Igniting Reform

Seven Sermons that Inform, Challenge, and Warn the Church and the Culture

There are many inappropriate and unloving ways to uphold the truth, but there never can be a loving way to distort it.
—“Clarity Needed,” www.wordfoundations.com

When the church is absolutely different from the world, she invariably attracts it. It is then that the world is made to listen to her message, though it may hate it at first.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Pastors must be on the front lines of the effort to restore America to its founding principles.
—”Misinformed and Misled, Part 8,” www.wordfoundations.com

A condensed version of this article is available here.

When I was growing up in the 60s, one of my favorite television shows was Lost in Space.


It must have been no surprise to my parents when I asked for a toy Lost in Space Robot for Christmas. Here is a video highlighting the features of this really cool toy.

That same Christmas, my younger sister was given a sweater that turned out to be a size or two larger than she needed. Piggy-backing on my excitement over receiving the robot, my sister wandered through the house with her arms flailing. “Warning! Warning! Too big! Too big!” she cried.

The Lost in Space Robot, of course, is known for issuing warnings.

What would Lost in Space have been like were it not for the Robot and his warnings? I’m glad we didn’t ever know!

While Lost in Space showcased warnings that had great entertainment value, some warnings are dead serious—as is the responsibility Christians have to convey certain warnings clearly and in a timely manner. Last week I affirmed that as believers, “we have been rightly concerned about the need to express love and compassion to those who disagree with us.” Then I lamented, “Yet I fear we have let this concern overshadow our responsibility to speak prophetically.”

It is this need for Christians to speak prophetically that I will endeavor to address today. The need is real at both the individual and corporate levels, but for reform to be ignited, pastors will need to provide the initial spark in their pulpits. As we said last week, “we now need a host of spokesmen who will uphold God-ordained marriage!” If you are a pastor, I want to encourage you to remain faithful to the truth of God’s Word. This includes encouraging your people to love others and meet needs in Jesus’ name, but it also includes equipping them to discern truth from error and training them to effectively make the case for marriage as a lifelong commitment between one man and one woman. This will include warning the church and the culture about the ominous direction our nation currently is headed.

A God-Given Duty

The classic text highlighting the responsibility of God’s spokesperson to issue warnings is Ezekiel 33:1-9.

33:1 The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, speak to your people and say to them, If I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from among them, and make him their watchman, 3 and if he sees the sword coming upon the land and blows the trumpet and warns the people, 4 then if anyone who hears the sound of the trumpet does not take warning, and the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. 5 He heard the sound of the trumpet and did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But if he had taken warning, he would have saved his life. 6 But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any one of them, that person is taken away in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.

7 “So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. 8 If I say to the wicked, O wicked one, you shall surely die, and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from his way, that wicked person shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. 9 But if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, that person shall die in his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul.”

While this passage is specific to Ezekiel’s responsibility to warn those in the path of judgment, it also reflects the duty all believers have to sound the alarm and convey urgent messages from God. This calling has a rich history in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Consider these men whom God appointed to warn the people of their generation.

God’s Spokesmen Warned Their Contemporaries

Noah. Hebrews 11:7 tells us, “By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.” We read this verse and we’re tempted to cringe, aren’t we? The culture has so drilled into our minds that we must not judge—and we most certainly must never condemn—that we feel a bit uncomfortable with this statement about Noah. While it’s true that Jesus said, “Judge not, that you be not judged,” He didn’t mean for His followers to make no judgments at all. Discernment is essential. Jesus actually was telling believers not to be hypocritically judgmental.

The word translated condemned means just that—to condemn, but it also means to make others’ sins evident and conspicuous by one’s own righteous example. In Hebrews 11:7, this latter definition applies. We must never think this means Noah was arrogant, or condescending, or prideful about his righteousness or about the wickedness prevalent among his contemporaries. On the contrary, I believe he grieved for them and encouraged them to repent. In 2 Peter 2:5, Peter referred to Noah as a “herald of righteousness.” Obviously Noah proclaimed righteousness through his pure life and by building the ark in obedience to God, but he surely also must have encouraged those around him to join him on the ark before God’s judgment fell. Sadly, however, only “a few, that is, eight persons [just Noah and his family], were brought safely through water” because they took refuge in the ark (1 Pet. 3:20).

Moses. God used Moses to warn Pharaoh repeatedly about divine judgment. He also used Moses to warn the Hebrews of the coming death angel and to encourage them to run to safety by placing blood on the sides and tops of the doorways of their homes according to God’s instructions. Hebrews 11:27-28 says of Moses, “By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them.”

Jonah. We learn from the Old Testament book that bear’s Jonah’s name, “Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me” (Jonah 1:1-2). Jonah actually wanted God to condemn the Ninevites, but the Lord went out of His way to show Jonah that he needed to be an agent of divine mercy and grace (see vv. 3-17). How did God want Jonah to be such an agent? By warning the Ninevites of God’s coming judgment! After his experience inside the fish’s belly (see chapter 2), God instructed Jonah once more to preach to Nineveh (see 3:1-2). At last, he obeyed. Jonah 3:4-10 reads in part,

4 Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” 5 And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them.…10 When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.

You’d think Jonah would have been pleased with such an overwhelming response to his preaching, but he hadn’t yet learned just how deep and how wide God’s love and grace really were. God put Jonah back in the classroom. While the Lord earlier had used an animal to teach Jonah, this time He used a plant. The plant offered Jonah much needed shade at first, but then it withered and died, and Jonah was baking in the sun. When Jonah complained about the demise of the plant, God said to him, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?” (Jonah 4:10-11).

Despite Jonah’s imperfections, God used this reluctant prophet to urge the Ninevites to repent of their sins and thereby experience God’s mercy and grace.

John the Baptist. John prepared the way for the Messiah’s arrival by warning the people to repent and to change their way of living. He

went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet,

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.
5 Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall become straight,
and the rough places shall become level ways,
6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”

7 He said therefore to the crowds that came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruits in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 9 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

10 And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” 11 And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.” 12 Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” 13 And he said to them, “Collect no more than you are authorized to do.” 14 Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?” And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages” (Luke 3:3-14).

