It’s a little bit rare for me to go a few weeks without preaching. It’s a little bit painful, because I love to minister the Word of God. But more than that, it’s especially painful not to be with you. So, if I may sound a little personal this morning. In fact, I’m actually here curious what I’m going to say because so much has been on my heart and on my mind. But there are some things that need to be recognized that we have all endured in 2020, right? 2020 always signifies clarity, and I don’t think in the church of Jesus Christ I’ve ever seen the level of clarity that we’re seeing now. You might not think the forces that have been working on us have been used by God to create clarity, but that’s exactly what they’ve done. So I want to run through just a few things.
First of all, the clarity of the love and testimony of this church has never been on display the way it has been on display this year. The goal of our instruction, says Paul, is love from a pure heart. Where there are the people of God submitting to the Word of God, the product is not hard conviction, it’s soft hearts. Hard preaching makes soft hearts. The goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart.
You have put that on display in astonishing ways this year. I can’t imagine that those of you who’ve been a part of Grace Church for many years would ever, ever imagine that any other year could have equaled this one in the goodness and kindness of God and the expressions of His providence and responsive love from this congregation. I love being at this church; I want to keep coming back. I’m like the guy who killed himself trying to throw his boomerang away; I just want to keep coming back because we enjoy the realities of love from pure hearts. What a gift.
So I want to thank you for your faithfulness. I want to tell you how much I love you as a church. And that’s not just collective, it is – there’s a sense of collective love, but it comes down to everyone, and that’s how it should be. I love you. I guess I could say I love you in a captive way. I mean, I’ve been here half a century; and like that boomerang, I keep coming back. And every time I go and take a little bit of time away and come back I find a fresh experience of the love that draws me here. I don’t ever want to be separated from this church, neither would Patricia. This church has basically spiritually nurtured our children, grandchildren. And now in 2020 we’ve been given two little great-grandsons, and we’re so thankful that they were given to our grandchildren who love Christ.
Thank you for your love through the years. Thank you for your prayers. Thank you for your cards. Thank you for your Christmas candy. I hope you realize it’s hard to write answers to thousands of cards, so I just say, “Lord, somehow show them we’re thankful.” Thank you for your instruction. Thank you for your kindness. Thank you for your loyal service.
I’ve always believed that it’s 1 Thessalonians chapter 1 that most characterizes this church. Paul says, “We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father, knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you; for our gospel didn’t come to you in word only, but in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake. You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything. For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.”
You are a beloved church and I need to express how profoundly grateful I am to have been wrapped up in this experience of love from a pure heart produced by the Word of God through these many years. I love you in a very, as I said, captive way. That’s the word that keeps coming back to me. I’m captive to you by that love and by the love I see coming through Christ from you to each other and to me.
A second thing I want to say; and it’s a long list, so relax. But the second thing I want to say: if you’re in leadership you would understand that there is a need to control things. And even if you’re serving the Lord you want to make sure that you exercise your stewardship with the most care and the most wisdom and the most thoughtfulness and the most frugal use of resources and people. So one of the things that happens in ministry is you take this stewardship, and every year it gets larger and more complicated in some ways and more challenging, and you’re always coming to the Lord and saying, “Lord, help me to provide leadership the church needs.” You want to know what’s going on; you want to know how you can help people; you want to know how to solve problems.
Then you have a year like 2020 where you’re not in control of anything, absolutely nothing. This is the closest thing to the experience of a church in war. We’ve been under a massive assault, and it took all the prerogatives out of our hands in some ways. Now all of a sudden all kinds of people were telling us what to do, what we could do and couldn’t do. This has been a season of trials without any equal in my rather long life. Everything has been taken out of our control. So many attacks. I told somebody that you might think we feel like a cork in the surf just bobbing up and down with each new wave, forbidden to meet, forbidden to sing, forbidden to fellowship, forbidden to have social events, forbidden to be with each other, forbidden to have funerals, weddings.
Los Angeles County told us we could not meet. To make sure we got the message they sued us. They filed an indictment against us, essentially, and they have fined us every Sunday since August for violation. By the way, that money went into an escrow account because they can’t get to it because it’s held up in court – and I’ll say more about that in a minute. But just so you know we’ve been fined every Sunday since August.
