Anatomy of Apostasy

“For the LORD brought Judah low because of Ahaz king of Israel; for he made Judah naked, and transgressed sore against the LORD.” (2 Chr. 28:19).

King Ahaz appeared to be a great solution to Judah’s problems. In the end he would be a nightmare. When we read the Bible we see these men as monsters with blood dripping from their fangs.  This is not true. He appeared to be a leader much like any politician appeared to be, with new ideas promoting the history of Israel as a nation, the need for economic recovery and bi-partisan leadership.  I am sure that the nation of Judah thought at first that it was about time that an open-minded, tolerant and progressive King ruled the land. Evil is not always so dramatic at first, in fact it seems so practical. Yet shrouded beneath this veneer God sees the heart and what he sees disgusts him, thus we see his record in the scriptures.

When Ahaz first began to reign, he reimagined and reinvented the worship of God by placing idols in God’s temple (1 Kings 16).  He did not completely replace the LORD with false gods; he just placed other gods side by side with Yahweh. This is called pluralism today, but we used to call it polytheism. It is an ideology that promotes coexistence of all religious paths as equally valid. The Bible describes people today in this horrible state,“A spirit of prostitution leads them astray; they are unfaithful to their God.” (Hosea 4:12NIV). It is idolatry.

I thank God for the internet; it can promote biblical teaching and evangelism but it is clear that this philosophy has saturated our culture and all the religions once separated by continents are now available via the world-wide web. It has created confusion and has become a snare and a trap to people worldwide. There is so much religious noise, offering many ways to God and salvation. Christians cannot compromise. The Bible is clear: there is only one God (the Trinity) and one Holy Book (The Bible) and one way to Salvation (Jesus Christ). There is no other way, no other God. Yahweh is jealous he will accept no rivals. He decimates the competition for they are dead idols invented by the imaginations of men. It was no surprise that King Ahaz ended up shutting down all the worship of Yahweh because it is incompatible with idolatry (2 Chr 28: 24-25). He cut himself off from the salvation of God by closing the doors to God’s house.

Ahaz worshipped idols that involved the worst kinds of practices and lifestyle imaginable. He sacrificed his sons by burning them alive in offering to the false god Moloch or Molech. “The image of Moloch was a human figure with a bull’s head and outstretched arms, ready to receive the children destined for sacrifice. The image of metal was heated red-hot by a fire kindled within, and the children were laid on its arms and rolled off into the fiery pit below. In order to drown the cries of the victims, flutes were played, and drums were beaten; and mothers stood by without tears or sobs, to give the impression of the voluntary character of the offering.” (Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor International Standard Bible Encyclopedia” 1915; Public Domain).

I am sure they had someway even then of justifying these gruesome murders. They wanted to make it clear to do this was the choice of the parents, it was acceptable in that culture and all the arguments they used-we use. It is horrifying how they could present this as so relevant or even political in their day.

This is what the Bible calls an abomination or a practice that is repulsive and disgusting to God. God says, “I will resolutely reject that man and his family, and him and all who join him in prostituting themselves in the rituals of the god Molech I will cut off from their people…” (Lev. 20:5-7NLT). We may not bow down to statues in our country, and we may be taken back by the practice of the Molech worshippers in the day of Ahaz, but  what shall we say to this abortion ridden world, that is covered with torrents of blood from murder of babies by the millions. There are 42 million estimated abortions annually and 115,000 per day worldwide.  This is a holocaust of human life that has become the norm. God is sickened by this vile murderous demon that is worshipped worldwide.

God will come in justice!  “The earth will shake at the force of his word, and one breath from his mouth will destroy the wicked.” (Isa 11:14NLT). This won’t happen with the bombing of some clinic as madmen in the past have done. No. God will repay them to the face. There will be no doubts. In this day and age where people do as they feel and reject God’s laws- they fail to see God coming with just anger against this vile practice. They won’t even see him coming but it will no doubt be Him.

Ahaz was eventually losing against the pagan nations around him. You would think Ahaz would turn to God in this time and repent of his sins but instead, Isaiah asks Ahaz, “Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also?” (Isa. 7:13).  Despite the warnings of Isaiah, Micah and Hosea the prophets-Ahaz worshipped every idol he thought would save him from his enemies, “In his time of trouble King Ahaz became even more unfaithful to the LORD. He offered sacrifices to the gods of Damascus, who had defeated him; for he thought, “Since the gods of the kings of Aram have helped them, I will sacrifice to them so they will help me. But they were his downfall and the downfall of all Israel.” (2 Chr. 28:22-23NLT).  How sad is the life with no touch of God upon it!