Let us not forget that John also warned Herod, telling him, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife” (Mark 6:18). He paid for that action with his life, but he didn’t fail to declare the truth, even to a king.

Peter. At Pentecost, a mere seven weeks after Jesus rose from the dead, Peter preached the good news of salvation to the people in Jerusalem. His message included warnings. You can read Peter’s sermon in Acts 2:14-36. After the people heard the fisherman-turned-evangelist preach,

37 they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls (vv. 37-41).

Yes, Peter warned his hearers of God’s coming judgment and encouraged them to receive divine forgiveness for their sins. In fact, here’s how the translators of the New International Version rendered Acts 2:40: “With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.’”

Paul. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, the apostle Paul wrote, Christ “we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ” (Col. 1:28).

Warnings Are an Essential Part of Effective Evangelism

We must understand that the good news about Jesus Christ is as wonderful as it is because the bad news about sin is as terrible as it is. If people don’t understand how hopeless their situations are without Christ, they surely cannot comprehend how precious and priceless God’s gift of salvation really is. In fact, it’s so valuable it could only be secured by the death of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, on the cross.

Accordingly, warnings aren’t just appropriate. They are necessary. They’re even more necessary in our day, because, looking over the landscape of sermons preached in recent decades, we see that these messages have been bereft of biblical warnings.

Please read last week’s post to learn even more about why divine warnings about marriage are so urgent today. We could summarize this by saying that if America is traveling to destruction by taking the road of redefining marriage (something it clearly is doing), then warnings against distorting and manipulating marriage need to be issued. Certainly this isn’t the only perilous path America is on, but it is one path about which the church has not sufficiently warned the country.

If America is traveling to destruction by taking the road of redefining marriage, then warnings against distorting and manipulating marriage need to be issued. Certainly this isn’t the only perilous path America is on, but it is one path about which the church has not sufficiently warned the country.

As a pastor, you can help the church regain its prophetic voice by making sure you do not neglect your duty to warn God’s people and the culture at large. But what should you preach?

For over a year, I’ve been writing articles and posting them at www.wordfoundations.com. Many of these have been Bible studies that a preacher can easily adapt and use for a morning or evening sermon. I’m highlighting seven such posts here. I encourage you to consider using them in your preaching ministry in the coming weeks and months. Along with the seven, I’m also highlighting four additional posts that provide important background information. While thoroughly consistent with biblical truth, these four posts aren’t Bible studies. Even so, you may find ways to convey the information to your people, as it will enhance their understanding of the times in which they live and how they need to conduct themselves in them.

Background information

Sermon and Bible Study Material

  • Discernment Needed—Christians cannot be effectively equipped to warn others if they don’t heed the divine warnings God gives in the Bible. This study showcases numerous warnings against falling prey to the lies of the world. Make sure you and the members of your church aren’t deceived.
  • Clarity Needed—If you read, study, or preach just one of these messages, this is the one I hope you will choose. God-ordained marriage is a picture that helps people understand why Christ died—so for the sake of effective evangelism alone, we must protect natural marriage.

If you read or preach just one of these messages, please choose “Clarity Needed.” God-ordained marriage is a picture that helps people understand why Christ died—so for the sake of effective evangelism alone, we must protect natural marriage.

  • Esse quam videriEsse quam videri is a Latin phrase that means “to be rather than to seem.” This article explores the ominous nature of a lie and the deadly destination to which it leads. How do we combat lies? We must counter them with the truth!
  • Compassion’s Mandate—Christians are told on nearly every front that refusing to accept and celebrate homosexuality and same-sex marriage is bigoted and hateful. Not so! Would a doctor who knows his patient has a deadly disease be compassionate to withhold that information? Of course not. Compassion’s mandate is to declare the truth in love.
  • The Supreme Court…Isn’t: Six Things the Bible Tells Us About the State—Christians need to know what the Bible teaches about government and governmental authority. This Bible study explores these teachings. Such authority is delegated by God and can be misused and abused. When government acts outside it’s God-given authority, believers have a duty to hold it accountable.
  • Reflections on Repentance—Repentance is seen everywhere as confining, restrictive, and burdensome. Of all people, we as believers know that on the other side of repentance is true freedom. As we present the truth to our family members, friends, neighbors, and coworkers, we need to pray that God would open their eyes to see how refusing to repent means staying in bondage, and how repenting opens up a fresh, new world of liberty.
  • Keep Cultivating and Don’t Lose Heart—Declaring the truth in this culture is risky. This Bible study encourages believers to remember the eternal value of the principles they stand for over against the temporal nature of those things they are tempted to hold with a tight grip. Presenting the truth may require sacrifice, but God will bless with things far more valuable. Never give up!

Keep in mind that all of these posts were written in 2015, and many were written before the Supreme Court issued its marriage ruling. Adaptations still can easily be made. Be aware too that some internet links no longer are valid, but the material in each article still is.

I pray that this post will find its way into many pastors’ studies and many Bible study leaders’ homes. Please use this material to warn God’s people and the culture at large about the perils of the direction in which America is headed.

The writer of Hebrews issued this command and this warning to his readers—including you and me: Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous” (Heb. 13:4). If we would honor marriage, we will never withhold the truth about it from a culture that is confused and misinformed. Nor will we fail to warn people.

Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.
Hebrews 13:4

Realistically, the initial sparks that will ignite reform in our country will most likely be generated by pastors. Pastor, will you fulfill your duty?


Copyright © 2016 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.

Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations in this article are from the English Standard Version (ESV). The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®) copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. ESV® Text Edition: 2011. The ESV® text has been reproduced in cooperation with and by permission of Good News Publishers. Unauthorized reproduction of this publication is prohibited. All rights reserved.

One quotation is from the New International Version. THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Websites and videos in this article have been cited for information purposes only. No citation should be construed as an endorsement.


Have Evangelicals Been Trumped?

Look at the means which a man employs, consider his motives, observe his pleasures. A man simply cannot conceal himself!