October came around and the city tried another approach. They declared to us that after 45 years of leasing the land across the wash for parking that we had 30 days to vacate that. This is another attempt to shut us down coming from another angle. There was no reason given in the letter, but we had 30 days to comply. Well, no court would honor that either, so they tried the health route, and no court would validate that. They tried the cancelation of a parking lot contract, and the court wouldn’t honor that.
We went through eight or nine court hearings, as you know. One was canceled from this week and another one canceled in the future. The judge is saying, “Don’t come back to me again with this.” They couldn’t succeed in any of these. They tried every way to close Grace Church. And I think it’s true that there is no more scrutinized church in the United States than Grace Community Church.
I have been on some of these TV programs, and you’ve seen me there. While you see me on TV with those people, I’ve never been with any of those people. I’m sitting in the back of a van because of COVID, looking into black hole talking to somebody in New York and hoping I can make sense out of what I’m saying. It has brought about some amazing incidents. A technician, one of those evenings, said to me, “My life isn’t what it ought to be,” after we did the video. “Would you pray for me? Would you pray with me?”
ABC tried to discredit us. CNN tried to discredit us. The LA Times has tried numerous times to discredit us. Ungodly bloggers tried to discredit us, they’ve said terrible things about us: lies, misrepresentations, inaccuracies. And they’ve all really, if they were honest, had to retract everything, because it’s just amazing how the Lord has protected us, isn’t it? Hey, we’re here. Sorry, world. You’re there and I’m still here. I just wonder once in a while what Satan is saying: “What does this MacArthur guy got?” What I have is divine grace and protection, just what you have, right?
It was in October that four employees tested positive for COVID. We have two hundred and forty employees. At any time in the year four of them probably had some other disease through history, who knows, a cold or flu. But the LA Times reported there was an outbreak at Grace Community Church. Two hundred and thirty-six employees didn’t have anything, but four did. We were officially declared an outbreak center. Three weeks later, the Health Department came back and removed us from the outbreak status. They’re here. Welcome. Wherever you are, we’re really glad to have you. We are so glad to have you. And the blessings have just continued in amazing, amazing ways.
When I think about ministry I have to say I can’t say that in my years here I’ve ever seen anything like the flourishing of the hand of God in ministry through all of this. Let me just run down some things because I think it’s important for us, isn’t it, to remember what God has done. Raising Ebenezer, right? Put up a banner and said, “The Lord has helped us.”
Early August we got into the lawsuit. Since then we’ve had inspectors religiously visit us. Fifteen times the Supreme Court has issued two decisions favorable to churches. Los Angeles County was forced to change the guidelines to permit churches to meet. And, oh, by the way, there’s a little caveat to that. We have three thousand people who are going to show up here in a few weeks for Shepherds’ Conference. We weren’t sure about hotels because they’re not able to be open unless it’s essential. Thank you Supreme Court. The Hotel Association says, “Hey, the Supreme Court says you’re essential; all those hotels are available.”
There has been immense amount of legal work done by Jenna Ellis and ten other attorneys. Total cost of that to the church: zero. And, oh, by the way, you guys are getting a bad habit. We haven’t had an offering in ten months. We haven’t had an offering in ten months. We haven’t passed a plate in ten months. And you have given more in the last ten months than any ten-month period in the history of this church. Now we’re going to retrain you. It’s just stunning.
In the middle of the lawsuit the Lord has grown our church. If you came to Grace Church during the last ten months, put your hand up. See that? So this was a very, very small, tiny, local church, until COVID. Did you see how many hands were raised? They’re out in the tent and out on the patio a thousand people. A thousand new members?
Baptisms. Did you hear the testimonies in baptisms Sunday nights? There’s a new evangelical term. I love it. It’s “Grace refugees.” It’s the people who had no other church to go to, so they came here as church refugees. And aren’t we happy about that? Aren’t we blessed? The Lord adds to His church. We’ll take whoever you are, even if you’re a Presbyterian refugee; keep coming. People have flown in from all across America, driven in from all across the West every Sunday to be with us. Some of you only came here because it was the only church open, and you found it wasn’t just a church that was open, it was a church that was presenting the gospel and the Word of God.
The outreach has been amazing. Internationally every Sunday, sermons translated into one of seven languages – or all seven languages. Hundred and thirty countries watching fifty states. I mean, if the plan the devil had in mind for COVID was to mess with Grace Church, didn’t work. And then there’s the amazing appearance of things that we never could have expected: phone calls from every state, all kinds of countries; production of videos, and those videos being spread all over the world.
