Off the Reservation
. . . Jesus Christ . . . the ruler of the kings of the earth (Revelation 1:5).
Tim Tebow’s recent capitulation at First Baptist Church, Dallas, begging off from his April 28 speaking engagement there, is the latest example of what happens when Christians ‘get off the reservation.’ As you no doubt know, the pro-homosexual media culture was castigating Tebow for agreeing to speak at a church with such a ‘hateful pastor’, Robert Jeffress. Jeffress, who originally came to the forefront of controversy when FBC, Dallas member, Governor Rick Perry, ran earlier in 2012 as a Republican Presidential candidate. The press ran clips of Jeffress’ sermons where he called homosexuality a sin facing God’s judgment. Jeffress has said only what any other Bible believing pastor ought to say. His remarks are clearly within the mainstream of evangelical theology. Nonetheless, because Jeffress stepped off the reservation (the church) by endorsing his friend Rick Perry for President, the liberal press began to pummel him.
Al Mohler, in a typically well thought out and helpful article on Tim Tebow fumbling the ball on this issue, has said that all true Christians, sooner or later, including Tebow and Lou Giglio (he pulled out of praying at President Obama’s Inauguration when the Political Correctness police found a sermon he preached twenty years ago stating homosexuality is a sin and only faith in Jesus can deliver one from it) must handle this issue. The question is – how will we handle it? Will we cave in or will we stand for the truth?
Actually, I wish to make a clarifying distinction on Mohler’s position – as long as we stay on the reservation, as long as we merely attend church, sing our hymns or choruses, have our preaching, teach our Sunday School classes, and have our community groups in our homes – then the Political Correctness Gestapo will not bother us. They will simply ignore us. However, the moment we venture off the reservation, like Robert Jeffress, like James Dobson and Anita Bryant did for so many years, then sooner or later we will face a firestorm of controversy. They will accuse us of hate speech and worse.
Some unwittingly seek to mitigate the issue by embracing the two kingdom view of the world. That is, there are two spheres of influence. There is the church where the Bible reigns supreme, where all there should humbly embrace its teachings and follow it in obedience. Then there is the world where people reject the Bible and Christ. Our desire, of course, is to reach these people, to bring them into the church of Jesus; but since they do not believe the Bible, then we are told by many that these people will not listen to the Bible, that we must therefore use another means to reach them. That means is ‘natural law.’ So the appeal goes like this, ‘Can’t you see that homosexuality is counter-productive to any society? A society cannot survive with it. Can’t you see that it is unnatural? There is a better way.’ Unfortunately my beloved nineteenth-century southern Presbyterian Church embraced this view by refusing to condemn chattel slavery, referring to it as a political issue, one that did not enter the realm of the church. The German Church in the 1930’s took the same position, refusing to speak out against the evils of Naziism, hoping and believing that they could co-exist with that wicked regime. So today we have many pastors and congregants who are content to stay on the reservation while the world runs wildly and unabatedly into perdition.
In Revelation 1:4-6, in his prologue to Jesus’ marvellous revelation, the Apostle John puts forth a Trinitarian title, referring to God the Father who is, and who was, and is to come; and to the seven Spirits who are before the throne of God; and to Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the first born of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth, the One who loves us and released us from our sins by his blood.
There are so many glorious things in this three-fold distinction of our great and mighty God, but I wish only to focus on one of them – Jesus is the ruler of the kings of the earth. Well, is he? Or is he merely the ruler of the church? King David says, ‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Thine inheritance, and the very ends of the earth as Thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron, Thou shalt shatter them like earthenware’ (Psa. 2:8-9). ‘The Lord says to My Lord: “Sit at My right hand until I make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet.” The Lord will stretch forth His strong sceptre from Zion saying, “Rule in the midst of Thine enemies”‘ (Psa. 110:1-2). And Korah says, ‘Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever, a sceptre of uprightness is the sceptre of Thy kingdom . . . Therefore God, Thy God, hast anointed Thee’ (Psa. 45:6-7). In other words, Jesus is king of all things. He is exalted to the right hand of the Father, above all rule, authority, power, and dominion, both in this age and in the age to come (Eph. 1:21; Col. 1:16; Rev. 11:15). He rules the church and he rules the world. There is no thing, no one, anywhere which is out from under his authority. And because this is true, then his Word applies in the world and the church. Natural law has no authority, no punch, no power. Man suppresses the truth in unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18). He knows, deep down in the core of his being, that the Bible is true. It matters not whether people believe theWword of God. Our job is to use it in every circumstance, trusting the Holy Spirit to bring conviction, conversion, and sanctification to all who hear it proclaimed.
Those who embrace the two kingdom view are ‘giving away the farm.’ Admittedly, as we survey our world today we cannot find a nation anywhere that lives predominantly by God’s Word; but many take that to mean this is normative, that we ought simply to accept this reality, and live the best we can in a foreign, godless culture. But the gospel of grace and power came to the Roman Empire, later to Europe, then to the United States, and the Christian consensus prevailed for centuries in all these places. That is because people humbled themselves under the mighty hand of God, repenting of sin, drawing near to Christ, and trusting the Holy Spirit to convert millions of people through the preaching of law and grace.
We must not give away the farm. We must reclaim it. How? Get off the reservation. Do so humbly, gently, but boldly. Do not be strident, but do not give an inch. When asked for a reason for the hope that is in you, do not fumble the ball.
While we were living in Connecticut my wife joined the West Hartford Garden Club, using it as a means by which she could meet unconverted women in order to share Jesus with them. She knew nothing about gardening and I used to call her an impostor. We always got a nice laugh out of it. One day she was planting flowers in West Hartford with women from her Garden Club when the issue of same-sex marriage arose. They knew she was married to a pastor and they asked her our church’s view on the matter. My wife gently said, ‘First of all, my husband and I have had a ministry with HIV positive, homosexual men where as many as fifty at one time were in our home for a Christmas Party. We love all kinds of people, including homosexuals; and of course they and all people for that matter, are welcome to attend our church. Now, to answer your question, I can only tell you what the Bible says about homosexuality, as well as any other heterosexual activity outside of marriage. The Bible calls it sin and people must repent of this sin, any sin, and run to Jesus in repentance and faith. He will forgive them, cleanse them, and take them to heaven when they die.’ The women, all older than my wife, began to laugh derisively. They were mocking her.
But give people the truth in love. Don’t shrink from it, all the while praying for the Spirit to open their eyes and ears to the truth, that they may be drawn from darkness to light. Get off the reservation but when you do, do not be surprised by the fiery ordeal of persecution; and when it comes, rejoice and be glad for your reward in heaven is great. For they persecuted the prophets who came before you (Matt. 5:11).
- ‘Tebow’s Big Fumble,’ Christianity Today, February 22, 2013.
Rev. Allen M Baker is an evangelist with Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship, and Director of the Alabama Church Planting Network. He planted (2003) and served as Pastor of Christ Community Presbyterian Church in Hartford, Connecticut, until December 2011. His weekly devotional, ‘Forget None of His Benefits’, can be found here.
If you would like to respond to Pastor Baker, please contact him directly at email@example.com.
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