Everywhere about us, Christians find reminders that the world system in which we live is essentially a corrupt one. Man is still basically sinful and we must be on our guard that the morality and ethics of the world will not become ours. The current Watergate trials are sufficient to warn us against complacency in this area.…Morality and ethics in government [are] absolutely essential if our nation will maintain any kind of stability and world leadership. Christians must be lights in this world. We must maintain strict Biblical standards of morality in order to be an example to the world.
Dr. C. Mark Corts, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, in the church’s weekly newsletter, April 25, 1973—

On February 20, the evening of the South Carolina Republican primary, after it was clear that Donald Trump had won, blogger Matt Walsh posted this entry on his Facebook page:

Trump won South Carolina, a supposedly conservative Christian state, by a wide margin tonight.

A few quick reactions:

  • Don’t rationalize this. He didn’t win because of Democrats. The man won Evangelicals. The man who—JUST THIS WEEK—praised Planned Parenthood, and who fishes for applause lines by cussing out his competitors and mocking disabled people, and who can’t name a book in the Bible, and who said he doesn’t need forgiveness from God, and who brags about sleeping with married women, and who said he’d love to date his own daughter because she has a hot body, and who supported the murder of fully developed infant children, and who blatantly lies and then lies again about lying, and who has encapsulated literally the exact opposite of anything that could remotely be considered a “Christian value,” won with the indispensable assistance of Christians. The anger I feel towards those Christians in this moment cannot be put into words. They should be ashamed. I will pray for them.
  • Speaking of winning conservatives, Trump—JUST THIS WEEK—said he likes the Obamacare mandate. This was, according to conservatives, the most important thing to defeat not but two years ago. Now some of those same conservatives are voting for a big government liberal who says he supports the very thing these very people were sure would undo the Republic just a few months ago.
  • If Trump wins the nomination, conservatism in this country is officially dead, and the country itself will be close behind it.
  • Speaking of the country’s demise, Trump fans are gleefully ushering in tyranny. I am tired of hearing about their “anger.” They claim they are angry at the very thing they now embrace. They aren’t angry. They’re bored. They’re immature. They’re infatuated with celebrity and fame and money. They aren’t angry. I’m angry about what they are doing to my nation. The rest of us can be angry, but these people have lost the right to have their anger taken seriously.
  • I don’t want to hear about second place consolation prizes. If Cruz or Rubio can’t win South Carolina, it may be time to panic. I’m sorry, but it’s true. Deal with the reality, folks.
  • According to exit polls, Trump fans don’t necessarily think he’s electable and they don’t believe he shares their values, but “they want change.” Dear God, we are really doing 2008 all over again. People voting for ambiguous, non-specific change in spite of the avalanche of red flags. We are really doing this again. I am so disgusted at the stupidity in this country.
  • Bush should be commended for dropping out. He’s an honorable and decent man, although I didn’t support him. The others in the bottom tier, should they stay in, will be doing potentially irreparable harm to this country and my children’s future. And that is something I will struggle to forgive.
  • Get on your knees and pray for this country tonight. Right now. I feel we are on the cusp of something terrible. Pray we avoid it.

In this article, Mr. Walsh documents many of the offences of which Trump is guilty. You can watch him here explain in one-and-a-half minutes why he believes Trump is so dangerous.

Mr. Walsh isn’t alone.

Here is the ad NOM ran before the South Carolina primary.

Trump has tremendous appeal on multiple levels, but why have so many Evangelicals thrown their support behind him? Dr. Richard Land, president Southern Evangelical Seminary, is “mystified,” given the alternative candidates that should attract Bible-believing Christians. Land observes that it is inconsistent to say for years that character is essential in a national leader and to refuse to support Newt Gingrich because of his multiple marriages—and then to ignore Trump’s multiple marriages as well as his boasting about having been intimate with other women.

Dr. Robert Jeffress, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas, believes Evangelicals’ expectations of national leaders have changed. While many Christians once looked to leaders in government to contend for biblical or traditional values, they now look for leaders who will effectively fix the country’s problems. The Supreme Court ruling that mandated same-sex marriage in all 50 states was a factor lowering these expectations. While Jeffress said he would not endorse Trump, his praise of Trump has been equated with an endorsement.

In his End of Day email report for February 22, Gary Bauer of the Campaign for Working Families, gave his take. [A slightly edited version of the the email is available here.]

Seventy-two percent of Republican voters Saturday [in South Carolina] identified as born-again evangelical Christians. They split 33% for Trump, 27% for Cruz and 22% for Rubio.

There is a lot of angst about how an electorate that was so overwhelmingly evangelical could give a plurality of its votes to Donald Trump when his views on values issues are at best murky. I have a theory.

For years many pro-family leaders have been warning the Republican Party that there are a lot of voters out there who vote for Republican candidates solely on issues like the sanctity of life, the meaning of marriage and the general sense that Republicans stand for social conservatism.

We have warned party elites that if those issues are off the table, a lot of these folks will vote based on other issues, such as their perception of their own economic interests. That could lead them to vote for Democrats or populist candidates.

Just consider two main issues for values voters—abortion and the meaning of marriage—and where we stand today. After 40 years of voting for pro-life candidates, we are beginning to make some progress. But we have yet to fully restore rights to the unborn, and we are fighting over whether taxpayers should be forced to pay for abortions.

On marriage, social conservatives did everything they were asked to do. We were told that a federal marriage amendment was a bridge too far, and that marriage was a state issue. So, more than 30 states voted to protect the definition of traditional marriage. But then the federal courts invalidated their votes.

When the Supreme Court ruled that marriage only between a man and a woman was unconstitutional, there was little pushback from Republican leaders in Washington. Some quarters of the party actually seemed relieved that the court had “settled” the issue, even though it was settled in a manner contrary to the values of most Republican voters.

So what does this have to do with South Carolina? Well, if you are an evangelical blue collar worker and you conclude that no major political force is going to fight for your social values, you start voting based on other issues, if you vote at all.

