15 And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple: that disciple was known unto the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest. 16 But Peter stood at the door without. Then went out that other disciple, which was known unto the high priest, and spake unto her that kept the door, and brought in Peter. 17 Then saith the damsel that kept the door unto Peter, Art not thou also one of this man's disciples? He saith, I am not. 18 And the servants and officers stood there, who had made a fire of coals; for it was cold: and they warmed themselves: and Peter stood with them, and warmed himself. 19 The high priest then asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his doctrine. 20 Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing. 21 Why askest thou me? ask them which heard me, what I have said unto them: behold, they know what I said. 22 And when he had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answerest thou the high priest so? 23 Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me? 24 Now Annas had sent him bound unto Caiaphas the high priest. 25 And Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. They said therefore unto him, Art not thou also one of his disciples? He denied it, and said, I am not. 26 One of the servants of the high priest, being his kinsman whose ear Peter cut off, saith, Did not I see thee in the garden with him? 27 Peter then denied again: and immediately the cock crew.
In Matthew 14:22-31 Peter was told to stay in the boat and then had the nerve to demand that Jesus prove who he was and then lacked faith right in Christ’s presence. Peter has urged Jesus not to suffer death in Matthew 16:15-23 and Jesus likened him to Satan. In John 13:5-10 Peter doesn’t want Jesus to wash his feet. In John 18, when they come to take Jesus, Peter wants to fight and cuts off a man’s ear. Peter is angry. Jesus has warned him that he will deny Jesus and it happens.
I have seen people who claimed to be atheists but when you question them they can tell you when they “were saved” in church but they have become angry at God due to some great tragedy that they don’t understand and that they weren’t equipped to handle and this anger has led them to turn their back on Christ.
Are you warming your hands over the devil’s fire? If so, then anger at God and a denial of Christ is just around the corner for you, perhaps at the point where your faith is tested the most with a personal tragedy or a challenge.
Someone once said, “It is impossible to pursue righteousness if one is zealously clinging to error.”
Another great Christian, Bob Jones, Sr., said, “Every bad thing is a good thing twisted”.
I have in my library a book called “The Harvard Literary Guide to the Bible”, a book in which the King James Bible is lifted up as being the only real Bible and then extolling its greatness on every page. However, none of these writers believe the Bible is true. They are unbelievers. A pastor once told me that he believed it was possible to know the Bible and, yet, not know the God of the Bible. This book is living proof of that statement of his. And, I might add, even the Devils know the God of the Bible and tremble, but to what avail, as James 2:19 and Luke 4:34 show.
2 Corinthians 11:4 warns you that you might receive a counterfeit Jesus, a counterfeit spirit, and a counterfeit gospel, at least implying that it is possible. But, there is a defense against being deceived by Satan. The only offensive weapon in the arsenal of Ephesians 6 is the sword of the spirit which is the word of God.
Why am I saying this? Well, I have said from the Bible that God says you MUST read the Bible, study it, and rightly divide it. I’ve quoted the verses and I’ll do it again. I’ve read an article in the “Feature” magazine that until the Bible, the word of God, THIS King James Bible is returned to its rightful place of importance in the heart and mind of the Christian there can be no revival.
Now, I’m going to show you why. When America was a God fearing nation of people who, for all their faults, loved God, trusted Jesus, and believed His words the Bible was the center point of the Christian home. It was often read, even every day, with the father taking on the responsibility of reading it to the family. But, America has been warming its hands over the Devil’s fire for a long time and has denied their Saviour.
Now, just reading it like a book is not going to make much of a difference. The wicked country singer, Willie Nelson, even has a song about how the Bible was read every day in his home aloud and it didn’t help him much, now did it.
No, what America is missing today is reading the Bible, believing the Bible, and getting its words in your heart to wash and cleanse you day to day, to give you power over sin, and to draw you closer to Christ.
You have a responsibility to allow the Lord God to speak to you every day from His own words. I have told you that while lexicons and sermons and commentaries and dictionaries can be helpful in a limited way, and I use them every day, they are not inspired by the very mouth of God so the Bible must be pre-eminent.
This Bible is my FINAL AUTHORITY in all matters of faith, practice, and doctrine and is the basis upon which I judge everything I hear, see, or read. Is it yours? There is no Pope, no Church creed, no Confession, no opinion of any scholar or priest that takes a position over the very words of the living God, before whom all of us will stand to give an account some day.
Are you neglecting the word of God and warming your hands over the Devil’s fire? Neglecting this Book will encourage you to deny Christ when it counts the most.