We supported law enforcement while leaders in our country were bashing law enforcement, undermining law enforcement. We were supporting law enforcement. During the riots last May and June – I love this – we allowed them to use our parking lot as a field jail. We invited law enforcement people to our church. We fed them bags and bags and bags of In-N-Out burgers, gave them all MacArthur Study Bibles. We hosted several barbeques at police stations. I was at one of those, it was an incredible experience.
We did a Christmas toy drive with the Los Angeles Police Department in our North Parking Lot. We did a food drive with the Los Angeles Police Department for our community, along with the Council Woman Nury Martinez, distributing food to thousands in this community. Because of the generosity of a flower grower, we actually took orchids to police stations. Secretaries would have appreciated them. We held a retirement party of an LAPD employee because it couldn’t be hosted anywhere else, and we gave MacArthur Study Bibles to all the officers who attended.
You wouldn’t have known this. But we gave out seventy thousand dollars’ worth of food in our pantry ministry. Two hundred families were served each week; two hundred manhours per week spent on this ministry for five months serving believers and unbelievers. Interesting story. A gentleman in Moorpark who has stage 4 cancer and lives alone was amazed that someone drove to Moorpark to deliver groceries to him. Started a friendship with our church interns who ended up helping him with his needs. Many families in our church were unemployed and we supplied their food, and still do.
And then you would have to know that this has been tough on special ministries; and we have a lot, hundreds of people in special ministries here. When they couldn’t come to church due to restrictions, we went to them. Our church staff filmed and sent out hundreds of DVDs of Sunday School lessons to the homes of our disabled so they wouldn’t miss the teaching of the Word of God. Our special ministries staff visited many of the disabled folks in their homes. These DVDs are being watched not only by the disabled, but whoever takes care of them have to watch it as well, and the gospel is going forward.
We sent two new missionary families overseas, we have five more ready to be deployed – a lifetime of missions service. We have ninety-one missionary families in thirty-three countries around the world, all flourishing. We stay in touch with them through video media. And then there are just some little incidents; I can only share a few.
But a man came in to buy a MacArthur Study Bible for his brother who’s in prison. The brothers grew up in this neighborhood and always referred to Grace Church as the church where all the people go. But they never attended, and one of the brothers ended up in prison. When he heard the gospel in prison, he became a believer. So he’s in prison. He told his brother to start going to that church with all the people. He did. He and his family became believers. A few weeks ago the free brother bought a Study Bible, and I had the privilege of signing it to give to his brother in prison.
Homeless people are showing up here, and I’m not talking about kind of the end of the line homeless people; people who are homeless in their early twenties coming, asking if they can get a Bible, showing an appetite for the Word of God. This is the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
In partnership with Grace to You and Only Hope Prison Ministries, twenty-five thousand of my books have been distributed in LA County jails and California State Prison, twenty-five thousand. When inmates see our chaplains they immediately ask for that MacArthur book they see somebody else reading. When the lockdowns hit, all other religious chaplains stopped attending jails; that left them open for us. And our faithful people in that ministry have been visiting inmates every day, having gospel conversations with people from all kinds of religious backgrounds. Our volunteers tell them, “We don’t fear death because of the good news of life in Christ.” An inmate recently approached the cell bars to speak to one of our chaplains. Tears coming down his face, he said, “What do I need to do to be saved?”
The abortion clinic ministry has flourished. Over the past ten months on the sidewalk outside the abortion clinic hundreds have heard the gospel, day after day after day. I had a list of endless stories about people who, having heard the gospel, turned away and didn’t kill their baby. So, don’t tell anybody; we had ten weddings, one of them in my living room. This was really fun. And one yesterday. A beautiful bride and her dad were outside when I came by here. So precious to see that. But that’s a time when people can’t have a wedding because they haven’t been able to have a location.
And we’ve had – and this is so important – we’ve had fourteen funerals, and we have more planned. And I tell people, “If someone in your family in our church goes to be with the Lord, you have your funeral here. You don’t have to hide. You don’t have to zoom. This church is available to you.”
It’s been hard for families, and I’ll just give you an illustration. I’ve talked to a lot of people, prayed with a lot of people who are very ill and dying in a way that I would not ever imagine in the past. Usually I can go to the hospital and spend some time with them, be with them. But when that’s not possible because you can’t get in the hospital, it’s had to be on the phone.
