect from the world? If you listen to some who promote many a modern church growth strategy, you will hear an expectation that the modern church can win the culture through our kindness. There appears to be a belief that the church, if she will only contribute to her community, will be beloved and treasured by civic leadership. The church that cleans up the city park, takes gift baskets to local teachers, and serves meals to families when tragedy strikes will be seen by the city as an indispensable part of the community. And, in fact, the church may be able to gain a better standing in the community and a greater hearing for the gospel for a time. Besides, doing good to all people is a right act of those who follow Jesus.

However, it is not true that the church will be able to stand strong and be beloved by the community perpetually. The word of God is clear that, as we stand on the word of God, as we follow the commands of our Lord, as we speak what the Savior commands and refuse to follow the ways of the world, we will face hardship. See what Peter wrote above. As Believers, we cannot join the lost world in certain acts that are immoral according to the word of God. But what will the world think of us when we refuse to join them? Will the world shrug it off and adopt a live and let live strategy? Nope. That has never been the way of the world.

When we refuse to join the world in affirming or participating in immorality, the world will have two reactions according to Peter. First, they will be surprised. When the world sees someone opposing what the world assumes that everybody knows or everybody does, there is a shock. How could we not go where they go? How could we not do what they do? How can we not join them in affirming and even celebrating their actions? Even worse, how can we call it immoral? You see, as the world embraces sin, the world embraces a mindset that declares that everybody knows that what the world is doing is right. There is a cultural mindset that is adopted that says that every right-thinking person embraces this lifestyle or that agenda.

Second, surprise will move to censure. Peter says that they will malign you. When the world sees the church refuse to embrace something the world loves, eventually the world will move against the church. The world will move from a false tolerance to surprise to ridicule to persecution. The world hated Jesus. Jesus says that the world will hate those who follow him too.

The church needs to gain an understanding that no amount of social improvement strategies will ever win the church the approval of the world. The church may engage in ten positive, community-impacting strategies that are all for the good. But the moment that the church stands against one of the world’s sacred cows, the world will respond first with shock and then with maligning. Again, this is not to say that the church should not do good in the community. Doing good honors Jesus. But we should not expect that our doing of good will persuade society to embrace a church that will not go with society into sin.

Is our mission hopeless? No, not at all. God will grow his church. Christ will see his glory spread all over the globe. All God intends to save will be saved. The church’s mission includes making disciples of all nations. Christ will not fail in his mission. He has never failed once in a single thing that he ever set out to do in the past, and this will not change in the future.

Peter also reminds us in verse 5 that the Lord will judge sin and reign supreme. Peter writes, “but they will give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead.” God will judge. God will do justice. We need not fear. Yes, we may suffer in this life. We may be ridiculed, maligned, and persecuted. And we will also see the church grow and the gospel spread all over the globe. We need not lose heart. The Lord will win his people. The Lord will judge those who oppose him and reject the gospel. Let us be faithful to obey the commands of God without giving in to the temptation to compromise for the world’s approval.

Doctrine Plus Mission: Proclaim a True Gospel

Galatians 1:6-9 – 6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.

We know this passage. It is sobering. It causes us to pay attention. We know that there is one gospel. We know that anyone preaching something other than the one gospel is in serious trouble.

When you think about the urgency and seriousness of this passage, I believe it should cause you to cling to two significant pillars: doctrine and mission. I also believe that, in many a discussion that I have read over the past couple of years, one or both of these is missing. May we be more careful.

In recent days, I have read many people telling other Christians to stop fussing about issues related to doctrine, secondary issues, side issues, tertiary issues. The assumption is that, among the basic group under the banner evangelical or perhaps under the banner of a denomination, everybody already agrees on the gospel and so there should be only focus on mission. So long as we all like the same teacher, sign the same doctrinal statement, or have the same name in our churches, there is no reason to roll up our sleeves and get down to the work of hashing out what is biblical in most issues. Just take the gospel to the world.