Ahaz was like so many today, he starts looking at Christianity as just a traditional religion, a religion identified with a certain political party and desires to worship the new or more relevant, contemporary gods because he is deceived by the idol worshipper’s temporary success! Paganism has become vogue, the eastern religions that have destroyed their own countries with vile practices are now part of the pluralistic country in which we live. These false gods cannot save!  It is ironic to read that, “the LORD his God handed him over to the king of Aram. The Arameans defeated him and took many of his people as prisoners and brought them to Damascus.” (2 Chr. 28:5)

This is a state everyone should be afraid of, a place where, a person, “is held captive by his own sins; they are ropes that catch and hold him.” (Prov. 5:22NLT).  How many addicts testified of this type addiction where they said there was a point when they stopped using drugs and the drugs started using them. But this is not just an addiction to drugs or alcohol but an addiction to sin: this where people stop sinning and sin starts using them. Sin runs unchecked! God deliver us from such a state! It is the worst form of spiritual slavery and self-deception. The Bible says, “They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.” (2 Thess. 2:11-12NIV).

 

© 2011 Stephen S. Gibney Soul Health Care

 

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God Laughs at the Plans of Men

“He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.” (Ps. 2:4).

The laughter of God is no laughing matter.

God is seen as administering justice from his throne in heaven. He laughs at the plans of those that rebel against him.

He does not just smile. He laughs at and ridicules and scorns the best laid plans of men.

As I thought of this scripture I could see the crowds that gathered in Egypt in the square and near the palace to oust their president. Hopefully they do the right thing.

In contrast, in this passage we observe evil gushing out against God in unholy rioting.  Christ has incurred the wrath of his enemies.  The massive cavorting nations who are gathering like a massive mob at God’s palace are under a delusion that they can disappoint the Anointed One resign from his position as God. They scream against Christ, “We will not have this man reign over us.”  (Luke 19:14). They see God’s laws as restraining them and they are like chains and ropes that tie them down.  How different from those whose citizenship is in heaven-they love God’s “perfect law of liberty!” and that love is the fulfillment of the law (Rom 13:10).

The nations cannot in any way shape or form prevent God’s plans but God can stop their dead in their tracks. He derides them, it is a word of mockery. It is almost like when we say, “Blah blah, blah.”  These insurgents do not merit the respect of God. He is not even disturbed by them in the least. He sees their efforts against as no problem to put down. He does not even need to stand to fight them. He just sits. “He has not taken the trouble to rise up and do battle with them.” (Spurgeon). I like what John Gill says as that the Lord and his Messiah are, “sitting there still and quiet, serene and undisturbed.”  

When we are intimidated by the nations going amuck, those who plot against our God and his people many we who are seated in heavenly places together in Christ rest and laugh with him.  See our Lord mocking their puny efforts! When we see the nations like boiling like a pot of human voices and doing a dance of protest against God’s rule may we sit with our Lord and his Christ and rest in his rule over the affairs of men.

There Will Be No Peace

2971049198_1b0df8dd00Lately, the popular Playing for Peace concept has been gaining momentum, especially with the Ben E. King classic,  “Stand By Me” video on You Tube. It is an incredible effort by sound technicians and well done.  I have to give them credit. People from all over the world never having met each other and singing the same song. After watching and listening to the Stand by Me Video you will understand the hard work that goes into such a project.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Us-TVg40ExM

Mark Johnson the creator of Playing for Change (playingforchange.com)  has the idealistic concept and as he puts it, “desire to inspire each other and come together as the human race and music is the best way to do this is through music…and the belief that we can do a lot more for this world if we work together than we ever can apart.” 

The Playing For Change Foundation (PFCF)  is attempting to raise funds for  the new Ntonga Music School in Guguletu, South Africa that will help children in extreme poverty. PFCF is also looking to build the Mehlo Arts Center in Johannesburg, South Africa. The Mehlo Arts Center is a creative writing school or “Talking Songs”” for the youth of Johannesburg. PFCF also is attempting to rebuild and enhance Tibetan refugee centers in Dharamsala, India and Kathmandu, Nepal. All of these things are incredibly important, especially creating a safe place for the persecuted and abused.

Music is powerful. There is no doubt about that.  Albert Einstein said, “If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music. … I get most joy in life out of music.”  But music in its best form has no power to transform the human heart. We see the horrors of inhuman acts done to people and I applaud PFCF for wanting to do something about it.

That is is one problem that stands in the way of  PFCF: Human nature. No this is not cynicism talking, it is the undeniable evidence seen in the issues they confront. 