The word sanctify, means to set apart for God’s use or purpose.
John 17:17 says Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
Jesus has said here that God’s word IS truth and He has asked God the Father to set His disciples apart THROUGH IT.
Psalm 119:11 says Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.
Now, here is a very important principle if you want to have some power over sin in your life. God’s word must be in your heart. You’re not just reading it like you do your secular literature or some self-help book but you read it and memorize it to put it into your heart so that you don’t sin against God.
Think about this. How important is Bible reading? The Christian life is based on a three legged stool if you think about, practically, what you regularly must do to grow as a Christian. Prayer; talking to God, bringing your praise, your confession, your thanks, and your supplications before Him is one leg. Bible reading, or listening to God speak to you through His word, letting Him sanctify you with it, and hiding it in your heart so that you don’t sin, is another leg. Church attendance; uniting in worship with other believers and collectively, corporately doing the good works to further the Kingdom of God he has called you to do under the authority of a Spirit filled Pastor who regularly guides you in understanding and exhortation to righteousness, is another.
If any one of these legs is longer than the other you can’t sit down on the stool and if one is missing you’ll just fall over when you try to rest on it.
Now, how often should you read the Bible? Pay close attention to these instructions for a king.
19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them: 20 That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel.
Are you not in the same position as that king?
Revelation 1:5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, 6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen
He has made us kings and priests. You have no less a responsibility to read God’s word every single day of your life than that king I mentioned did.
America, particularly the Christian churches, has no power other than political power. Their moral power is gone because they have turned their back on God’s word. They still go to church, they still pray, but can you imagine having a relationship with someone where you refused to listen to what they had to say or where you made almost anything more important than what they had to say? They have been warming their hands over the Devil’s fire.
If you say you don’t have to read the Bible and hear God Himself speaking whether or not you use the help of some man’s commentary but that you can still come to Church and win souls or pray in tears on your face, as I have often done, then you are saying to God that your work for Christ is more important than Christ. When your work for God becomes your god you become an idolater. Be still and hear Him.
I cherish hearing my God speak to me every morning, every noon, and every night. I want to hear Him and to read His words more than anyone else’s. Does that mean I don’t read or listen to anything else? Of course not, don’t be ridiculous. I listen to Pastors’ sermons, Dr. Ruckman’s teaching and commentaries as well as those of Matthews, Gill, Spurgeon, the other greats, and the sermons of great men of the past like Bob Jones, Sr., and William Grady, perhaps the greatest living defender of the King James Bible, and Samuel Gipp, among others. But, nothing matches the power of God’s own words.
Now, I don’t read the Bible, pray, or come to Church because while I’m doing those things I don’t sin. I could just as easily do crossword puzzles and not sin against God. I do them because God, in His word, tells me to do them. I do them because God gives power in them to change my heart and my life and through that, the lives of others. Not, by reading the Bible like any other book, or chatting it up with God like someone over coffee, or coming to Church ONLY to socialize and play (although there’s nothing wrong with socializing or playing at Church), but to do those things in the way He has said to do them.
I hate Nicolatianism because Jesus hates it, as He makes it clear in Revelation 2:6 & 15. Nicolaitanism is a hotly disputed topic among Christians. It is said to be many things. However, Nike’ means Victory and we get our word Laity from the last part of the word for the people. So, Nicolaitanism seems to mean, at least to some commentators, “victory over the laity” and is often referred to as the Roman Catholic notion of a separate priesthood, who is, rather than the individual Christian, Christ’s representative on earth. We, as Baptists, believe in the Priesthood of believers. Remember the Revelation verse I quoted above. Jesus has made us all kings and priests before God.
Another thing the Roman Catholic Church says is that the Holy Spirit is found only in the Church and outside of your relationship with the Church you cannot partake of the power of the Holy Spirit. However, we know that we have God’s spirit residing in us, don’t we.
Romans 8:9 says “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”
The Roman Catholic Church also says that the Bible is not more important than the teachings of their church, that their tradition is equal to the authority of the Bible. They also believe that if you don’t speak Greek, Hebrew, and Latin you really can’t understand the Bible and if you don’t have the official teaching of the Church you can’t understand the Bible. We know these things are heresy.
The Roman Catholic Church downplays the authority and the personal power of the Bible. God’s word will fill you and give you power you can’t even imagine if you submit to God’s authority through it. But, you and the rest of America’s Christians reject it at your peril.
We are going to be judged by Jesus’ words.
John 12:48 says He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.
