Hating family for Christ’s sake.

For many years I could not understand this but this message clarifies the important command of Christ because walking in the way of love includes abhorring evil (Romans 12:9).

Rev.Martyn McGeown

British Reformed Fellowship conference Cardiff July 2018.

July 21, 2018: “Hating Our Family: Necessary for Christian Discipleship” (Luke 14:25-27)

 

Introduction

 

In Luke 14:25-35 Jesus sets forth his uncompromising requirements for a disciple: “If any man [does not do this] he cannot be my disciple” (v. 26). “Whosoever [does not do this] cannot be my disciple” (v. 27). “So likewise, whosoever he be that [does not do this] cannot be my disciple” (v. 32).

Perhaps Christ’s words—at the beginning of a family conference—shock you. They should—they must. But, shocking or not, they must be heard: we must heed these words.

 

Jesus speaks about two things in verse 26—

First, “if any man come to me.” To come to Jesus is to believe in him. We come to Jesus by faith. Jesus does not require admirers—he requires believers.

Second—discipleship: “he cannot be my disciple” (v. 26). A disciple is one who learns from a master or a teacher. A disciple is an apprentice. Jesus is, in the words of the Heidelberg Catechism, “our chief prophet and teacher” (Q&A 31). As such, he demands exclusive devotion from all of his disciples. To be a disciple of Jesus is to learn from him, to submit to his teachings, to obey his will, to be under his lordship and authority, and to follow him wherever he leads us, even if it means suffering and death for us.

One thing that every disciple of Jesus must do is to hate his family. “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26).

Before we learn about the blessedness of family life and the responsibilities that we, as Christians, have in our families, we consider this calling: “Hating Our Family: Necessary for Christian Discipleship.”

 

The meaning

 

Negatively:  

 

If I asked you this evening whether you hate your family, I expect that for most of you the answer is “No.” I love my parents; I love my spouse; I love my children; and I love my siblings.

And—let me be clear—that is good; that is exactly how it must be.

Nevertheless, Christ commands us to hate our family members.

How can that be so—does Christ really mean that?

The hatred here must be clearly understood.

First, the hatred here is a holy, righteous, godly hatred. There is, actually, such a thing! Godly hatred is not a spiteful, malicious, nasty, mean-spirited hatred. Such wicked hatred, unlike godly hatred, manifests itself in cruel, cutting, bitter words or in harmful deeds, even in murder. The explanation of the Sixth Commandment given in the Heidelberg Catechism is as follows:

“What doth God require in the sixth commandment? That neither in thoughts, nor words, nor gestures, much less in deeds, I dishonor, hate, wound, or kill my neighbor” (Q&A 105). “God abhors… envy, hatred, anger, and desire of revenge” (Q&A 106). “He commands us to show patience, peace, meekness, mercy, and all kindness towards him” (Q&A 107).

A text such as this is never a justification for sinful behavior toward our family—a child may not quote this text to justify disobedience to his parents; a husband may not quote this text to justify cruelty or abuse of his wife; a wife may not quote this text to justify insubordination or disrespect for her husband; and siblings may not quote this text to justify their petty squabbles and fights.

Holy hatred for family does not exclude seeking our family’s good—especially our family’s salvation. Holy hatred does not exclude prayer for our family, kindness to them, and serving them in humility. Holy hatred does not exclude rebuking our family members when they sin and calling them to repentance and faith.

I hope that you can understand the difference between holy and unholy hatred.

 

Positively:

 

Second, the hatred of v. 26 includes two main actions—it requires (1) the forsaking of our family; and it requires (2) the cutting off of fellowship from our family. Jesus explains the meaning in v. 33: “So likewise whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath cannot be my disciple.”

 

First, then, when we hate our family, we forsake them for the sake of Christ.

To forsake is the decisive, deliberate rejection of something or someone: it is to separate oneself from something or someone; it is to put away something or someone from oneself. Hatred of family, therefore, is to reject our family’s influence, our family’s ideas, our family’s opinions, and our family’s beliefs if/when they conflict with the Word of Christ. The forsaking of family does not necessarily mean a physical separation from family, but it does mean a spiritual rejection of family in certain circumstances.

 

Second, we hate our family when we withdraw fellowship from them.

