Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Responding to Wickedness with Trust, Prayer & Proclamation

I've spoken before of the rising tide of evil in our world. It is something that we observe and that Scripture has promised will happen (2 Timothy 3.1-5). Scripture also tells us that God punishes wickedness and will do so ultimately in the end. In Genesis 19 God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of their wickedness. This destruction was a great test of faith both for Abraham and for his nephew Lot. Reading about that can be discouraging and disheartening to us as it was to them. Looking around at today's increasing immorality, hatred and violence can also be discouraging. Sadly, we can say with Ethan, "For what futility have You created all the children of men?" (Psalm 89.47). 

The world that lies under the deception of Satan (1 John 5.19) misunderstands the source of this evil and therefore responds incorrectly. Some blame ignorance and say that better education will be the cure. Some blame poverty and say the redistribution of wealth will be the cure. Some think that the good guys just need to shoot all the bad guys in order to overcome evil. Truthful education, fair economics and just temporal punishments can help resist and contain evil in the world. But these things cannot overcome evil. Evil can only be overcome by the one who taught us to pray: "Deliver us from evil." Jesus defeated evil with righteousness when He resisted Satan's temptations (Matthew 4.1-11), and when He gave His life as a ransom for those who would seek God's forgiveness from their own evil (Mark 10.45).

Now we can see the best response to wickedness: First, we trust in God who alone can overcome wickedness - first in our own hearts and then in the world. Second, we pray for God to deliver us and this world from evil just as Jesus taught us. We pray fervently for the wicked as Abraham prayed fervently for Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18.22-33). It is important to pray for all those who are blinded by the Evil One that they might be brought to repentance and faith in Christ. Thirdly, God has put us here to proclaim the truth of evil and the truth of forgiveness and salvation in Jesus. What happens after that is in God's hands. He will see all things to their proper end. 

Sermon from July 24, 2016 "From Gomorrah to Golgotha"

Hymn:  "Rise to Arms! With Prayer Employ You"

Rise! To arms! With prayer employ you,
O Christians, lest the foe destroy you;
For Satan has designed your fall.
Wield God’s Word, the weapon glorious;
Against all foes be thus victorious.
God will set you above them all.
Fear not the hordes of hell,
Here is Emmanuel.
Hail the Savior!
The strong foes yield
To Christ, our shield,
And we, the victors, hold the field.

Cast afar this world’s vain pleasure
And boldly strive for heav’nly treasure.
Be steadfast in the Savior’s might.
Trust the Lord, who stands beside you,
For Jesus from all harm will hide you.
By faith you conquer in the fight.
Take courage, weary soul!
Look forward to the goal!
Joy awaits you.
The race well run,
Your long war won,
Your crown shines splendid as the sun.

Wisely fight, for time is fleeting;
The hours of grace are fast retreating;
Short, short is this our earthly way.
When the Lord the dead will waken
And sinners all by fear are shaken,
The saints with joy will greet that day.
Praise God, our triumph’s sure.
We need not long endure
Scorn and trial.
Our Savior King
His own will bring

To that great glory which we sing.

Text: Wilhelm E. Arends, 1677–1721; tr. John M. Sloan, b. 1835, alt. WACHET AUF
Tune: Philipp Nicolai, 1556–1608 P M
Text and tune: Public domain