Did Donald Trump win a plurality of evangelical votes? Yes he did. They were overwhelmingly blue collar evangelicals who chose him for his opposition to illegal immigration, his opposition to trade deals, which they perceive as trading away their jobs, his economic populism and his full-throated “America First” nationalism.

Several conservative media outlets this morning, including the increasingly influential Breitbart.com, are suggesting that what is happening now may be a blue collar takeover of the Republican Party. [The Breitbart article is available here.]

Bauer’s analysis echoes an observation another prominent conservative made months ago. In an interview conducted by The Atlantic’s Molly Ball, writer Erick Erickson (formerly of Red State and now of The Resurgent) said, “The Republican Party created Donald Trump, because they made a lot of promises to their base and never kept them.” At the time of the interview—August of 2015—Erickson had disinvited Donald Trump to the Red State Gathering in Atlanta after Trump said on CNN that Megyn Kelly, a Fox News host, had “blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.” Erickson felt compelled to draw the line, especially after Trump offered no apology for his remark.

The Republican Party created Donald Trump, because they made a lot of promises to their base and never kept them.
—Erick Erickson—

For the moment, my primary concern is neither being anti-Trump, nor even campaigning for an alternative candidate. Rather, it is to point out a serious, multi-faceted problem in the evangelical church. Christians are failing to “connect the dots,” failing to understand the relationship between integrity and effective leadership.

  1. While frustration and anger are understandable, supporting a candidate who can “fix problems” as opposed to one who will defend American ideals and values is to wave a white flag on issues we say we care deeply about. The Author of life and the Architect of marriage cannot be pleased with this. Believers need to realize that upholding values is an important step to finding solutions to national problems (see Prov. 29:2.).
  2. Character is important. As this article contends, “You cannot be one kind of man and another kind of president.” See Matthew 7:15-20.
  3. Pastors have shirked their duty to teach their people the full meaning of the Great Commission. Jesus declared, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:18-20). Jesus’ command to teach “them to observe all things that I have commanded you” is broad and encompasses stewardship, citizenship, and one’s supreme duty to God.
  4. Elaborating on point 3, pastors have failed specifically to teach their people their responsibilities as dual citizens—citizens of heaven and of an earthly country. In Matthew 22:21, Jesus instructed, “Render…to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” God ordained government and delegated authority to it. Since this is true, government does not have absolute authority. A believer’s allegiance must be to God first. Today we honor men and women like Corrie ten Boom, who broke laws to save many lives. Yet if a parallel situation were to befall us, would we be willing to obey God rather than men? (See Acts 5:29.) In the coming days, I believe the church will need to develop a sound theology of civil disobedience, a theology that helps believers grapple with the implications of their supreme duty to God.
  5. Church leaders have failed to train their people to resist being swayed by false, yet attractive, teaching. Paul warned Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:3-5, “3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. 5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” Christians need to understand the lure of an emotional appeal as well as the potential dangers. It is no accident that we are instructed to love the Lord God with our minds as well as our hearts, souls, and strength (see Mark 12:30).
  6. Pastors and churches have shirked their duty to be on the front lines of spiritual warfare. The following insightful statement is attributed to Martin Luther: “If I profess with loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except that little point which the world and the Devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.”
  7. The Bible has a great deal to say about effective leadership. Leadership, according to Scripture, involves much more than producing impressive results. Why haven’t Christians been taught these principles? Could it be that we don’t see upholding integrity as something that will attract the unchurched? Would we be stepping on too many toes? We certainly need to encourage unchurched people to attend our services, but we must not avoid “the whole counsel of God” in doing so (see Acts 20:26-30). Making Christian disciples and teaching people to observe Christ’s commands includes upholding and modeling the highest of ethical standards and leadership practices.

These seven items do not constitute an exhaustive list, but they do represent critical needs that must be addressed in the church and in Christian circles. Regardless who gets the Republican nomination and who becomes president, the church has challenging days ahead. However, as God’s people with the Holy Spirit residing in us, we also have God’s wisdom, if we will ask for it (see James 1:5-8).

May the Lord help us address these needs. May He also give us discernment, strength, and a resolve to remain faithful to Him and His truth in the weeks, months, and years ahead—regardless of cost.

Copyright © 2016 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture has been taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

For further viewing:
Watch Ben Shapiro review some of the many inconsistencies and outright lies of Donald Trump.



Discernment Needed, Part 2

Eight Menacing Trends in the American Evangelical Church

Part 1 is available here.

When I pastored a country church, a farmer didn’t like the sermons I preached on hell. He said, “Preach about the meek and lowly Jesus.” I said, “That’s where I got my information about hell.”
—Vance Havner1

One day a North Carolina farmer and a Texas rancher were talking. The Texas rancher told his friend, “I want you to know that when I’m home I can rise early, even before dawn, climb into my truck, and begin to travel across my land. I can travel for hours, and when the sun finally begins to slip behind the horizon at the end of the day, I still won’t have reached the end of my property!”

“Boy! I sure do pity you!” said the North Carolina farmer. “I used to have a truck like that, too!”

Having a proper perspective is vitally important. Without a perspective aligned with reality, the North Carolina farmer missed the point his friend from Texas was trying to make.

This article will challenge the perspective and the conventional wisdom prevalent in the modern evangelical church. It very well may shake some of the assumptions you’ve held for many years. Read with an open mind as we seek to explore why, generally speaking, the church lacks discernment and no longer speaks with a prophetic voice. After highlighting two philosophical shifts that have occurred in history (one in the culture at large and the other in the church), we will seek examine several choices the church has made (perhaps even unconsciously) that have severely weakened its effectiveness.