Hatred of earthly family is to refuse to have fellowship with them. Be careful—it is not to be unfriendly or to shun family, but it is to refuse spiritual fellowship when they do not share our Christian faith and when they do not help us to live a holy life; or worse when they oppose our Christian faith and when they actively hinder us in living a holy life.

For the sake of Christ, a disciple must oppose his family, reject them, and refuse to have fellowship with them. He may have social discourse with them, but he may not fellowship with them.

 

To be clear: Christ is not calling a believer to cut off fellowship from his believing spouse. He does not command believing parents to cut off fellowship from their covenant children. He does not demand that believing siblings cut off fellowship from one another. In fact, believers must fellowship together in the home and in the church. But where fellowship with anyone—including family—conflicts with devotion to Christ, then family must be forsaken and fellowship must be cut off.

 

That is the meaning of hatred in another important passage:

 

“Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: depart from me, therefore, ye bloody men; for they speak against thee wickedly, and thine enemies take thy name in vain. Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? And am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with a perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies” (Ps. 139:19-22).

 

David hated God’s enemies—“the wicked,” “bloody men.” Some of those enemies of God were members of his family. How did his hatred manifest itself? He refused fellowship with them—“Depart from me” (v. 19), he said. Notice, David does not say, “I will slay the wicked,” but “Thou wilt slay the wicked.” Notice, David does not say, “Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate me?” but “that hate thee.” He does not say, “Am not I grieved with those that rise up against me?” but “against thee.”

One who loves God will not fellowship with those who show that they hate God—if our family shows enmity toward God, we respond by saying to our father, mother, wife, children, brothers, and sisters, “Depart from me. I cannot have fellowship with you. We do not share a like precious faith.”

That is hatred for our family.

Examples

 

To make Christ’s command clear, I give some illustrations of how this works in practice:

First, a Muslim or a Hindu is converted to Christ: his family threatens to disown him, disinherit him, and even kill him. He must forsake his family and follow Christ even if all the members of his family become his enemies. (This happens often in foreign lands—it also happens in the UK).

Second, a husband is converted and starts to follow Christ. His unbelieving wife opposes his conversion: “If you loved me,” she says, “you would forsake Christ for me. If you loved me, you would stop praying, reading the Bible, and going to church—do it for me!” Such a Christian husband must hate his wife in this sense: he must reject her, oppose her, refuse to listen to her, and follow Christ despite her vehement opposition, even when she makes his life a misery.

Third, a young man begins to date a young woman. “If you loved me,” she says, “you would stop going to that church and come to a liberal church to please me!” That young man should hate his girlfriend in this sense: he should break off his relationship with her as soon as he sees that she is a hindrance to his Christian walk. Such a woman is not a suitable person for a godly young man to marry.

Fourth, a family member calls you on the Lord’s Day and invites you to a recreational event. He does this in order to tempt you away from the worship of God. You tell your family member, “Today is the Lord’s Day: I will be at church today. You are welcome to come along with me, but I will not skip church to please you.”

Do not think, though, that this applies only when an unbelieving family member attempts to persuade a believer to be unfaithful to Christ. The same principle applies even within Christian homes and families.

If a husband tries foolishly to lead his wife into sin (think Abraham encouraging his wife to lie), she must oppose him. If a wife tries foolishly to lead her husband into sin (think Job’s wife and Abraham’s wife), he must oppose her. If parents try to lead children into sin (think Jacob’s mother), they must refuse. If siblings try to lead one another into sin (think Joseph’s brothers), they must resist. In that sense, Christ requires hatred for the family member.

This often happens with respect to church membership: often one spouse, who is spiritually stronger, desires to attend a faithful church, but the spiritually weaker spouse or the spiritually weaker children oppose the idea: they are content to remain in a less faithful church. They have no desire to worship Christ in a faithful church, or at least their desire never moves them to seek out a join a faithful church. Christ says—seek to please me and not your family!

Oppose, forsake, reject, and hate your family for Christ’s sake.

 

The cost of discipleship

 

This is simply part of the cost of discipleship. Jesus summarizes the cost in v. 27: “Whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.” To bear one’s cross is to undergo painful self-denial for the sake of Christ. It is to crucify your desires, preferences, ambitions, and plans in order to follow Jesus Christ, whose will becomes your will.

