In episode 92 we talked about a recent event in the news. NBA star Jason Collins came out and announced that he’s gay, becoming the first openly gay professional athlete in American team sports, at least male sports. And he claims to be a Christian. That same day, ESPN analyst Chris Broussard responded by saying, “If you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality, I believe that’s walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ.” For this statement, Broussard got called things like: unkind, hateful, abusive, a bigot, and intolerant. So here’s a follow up question, Pastor John: Is this hostile response to Broussard, for calling homosexuality a sin and offense to God, a sign of things to come in America?
It is a sign of things to come, though I want to be very careful not to presume that I know the final outcome in this century or the next. I do think there is biblical warrant and cultural warrant to expect things to get worse. In other words, expect more sin to be flaunted more openly and more biblical truth to be criticized more severely. I think that is very, very likely.
That doesn’t say anything about whether God might step in at the very darkest hour and pour out his Holy Spirit upon his church and then upon the world through his church while calling people to repentance and a stunning awakening and turning happens.
“Expect more sin to be flaunted more openly and more biblical truth to be criticized more severely.”
When I say yes I think things are going to get worse, I don’t hold that long term with any great conviction because I don’t know what God’s plan is in this age short of the second coming. But it might be helpful for me to give the biblical reason why I think things are going to get worse.
It says in Jude 1:17–18, “But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, ‘In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.’” Now I know that we live in the last times already, but they are picturing a significant, it seems, outcropping near the end of time of scoffing, of ungodly giving, of giving over to passions.
Timothy says, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Timohty 4:3–4). Paul saw a time coming when that would be worse than it was in his own time even though it was bad then.
In 2 Thessalonians 2:3, Paul talks about a man of lawlessness coming with the activity of Satan wielding power, false signs, wonders, and wicked deception. The picture in the Bible is that toward the end of this age things get really bleak. The implication of that is that we shouldn’t be surprised when this happens.
“I don’t hold that long term vision with any great conviction because I don’t know what God’s plan is in this age.”
Jesus said, “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household” (Matthew 10:24–25). And so Jesus is saying, “Look, don’t expect to be treated better than I was treated, and I am going to be crucified.” Now that is what Peter says in his epistle, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12).
The upshot of this for the Church, I think, is that we not become embittered or cranky, but that we return good for evil, that we love our enemies, that we boldly proclaim the gospel, make the main thing the main thing, and that we expose the darkness. In fact, I am not sure many people know that Ephesians 5:11 is in the Bible. It says, “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.”
I think the exposure happens not mainly by having a website that is totally negative and points out problem, problem, problem. Mainly, darkness is exposed by light — by contrast. Make the gospel the main thing and herald the good news of kingdom truth and the work of Christ on behalf of sinners and the power of the gospel and the power of the Holy Spirit to change people so that we love the world.
That word love brings one more thing to my mind. I preached a sermon several weeks ago in which I look at 2 John 7 where he says, “For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.” John said that that was the ground for why the Church should love each other more.
He said it like this, “And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it.” (2 John 6). That is, love one another for — there is the ground — many deceivers have gone out into the world.
“A loving, caring, and happy people protects from the infection, bitterness, anger, and immorality of the world.”
In that sermon, I said to the church, “Isn’t it remarkable that the more pessimistic you feel about the world, the more you should love your brother and the more you should love Christians. There is something about a loving, caring, and happy body of people that protects them from the infection of the world and the bitterness of the world and the anger and immorality of the world.
I think the upshot of all this is that we should pray for the coming of the Lord in two senses. First, the ultimate coming — Maranatha, come, Lord Jesus. Oh, how we would like this world to be transformed into a beautiful portrayal of Christ. But, second, we also mean pray for his powerful in breaking now. Don’t give up on your church or your demonization or the city you live in thinking. Don’t think, “Well, no revival could happen here or no reformation could happen here.” How do you know? God is sovereign. All things are possible with the Lord.