Shift Number One: Society Rejects the Concept of Absolute Truth

In a sermon he preached on February 28, 1999, the late Dr. D. James Kennedy, long time pastor of the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, placed a spotlight on the one virtue that modern society upholds and seeks to demand of everyone—tolerance.2 Dr. Kennedy explains that the tolerance society now champions isn’t the same kind of tolerance Americans have practiced throughout the country’s history. Historically, tolerating someone has meant bearing with and putting up with him or her, even though a person didn’t agree with that individual. This kind of tolerance assumes mutual respect among parties that disagree and implies amiable relationships, despite differences. The new tolerance, by contrast, says that differing views are equal in value and are equally true. Thus, to tolerate someone in this sense is to esteem his or her opinion as just as valid as one’s own. Someone might disagree with someone else, but he can’t say that person is wrong. If every opinion is equally valid, then no one has a corner on truth. This is key, because if no one has a corner on truth, absolute truth does not exist, and a universal right and wrong cannot exist, either. The new tolerance says that all views must be endorsed and affirmed by everyone, because no view is inferior or superior in any way to any other view. In addition, to fail to endorse the perspective of someone with whom we disagree is to be intolerant.3

The new tolerance is a byproduct of the postmodern era. Every once in a while, says Dr. Kennedy, we should stick our heads out and look around to see what’s going on in the culture and in the world. The modern era lasted from the fall of the Bastille in France in 1789 to the collapse of the Berlin Wall in Germany in 1989—a period of 200 years. Sometimes called rationalism or the age of reason, modernism “reached its pinnacle in the atheistic, scientific, evolutionary, socialistic USSR—the Soviet Union.”4 Then, with the collapse of the Berlin Wall, the postmodern era dawned and brought with it a whole new set of assumptions. Principle among these assumptions was and is the idea that there are no absolutes and that everything is relative. While some will cite Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity to make the case that everything is relative, Einstein himself said, “Relativity applies to physics, not ethics.”5,6

Yet the consensus in American culture is that even in the ethical realm, no absolute truth exists. What are the implications of this as a cultural belief? Dr. Kennedy explains,

Postmodernism says that rationalism has failed. The modernist said, “Faith has failed. We must be rational.” The postmodernist has said “Reason has failed. We must resort to feeling.”

How often do you hear people say, “Well I feel that so-and-so. I feel that Washington, D.C. is the capital of this country”? I don’t feel that. I think it. But it’s always not “I think” but “I feel.” The only important thing is how they feel. And we have even invented a new civil right. And that is the civil right for my feelings not to be hurt.…

We cannot have anybody’s feelings hurt. And part of postmodernism is this universal individual. We don’t have countries, we don’t have anything except the individual. There’s no human race, there’s just the individual and his feelings, and they must not be offended.…

And so we have gone from a democracy, a government by the people—of the people, by the people, and for the people—to a government by the sovereign individual. Or should I say, more accurately, the sovereign individual’s feelings? And that brings us to the fact that there are not even any universal truths of any kind for people, and whatever truths we have are simply societal constructs that each community or society or nation has created and these do not apply beyond the borders of that culture.

This is why I have repeatedly said that tolerance is the last virtue of a depraved society. When you have an immoral society that has blatantly, proudly violated all of the commandments of God, there’s one last virtue they insist upon—tolerance for their immorality. And they will not have you condemning what they have done as being wrong. And they’ve created a whole world construct in which it’s not, and in which they are no longer the criminal or the villain or the evil person, but you are. And so they call evil good and good evil (see Isaiah 5:20)7 [minor edits made for clarity].

Even if you’ve been unfamiliar with the terms modernism and postmodernism, surely you’ve seen evidence of the grip of the new tolerance on American culture. Note carefully how accurate Dr. Kennedy is when he says that a new civil right has been established—the right not to have one’s feelings hurt, or we might call it the right not to be offended.

Shift Number Two: The Church Began to Deemphasize God’s Law in Its Gospel Presentations

In his signature sermon, “Hell’s Best Kept Secret,”8 evangelist Ray Comfort describes the second shift we need to consider, one that took place in the evangelical church. Comfort begins by highlighting the purpose of the law as explained in Psalm 19:7: “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul.” He explains that without a proper understanding of God’s law, a sinner cannot fully understand his own guilt before God and his desperate need for divine forgiveness. Yet with such an understanding, sinners comprehend at last that God’s holiness and their own sin cannot coexist. With this insight, they are ready to hear and understand that Christ’s substitutionary death is the only solution to their biggest problem (see Rom. 3:19-20; 7:7; Gal. 3:24). While God’s law cannot save and therefore leaves us helpless before the Lord, it also causes us to see our utter helplessness, and it gives us a sense of urgency regarding our sinful condition. In other words, a proper understanding of God’s law causes sinners to thirst for and to respond positively to the good news of God’s saving grace in Christ.9

Comfort explains that unfortunately, most evangelism presentations today do not present a clear, biblical understanding of God’s law and its ominous implications for sinners. Instead, they emphasize primarily that Christ gives meaning, purpose, and fulfillment in life.10 Christ does indeed give meaning to life (see John 10:10), but this point must not overshadow an emphasis on God’s law and what it reveals about sinners.

I began to study the book of Romans intently, and specifically the gospel proclamations of men like Spurgeon, Wesley, Moody, Finney, Whitefield, Luther—others that God used down through the ages, and I found they used a principle which is almost neglected entirely by modern methods.…

If I approach an impenitent sinner and say, “Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins,” it will be foolishness to him and offensive to him. Foolishness because it won’t make sense. The Bible says that: “The preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness” [see 1 Cor. 1:18]. And offensive because I’m insinuating he’s a sinner, but he doesn’t think he is. As far as he’s concerned, there are a lot of people far worse than him.

But if I take the time to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, it may make more sense. If I take the time to open up the divine law, the Ten Commandments, and show the sinner precisely what he’s done wrong, that he has offended God by violating His law, then when he becomes, as James says, convinced of the law as a transgressor [see James 2:9], the good news of the fine being paid [of Christ’s dying for his sins on the cross] will not be foolishness. It will not be offensive. It will be the power of God unto salvation [see Rom. 1:16].…

The tragedy of modern evangelism, is…[that] around the turn of the century…it forsook the law and its capacity to convert the soul—to drive sinners to Christ. Modern evangelism had to therefore find another reason for sinners to respond to the gospel. And the issue that modern evangelism chose to attract sinners was the issue of life enhancement. The gospel degenerated into “Jesus Christ will give you peace, joy, love, fulfillment, and lasting happiness”11 [minor edits made for clarity].