But in following Jesus Christ, there will be opposition—often the greatest opposition will be at home from one’s family. Then we say: Jesus is Lord: we are not Lord; our family is not Lord; only Jesus is Lord.

When a person hears the gospel, and when he understands the demands of Christ, one of his first questions is this: “If I believe this, if I become a Christian, what will my family say?” Christ answers: “It does not matter what your family says—follow me!” “Your family might be highly displeased; your parents might disown you; your spouse might divorce you; your children might hate you; and the other members of your family might oppose you—follow me!”

Notice, too, that this instruction is not only for a certain class of disciple, but for all disciples of Jesus. There are not two categories of Christian: the entrance level, middle class Christian with a comfortable, carefree lifestyle, and the serious, committed, self-denying, cross-bearing Christian. ALL Christians practice self-denial; ALL Christians carry the cross; and ALL Christians hate their family in the sense described in Luke 14—“If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” (v. 27).

 

Reasons for the difficulty

 

This is a difficult calling because we naturally love our father, and that natural love for our family is good. Nevertheless, Jesus says about his mission: “Think not that am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword” (Matt. 10:34). That sword cuts even though families. Christ divides families—he saves one family member, but he does not save another. The result is enmity between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent in our families.

Moreover, when he saves us, he does not immediately deliver us from the old man of sin. The result is enmity between our old man and our new man. The result is also enmity between the old man of our father, mother, children, and siblings and our new man. And that is very painful!

Let me ask—if your spouse or children or parents or brother or sister (God forbid!) were guilty of sin, refused to repent, and were placed under discipline, would you take the side of your family or Christ’s side (assuming the discipline is lawful and correct)? Or would you leave the church with them in order to protect them?

If your wife threatened to divorce you and take the children, unless you followed her into sin, would you follow her or follow Christ? Do not say that these things never happen—they happen often in the church!

The calling is painful not only because of our natural affection for our family, but also because scorned family members can make life very difficult for the faithful disciple of Christ.

A scorned wife can vex her husband; a disappointed husband can vex his wife. The Christian has to live with the scorned spouse! Although Samson and Delilah were not married, the principle is similar: “And it came to pass, when she pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, so that his soul was vexed unto death” (Judges 16:16). How easy to surrender to sin for the sake of a quiet life! The same us true of our relationship to our other family members—we pay a real cost when we oppose the wishes of our family for the sake of Jesus Christ. The result is painful, sometimes even violent, arguments and threats around the family table!

And remember, too, the calling for consistency—hatred for family is a lifelong calling. It is not enough to refuse your family once, but you must continue to oppose them. They are waiting for you to give in—and if you compromise once, they will find it easier to persuade you to compromise further and further, until your Christian testimony is all but ruined. There must be self-denial every day; there must be the daily bearing of the cross; there must be holy hatred for our family every day; until we exchange the cross for a crown of glory.

 

The Motivation

 

What motivates a believer to do this? How can we have strength for this? The answer is the Spirit of Jesus. The Spirit of Jesus Christ enables us to love Jesus. Love for Jesus enables us to hate our family where love for family would interfere with our love for Jesus.

Remember the one who is speaking here—it is Jesus, the Son of God. The Son of God is worthy of the strictest demands on your life. If anyone else made such demands, you would view him as an egotistical megalomaniac. But Jesus, the Lord, the Son of God, he is worthy of this.

Moreover, Jesus gave his life on the cross for you. Your spouse did not; your children did not; your brothers and sisters did not; your parents did not. Only Jesus did. Therefore, your whole allegiance belongs to him—and must belong to him. You are purchased with a price. Therefore, he requires your exclusive allegiance, loyalty, and obedience, even when your family and the whole world object.

And remember that Jesus leads by example. When Jesus was 12 years old, respectfully, kindly, submissively, but firmly and clearly, Jesus told Mary and Joseph, “I must be about my Father’s business” (Luke 2:4). When Mary interfered with his Father’s business at the wedding in Cana, Jesus rejected his mother’s interference, “Woman: what have I to do with thee? Mine hour is not yet come” (John 2:4). When his mother and siblings tried to interrupt his public ministry, he rejected them, “Who is my mother? And who are my brethren?” he said. And pointing to his disciples (and not his earthly relatives) he said, “Behold my mother and my brethren” (Matt. 12:48-50).