And there’s a gentleman who’s been in our church along with his wife, Bob and Patty Dougherty. They’ve probably been here I think forty years. And Bob went to be with the Lord, really last week, from cancer. But he didn’t want to go to heaven until he said goodbye to me. So the family arranged a phone call and they withheld the final dose of morphine at the end of his cancer suffering until he could say goodbye to me. And the family were all gathered around him, and it was just a sweet time, and I was on the phone; and prayed together. And I said, “Well, next time I see you, you’ll be in heaven.” And the funeral will be here in a few days.
Shock. In September we had a Spanish Pastors’ Conference with a thousand pastors here. We’re going to have another conference, the Truth and Life Conference from The Master’s University in a few weeks. And, oh, by the way, we’re having Shepherds’ Conference.
Now I ask Mark Zhakevich, I said, “What group of people have made the largest sacrifice through all of this difficulty in trying to figure out how to minister to people under these strange restraints?” Well, he said in his mind it’s the people who serve our children. There’s an intensity level in working with children. One of my favorite things to do every year is to have my picture taken with the nursery ladies. Now if you’re a nursery lady, my, you’re an angel. Thank you so much.
I don’t know if you realize, but a week or so ago, we had sledding here at Grace Community Church. We had Junior Camp with hundreds of kids. There was tons of snow dumped out there; this is, I think, just a week ago. Hundreds of kids in innertubes sledding. The whole world is shut down, and the kids at Grace Church are at snow camp. Parks are closed; beaches are closed; schools are closed.
And, oh, by the way, a special word of thanks to Ranger Joe. I met a kid here one day and he said he didn’t know who I was, but he said, “Do you know Ranger Joe?” I said, “I do know Ranger Joe,” and I was cool immediately.
We actually had Vacation Bible School in July. Hundred and thirty volunteers, hundreds of children. We had Children’s Ministry Fair in October, like fifteen hundred people. And then there was that fun Winter Camp a week ago.
Do you remember a few months ago when we said, “Okay, we’re not letting them shut the children out of our church.” Remember that? And so we said, “Let’s have Children’s Sunday.” You came, and there were balloons everywhere, and like super large lollipops for the kids. And since then we’ve had a thousand children here every Sunday. This is a precious, incredible ministry. You would love to read the little notes that I get from kids: “Thank you, Pastor, for the balloons,” like I had something to do with the balloons.
Grace Equip classes has increased five times in size. We went from having twenty students in a class to having ninety students in a class, people coming during the week to study the Word of God. And oh, by the way, we have a brand new organ; and the good news is we don’t need a new organist, we’ve got the best. We keep the same organist and just upgrade the tool.
Have you seen the new plaza out there? Completely paid for, finishing the Children’s Ministry Center. Another bookstore, have you noticed, is starting to take shape out there where you can find access to the Word of God. Well, this is why I wasn’t sure how long I was going to go because you just need to know God has been doing some amazing things. And nobody would have sat down and said, “I’ve got a great idea for the future of Grace Church. Let’s get a monstrous pandemic, and let’s shut down the whole economy, shut down all the businesses, shut down all the social contact, and watch the church grow.” No fool would have come up with that. That’s what happened.
So here we are in this amazing providence where every day something happens beyond our control. And that’s what providence is; I often tell you that. Providence is a bigger miracle than a miracle. A miracle is where God suspends natural law and does something supernatural. Providence is where God takes all the contingencies in the natural world and orchestrates them for a supernatural effect and end. That’s far more complicated, far more complicated. And it comes down to this: if I were to say anything that defines this church I would say we live for Christ, right?
As Dr. Beeke said, “For to me, to live is Christ; to die is gain.” But what defines that is we are the people of the truth. We are the people of the truth. From this pulpit and every teaching station in this church for the last fifty years, by every faithful teacher the truth has been taught. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 13:8, “We can do nothing against the truth, but only for the truth.” Mark that down, 2 Corinthians 13:8; you need to know that. We’re all about the truth. We’re all about the truth.
Hey, we tried, we honestly did. I think you did, and I think I did. I mean, I took interviews, I responded to questions. I think we tried to have an influence on our nation last year. We tried to uphold the truth, we tried. We tried to uphold righteousness. We tried to uphold integrity. We called on God, we proclaimed His Word, we proclaimed the Gospels like we’ve always done. Our nation didn’t want that. Our leaders didn’t want that. Satan doesn’t want that. The kingdom of darkness isn’t interested in that. But we did what God’s people always do: we preached the truth, we preached the gospel, we upheld righteousness.