Often today an individual will receive Christ on the premise that becoming a Christian will bring meaning and purpose to life. Then the new convert naturally encounters opposition, ridicule, frustration, and other difficulties, because the forces of evil always work diligently to throw the inquirer, and especially the new believer, off track. He or she may easily become disillusioned and conclude that Christianity isn’t what it was cracked up to be. This accounts for large numbers of conversions but significantly few disciples. Yet when the new Christian understands that Christ died to secure eternal life—to exempt him or her from eternal punishment—he or she will be more likely to maintain an eternal perspective when encountering challenges to living the Christian life. In other words, the new convert will be far less likely to become disillusioned and to give up.12

Please make the investment of time to listen to “Hell’s Best Kept Secret” in its entirety. It truly is a life-changing message. For now, take Ray Comfort’s insight to heart and keep it in mind: Around 1900, the church abandoned an emphasis on God’s law in its gospel presentations and instead began to uphold “life enhancement” as the primary benefit of becoming a Christian.

Influenced by the World

Now, equipped with background information about these two monumental shifts—one in the culture and the other in the church—can you answer an important question? What do these shifts have in common? They both set the stage, on the one hand, for downplaying anything offensive and, on the other, for emphasizing anything and everything that will make people feel good.

The modern evangelical church has been heavily influenced by the world in ways that are both subtle and obvious. Taking a cue from the culture at large, modern Christians have tried desperately not to make people feel uncomfortable. We even have sought to “enhance” the gospel message by making it less offensive and more attractive. Yet the gospel is inherently offensive, because it exposes sinners as guilty before a holy God. As Ray Comfort reminds us, if a sinner doesn’t understand that, than he or she cannot respond properly to the good news of Christ’s death on the cross.

In the aftermath of these two monumental shifts, the church abandoned godly discernment and lost its prophetic voice. This weakening of the church’s effectiveness has been manifested in numerous ways, including a diminished emphasis on sin. Al Mohler writes,

The larger culture has turned increasingly hostile to exclusivist truth claims such as the belief that faith in Christ is necessary for salvation. One megachurch pastor in Florida recently told me that the megachurches in his area were abandoning concern for biblical gender roles on a wholesale basis. As one pastor told him, you cannot grow a church and teach biblical complementarianism. Even greater pressure is now exerted by the sexual revolution in general, and, more particularly, the question of homosexuality.13

In fact, some very popular, otherwise conservative pastors have been known to speak with ambiguity concerning homosexuality or to overtly dodge the issue—even though in one instance other aspects of the sermon called for clarification and even though, in another, the Scripture forthrightly addressed the topic.14,15,16,17 Also, several years ago, a widely known megachurch pastor was called to task by a journalist for not exercising discernment with regard to Satan’s tactics. A committed Christian, the journalist demonstrated he had keener insight than the pastor.18

These are just a few examples that point to larger trends. Certainly not every evangelical pastor has watered down the biblical message, and not every church has failed to stand for the truth. However, menacing trends in evangelical churches do exist. Let’s briefly consider eight. These items overlap to some degree, but each also is distinctive.

  1. The church has focused on attracting people and keeping people, and it has failed to challenge them. Chuck Swindoll said, “Some time ago a group of church leaders decided that they didn’t want to be hated. They focused just on attracting more and more people.”19 He also said, Today, “many churches masquerade as entertainment centers, where the leadership primarily concerns itself with making people feel good.”20 Ironically, Islam is attracting people, particularly men, because it is unapologetically challenging them.21 Christ didn’t water down His message for anyone, and as Christ’s ambassadors, we in the church must not do so either.
  2. The church has equated loving people with not offending them. True compassion, however, compels us to convey the truth, even at the risk of offending people.22
  3. The church has emphasized God’s love to the point of effectively neglecting His holiness and wrath. Ironically, we esteem classic messages on God’s holiness and judgment, sermons such as Jonathan Edwards’s “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.”23 Even so, most of today’s evangelical preachers rarely address these themes. We must balance our presentations, giving people opportunities to hear about God’s holiness as well as His grace and love. Only against the backdrop of God’s holiness and wrath will the good news of His grace be most clearly understood.
  4. The church has endeavored to win converts and failed to make disciples. Only as we, with God’s help, make disciples will we be able to follow the command Paul gave Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:2: “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” No wonder we are losing the next generation.24
  5. The church has upheld the benefits of salvation and avoided talking about its demands. Certainly salvation is free; we receive it by grace alone. However, it isn’t cheap. Consider these few verses, where Scripture makes clear that salvation commands of every believer unyielding allegiance to Jesus Christ: Matthew 7:21,24-27; 10:37-39; Luke 6:46; 9:23-26,57-62; 14:25-33.
  6. The church has presented Christianity in terms of its implications for individuals alone and overlooked its benefits for the culture. The church also has shunned its own responsibility to impact the culture. If it has sought to address social issues, it has in many instances spoken to those issues that the culture at large believes should be addressed. In other words, the church has avoided controversy in much of its cultural engagement. In his new book, A Compassionate Call to Counter Culture, David Platt, a former pastor and a bestselling author, challenges this approach: “In this day when social issues are creating clear dividing lines in society, moral and political neutrality is not an option for those who believe the gospel. It’s simply not enough to focus on only those issues that are most comfortable—and least costly—to us. But what if the main issue is not poverty or homosexuality or abortion? What if the main issue is God? What if the same God who moves us to war against sex trafficking also moves us to war against sexual immorality? What if the same gospel that compels us to combat poverty also compels us to defend marriage? What if all these cultural hot-button issues are connected to our understanding of who God is and how he relates to everything around us?”25,26,27 The modern evangelical church needs to hear and heed Dr. Platt on this important subject.
  7. While recognizing that Jesus was compassionate, loving, and kind, the church has largely ignored the fact that He was controversial. Being like Jesus will mean, at times, being controversial. We never should seek to stir up opposition or conflict, but we also shouldn’t avoid it when taking a stand for Christ requires it. Jesus said, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me” (John 15:18-21; see also Matt. 5:10-16).
  8. The church has failed to understand and acknowledge that the followers of Christ are at war with the forces of evil. Warfare, you see, isn’t a popular topic. Moreover, the church’s understanding of the true nature of spiritual warfare has been lacking. Effectively waging war requires offensive as well as defensive strategies and tactics. Largely, the church has played defense, and when it has trained believers, it has trained them to play defense also. When Jesus said the gates of hell would not be able to prevail against the church (see Matt. 16:18), He indicated that the church would, at least some of the time, be taking an offensive posture against evil forces. The modern evangelical church needs to regain a biblical perspective on spiritual warfare.