God’s word not only has the ability to keep you from sin but to give you power in difficult times. As I memorize the Bible, I have verses that God wrote to pray back to Him. This is particularly powerful in the first part of my prayer of praise.
Each morning, I first get on my knees and pray and one of the things I pray for is light from God’s word. Then, I read three chapters of the Bible aloud. I’ve recorded the entire Bible on CD. Then, I take up a commentary and do a Bible study. This is how the first hour of each day starts before I get down on my knees for a second time and pray with my wife hand in hand. And I’m not even what you would call a good person. What’s your excuse, oh good Christian? Now, I’m a wicked person, always struggling with a vile, sin nature. You are most certainly a much better person than I am. How much more can you do?
But, my purpose here is to lift up God’s word, His Bible. If you listen to a preacher you’ll understand your need to worship with the church, even if it’s only a group of three or four people meeting in someone’s home. By the way, the church is the people, not a building. The house of God is the people, not a building. I don’t need to add to that. My job, as I see it, is to get you to take God’s word seriously, to read it believing it and expecting God to do mighty things through it with you and your life. Don’t get caught warming your hands over the Devil’s fire when you should be reading and studying God’s word.
I want to talk now about some worldly issues. The thing I want you to remember today is either this book will keep you from your sin or your sin will keep you from this Book.
Read John 18:15-27
The longer you warm yourself over the Devil’s fire, the more likely you are to deny Christ. I know a couple of atheists who claim to have “gotten saved” when they were young but either being angry at God for taking someone they loved or because they stayed too long in the world, warming themselves over the Devil’s fire, they were made to deny their Saviour.
Now let me just say that one of the hardest things to do when teaching anyone is to admit that you are wrong and you really don’t know how to get right without causing even more damage than you already have caused. There are a few principles in the New Testament that are clear to anyone who will submit themselves to the authority of the Bible and through the Bible ultimately to Jesus Christ, the true God. But Christians, even fundamentalist Independent Baptists have turned their back on or downgraded the importance of God’s word and we’ve lost the power that God wants us to have. The word of God, spoken by God, through men, and committed to ink and paper should be the most important thing in your life because by it we know who God is, what He has done, and most importantly what He wants from us. Over and over again God establishes the importance of His word.
Spiritually, we in this country and in this culture, which includes Europe and Australia, Canada, and New Zealand are in the mess we’re in because we have strayed so far from God’s perfect will for our lives and His perfect word it’s almost impossible to get right. Now, I’m going to mention things as I talk that are not inherently, in themselves, evil, but that can be used as instruments of evil if they take us away from God’s word and His worship as the center point of our lives.
The first such principle I want to go over with you has to do with work. What does the New Testament, under the doctrines of Biblical grace, have to say about work and more specifically what kind of work does God honor? It’s not rocket science. Outside of being a Christian pastor, missionary, or teacher full time here it is;
1 Thessalonians 4:11 And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; 12 That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.
Work with your own hands. This upholds the craftsman, the plumber, the electrician, the builder, laborer, and all those who put things together and actually produce a tangible thing with their labor. For those of us who have no skills it would be advisable if we learned a skill. It is no sin to be a salesman or a manager but it is certainly not God’s ideal profession although they can be used for good, to glorify God and support His ministers. The investment banker, the dealer in paper with other people’s money, the speculator in anything who plies his trade on the dreams and the backs of the working man, is not in God’s will. Learn a skill. Learn to do something with your hands, to make, to create.
In our country we were once the world’s foremost industrial power, making more things of value than any other country on earth and having the highest production standards of any country. Today, we are a service oriented economy, actually producing very little and measuring our economy’s success on how much we consume. There is something wrong here, something out of balance. Something here that God will not honor as is evidenced by our shrinking standard of living and by the fact that virtually every American family survives on credit in some way in a way that would have appalled our ancestors.
Paul, himself, is said to have supported his efforts for Christ by the craft of tentmaking.
Acts 181 ¶ After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; 2 And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them. 3 And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.
Then, there is the question of who should work. God makes it clear how a woman, a wife is to be in subjection to her own husband, not just to any man.
Ephesians 5:22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
When a wife works outside of the home she usually places herself under the authority of a man other than her own husband. This is against God’s plan. A wife is to be in subjection to her own husband, not another man. A wife should not be in the position of working under the authority of and submitting to the authority of a man other than her own husband. I know you might not agree with what I’m saying but please hear me out. Many of us, when we come to the place where God has led us, begin to see things quite differently from how we saw them at one time.
The women in the Bible who work outside of the home and who are honored are ones like Lydia who appears to be self-employed.