Our nation has no interest in that; they voted that out permanently. That doesn’t change anything; we’ll keep doing exactly what we’ve always done. Isaiah said to God, “How long do I do this? You’re telling me that I’m going to be preaching Isaiah 6 and people are going to reject me? How long do I do that?” And God says to him, “Until there’s nobody left to do it to.” “Well, why would I do that?” “Because God has a remnant. God has a remnant.”
Yeah, our nation is going the way of Satan. But what else would it do? It’s in his kingdom. Satan has power. Flesh is fiercely wicked. And as I look at this, I, as I mentioned earlier, I love the clarity that has arisen. You know, we had for decades people trying to create a cultural Christianity that could appeal to nonbelievers. It was accepting of immorality, accepting of homosexuality, accepting of racial hatred. There was a kind of superficial, shallow Christianity that watered down the gospel, didn’t talk about sin, tried to have a positive message, and it was very successful. And I get it because I fought that battle, well, for almost all the time I’ve been here.
There has always been seemingly in my mind a superficial, shallow, false form of Christianity; and one of the things that has just driven me through these years is to call the people who say they’re Christians to act like Christians, follow the Word of God, to be faithful at the church, be the church. My preaching, The Gospel According to Jesus, The Gospel According to the Apostles, The Gospel According to God, The Gospel According to Paul, Ashamed of the Gospel – book after book, after book, after book, after book, calling the church to repentance. But it was a tough call. Why? Because superficial Christianity made a lot of money. Superficial Christianity elevated a lot of charlatans. It was successful. Oh, the biggest churches in America are part of it. It was very hard to call people to faithfulness when you could be so corrupt and so successful in Christian religion. That was the battle.
Now I think there’s a sifting and a shifting. First of all, phonies are going to have a hard time hiding with the Internet. We’re seeing one after another, after another, after another, dead ones and alive ones. This dead apologist had a deviant sex life. This cool dude, rock and roll pastor was immoral with multiple women for years and years.
You know, I look at all that and my thoughts were, “I don’t know, I don’t think if it weren’t for Jesus Christ that I could sell anybody on Christianity.” We preach Christ, right? And you’re attracted to Him, right? But if there are people out in the world who just look at Christianity, it has to be not only uninviting, but maybe even repulsive. Who are these people? Filthy rich, immoral, corrupt, narcissistic. If it weren’t for Jesus Christ Christianity would have no appeal. I remember reading years ago an article by a guy who said, “I think Jesus must have had more class than His agents.” Yeah, you’re right.
But liars and frauds and false teachers and conmen and all of that have been very, very successful. Massively, media exposed. People have turned that into a fortune. And that’s the seduction of corruption. False teachers always do it for the same reason: filthy lucre, money.
So I realize over the years fighting against, saying to people who call themselves Christians, “Why don’t you follow the Word of God?” that was a hard sell, because they could be fake and successful, whereas some dear, faithful pastor, preaching the Word of God was struggling to survive, and even find a congregation faithful enough to love him. I don’t think fake Christianity is doing too well today. Do you? I think people are done with that.
And oh, by the way, I read the other day that one of the evangelical publicists – whatever that is – said he’s happy to let us know that the new administration will uphold religious freedom. Really? The new administration will uphold religious freedom? I don’t even support religious freedom. Religious freedom is what sends people to hell. To say I support religious freedom is to say I support idolatry, it’s to say I support lies, I support hell, I support the kingdom of darkness. You can’t say that. No Christian with half a brain would say, “We support religious freedom.” We support the truth!
Oh, guess what? We don’t win down here, we lose. You ready for that? Oh, you were a post-millennialist, you thought we were just going to go waltzing into the kingdom if you took over the world? No, we lose here – get it. It killed Jesus. It killed all the apostles. We’re all going to be persecuted. “If any man come after Me, let him” – what? – “deny himself.” Garbage of prosperity gospel. No, we don’t win down here. You ready for that? Just to clear the air, I love this clarity. We don’t win. We lose on this battlefield, but we win on the big one, the eternal one.
If the new administration supports religious freedom, get ready; persecution will be ramped up because the more supportive they are of the devil’s lies, the less they’re going to tolerate the truth of Scripture. We condemn every lie, and we call every person to this: there’s one true God, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. You’ll have no other gods before Me.” Right? There’s salvation in one name and one name only: that’s Jesus Christ.