In 1 Peter 2:9-12, the apostle Peter wrote this to his persecuted brothers and sisters in the faith: “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.” As Peter’s readers knew all too well, this process sometimes was difficult to endure. Yet hopefully, many who were currently treating them with hostility would be won over when they saw their unwavering faithfulness to Christ. Even in instances when their persecutors didn’t come to Christ, Peter’s readers still had a responsibility to stand strong. We as believers in the 21st century have that same responsibility.

In whatever ways He chooses, God will use our faithfulness to influence others’ lives. As D. Martyn Lloyd Jones astutely observed, “When the church is absolutely different from the world, she invariably attracts it. It is then that the world is made to listen to her message, though it may hate it at first.”28


Copyright © 2015 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture has been taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.



2 “The New Tolerance” Part 1: http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=318151424410

“The New Tolerance” Part 2: http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=319151233599











13http://www.albertmohler.com/2012/05/01/is-the-megachurch-the-new-liberalism/ or http://www.christianheadlines.com/columnists/al-mohler/is-the-megachurch-the-new-liberalism.html

14 http://www.albertmohler.com/2012/05/01/is-the-megachurch-the-new-liberalism/ or http://www.christianheadlines.com/columnists/al-mohler/is-the-megachurch-the-new-liberalism.html


16Chelsen Vicari, Distortion: How the New Christian Left is Twisting The Gospel and Damaging the Faith, (Lake Mary, FL: FrontLine, 2014), 58-59.




20Charles R. Swindoll, Hope for Our Troubled Times, (Plano, TX: Insight for Living, 2009), 8.




24Ken Ham and Britt Beemer, Already Gone: Why Your Kids Will Quit Church and What You Can Do to Stop It, (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2009).

25David Platt, A Compassionate Call to Counter Culture, (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 2015), flyleaf of dust jacket.





Discernment Needed, Part 1

Why Being Nice Isn’t Enough

And this I pray, that your love may abound still
more and more in knowledge and all discernment…
—Philippians 1:9—

If there ever were a champion of winsomeness in making the case for Christianity and its values, Charles “Chuck” Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship and the voice of the Christian worldview commentary BreakPoint, was that champion. For example, in the BreakPoint commentary for April 9, 2006, Colson observed, “To change the culture…we must learn how to engage the political process more winsomely. It requires a different mindset, a recognition that we’re appealing to hearts and minds, not twisting arms. In both fact and appearance we are not seeking to impose but rather to propose. The Christian Church makes a Great Proposal, inviting everyone to the table, regardless of color, ethnic origin, background, or economic status. We’re inviting people to consider a worldview that works, that makes sense, and through which people can discover shalom and human flourishing.”1

Given that this kind of encouragement was typical of Colson,2,3,4,5 a casual observer might be surprised at the BreakPoint commentary of May 14, 2015. It was titled “It’s What We Say, Not How We Say It: The Scandal of Christianity.”6 John Stonestreet, who, along with Eric Metaxas, took over BreakPoint following Colson’s death in 2012, said,

We should be reasonable, calm, and winsome when talking to, well, anyone and everyone, especially those who disagree with us: not as a debating tactic but as part of our loving our neighbors as ourselves. Just as we would want people to be reasonable, calm, and winsome when addressing us, we should do the same for them.

And in treating those who vituperate us with respect and kindness we, if nothing else, as Paul told the Romans, “heap burning coals on their heads.”

But we shouldn’t be so naïve as to think that what lies behind what sociologists David Williamson and George Yancey recently dubbed “Christianophobia”7 is a communication problem. The problem is what we’re saying, not just how we’re saying it.

Sure, there are Christians whom, in all Christian love, I wish would just be quiet. But when the New York Times8 and a major presidential candidate9 tell us that historic Christian teaching must yield to the new sexual orthodoxy, no amount of winsomeness can overcome that kind of antipathy.…

In the end, no matter how “nice” we are, our faith in Jesus and our faithfulness to His teaching will be a scandal to the world. And we are and will be treated accordingly.10

Rod Dreher, whom Stonestreet cited elsewhere in the commentary, had written a piece called “The Failure of Winsomeness.”11 Dreher expounded on some of his points in that article in an interview Stonestreet conducted with him on the May 16, 2015 edition of BreakPoint This Week.12 Dreher declared,

We in the church have watched relentless propaganda from the mainstream media for ten or twenty years about Christianity as being a source of bigotry against homosexuals, and on and on and on and on and on. I’ve worked in mainstream media newsrooms. I see that this is what they really believe. But it has had an effect on the broader culture.

It just blows my mind when I meet Christians who think that if they can only be nice, be winsome, and show that they’re not haters, that these social justice warriors on the left will like them. It’s not going to happen.

