“Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. Romans 1:32
Perhaps you haven’t been paying attention, but if you will turn on the news or read your favorite news website, then flip open your Bible (you do read that incessantly, right?) to Romans chapter 1, you’ll realize a frightening thing. Every true believer ought to see the truth revealed here. Paul saw it in his day. We see it in ours.
The world, perhaps particularly America, is under judgment. Study those words of Paul carefully, please. “God gave them up.” (Romans 1:24, 26)
We know from Scripture that God’s mercy extends to every person on earth. “For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:45)
We realize that, even from His revelation way back in the days of the Pentateuch,
“The LORD is slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, forgiving iniquity and transgression; but He will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generations.” — (Numbers 14:18)
As Paul says, there come times when God gives them up. Being “given up doesn’t always mean the Lord rains fire and brimstone down upon the guilty. Scripture doesn’t declare that His righteous judgment will always be exacted in the wrathful actions of disaster, pestilence, war, or widespread calamity.
In fact, most often, His judgment is none of these things. Most often, being “given up” means God releases His restricting mercy to allow the depraved to pursue their own fleshly desires. He lets them have their sin. This, in fact, is the ultimate judgment because “the wages of sin is death.”
So when we see the apparent victories of culture in things like protecting abortion, that’s judgment. No, there is, as John MacArthur explains in Safe In The Arms of God, particular grace for the young who are yet to reach an age of culpability. They are not being damned. Rather their slaughterers are.
When we see the LBGTQ-ee-ii-ee-ii-oo depraved crowd being lauded, legalized, and legitimized, what they see as a victory we realize is a judgment. God has given them up.
The more frightful thing from Romans 1, though, is when those who ought to be out front proclaiming the truth to the flock and to the world about the evident, ongoing judgment of God are, instead, aligning with the false, with the depraved, with the wicked. Rather than preach the “repent and believe truth of the Gospel,” they are giving approval and endorsements to them.
Consider Robert Jeffress, the pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas. Back in 2011, when a Mormon was running for President, Jeffress was vocal in his opposition, declaring “evangelical Christians need to support and encourage true born-again followers of Christ to be president.”
Fast-forward to the current 2016 campaign to find Jeffress tacitly endorsing a man that can only be thoughtfully considered the precise opposite of his 2011 ideal candidate. Here are just a few remarks from Jeffress’ candidate of choice. (Edited, for vulgarity.)
- “You know, it really doesn’t matter what the media write as long as you’ve got a young, and beautiful, piece of [bleep].”
- “Ariana Huffington is unattractive, both inside and out. I fully understand why her former husband left her for a man – he made a good decision.”
- “The beauty of me is that I’m very rich.”
- “I’ve said if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.
- “The point is, you can never be too greedy.”
- “My IQ is one of the highest — and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure; it’s not your fault.”
- “I have a great relationship with God.I like to be good. I don’t like to have to ask for forgiveness. And I am good. I don’t do a lot of things that are bad. I try to do nothing that is bad.”
“I am not sure I have. I just go on and try to do a better job from there. I don’t think so. I think if I do something wrong, I think, I just try and make it right. I don’t bring God into that picture. I don’t.”
Methinks no commentary on those comments is necessary.
Perhaps, though, the question ought to be asked about Pastor Jeffress. How does his endorsement of such a man NOT reflect the apostle’s commentary in Romans about those “who give approval to those who practice unrighteousness?
If Jeffress lacks discernment when it comes to a candidate with such outrageous and ungodly comments, it’s no real surprise then that he also fails to identify the heresy of Roman Catholicism. Instead, he praises the pope and Catholics.
“I have great respect for Pope Francis. He’s a humble Christ follower. We can all learn from him. I have much more in common with my Catholic friends than I do with liberal Baptists, because we are fighting together against a common enemy, the kingdom of darkness.”
When it comes to Southern Baptists fawning over the apostasy of Rome, Jeffress isn’t alone. Our convention is replete with vocal “vicar fans who have intentionally sacrificed the Gospel for ecumenical grandeur. (Don’t we realize that, of all the places we need a church plant, Vatican City is ground zero?)
Rick Warren, the pastor of the flagship Southern Baptist Church, Saddleback Church, claimed with certainty that “Catholics are brothers and sisters in God’s family. I am looking to build bridges with the Catholic Church.” Warren is promoting, evidently, his latest work, Purpose Driven Apostasy.
Russell Moore, President of the SBC Ethics And Religious Liberty Commission, has said,
“I don’t dislike Pope Francis. I think he is quite right about the primacy of the gospel over culture wars. In my much smaller pool and from my much smaller perch, I’ve tried to say that outrage itself isn’t a Christian virtue. Our mission ought to be toward reconciliation, not the vaporization of our perceived enemies.”
Umm, Russell, a few points:
- Their “gospel” is, in no way, our Gospel.
- The regret over the size of your “pool does not give you permission to align the SBC with agents of apostasy for the sake of your greater grandeur all the while sacrificing our staunch stand on the true Gospel.
- We need to be proclaiming reconciliation TO Rome WITH GOD, not reconciliation of the SBC WITH Rome. Those folks are deceived and dying damned under a false gospel.
- Vaporization? Yes. Refer to 2 Peter 3:10: “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.” Vaporization indeed.
Let’s look at Paul’s words in Romans 1 again …
“They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.
Though they [SBC Leaders, perhaps?] know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they [again, SBC leaders?] not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”
Well, are they, the SBC leaders, actually doing the things the apostle highlights as wickedness? I’d pay particular attention to Paul’s comment a few verses prior to this, “they exchanged the truth of God for a lie” (Romans 1:25).
Do they exchange the truth of God when they endorse wickedness or align with those who deny His Truth? Does the sacrifice of the truth for the sake of ecumenical, political, or cultural gain seem acceptable in the context of this verse? Or does it seem more like an “exchange” to you?
When SBC leaders make decidedly visible alliances and endorsements with the wicked and the apostate, they not only disobey our Lord’s command to preach the Gospel to them, but they also tarnish their own witness within the church. Pew sitting Southern Baptists (like me) who actually seek to be obedient to Christ in His Word look on and wonder, “how can these things be?” By their example, they mislead the ones they’re called to lead.
Just yesterday, Moore was interviewed for an article titled The Republican Crackup in The New York Times. He asked a rhetorical, yet, for a Southern Baptist leader, outrageous question: “How do we maintain the witness of the Christian church at a time when America seems to have gone crazy?”
That America or the world has “gone crazy” is irrelevant, unless, of course, you love the things of the world so much that it drives your witness rather than the Gospel.
Do not love the world or the things in the world.” — 1 John 2:15
If the Southern Baptist Convention were not so awash in godless culture, it might realize that we are to be “in the world,” not “of the world”. We preach the Gospel, regardless.
Some of us are watching those in our leadership. Some of us are speaking up. Some of us are praying for a reformation within the SBC that returns us to Scripture, and obedience to it.
Like David, the SBC these days can surely say, “My sin is ever before me; Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done what is evil in Your sight.”
May He correct us–and forgive us.
[Contributed by Bud Ahlheim]
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