Acts 16:14 And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.
Lydia appears to be unmarried or widowed as no recognition is given to any husband.
Another woman engaged in buying and selling is the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31 who helps her husband support the family through her industry.
Proverbs 31:10 ¶ Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. 11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. 12 She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. 13 She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. 14 She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar. 15 She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. 16 She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. 17 She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms. 18 She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night. 19 She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff. 20 She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. 21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. 22 She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple. 23 Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land. 24 She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant. 25 Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. 26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. 27 She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. 28 Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. 29 Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. 30 Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised. 31 Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.
In all of her self-employment and wise dealings, at no time does this say that she has placed herself under the authority of a man other than her husband. I see only two choices for a woman, a wife, who must help her husband support her family, self employment or a cottage industry where she works out of her home under her husband’s authority.
How long do you think you can warm your hands at the Devil’s fire before you deny Christ?
In truth, we don’t apply nearly enough time to work in this generation. My great grandfather would have considered my work schedule merely part time compared to his work day and he managed to find the time to start a Baptist Church in Methodist country and to baptize nearly a thousand people in Somerset County, Maryland’s Manokin River. Whenever I feel tired I think of him looking at me and shaking his head in disgust at my laziness because if I go to the bank, the drycleaners, and the post office in the same day I need a nap.
We take up our time with idle pursuits that have no value. Look what God has to say about our desire to entertain ourselves with frivolity.
Ephesians 5:4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.
Early Christian leaders made a point of saying that you may not watch as entertainment that which it is forbidden for you to do and then they attacked the Christian’s attendance at the pagan theater. How many scenes of immorality and murder have you watched on the screen in the past year, or in your lifetime?
How much pagan theater do you attend? How many TV shows did you watch this past week, or how many movies did you watch in this past month. Do you take delight in amusements that are not of God but rather of the world? The most important and powerful entertainment companies, like Viacom and Disney, among others, have given as much as $10 million to the most liberal candidates for office in one election who support abortion, homosexual marriage, and are against everything in this Book.
The culture that God took the Jews out of used pictures as an aid to worship and their pictures were worshipped, which is why God created the alphabet and the written word for the Jews at Mount Sinai and the merchant Phoenicians spread it around the world.
Exodus 20:4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
Aleph in Hebrew, from which we get the letter “A”, was a picture of the bull god, the calf which Aaron made for the disobedient Hebrews. God also warned the Hebrews about pictures.
Numbers 33:52 Then ye shall drive out all the inhabitants of the land from before you, and destroy all their pictures, and destroy all their molten images, and quite pluck down all their high places:
Certain works are meant to be read, in writing, with letters, not watched in pictures. Movies about the Bible are vastly inferior to your reading of the word of God. In fact, it is not in God’s will. I would also say that movies about great written epics like the Anglo-Saxon poem, Beowulf, are a farce compared to the written work.
I call today’s Christian, sometimes, the TV people. We have left the lifestyle patterns of our fathers, going to bed not long after dark and getting up before dawn because of artificial lighting and the television schedule that has delayed bed time from around 8pm to 11pm or later. Whenever a Christian makes me stay up late I recognize that he is a TV person. It is no coincidence that Thomas Edison, inventor of the light bulb and father of electricity was a card carrying Luciferian, a disciple of the wicked Madame Blavatsky who called Lucifer the Christ and who founded the modern new age movement. The fact that God has used the works of Satan to His good purpose does not change the fact of where these things came from.
Our culture is wicked before you figure in pornography, fornication, murder, gossip, or any other blatant sin mentioned in the Bible. We do not live in God’s will nor shall we. This is the Laodicean Church Age. Laodicea means “the people judge” or “the people’s rights” and this church age supports a consumer church, only interested in what tickles its fancy and not the truth. It is a lukewarm church in this church age.
Did you put money in the pockets of some godless professional sport team impresario who by the schedule of his team’s play encourages people to miss church on the Lord’s Day or to sit in church musing about how “his team” is doing? Let me give you an example of the kind of people Christian money, God’s money, is supporting. Peter Angelos of the Baltimore Orioles made his fortune suing businesses, which causes prices to rise for all of us as these additional costs to the business world are passed on to us. He is a lifelong Democrat who supports abortion, homosexual rights, has given in one single year $250,000 to the DNC, and has denied the demand of his cleanup workers to pay them what Baltimore City calls a living wage. That’s a living wage, what you must have just to survive, not to get rich.