On the other hand, there are many other discussions I have read that are all issues. We draw lines in the sand. Are you on my side? If so, you are OK—for now. If not, you are a heretic, even if you agree with me on 99.9% of systematic theology. Perhaps we agree on every doctrine, but we disagree on implementation. It’s time to put you out of the camp.

What should we see from Galatians 1:6-9? First, doctrine matters, a lot. Get the gospel wrong, and it is a damnable offense. If any person suggests that there should be a unity of mission when there is a genuine disunity in significant doctrine, there is a problem. Yes, the gospel is simple. But the gospel is also doctrinally loaded. And we can easily distort the gospel when we also embrace false doctrines that surround it. We would be fools to think that only a basic agreement on the rudiments of the gospel is enough to say that we are doing what we should. Tell people to ignore theological differences on issues, even what you think are secondary issues, and you risk opening the door to them also misunderstanding the gospel or proclaiming a false one.

Second, there is a mission. The genuine gospel needs to be proclaimed. Thus, we cannot spend all our time and energy in polemics. Yes, that group over there may very well be wrong in how they try to accomplish this mission or how they explain that doctrine. Yes, it matters. But if your focus is primarily a focus that makes you angry at other Christians and their folly instead of being a focus that makes you love Jesus more and take his grace to the globe, something is wrong.

So, hear me, proclaim a true gospel. Make sure you know the gospel. Help others know it too. Know it matters. But do not focus so much on fixing others that you stop loving and proclaiming the gospel.

Jesus Judges

Revelation 7:15-17 – 15 Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, 16 calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”

God is holy. This is true of God the Father and of God the Son. Jesus, if he is not holy, is not God. While the Father is not the Son and the Son is not the Father, when it comes to the attributes of divine perfection, all that the Father is, the Son is also.

When we think of attributes of divine perfection, we think of things like merciful, gracious, and kind. We think of things like good, faithful, honest, unwavering. And, when we describe God, we understand that the Lord, in his holiness, is both full of love and perfectly just and full of holy wrath against the sin of humanity.

For some, the notion that Jesus would judge with the same wrath as God the Father is tough to understand. Unfortunately, there are those who have painted the Father and the Son as on opposite sides of the love and wrath continuum. This division of the character of the persons of the Godhead distorts our understanding both of the love of the Father and of the wrath of the Son.

How can we know that God the Father is loving? It is from his love that the Father entered into a covenant of redemption with the Son and Spirit to rescue from sin a people. Romans 5:8 tells us that God demonstrates his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. God the Father’s love is on display in the death of his only Son for sinners. The Father does not begrudgingly accept us because of the Son’s work. The Father actively sent his Son to rescue us.

Similarly, some fail to see the perfect just wrath of the Son against sin. But we see it quite clearly in Revelation 6. As John, inspired by God, paints a picture of the judgment of God on the rebellious and unrepentant, notice whose wrath is in view. The sinners who fear the judgment they can now not avoid cry out in terror of the wrath of God and of the Lamb. They know that the day of “their” wrath has come.

When God finally judges, Jesus is not an unwilling participant. No, just as the justice of the Father will be fully on display in the final judgment, so too will we see the perfect justice of the Son. Jesus hates sin just as much as God the Father hates sin. Jesus will judge just as perfectly, just as wrathfully, as God the Father.

Why paint this picture? How does it help? It is good not to misunderstand the Father. God is love. It is good not to misunderstand the Son, Jesus is a just judge as well as a gracious Savior. All that God is, Jesus is. All that God is, the Father is. All that God is, the Spirit is. Does God the Father hate and judge sin? So does Jesus. Does Jesus lovingly rescue a people by grace through faith? That is also the heart of God the Father.

It is also helpful for a Christian to see the wrath of the Son when you think of your own salvation. Jesus will judge. Jesus also knew exactly what he was doing when he went to the cross for your sin and mine. Jesus knew that he would bear a perfect, infinite wrath against your sin because that wrath is just as much his wrath as it is the Father’s. Yet Jesus, out of love for you, out of love for the Father, chose to willingly suffer that wrath that you might both be rescued and be a permanent reminder of God’s perfect love and mercy.