The scriptures say of people, “Their feet run to evil and they are swift to shed innocent blood; their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; desolation and destruction are in their highways. The way of peace they do not know, and there is no justice in their paths they have made their roads crooked;  no one who treads on them knows peace. Therefore justice is far from us, and righteousness does not overtake us; we hope for light, and behold, darkness, and for brightness, but we walk in gloom.” (Isaiah 59:7-9ESV).

I am sure  groups like PFCF see religion, politics and such creating war. Who can argue with that. But religion or politics is never the culprit. I think people use this argument to oversimplify the issue but create non entities at which they can throw stones. It is always the responsibility of the individual and a matter of the heart.  There are those of us recognize the enemy is not out there, it is within. A enemy so intelligently corrupt, deceitful, so frighteningly warlike unless it experiences a radical supernatural change, there will be no peace. That enemy is within, and music cannot pacify it. There is no peace for the wicked (Isa. 48:22; 57:21).

The concept of music changing the world sounds good (and is not a new concept) on the surface but can it change the nature of people? Can Mark Johnson and PCFC  promise that? From my experience with people and especially in churches the style of music can  create great controversy and even division. Music is so diverse it represents entire sub cultures and people just are everything from stubborn to unpredictable even when it comes to the idea of taste in music.

Let me also state that words still have meaning. You cannot change that. Lyrics from the Christian worldview should reflect the truth about biblical doctrine. Are they singing the truth or do they need to focus on benign agreeable lyrics that gloss over reality-the reality that human beings are NOT inherently good and moral but there is some radically wrong with each individual. The fountain of their hearts is controlled by the sinful nature. they are radically depraved. Because of this they always will fight and have no peace. Marc and others like him unknowingly may be guilty of the error of the false prophets who offer superficial treatments for people’s mortal wound by giving assurances of peace when there is no peace. (Jer 6:14; 8:11). Music by itself cannot bring peace, or he would not have to use it to raise funds for his causes.

On the other hand, Jesus Christ is called, “the Prince of Peace” and unless the Jesus of the scriptures rules the hearts of people they will never manage their anger, and repent of their hostility or hate. I think churches and their preachers should focus more on the idea of peace, domestically and abroad.  But especially peace in the heart. Peace is the result and effect of righteous living (Isa. 32:17; 48:18). This would mean constant strife in the home, church and soceity shows that our heart are not right and we need to repent of the sin of anger. The Bible is clear, “The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.” (James 3:18). 

May Christ give you the music of peace in your heart and you see his kingdom and his peace.

You Have Been Warned!

Paul Before FelixThe Bible records that the Apostle Paul stood before and earthly king and preached the gospel. It says, “And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, “Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.” (Acts 24:25).  Where is the bold witness for Christ in this day of compromise and syncretism who will warn men of their coming encounter with the thrice holy God? Where are men like Paul who will not hold back speaking of God’s justice before the most powerful men in the earth?  His life was in the balance and his future uncertain as he stood before these men detained in their judicial system for two years. But he remained a witness to the fact that the King of the Universe, God Almighty would judge them. Paul was more afraid of God than some earthly sovereign. They shook in the presence of this man of God as the Holy Spirit reproved them (John 16:8 ) through the man who called himself the Lord’s prisoner (2 Tim 1:8). Where are the people who know their God and do exploits such as this?  Where are those who are unafraid to say that God will judge this nation because of its’ evil? How long will the preachers of God who would warn the elect of God (Ps. 19:11) be sidelined by a worldly church until they make up their minds?  “To whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear? behold, their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken: behold, the word of the LORD is unto them a reproach; they have no delight in it.” (Jer 6:10). 

 

While it is true there have been and always will be people who are condemning and vituperative in the use of scripture (Rom 2:1) and you will always find bitter and hateful people who act in line with their twisted, hardened hearts, the kindness of God is seen in leading us to repentance ( Rom. 2:4) through men who love the church and would suffer all things for the elects sake.

 

The justice and mercy of God do not cancel out each other. How can that be determined? It is because Christ is Judge and Savior. The concept of judgment is not the unpredictable anger of God, but when God in his justice sentences people to physical and spiritual penalties who continue in unrepentant sin. All people are eternally obligated to love and serve God and he is infinitely offended when they break his laws. It is not an option to serve God, it is a responsibility through grace. But how sad when people bristle and become twisted any time that someone addresses them concerning the God who cannot tolerate unrepentant sin or stomach lukewarmness (Rev. 3:16). People in their well oiled theological machine see God as so “merciful” that he will not penalize anyone for sin and evil. We are more at ease blaming the forces of “mother nature” because the thought of God acting against sin and the creation being revolted by sin is unthinkable!While they will say that people only punish themselves they cannot see God dealing with sin in his justice. They could not be more wrong. It should be reiterated here that the most basic understanding of God anyone could have is that justice is what we deserve; mercy is something we do not deserve. When God acts in mercy and saves us we experience it as undeserving lawbreakers.