Should a Christian support him and his business, the Orioles? He’s just an example. By the way, I am not a Yankees fan, so don’t accuse me of that. Does it glorify God that you would support, with God’s money given to you to support yourself and His work, the sports world, in light of Vick’s dogfighting scandal, the NBA referee betting scandal, and the mess with America’s disgraced Tour De France bicycling champion, runner Marion Jones’ disgrace, the recently released list from MLB on steroid abusers like “home run king” Barry Bonds and pitcher Roger Clemons, and the overall godless and deplorable behavior exemplified by today’s athletes? We view behavior as normal that before 1950 would have gotten you banned from sports and we see it many times during a normal game; the high fives, the dancing in the end zone, the trash talk. This was not acceptable before the late 1940’s when the atmosphere of pro sports in particular began to reek.
How can we demand and expect God’s blessing on our work for Him when we take money from Him and pass it through to His enemies? Doesn’t that strike you as an odd way of thinking? The crazy statement that God needs Christian professional athletes or Christian exotic dancers, or Christian blackjack dealers notwithstanding makes me ask, does he really need them?
Robert Kraft-New England Patriots,
Jerry Jones-Dallas Cowboys
Michael Illich-Detroit Tigers, Detroit RedWings
Charles Dolan-New York Knicks
Bill Veeck-Cleveland Indians “I don’t break the rules. I merely test their elasticity”
Which of the above sports team owners or former owners do you think is or was a Bible Believing, God fearing Christian? Okay, then which ones are just decent, honest non-Christians?
The ESPN article “Foul Play and Chicanery in the Owner’s Suite” explained how corrupt the owners are and states that sports have been corrupt as soon as they became businesses. “The NHL’s Cheat Sheet” is another ESPN article that shows how vile and corrupt professional sports are.
The article “It pays for teams to cheat in the NCAA and pro sports” makes it clear that even amateur sports are riddled with cheating and corruption. This isn’t about you going out and playing a game of volleyball or a pickup game of baseball. This is about putting God’s money into the pockets of wicked people, knowing they’re wicked.
How long can you warm your hands over the Devil’s fire before you deny Christ?
Should we not be taking our pleasure from studying God’s word, singing His hymns, and talking about His mercies?
Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
The last time you put money into the pockets of the owners of the York Revolution were you giving it in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him?
When you last watched a TV show or movie did it glorify God? If you can say to me that everything you do doesn’t have to glorify God then what does that make you? A Christian? Did not the Son of God give His life for you? Is then your response to him to be , “Well, I don’t see anything wrong with…”
When we get to the judgment seat of Christ I doubt He is going to say, “You know, I really wish you had watched more TV, seen more movies, and went to more sporting events. I just don’t think you got enough beer sloshed on you or heard enough foul language.” I don’t see that happening.
And with regard to being out of God’s will, what about what you own? Do you own it or does it own you?
1 Timothy 6:6 ¶ But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. 9 But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
How much stuff do you need? Are you content with God and being clothed and fed? Or is your happiness based on getting new things? Look at what Paul says, that godliness with contentment is great gain. We don’t even think that way. Are you content with what you have? Are you always dreaming of something new or the latest thing? Is that attitude in keeping with God’s will for your life?
Maybe you’re poor and your parents can’t buy you all those things you dream of. Do you spend time wishing they could or resenting the fact that you had to be born into a family that can’t buy stuff like others can?
Didn’t Jesus warn us about covetousness?
Luke 12:15 And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.
Are you living in God’s will or are you claiming His blessings and approval and not living in a way pleasing to Him. If you are doing that you are warming your hands over the Devil’s fire and, young people, there may come a time when you’ve been there so long you deny Christ. Doesn’t it seem kind of unfair for you to say, God bless me, while you thumb your nose at how He says you are to live?
How we work, what we enjoy, and what we own tells a lot about the nature of our relationship with Christ.
There are some promises that the Bible has for us and if we believed them, our attitudes might change.
Are you troubled, take for instance;
Isaiah 26:3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.
Are you a sports fanatic, always looking for something to entertain your need for exercise and competition? I know I enjoy working out. It’s a daily practice of mine except when I’m really tired.
1Ti 4:8 For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.
Are you considering a credit card or borrowing for some new thing you’ve decided you want.
Romans 13:8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
Do you wonder about whether or not something you are thinking of doing is in God’s will?
1Thessalonians 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.
You see, there are a lot of things that the Bible says that disturb us because those things go against what we want to do. Just keep this in mind. If someone calls into question anything you are doing or that you love and your first response is “I don’t see anything wrong with….” then something is wrong. Your first response should be, “This glorified God and exalted His name by….” If you can’t say that then think about what you are doing.