Therefore, only one thing can drive out misplaced love and loyalty for family and induce us to a holy hated for them—love for Jesus Christ. Hatred is never good for its own sake. Holy hatred is for the sake of love for Jesus.

Christ renounced his own will in order to do his Father’s will, even though doing his Father’s will upset his mother, his brethren, and his closest friends. And even though his Father’s will brought him to the cross. So love your family—be kind to them—but be prepared to hate them if they oppose Christ.

That is true Christian discipleship. Amen.

 

 

 

 

Birth of Christ in Revelation.

Revelation 12 has to be one of the most amazing chapters in all the Bible. In a nutshell it follows the history of the world, explaining how Satan tried to prevent the birth of Christ from his old testament church (the woman), was thrown out of heaven and now persecutes the church (seed of the woman) till the end of the world and his conqueror Jesus Christ returns.

“And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born*. And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne**. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days***.” (verses 4-6). Key verse for us Christians is verse 11, how we overcome Satan: namely by trusting in Christ’s once-for-all atonement for us and by believing and using the word of God.

  • *Herod!
  • **Christ’s ascension.
  • *** The New Testament age in which we now live.

Best commentary to understand the book of Revelation:

Available here: CPRC Bookshop

The Last Trump

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
John 5:28,29  Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.
And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
 But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets. 
It ought to be apparent that the last trumpet ends the history of this present age of earth. The gospel has brought in the last elect, the cup of suffering of the church is filled up and the cup of iniquity culminating in Antichrist is also filled up. John is given a little book , the final part of God’s decree revealed by Christ, which details the consummation of all things including Antichrist, the great tribulation, the destruction of Antichrist and Babylon and the ushering in of the new heavens and earth. The key event for the church is the gathering of it; those who have died being resurrected and taken up to Christ, to be joined by all those still living who are translated like Elijah and Enoch. This is the end of the world NOT the beginning of any earthly “millennium”.

And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said, Go and take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel which standeth upon the sea and upon the earth. And I went unto the angel, and said unto him, Give me the little book. And he said unto me, Take it, and eat it up; and it shall make thy belly bitter, but it shall be in thy mouth sweet as honey. And I took the little book out of the angel’s hand, and ate it up; and it was in my mouth sweet as honey: and as soon as I had eaten it, my belly was bitter. And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings. Revelation 10:8-11.

He is to eat these truths, make them a part of himself, love them and teach them. The contents are bitter because of the struggle and persecution they contain but also sweet in that they are full of hope and the ultimate victory of Christ’s kingdom. This message he is to share is the rest of the book of Revelation. Only good and glory await the Christian!

Sermon on the rapture.

Israel

Are Christians correct in thinking the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 is prophecy fulfilled?

Who are Biblical Israel?

Has the church replaced Israel?

Where is the real Jerusalem?

This study will help you get the answers:

REFORMED FREE PUBLISHING ASSOCIATION

The Bible and Israel (7)

BLOG POST | August 31, 2018

 

Our last blog post on this subject was May 25, 2018. We have proven from scripture that the New Testament church is the fulfilment of—not the replacement for—Israel. One final chapter requires out attention: it is the greatest chapter in the New Testament dealing with God’s purposes with Israel in the New Testament age, Romans 11. Since Romans 9–11 constitute a unit in the epistle, we summarize the contents of those three chapters of God’s word to demonstrate yet again that the Bible promises salvation only to those who believe in Jesus Christ.

Chapters 9–11 then begin a new section of the epistle in which Paul focuses on God’s sovereign purposes with the Jews and Gentiles.

In Romans 9:1–3 Paul expresses his sorrow at the perishing of so many of his countrymen who are his “kinsmen according to the flesh” (9:3). He lists their many advantages (adoption, glory, covenants, law, service, promises, etc.), chief among which is that Christ was born of them, who is God blessed, forever (9:5).

This leads to a possible objection: if God promised salvation to the Jews, has his promise failed? Is it “of none effect”? Paul answers in the negative—”Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect” (9:6). Paul explains this by means of a very important principle: not all physical descendants of Abraham are true Jews; not all who are outwardly “of Israel” are truly “Israel.” The apostle demonstrates this point by appealing first to Isaac and Ishmael, and second to Jacob and Esau. The difference, says Paul, is in God’s sovereign election. Not only did God elect the nation of Israel, but he also elected within the nation certain individuals.