 

It is damnable to think God Almighty will not act in his justice against sin just because a person sends up religious smoke screens talking about grace and forgiveness. That does not blind the eyes of an all seeing God and stop him from taking punitive action against sin. Church people beware. Unrepentant, habitual sin especially on the behalf of the backslider carries more serious consequences than those who have never known the Lord (Heb 2:1-3; 2 Pet 2:20-22). The church growth movement with its focus on fleshly unity sees anyone addressing the biblical concept of the judgment of God as divisive, legalistic and unteachable. Do people who feel this way think they will escape the judgment of God (Rom. 2:3)?

 

It is wonderfully true that the New Covenant brought mercy and grace (John 3:16-21). Thank God! But that is only partially true. Christ’s first coming brought a light the darkness could not extinguish (John 1:5) and exposed demons, death and disobedience in unyielding exposure. Those who hide their sins are already condemned because they love darkness. Jesus said he came for the purpose of judgment as well (John 9:39). God the Son has authority to judge (Mt. 5:22, 27). Christ taught that people place themselves in danger of judgment (Mt. 5:21-22) and based on their actions their sentence could be more severe (Luke 10:14).  Even every idle, careless word will be examined on judgment day (Mt. 12:36). You have been warned.

 

This United States has defied God and deified sin and God’s anger is not seen so much in traumatic weather or economic recession. In the middle of it all is a backslidden, lukewarm church. Then these so called ministers who no longer preach the gospel message are powerless though they shake themsleves like at other times not knowing the Lord has departed from them (Jud. 16:20).  But what is worse is that the awful price we are being forced to pay is not being on talking terms with Almighty God as he snubs the disobedient and will not speak his Word to them  through ministers who are a flame of fire (Amos 8:11-13)! In his mercy God has left us men in the past who have written about the doctrines of grace for us to read. We can at least warm our shivering souls in solid biblical exposition and feed upon the grain in these storehouses of Joseph despite the wet blanket of snow fallen upon the evangelical church. One can only weep in hope, to break up the hard clods of ground upon the our hearts, so we plant the seed of the scripture in fertile soil. We wait for the Sovereign mighty God to come and raise up men in our day to minister the words of his mouth.  At last  the saint of God will say, “I will hear what God the LORD will speak: for he will speak peace unto his people, and to his saints: but let them not turn again to folly.” (Psalm 85:8). 

 

God is commanding men and women everywhere to repent because he has appointed a day in which he will judge the world. Christ made it clear after Pilate had brutally executed some men and a tower fell upon another group that they were no greater sinners than other people in fact, “Except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:1-15).  The Bible is clear: “Some people get caught in their sins right away, even before the time of judgment. But other people’s sins don’t show up until later.” (1 Tim. 5:24).  God’s judgment is revealed from heaven now against those who suppress the truth by their breaking of God’s law (Rom 1:18 ) and if they do not see it now eventually they will know the wrath of the Lamb (Rev. 6:16). You have been warned.

 

But the one who holds the gavel of eternal justice will have nailed scarred hands. Christ himself will be our judge in this life and after we die (2 Cor. 5:10; 2 Tim 4:1). We know Christ came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10) and that he did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them (Luke 9:56). How does he save them?  Jesus death on the cross demonstrated God’s justice (Rom. 3:25) and his punishment upon sin. It fell upon the sinless son of God. No he rules with a sceptre of righteousness and justice (Ps. 45:6; Heb 1:8).  The Lord has spoken to those in Christ his “not guilty” verdict and offers peace to those who will put their faith in Christ’s blood poured out in an atoning sacrifice and propitiation for sin! The Phillips translation of Romans 8:34 says, “Who is in a position to condemn? Only Christ and Christ died for us, Christ rose for us, Christ reigns in power for us, Christ prays for us!”  He who could condemn -saves! Oh Blessed Jesus! People are saved from God the Judge by God the Savior.  Who has warned you to run away from the coming wrath (Mat. 3:7; Luke 3:7) and run to Jesus for your refuge (Heb 6:18)?!  Your only safety is in Christ the Judge and Savior. You have been warned.