Electric lights are not evil in and of themselves. Sports are not evil in and of themselves. These are neutral things. Like a hammer, they can be used to do something worthwhile like drive a nail or they can be used as a weapon to bash someone in the head.
But, the fact is that our entire culture is off center. It’s like being in a room where all the pictures are crooked. Christians don’t just obey the law, they worship the state. They don’t just hate the sin and not the sinner, they embrace both because they’re too afraid of what unsaved, hellbound, wicked sinners will think of them if they yell too loud about sin. We’ve spent so much time compromising with the Devil he isn’t even concerned about us. Most Christians have abandoned the real Bible and instead of the sword of God they’re armed only with a plastic fork.
Think about the way you live, and what your priorities are. I have tried and tried to convince people that even if you put Christian words to rock music, it’s still of the Devil. The FORM of the music is wicked, the FORM of country music is wicked, it is the VESSEL in which the words are delivered that’s wicked before you put any words to it. The Devil has used the rhythmic beat all through history from driving the slaves in his galley ships to the soldiers on his battlefields to the West African dancers pleading to be possessed by a devil so they can dance with more intensity. If the music doesn’t exalt God, it’s wicked. Music went from the era of Bach where God was the main subject to the romantic era of Beethoven where our feelings were the main subject and degenerated to Elvis where our flesh was the main subject. You see how it went; from the spirit, to the soul, to the flesh. Now, here we are, with nowhere to go but the pit.
Read John 18:15-27. If you warm yourself over the Devil’s fire, someone’s gonna ask you? Didn’t I see you in church? Didn’t I see you get out of a car with a Bible sticker on it? The longer you warm yourself over the devil’s fire, the more likely you are to deny Christ.
I know what you are going to say. “You’re taking away everything that’s fun. Can’t I have any fun at all?”
The answer is let the word of God change you. This is your final authority. This will tell your heart what it enjoys. You won’t turn the TV on, you won’t pick up a secular book unless it’s how to change your furnace filter, you won’t care to see a movie or watch a bunch of diseased, degenerate, hellbound sinners play a game for millions of dollars.
Don’t start warming your hands over the Devil’s fire. When the time comes that they say, “Aren’t you one of His? You’ll be able to say much more easily. Yes, I am. Do YOU know Him?”
Christianity is, in America, in the final stages of apostasy. We are the Laodicean Church age. Now, your church may be a Philadelphia church (the missionary church) and it may wind up being a Smyrna church (the martyr church) but this age we live in as Christians is most certainly the age of the lukewarm faith, neither cold nor hot.
Revelation 3:14 ¶ And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God. 15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. 21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. 22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
What happened? What steps did the people who participated in great revivals in early America’s history take toward apostasy, to fall from a standing position? What happened to the people who participated in the Fulton Street Prayer Revival, or the Confederate soldiers of whom 150,000 got saved during the Civil War in a revival that swept that army? Where are the fruits of Dwight L. Moody’s million saved people, Billy Sunday’s quarter million, or where are the results of the 15 million people that Bob Jones, Sr. preached to before his fortieth birthday without a microphone? What happened?
Historically, several things happened. If you judge history strictly by the Bible understanding history to be his-story and realizing that without the Bible history doesn’t make any sense you learn a few things. Without the Bible mankind is moving ever onward and upward and the great wars of the last hundred years and the massive murders of millions of people collide and conflict. It’s confusing. The speeches of great men and their actions are in total opposition. “I want peace”, they say, but they prepare for war and execute it whenever possible. We’ve had more wars in the time period after the League of Nations and the United Nations were formed to stop war, and more millions massacred, than in any comparable time in all of history. So, evolution falls completely apart, not only as a scientific theory, but as a social theory.
What has made Bible Believing Christianity to become dead in the water in America? It’s easy to say that the answer is “sin” and “unbelief” because both of those are true. But, I’m not giving a political campaign speech here. I’m trying to get at the meat of the issue.
I believe that there are several things that have caused the downfall of Christianity in America, and I mean real Christianity; the Jonathan Edwards, George Whitefield, Peter Cartwright, Sam Jones type of Christianity, not the Joel Osteen, Billy Graham, Robert Schuler type.
These things are slavery, alcohol, war, communism, abortion, pornography, and homosexual behavior among others. But, I’m going to focus on these things. When Christians began warming themselves over the devil’s fire it was inevitable that they would deny Christ eventually. Now, I’m not talking about the existence of these things forcing Christianity into decline. I’m saying that the way we eventually chose to deal with these things weakened the church.