Paul answers an objection in 9:14: “Is there unrighteousness with God?” After vehemently rejecting the inference with “God forbid,” Paul proves the sovereignty of God in showing mercy to some (9:15) and in hardening others (9:18), illustrating his doctrine with an appeal to Moses and to Pharaoh. A second objection arises in 9:19: “Thou wilt say then unto me, why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?” Paul cuts off the objector by reminding him of his place before God as a creature before the Creator (9:20). Paul illustrates the absolute sovereignty of God with the potter and his clay. The potter owns the clay and has power (authority) over the clay. Out of “one lump” (humanity) the potter makes some vessels (vessels of mercy) unto honor, while he makes other vessels (vessels of wrath) unto dishonor. Some vessels are prepared for glory, while others are fitted to destruction. The potter (God) does this because he “is willing to show his wrath and to make his power known” (9:22) and so that he “might make known the riches of his glory” (9:23). To accomplish this twofold purpose of magnifying his wrath and mercy, God endures the reprobate in longsuffering toward the elect (9:22–23).

This is not abstract, because Paul immediately applies it to the reader: “even us, whom he hath called” (9:24), appealing to Hosea 1:10 and 2:23 as proof that the calling of the Gentiles was prophesied in the Old Testament (9:25–26). Peter cites the same passage for the same purpose in 1 Peter 2:10. After quoting some texts from Isaiah as proof that God saves a remnant, Paul concludes that Israel has not attained to righteousness because she sought it “as it were by the works of the law” (9:32). The Gentiles, who did not seek righteousness, have obtained righteousness, “the righteousness which is of faith” (9:30). This was Israel’s fatal stumbling, as they tripped over Christ and perished, as God purposed and as the scriptures foretold (9:32–33; see also 1 Peter 2:6–8).

Paul begins chapter 9 expressing his heartfelt sorrow over Israel’s perishing (9:1–5). He begins chapter 10 in a similar fashion, by expressing his desire for Israel’s salvation (10:1). However, Paul does not excuse Israel for her sin of stumbling at Christ. She has not submitted to God’s righteousness and by seeking salvation in works has missed the goal of the law, which is Christ (10:3–4). This is all the more inexcusable because Moses made it clear that righteousness was not found in the law (10:5). To seek righteousness in the law is, says Paul, to deny the incarnation, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, for “it is to bring up Christ again from the dead” or “to bring Christ down from above” (10:6–7). Righteousness then is found only in Christ, and it is through faith in Christ and confession of his name that believers are saved (10:9–10). Paul then explains the necessity of preaching.

If salvation is found only in calling upon the name of the Lord (10:13; Joel 2:32), then a series of questions must be asked. How shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? How shall they believe in him of whom (or whom) they have not heard? How shall they hear without a preacher? How shall they preach, except they are sent? (10:14–15). Thus, Paul sets forth the necessity of preaching for the salvation of the elect. The rest of chapter 10 deals with the unbelieving response of Israel to the preaching: “But they have not all obeyed the gospel? Have they not heard? Did not Israel know?” (10:16–19). Israel did hear and know, but Israel refused (“a disobedient and gainsaying [contradictory] people”) (10:21) and God even prophesied his turning to the Gentiles: “I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you” (10:19). This is just judgment upon Israel and it is good news for the Gentiles.

In chapter 11 Paul addresses an objection: if the nation of Israel has been rejected with the result that God also saves the Gentiles in one church, has God cast away his people? Chapter 11 is pivotal to understanding God’s purposes with the Jews in the New Testament age. Both premillennial dispensationalism and postmillennialism appeal to this chapter in defense of their doctrine of a future, national conversion of Israel. Although the chapter does not teach that, it does teach that God has promised to save ethnic Israelites in every age of New Testament history until the return of Christ. That promise is quite remarkable because it pertains to no other nation: God does not save Irishmen, Germans, Filipinos, or Americans in every age. While many of the proud nations of the Old Testament (the Philistines, Moabites, Edomites, etc.) have ceased to exist and (very likely) New Testament nations will cease to exist, God has preserved a remnant of ethnic Jews in the world. This does not mean that God will save all or even all ethnic Israelites, but he will save a remnant in every age, a remnant “according to the election of grace” (11:5) until the fullness of Israel is brought in, so that “all Israel shall be saved” (11:25).