Finally, it is good for a non-Christian to see this. Jesus will judge. Do not dare let yourself think, just because Jesus is loving in Scripture, just because Jesus warned us against hypocritical judging, that Jesus will not judge you. Yes, Jesus offers you salvation. You can come to him and be forgiven if you will turn from your sin, bow to his lordship, and entrust your soul to him and his finished work. But, if you refuse this offer of mercy, you will suffer his wrath on the day of judgment, and that will be a wrath you cannot survive.

The Pastor as Counselor — A Review

David Powlison. The Pastor as Counselor: The Call for Soul Care. Wheaton: Crossway, 2021.

Every pastor should read David Powlison. I seldom say that every anything should read anyone. Powlison is special. Though this dear saint recently went home to be with his Lord, the strong yet sweet words of a gracious author, teacher, and counselor live on.

The Pastor as Counselor feels to me like a sweet farewell. Published posthumously, this brief work serves as a helpful reminder of what Powlison spent his life teaching. Pastors are called by God to minister the word to people in both public and private settings. Because we have the word of God and the Spirit of God, we have strength and power to draw upon in helping others that therapists often lack. And, because faithful pastors serve people from a place of established relationship rather than weekly appointments, we have opportunities to minister to the hearts of people in ways that others simply cannot match.

This book will not teach you biblical counseling. What it will do is give you a solid argument for why pastors should be counseling in their congregations as well as a solid explanation of the advantages of such counseling. This book from the close of Powlison’s ministry could be a sweet introduction for many to a man whose work is truly valuable to the people of God.

** I Received a free copy of this work in exchange for posting an honest review as part of a reviewers program. **

No Darkness at All

1 John 1:5 – This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

I’ve recently been reading through a lovely work on the holiness of God called Before the Throne by Allen Nelson. As the author reminds his readers of significant components of what it means that God is holy, readers are challenged to think of God as he has revealed himself, as the thrice holy God. And part of what it means that God is holy is that God is endlessly, uncompromisingly perfect.

Here in John’s first epistle, he gives us a simple image for what it means that God is perfect. God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. There is no shadow over God’s goodness. There is no hidden flaw. There is no missing piece. God is perfect, complete, utterly good, absolutely right.

Apply this. God is flawless. That means that all that God has ever done or ever commanded is right. Do you cringe at some of God’s laws? Be careful. God is without flaw, without the darkness or stain of sin. Thus, if anything God commands is offensive to you, the offense, the darkness, the stain of sin is in you and not in the act or command of God. Thus, we submit to Scripture knowing that it is inspired by a God who has no darkness at all in him.

Add to this the picture of how far short of absolute perfection we fall. God is 100% perfect. What is your percentage if left to yourself? Are you 50% good? Are you 80% good? Guess what, in comparison to 100% good, your best number is nothing. There is an infinite gap between my goodness and that of the Lord. He has no darkness at all. Any darkness in me is an insurmountable hurdle if God does not bridge the gap for me. This should make you love Jesus more the more you think of it. That God who is perfect would rescue you who are not, that is glorious and stunningly gracious.

God is good. God’s word is good. God’s ways are good. God’s standards are good. All these are perfect, because God is light with not a hint of darkness. All god has ever done is flawless. This is a God worthy of worship, worthy of gratitude, worthy of praise, worthy of angels singing, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord!”

Submission or Civil Disobedience

2 Peter 2:13-14 – 13 Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, 14 or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.

Romans 13:1-4 – 1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.

Acts 5:29 But Peter and the apostles answered, "We must obey God rather than men.”

Over the past year, I have heard more and thought more about a Christian response to government than in any prior time. After all, for the most part, Christians in America have lived with a solid amount of religious freedom and little fear of governmental persecution. But, with videos of arrested pastors in Canada and articles about fines and government strongarming in California so prominent this past year, we have to be sure that we know what we will do if, or perhaps more honestly, when the government again seeks to restrict Christian freedom in the United States.