We will proclaim the exclusivity of the gospel, the unique revelation authority of Scripture. We’re not going to lobby for freedom of religion. What kind of nonsense is that? We are in the world to expose all those lies as lies. So this is just part of what’s been on my mind.
Oh, so many things. Well, I’m not going anywhere, so there’s always next week. But John – I really did intend to get a little further than this – but John 15, just read a couple of verses here. Our Lord talks to the disciples, chapter 15, verse 19. Verse 19 – well, verse 18, let’s start there.
“If the world hates you, you know that it has,” what? We don’t win here, you get this? They killed Him, they killed the apostles, and in every generation they kill the people who proclaim the truth. “You know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world,” – verse 19 – “the world would love its own; but because you’re not of the world,” – so if you want the world to love you, you’ve got to convince them that you’re not against them. But we are against them, not out of animosity, but out of love. “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you’re not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.” Chapter 16, verse 33, all the way at the end of that chapter our Lord says the end of the verse, “In the world you’ll have trouble. Take courage,” – what? – “I’ve overcome the world.”
We don’t win the battle here, you can’t, can’t fight. Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world,” John 18. “If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would” – what? – “fight.” We’re not fighting this world, we get it.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted.” No, we don’t win here. In fact, it gets worse, doesn’t it? Evil men get worse and worse. I mean, read the prophetic declarations of our Lord in the sermon on His second coming. Read the book of Revelation. It’s not going to get better, it’s going to get continually worse. And every generation of Christians is going to suffer for two reasons: because the world hates it, and because suffering perfects our faith and gives validity to our testimony. So we’re not going to win.
You think we lost an election? No. No. We don’t win anything in this world. We’re not trying to gain this. Is there anything in this world we’re trying to gain? “For to me to live again is” – what? – “Christ.”
And then I look at evangelicalism and I see this clarity that’s coming in the culture. I love the fact there’s going to be the true church and the people who hate the truth. There’s going to be the truth and lies. There’s going to be church and anti-church. There’s Christ and Antichrist. I love that clarity. These are the best of times. Incredibly wonderful to have that kind of clarity, where there’s no reason to be a compromiser, because the price is too high.
Persecution always does that, right? Nobody goes to the gulag for something they’re faking. And then I just look at it from an evangelical side and I watch the sifting of evangelical leadership, people who used to be preachers that people wanted to listen to, nobody cares what they say. Used to be bloggers people wanted to read, and nobody cares what they write. They wrote books that you read; they can’t get off the shelf. So much compromise, horrible compromise; much of it because of the social justice issue. That is a disaster maybe more than any single disaster, but collectively with everything else, has done irreparable damage. Said it would, and it has, and it’s not nearly done. But the whole evangelical, seemingly elite, rolled over and bought into social justice, critical race theory, intersectionality, racial identity. And now we’re going to have the fruit of it. I’ll give you an illustration.
America’s always functioned with equal justice. Get that? Equal justice. I mean, the modifier is clear, right? Equal. Equal for everybody. Everybody’s equal under the law, that’s equal justice. No, it’s gone.
Now we have social justice. What social justice means is unequal justice. It means that it’s justice to basically determine by whether you’re a part of the oppressed group or the oppressors. What you’re seeing in America when the new President says, “In the future all the money from the government is going to go to homosexuals, LGBTQ, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera,” that is social justice. That’s not equal justice.
When you hear the new Attorney General say, “In the future all charities are going to have to give their money to disenfranchised, oppressed minorities like homosexuals,” you’re realizing that you have just seen the death of equal justice. How could a Christian jump on that bandwagon?
Something’s pretty clear. God does not hold somebody else responsible for what’s wrong with you, He holds you responsible. Social justice blames someone else for your defects and sin. How could Christians get anywhere near that? I did a whole series on Ezekiel 18, trying to make that clear.
So we’re stepping into an era of injustice. We’re stepping into an era where there’s no need to cover sin. There’s no real need to be a hypocrite. Everything is in the open. Stepping into an era where hatred of the truth is going to go to a level we haven’t seen it. We’re stepping into an era where compromising leaders in the evangelical movement have basically nullified themselves, neutralized themselves, taking themselves off the battlefield out of the fight. That’s sad, but I still love the clarity.
Do we have a hard future? Sure. We don’t win here, we just die. I mean, do you understand that? The Christian life is about two crucifixions. The Christian life is about two crucifixions. It’s about the crucifixion of Christ and it’s about the crucifixion of the believer. Do you understand that?