However, he will save ethnic Jews in exactly the same way in which he saves ethnic Gentiles—by faith in Jesus Christ.

Paul answers the initial objection (“Hath God cast away his people?”) with a firm “God forbid” (11:1), illustrating the faithfulness of God’s promises to his foreknown people in his own (Paul’s) case (“I also am an Israelite”) and in the case of the remnant preserved in Elijah’s day (11:4; I Kings 19), and concluding that “at this present time also there is a remnant [of ethnic Israelites] according to the election of grace” (11:5). Gracious election and righteous reprobation operate in Israel as well as in other nations. Thus even within Israel, “the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded” (or hardened) (11:7). Paul proves that God hardens some (even the majority of) Israelites from Psalm 69, which Psalm even teaches the fearful truth that God hardens the reprobate by means of their earthly prosperity (“Let their table be made a snare,” etc.).

This leads to another objection concerning God’s hardening of the reprobate: “Have they stumbled that they should fall?” (11:11). Paul’s answer is “God forbid,” for God’s purpose in reprobation is much greater than merely the damnation of the wicked. In inscrutable wisdom and awesome power, God ordains the hardening of the [reprobate] Jews for the salvation of the [elect] Gentiles.

…to be continued

This post was written by Rev. Martyn McGeown, missionary-pastor of the Covenant Protestant Reformed Church in Northern Ireland stationed in Limerick, Republic of Ireland. 

Other articles:

The Bible and Israel (1)

The Bible and Israel (2)

The Bible and Israel (3)

The Bible and Israel (4)

The Bible and Israel (5)

The Bible and Israel (6)

 

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God gives over societies to sin who hate and ignore him.

“But, when the ties of religion are once broken from the mind, all the most effectual restraints of moral principle are instantly dissolved; public sentiment is absorbed in private interest – public virtue is lost. Sensuality insulates every citizen; he has no country but self; all the energies of patriotism are enfeebled; and voluptuousness, in its progress, creates a base servility of soul which is prepared to submit to any master who will favour its indolence, and afford it the means of indulging its effeminate pleasures. Mutual faith is perished – vows are broken without scruple; for what remains to enforce their obligation? Deceit and treachery are but ordinary means to accomplish unworthy ends. Lust, jealousy, and dastardly revenge disturb the order and destroy the happiness of society. When manners have arrived at this stage of degeneracy, they can then be purged only by the destructive power of a foreign master, or by some dreadful internal and exterminating revolution—Such has ever been the ultimate progression of national dereliction of morals and religion —republics have fallen a prey to internal tyranny, empires to foreign conquest. To cite to you proofs of this truth would be to repeat the records of universal illustrated in the fortunes of individual families. Profligacy of manners, poisoning the very fountains of life, a vicious and debilitated race becomes extinct in a few generations. This is the curse which God has inflicted on practical atheism, and its constant companion, extreme corruption of manners. He has so laid the plan of his providence over the world, that the course of nature shall avenge the violated majesty of his law, and become itself, the minister of his justice. When universal depravity of morals has invaded a people, each race becomes, by obvious causes, more corrupted than the last; the evils of the preceding are still accumulated upon that which follows, and seldom, as I have before said, does the third, or the fourth generation pass away till they are ripe for the exterminating judgments of Heaven. Thus does a righteous and jealous God visit the iniquities of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation of those that hate him.” — Samuel Stanhope Smith, Sermons, Volume 1 (Religion Necessary to National Prosperity)

Thanks Andy Underhile.

Religious Freedom in UK

This is an excellent move and worthy of full support!

Campaign

Reclaiming religious freedom in the UK


4 January 2018

This year Barnabas Fund will be launching a new campaign to reclaim the heritage of freedom of religion in the UK and elsewhere which previous generations of Christians endured hardship, persecution and even death to achieve.

 

“The Church has a duty to protect the free practice of all faiths in this country.”