Let me give you an example. There is a Civil Rights Act of 1964. Under more recent provisions, particularly Title 7, I am legally entitled to have my day of religious observance, Sunday, off from work. I can’t be fired or denied a promotion because I am a Christian. However, now think about this. Should I seek a redress of a grievance against my employer because he fires me for refusing to work on Sunday am I not denying the power of God, creating an adversarial relationship between myself and my employer before the firing, and denying his right to dispose of his property, his business, in the way he sees fit? In doing all this I make the government the supreme authority by appealing to it. Would not Paul have been freed to spread the Gospel in person if he had not appealed to Caesar?
Now, my primary responsibility to my employer is to maintain a good Christian testimony before him. Would it not have been better to have cleared the issue of working on the Lord’s Day up with him when I was hired? Am I not free to go elsewhere, to find a Christian employer who would not require Sunday work? What about trusting Christ to make a change in the employer’s heart? Perhaps Christ doesn’t want me to work there.
Now, back on topic. The reason for my example will come later. Christians, just like everyone else, want government to justify themselves and they seek rights to be established by government, and not God. Christian transformation of society, changing society, comes from inside, as each born again believer immerses him or herself in the Bible and in prayer and in working through a local church body. The work of a Christian is two fold. First you lead people to the Lord and then you teach them. God does most of the work but He uses us to initiate his action. Only then does society really get better. In times of revival in our history it was this reformation of our country that resulted in real changes.
But, people called abolitionists wanted legal action against slavery, not just a change of heart. This constant protest merely lengthened the time it took for the evil of slavery to depart from our shores. Almost every other country had abandoned the institution before we did and with good effect. It was Christians who surrendered to the ideal of fighting for some kind of legislation to abolish slavery that resulted in the factionalism that led to the Civil War. It led to the dictatorship of the central government and the destruction of our Constitutional Republic, the rule of the people electing qualified leadership for limited period of time, in 1865, and the long descent into Democracy, where politics is run by the news media, how good a candidate looks on television, and how much corruption can be spread around.
The temperance movement was another big step in the destruction of a vital Christianity. Pastors weren’t satisfied with the results gained from hard, Bible preaching and a changed life. They wanted government help. They pushed for a Prohibition of the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages. They were successful in the early 1900’s but by the time the law banning alcohol was repealed Christianity in America was on its last leg. The Baptist separation from government control was overshadowed by the Political Roman Catholic and the Protestant. Sabbatarians, people who wanted laws against work and business openings on Sundays, had forced the US Post Office to stop delivering the mail on Sunday by 1912. Roman Catholic legislators had gotten vague anti-pornography acts passed into law where a postmaster could decide what was indecent. The direction of these laws was to attack anti-Catholic literature going through the mails.
War, as described by Marine Corps General Smedley Butler, in his scathing 1930’s speech, “War is a Racket”, was one of the greatest destroyers of a living faith in America. First, in order to get the people riled up at Germany, who was not the bad guy in WWI, and there have been numerous books written about this such as Preacher’s Present Arms, the government and the nation’s preachers began preaching against the German Empire as the most evil thing ever created, which it was not. It was no more evil than the British Empire but our government chose to ally with Great Britain, our former enemy in two wars during which we had to free our country from bondage.
The excitement of one sending one’s child on the foreign mission to risk and perhaps give his life for Christ, sadly, doesn’t compare, to the excitement of sending one’s child off to war. The doughboys, as they were called in World War One came back from France with a desire to have their American wives wear makeup like the French women and brought back a whole host of immoral behaviors that trashed Christian separation from the world. We’ll stand today on the issue of women wearing slacks but there was a time when the issue was women wearing gobs of makeup and looking like a “painted city woman” or one of those French girls. We’ve sort of accepted that and dropped that standard as being inconvenient. Now, even Independent Baptist girls wear more makeup than any Baptist girl of 1850 would have considered moral and proper.
Every foreign war we’ve been in has resulted in our boys coming back with a lower standard of morality and expectation and pressure on women to compete in a more disgusting world than before. I can remember when an American considered a manly fight to be one with your fists and that only a girl or a feminine male would kick anyone. “Fight like a man” always meant Boxing as in when a company of American engineers in World War One beat a company of armed Germans with only their bare fists as reported by eyewitnesses in Ring Magazine’s first issue in 1922.( Ring Magazine was the Boxing magazine). However, service in Asia during and after WW2 resulted in men bringing home karate and kung-fu which became kickboxing and to fight “like a man” is now less impressive than fighting in a UFC ring. This is just one example of how our society has changed after each war.