You signed up, you signed up for death. First of all, you say, “How do I become a part of the kingdom? What does it mean to be in the kingdom?” You had a crucifixion. “What do you mean I had a crucifixion?” Oh, yeah, you had a crucifixion. When Christ died – what? – you died. I am crucified with Christ. You died in Him. You came to Christ, you repented. I’ll say more about this next week. There was a death. Christ died, and you died in Him.
So this is not about the promise that we’re all going to be thrown into some light future when all of our wishes will be fulfilled. No. It started with a death. It started when we came as sinners, broken, crushed under the weight of our iniquity. We didn’t blame anybody else. We didn’t blame history. We didn’t blame family. We didn’t blame society. We said, “The heart of man is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked,” and we repented. John the Baptist said, “Repent, the kingdom is at hand.” Jesus said, “Repent, the kingdom is at hand.”
We came to a cross, that’s why we’re here this morning. That was the first crucifixion. Second crucifixion was – the first one was the crucifixion of conversion, the second was the crucifixion of consecration. What do I mean by that? Luke 9, “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and do” – what? – “take up his cross.” It’s the death of self. That’s the sanctifying death.
And it goes on all the time. Paul says, “I die daily.” In Galatians, Paul says that, “Those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. People in the kingdom go through two crucifixions. One, they are in Christ in His crucifixion; two, by the power of the Holy Spirit they are crucified to the flesh. We die two deaths to live forever, right? I don’t know how you think this is going to go in the future. I couldn’t be more thrilled. I mean, the clarity now is wonderful, absolutely wonderful.
And just a final thought, Luke 17, before we come to the Lord’s Table. And I may talk some more about this next week. But in Luke 17, verse 20 – so the Pharisees are questioning Jesus – which they always like to do – as to when the kingdom of God was coming. I love that. They’re asking Jesus when the kingdom of God is coming. “He answered them and said, ‘The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, “Look, here it is!” or, “There it is!” – listen to this – ‘For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.’”
Okay, world, are you looking for the kingdom of God? See you next Sunday at Grace Community Church. The kingdom is here, the King is alive, and He’s ruling in His church. I don’t usually get applause, so I’m going to quit while I’m ahead. Bow with me in prayer.
We’re right back to where we started. In a way, Lord, we’re back to the wonderful hymns that Jesus shall reign. Now we don’t win down here. This is the hour of darkness. Satan is the prince of this world, the god of this world. The whole world lies in the lap of the Evil One. It’s his world temporarily.
From a human standpoint, we don’t win. There are not many noble, not many mighty; but lowly, common nobodies, that all the glory may go to You. We don’t win. We’re persecuted. We die maybe even three times. We die to our sin by union with Christ in His death. We die to ourself by consecration, walking in the power of the Holy Spirit. And it may be, as it is with some believers, that we die even a physical death for the cross. So our life here is really defined by death. But You have overturned that and promised to raise us from the dead, and to destroy this sin-cursed universe and replace it with a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness and holiness reign solely and supremely. We don’t expect to win here, we do expect to be faithful. Continue to sift; continue to shift; continue to give clarity. May Your truth go forward.
We don’t deserve to be subjects of Your kingdom. We don’t deserve the privilege, we don’t deserve the honor; we are unworthy. You have, first of all, chosen us before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless. You placed us into Christ in His death and resurrection, and then You brought us by the power of the Holy Spirit to the place where You crucified the flesh, and You’ve brought us to the placed where if need be we take up a cross and die, because to die is gain, because everything that we want, everything that we hope for, and everything that You’ve planned for us, that eternal inheritance is laid aside in heaven for us. May we live in the triumph of the accomplishment of Christ on the cross and in the resurrection. Fill us with joy and rejoicing.
Thank You for keeping our church open. Thank You for bringing so many people. Thank You for those that have been saved and those that are being sanctified. Thank You for blessing our families and our single people. Thank You for blessing our precious little children. Thank You for meeting our needs. Thank You for allowing us to show the love of Christ. Thank You for all the wide-ranging ministry we know about and that which we’ll never know about until we’re all in glory.
Thank You for 2020. What an amazing, wonderful, glorious year. And we can’t wait to see what the next one’s going to be like when everything is out of our control. We learned one thing in 2020, that the best things happen when we don’t have control and You do. We’re so thankful for that because You always do what You do for the good of Your people and Your own glory.
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