Her Majesty The Queen, Lambeth Palace, February 2012

 

Barnabas Fund is seeking a new Act of Parliament in the UK to guarantee seven fundamental aspects of freedom of religion. These seven freedoms have developed in the UK by various mechanisms over the last five centuries but are now under threat. A law to protect and guarantee them is urgently needed.

Tracing the heritage of religious liberty takes us back more than 800 years to Magna Carta in 1215.  At that time, England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland were separate nations; it was long before Great Britain was created, let alone the United Kingdom. So Magna Carta’s ringing call that “the English Church” must be free should not be seen as limited to England. We must see it as an affirmation to be embraced by the whole of the UK, and far beyond, but expressed in the language of its time and context. Indeed, in later centuries, Magna Carta became a rallying cry for the freedoms of all the English-speaking peoples. For example, those who signed the American Declaration of Independence described themselves as “patriots” claiming their ancient rights as Englishmen which had been set out in Magna Carta and subsequent laws.

As we will explain in a new booklet which Barnabas Fund will shortly be launching, Magna Carta’s affirmation that “the English Church shall be free” was gradually worked out over the centuries into seven specific aspects of freedom of religion:

  1. Freedom to read the Bible in public (achieved 1537)
  2. Freedom to interpret the Bible without government interference (achieved 1559)
  3. Freedom of worship (achieved 1689)
  4. Freedom to choose, or change your faith or belief (achieved 1689)
  5. Freedom to preach and try to convince others of the truth of your beliefs (achieved 1812)
  6. Freedom to build churches and other places of worship (achieved 1812)
  7. Freedom from being required to affirm a particular worldview or set of beliefs in order to hold a public sector job or stand for electionwork in professions such as teaching and law, or study at university (achieved by the repeal of various Test Acts between 1719 and 1888)

Most of these were achieved by the repeal of various restrictions on freedom of religion, rather than a positive law affirming freedom of religion. They are therefore vulnerable to being eroded by those who are either intent on imposing a particular ideological agenda, or by politicians who are simply ignorant of the enormous importance that previous generations played in developing freedom of religion and spreading it to other parts of the world.

The campaign will include a petition calling for a new law specifically guaranteeing all seven aspects of freedom of religion which over the centuries have emerged in the UK. We will also be organising similar petitions in Australia and New Zealand. But this campaign will be more than just petitions. We shall be calling on Christians to engage in numerous ways to reclaim the freedoms which our forefathers endured hardship, persecution and even death to achieve.

We are thankful to God for His guidance, blessing, provision and protection of the UK over centuries. In times of great sin and impending judgement, through the prayers of His people and the work of His saints like Wesley, Whitefield and others, judgement was averted. God in His mercy intervened.

We believe that, as a nation, the UK has again left the pathways of God. We have forsaken His laws, and we are faced with the possibility of the lampstand being removed from our country (Revelation 2:5). With this will probably come the loss of our fundamental religious freedoms. Yet, we believe it is not too late. We believe that we are still, as a nation, in the hands of our sovereign Lord, that it is He who will determine our destiny. Meanwhile we, as His people, must, like Nehemiah of old, pray, build and be equipped and ready to respond to every kind of attack (Nehemiah 4). Finally, we must heed the words of 2 Chronicles 7:14 “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

New Jerusalem

 

We really have little idea what our eternal home will be like but what we do know, gleaned from Scripture, especially Revelation, is that all our deepest longings for love, fellowship and joy, freedom from regret, guilt and sadness will be met.

Many questions arise in my mind. Will we remember our earthly lives or will our minds be otherwise totally occupied? Will we all speak the same language or be mutually intelligible? Will there be different ages present? What responsibilities and work will we have?

Revelation 20 describes a city made of precious. beautiful everlasting stones and pure gold. It is perfection!  The glory of God is imparted to and reflected in his church, the complete number of Jew and Gentile who enjoy unalloyed fellowship with Him and one another, and worship him perfectly and continually.

It is the heavenly paradise with the river of life, flowing from the throne of God, streams of the blessings of grace through Christ, including knowledge of God, righteousness, holiness and the favour of God, constantly flowing to us, the saints, by the operation of the Spirit of Christ.

This has always been God’s everlasting purpose to glorify his name and his saints with him. This is something to celebrate and anticipate.