Writing The Hope Series has brought with it much reading and even more discussion. As I explored history, it was hard to maintain freedom from what we talked about in chapter 5 of Forged Hope, “Bondage.” Before I ever considered writing a book, I had already been reading Tozer. When my family began to listen to Tozer’s audio sermons, we had already had discussions on the disappearance of God’s Character in the world and its increasing loss in the churches. Hence… Pursuit of Character. What Tozer did was make us realize the problem was older than we thought. We would sit and say, “In the last forty years…” or “Since 1960…” Then we listened to Tozer say, back in 1955, “In the last fifty years…” or “Since 1900…” We came to the depressing conclusion that the Christian churches have been leaving Christ behind a lot longer than we had recognized.
The more I studied, the worse it got. In reading about Havner’s life story, we found that he had started down this path only to be turned around by a Steward (R.A. Torrey) giving him the book Christianity and Liberalism. In the piles of resources I was studying, this book got overlooked until I had all but finished Forged Hope. As we read Machen’s words, written exactly one hundred years ago, we were reminded how long-ago God was booted out of the churches and most Modern Christians’ lives.
But lest we think these efforts began only as recently as those just referenced, we find Robert Boyle in the early to mid-1600’s refusing positions at the very institution he founded because he would have had to sign a document that put Man above God. Overlapping his life into the early 1700’s was Matthew Henry, whose father, Philip, like Matthew, was labeled a “Dissenter” for refusing the very same directives as Boyle. And lest we become confident that we have found the beginning, we read about the life of St. Bernard of Clairvaux. Serving God at the beginning of the 12th century, he spent his time and position fighting those who tried to… you guessed it, remove God from His Church. As an example, in “The Biographies” of Forgotten Hope, we looked at his battle against all the powers in his denomination to change their belief to, “God’s attributes are disconnected from God Himself.” And then, of course, we read Sir John’s paper that mined the DATA – AKA, Facts – and showed that every time, throughout history, that man reaches a certain level of stature, he outgrows God. Sir John showed that this happens every time, and every time it happens, “the Death Throes” of the “Great Nation” begin. Sir John wrote this paper to warn America that our “Life Expectancy” was about to run out, hoping we would change course. We have Not!
Why the review? As mentioned in Forged Hope, I have a great sensitivity to the Darkness. I recognize it where others don’t. I see its plans where others can’t. And I fight not to allow this to become a yoke I insist on carrying. In discussing the topics included in The Hope Series, and specifically those we will have in Fidelity to Hope, that fight becomes harder. When we talked about Bondage, we discussed Psalm 37 and how it both Warns against some actions and Instructs others. But what I want to talk about for a second here is the “yoke:” knowing what the world around you is up to and the fate it is choosing and choosing to carry that burden.
So, when I look at my state, my country, and my world and I see that “all their thoughts are evil all the time,” I have the urge to feel sad. When I can’t seem to find a different Character within the churches that claim the Name, I have the urge to get angry. Which is what we talked about and what I want to share with you. As this is only the preface, I will share the conclusions and allow you to contemplate the substance. Do you think Noah was happy to see people he had spent 500 years living among choosing the Flood and Eternal Death? Of course not! I’m sure, as he raised the plank to the Ark, his Nephesh was sad. I am also sure that his Leb trusted God’s Providence. We know that Abraham and Lot grieved for the “people of the plains.” And we also know that their Lebs trusted God’s Providence. Do you think Moses was happy to have led the Israelites out of slavery, right up to the shores of the Promised Land, only to have to send them out into the desert instead?
Throughout history, from Adam’s first choosing to reject God’s offer to every Living Being on the earth today that makes the same choice, it is a sad event. To those who can “see,” it is a devastating and unthinkable choice… but it is their choice. For those who don’t merely “Claim the Name” but Embrace It, we trust that God not only gave them every chance, but, in His Providence, already knew what they would choose. From that same Providence, God provided a Manual that Warns that the time of choosing will end. When that time comes, the Adversary and those who choose him as father will receive their chosen reward. Reward: “To give in return, either good or evil.” (Webster’s 1828) As we have quoted before, Christ says, “For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.” (Matthew 16:27) Reward: “Punishment; a just return of evil or suffering for wickedness.” (Webster’s 1828) God told Moses to tell us, “My hand takes hold on judgment, I will render vengeance to My enemies, And will reward those who hate Me.” (Deuteronomy 32:41)
This is why Fidelity to Hope is vitally important and why it will likely be widely rejected. The time for choosing is coming to an end, and a watered-down version of Christ’s teaching will not save anyone from their choice. As we have shown before, “If anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me…” (John 12:47-49) Here, Christ supplies all the requisite components. He, through the Father, has supplied “the Words,” The Manual. Christ did not come to Judge or Condemn the world. Condemnation was and is our fate already, thanks to Grandpa Adam and our choice to stand in Unbelief. (John 3:18, Romans 5:12) Christ came to Offer us the Opportunity to choose differently, to change our fate. Christ came to Offer Hope. Anyone and Everyone who rejects that Offer has been Judged by that choice. They have chosen the Adversary and will receive the Just Reward of that choice. I then underlined eight words, “I have not spoken on My own authority.” Christ says He does not set the Rules, and the Instruction He gives comes from God in His Sovereign Authority.
Which brings us to Fidelity to Hope. Who are you? Who am I? Who of God’s Created can take on the Creator’s Authority and dare to change those Rules or alter those Instructions if Christ Himself did not? There is a reason that the Manual says, “not many should become teachers,” that few should claim the mantle of “Stewards of the Flock.” The Manual even supplies the reason, you “will be held to a higher standard.” (James 3:1) Let’s look at a quote from Isaiah 1, “Hear the word of the Lord, You rulers of Sodom; Give ear to the law of our God, You people of Gomorrah…” Was he actually talking to Sodom and Gomorrah? (Actually, it would be a good idea to read all of Isaiah 1.) No. The cities of the plains were being compared with the cities of those who knew the law but took on the Authority not to follow it. The obvious Warning is that those who do so will receive the same Reward as Sodom, Gomorrah, Tyre, and Sidon. Actually, the Manual Warns it will be better for them than it will be for you.
So, here’s the point. As every moment and every day could be the last, where is your Fidelity? “Firm adherence to a person or party with which one is united, or to which one is bound; loyalty.” (Webster’s 1828) If you have read Forgotten Hope and Forged Hope, as you should have if you are here, then you have “heard His Words.” Do you hold to and teach the Manual as written, or do you take on an Authority not yours? As night falls on God’s Creation, do you hold up “the Light” or some man-made facsimile? As you “lift the plank” or “leave the people of the (21rst century) plains” behind you, are you “Sad” but at “Peace” because your Leb knows it has made every plea, wasted not one minute or one word to get them to choose differently? Have you lived up to your role in God’s Providence?
Keep reading… Let the Word be the Judge.
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