If you can look at what’s happening to Gordon College—a great school run by one of the kindest men you’ll ever meet, Mike Lindsay. They are being systematically dismantled by the state of Massachusetts, and by private industry, and by other colleges because they stand on biblical norms of sexuality. Nothing Gordon does—not the fact that those kids go…they sent kids into the poor schools, the impoverished schools in Lynn, Massachusetts, to help out. It didn’t matter. They were kicked out.13,14 The guy, the school committee member who led the charge to throw Gordon students out of these public school classrooms, compared Gordon College to the KKK.15,16 This is really how the activist left sees the church. I’m not saying the church should be militant and angry and show and ugly face to the world; what I’m saying is winsomeness will not get you very far. They really do hate us.17

Was Charles Colson wrong? No. We always need to be winsome and loving, and doing so will cause some to think carefully about what we say. In fact, we will have difficulty convincing people of the truth of the gospel if we don’t demonstrate these qualities. However, we must not be naïve. Even when these virtues are on display, the real thorn in some people’s sides is going to be, as John Stonestreet observed, “what we’re saying, not just how we’re saying it.”18

How do these people respond? Rather than sticking to the issues and contending for what they see as the merits of their positions, they paint Christians and other conservatives as mean and bigoted. Conservative columnist Ben Shapiro, an Orthodox Jew, writes,

That’s why so many Americans now seem comfortable giving the government power to violate freedom of conscience for conservatives: Evil people don’t deserve freedom and therefore, can be deprived of it. People who consider themselves civil libertarians suddenly find their inner totalitarian when it comes to Christian-owned bakeries. That can only happen when those people become convinced that Christian-owned bakeries are fronts of hatred and darkness. And that can only happen when they are falsely maligned as such, over and over again.19

In John 15:18-19, Jesus warned His disciples about the hostility they would face from the world. He said, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”

Yes, Jesus told His disciples to love their enemies (see Matt. 5:43-44), but He also warned them to beware of all who would deceive. So did the apostles.

  • Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? (Matt. 7:15-16).
  • Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy (Luke 12:1).
  • Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation! (Phil. 3:2).
  • For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things (Phil. 3:18-19).
  • Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ (Col. 2:8).
  • But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! (2 Tim. 3:1-5).
  • For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward (2 John 7-8).
  • Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ (Jude 3-4).

“But wait!” someone may say. Didn’t Jesus say, “Judge not, that you be not judged”? (Matt. 7:1). Yes, He did, but He was telling His followers not to be hypocritically judgmental (see vv. 2-5). Immediately after offering this warning, He added, “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces” (v. 6).

The church, sadly, is woefully lacking in discretion, discernment, and shrewdness. In fact, shrewdness is the one trait possessed by Satan that believers need to cultivate and use for godly purposes.20 We must realize that some non-Christians will continue to hold a defiant posture toward God and will never yield to Him. It is not our place to assume anyone is beyond God’s saving reach, but we also must never think, even for a New York minute, that we have the ability to convince people to like us or the values we cherish. Fully aware of the acidic and unyielding hostility of some who are opposed to righteousness, Jesus told His disciples, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Matt. 10:16).

Dr. Mike S. Adams understands the importance of this kind of wisdom. Hired to teach criminology at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington (UNCW) in the early 1990s when he was a liberal and an atheist, Adams was well liked by both students and faculty. Several years later, however, through a process that took place over time, Adams became a Christian and a conservative. He also became an outspoken advocate for life, marriage, family, free speech, and other traditional values. Still loved by students, Adams now was hated by university administrators. This isn’t just my opinion, but a conclusion reached in court. In 2014, a federal jury determined that Adams had been denied promotion at UNCW because of the content of his work for the conservative website townhall.com. The court ordered that UNCW promote him and to give him seven years back pay.21,22,23

In his book Letters to a Young Progressive, Adams speaks straightforwardly about liberals who maliciously exploit others. He calls them Pharisees and hypocrites. A hypocrite is “One who preaches something that he does not practice and that he does not even believe.”24 Elaborating, Adams writes,

The people in my department who have no qualms about encouraging minors to get sex changes can rightly be called Pharisees.…[They] do not misrepresent the truth innocently. They knowingly lie about biological differences between the sexes…[and] they do so in order to attribute any differences in outcome between the sexes to ‘patriarchal oppression.’ This, in turn, is done to facilitate more social engineering, which creates more jobs for self-proclaimed social engineers. Of course, they are the social engineers who would benefit from those jobs.

Lying to students about basic biological facts in order to encourage genital mutilation is bad. The only thing worse would be lying about biological facts in order to encourage murder. As you will recall from our previous correspondence on abortion, the modern-day Pharisees are not above that either.25

No one ever should arbitrarily accuse anyone else of being a Pharisee, but Mike Adams has not done this. Rather, he has acted in the prophetic tradition of exposing evildoers, and consequently, the evil they promote. He’s done another essential service as well. Dr. Adams has acted to protect vulnerable minds and hearts from becoming entrapped in evil lies. Potential victims include people of all ages, although teenagers and young adults probably would be the first to be vulnerable in this instance. One is reminded of these statements of commendation and warning from Jesus—statements that have clear application here: “Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me. But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matt. 18:4-6).

The church can learn an important lesson from Dr. Mike Adams. It should—indeed, it must—with God’s help, recover and consistently use its prophetic voice. It can if it also will cultivate and exercise godly discernment and shrewdness, but just how did it lose such discernment in the first place? Next week we will seek to answer this question.

Part 2 is available here.








7See http://iloveyoubutyouregoingtohell.org/2015/02/02/feed-em-to-the-lions/

8See http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/05/opinion/sunday/frank-bruni-same-sex-sinners.html?_r=1

9See http://www.christianpost.com/news/hillary-clinton-religious-beliefs-have-to-be-changed-about-abortion-138179/



12BreakPoint This Week radio program: http://www.breakpoint.org/features-columns/discourse/entry/15/27382

13See http://www.breakpoint.org/bpcommentaries/entry/13/26054

14See http://www.breakpoint.org/bpcommentaries/breakpoint-commentaries-archive/entry/13/26194

15See https://chainofliberty.wordpress.com/2015/04/10/gordons-glimpse-of-the-future/

16See http://www.teaparty.org/college-accuses-gay-activists-discrimination-christians-93496/

17BreakPoint This Week radio program: http://www.breakpoint.org/features-columns/discourse/entry/15/27382







24Mike S. Adams, Letters to a Young Progressive: How to Avoid Wasting Your Life Protesting Things You Don’t Understand, (Washington D.C.: Regnery Publishing, 2013), 228.

25Adams, 229.

Copyright © 2015 by B. Nathaniel Sullivan. All Rights Reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture has been taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.