As we discuss the issue of religious freedom, obedience to government, and civil disobedience, the three passages I listed above are front and center. In general, these passages are simple and simply applied. Christians, when all things are equal, when life is going normally, you are supposed to obey the government. God puts leaders in place. Those leaders have a God-given job to do, and you and I are supposed not to get in the way.

But not all things are equal. Not all governments are willing to do their jobs. And we must ask ourselves what we are to do in those settings.

In 1 Peter 2:13, we are called to submit to the government for the Lord’s sake. But what if the government is trying to prevent us from obeying the Lord’s commands? What if the government is leveling an attack on the Lord’s worship or against human beings, the Lord’s image? Do we submit for the Lord’s sake to an attack on the Lord’s glory? I cannot think so.

In verse 14, the Lord shows us exactly what the governing authorities are tasked to do. God raised up human government for this reason, “to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.” So long as the government is punishing the evil and praising the good, we are to follow their lead. But what do we do when the government punishes the good and praises the evil? In such a case, obedient submission cannot be the only option.

How about in Romans 13, the more often quoted passage? We see there that the very same principles are at work. In verse 3, Paul tells us that rulers are to be a terror to bad conduct, never for good conduct. In verse 3, we see that we should receive the government’s approval for good conduct. And, in verse 4, we see that the government has the authority given it by God to bear the sword, to exercise the greatest of punishments, against only the wrongdoer. But should we assume that we are also to submissively respect and obey a government that punishes the good and applauds the wrongdoer?

When, then, do we apply Acts 5:29? When do we refuse to follow the lead of rulers over us? In Acts 5, the apostles would not listen to any law against preaching Jesus, even though the authorities demanded they stop. Why? At that point, the authorities had demanded that the good not be done and that which opposes the Lord be allowed to stand. At that point, faithful followers of Jesus could not submit. Later in Acts, Paul also would not listen to authorities who tried to release him secretly from prison after publicly jailing him wrongly. In fact, Paul repeatedly defied authorities when those authorities tried to stop him from preaching the word when they did not want him to do so.

Christians, it is our job to think clearly and respond faithfully. We are to obey the government eagerly so long as the government is rewarding the good and punishing the evil. We are to oppose it when the government commands the rewarding of evil and the punishing of the good. When the government attempts to reach into areas where the Lord has not given it authority, we are not required to follow. Thus, when the government tries to tell us how to raise our children or when we may or may not sing, we are obligated to go against the rulers who are overreaching their God-given bounds.

I have no judgment for churches who followed their local regulations over the past year, even when those regulations hindered worship. Many of us were caught off guard. Many of us were not ready to know when to submit or when to respectfully disobey. Besides, many of us were dealing with vastly different sources of information and just did not know what was the most loving thing to do for our people. So, as I say, I am not judging anybody here.

What I am doing, however, is reminding you now, get ready. This is not the first time that the government has attempted to reach into the church, and it will not be the last. As you take off a mask and begin to breathe freely, remember that , for a season, the government told you this was not OK. They said that they were looking out for your safety. And, who knows, maybe they were telling us the truth. I’m not worried about that today. What I am thinking about is the next one.

Sometime soon, Christian, the government will have another thing that they will tell us is for our safety. Perhaps the government will say that you are not safe if you do not support their causes. Perhaps they will say that you are not safe if you do not applaud all they say that safe people applaud. Perhaps they will say that safe people do not say that the Bible is perfect, inerrant, and fully sufficient. Perhaps they will say that it is not safe to sing hymns and preach sermons that say that there is only one way to find salvation. Perhaps they will say that Christians who hold to a biblical view of modern issues are not safe for public health including public mental health. Perhaps they will say that those who do not embrace CRT or who do not bow to the LGBTQ+ agenda are not safe for public health.

Christian, do you have enough love for Jesus, enough steel in your spine, enough trust in the word of God to stand when the government comes to you and says that, for your own good and for the public safety, you have to stop following this or that command of the Lord? I’m not fearmongering. I’m telling you that this has been the pattern of the government throughout all of human history. Do not be surprised. Do not give in. Be ready. Obey when you can. Disobey when you must. But submit to Scripture and honor Jesus above all.