Before World War 2, America was the world’s greatest industrial nation with its workers being the most productive by far. Today, we actually make very little. Our economy is a service one and its health is measured by what we purchase not what we produce. We have spent billions of dollars building up defeated enemies and giving foreign aid which our founders did not intend for us to do by the billions to enemies and false friends, money that would have been better spent on foreign missions by the people, not the government.
When the call went out from General Macarthur at the end of WW2 to send missionaries to Japan to convert our defeated enemy, the call was generally ignored. A great potential Christian nation was abandoned once again to heathenism. Our zeal for Christ had turned into complacency and the worship of government as our protector and our judge, not the God of the Bible.
Future wars saw us unite with godless heathens, pagans, and new age one world mystics in foolish wars that accomplished little in Korea, Vietnam, and other places as well as behind the scenes manipulations in Chile’, Guatemala, and a hundred other places. The Soviet Union did not fall because of our machinations but because communism was a rotting edifice and it caved in when Christ inspired Christians in Romania and Russia and other places to defy governmental forces by marching en masse. It was time for the evil empire to fall, God’s time, not Ronald Reagan’s, not Jimmy Carter’s, but God’s . By then American Christians had become such worshippers of the state that you would think that Ronald Reagan was the fourth member of the Trinity.
God did it, because, as the Romanian Christians pointed skyward in Timisoara, “There is a God! There is a God!”, the security forces could no longer bring themselves to fire on their fellow citizens.
Abortion has been another controversy that has harmed America’s faith. Jerry Falwell of Moral Majority fame once said that Christian pastors had a higher calling than politics and that they shouldn’t lower themselves to politics. He said this due to his opposition to Martin Luther King Jr. However, in the 1970’s his ideas changed and he created the Moral Majority, a name given to his organization by a Roman Catholic advisor. With regard to abortion, the famous W.A. Criswell applauded the abortion decision of Roe versus Wade at first as taking the government out of criminalizing a woman’s decision stating that he believed that until a child was independent of his mother and became an individual person what was best for the mother should be allowed. Later he changed his mind. Why? I think all of us Bible Believing Christians are against abortion and view it as nothing short of murder. But, the question is why did Criswell change his position 180 degrees?
Here’s the answer. In the mid-1970’s, the Roman Catholic Church came out with its Bishop’s Pastoral Plan for America designed to unite Christian groups together to fight abortion and strengthening the Vatican’s hand as the unifier and leader of Christians against social evils in America. Hence, the pro-life movement was born. Randall Terry, of Operation Rescue fame, is a Roman Catholic.
Is abortion wrong? Yes. But should Bible Believing Christians unite with something as wicked as the Roman Catholic Church, paganized Christianity, to fight it? NO? The modern evangelical Christian’s doctrine has been watered down by political action not called for in the Bible. We’re not here to make a better world. We’re here to lead people out of the world. There is absolutely no point in redecorating the waiting room to Hell, making it nicer, hanging new curtains, and vacuuming the carpets, making the world a better place is for Hellbound saps like Ted Turner because THIS is all he has. We need to give people the gospel. Period.
Christian political activism, picketing, marching, and blockading is warming your hands over the Devil’s fire. Jesus Christ didn’t concern himself with politics. He didn’t even get involved in civil matters at all. Notice his response when asked to settle a civil dispute between brothers.
Luke 12:13 ¶ And one of the company said unto him, Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me. 14 And he said unto him, Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you? 15 And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.
And see what he said about the kingdom of God which you entered at the new birth.
John 3:3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
Luke 17:20 ¶ And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: 21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
John 18:36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.
What the Romanian Christians did in Timisoara was the end result of Christ preparing a people to receive his blessing as he overturned their oppressors. They were not trying to effect a change in their government. They were rejecting the authority of the government over them outright, as it had rejected Christ for years.
The real issue with regard to abortion and pornography is that, with nearly 82% of Americans classifying themselves as Christians according to a 2003 Gallup Poll, if Christians did not participate in the abortion and pornography industries they would collapse. The problem isn’t unbelievers. The problem is the church. Let me say again, the alcohol industry, radical homosexual activism, abortion, and pornography could not survive in America if many of the 246 million Americans who CLAIM to be Christians weren’t actively supporting them.
We can scream at the world all we want but until our own stop warming their hands over the devil’s fire we are a sorry excuse for the church that represents Christ on earth. The American Sociological Review says that only between 20 and 28% of those who say they are Protestant and Catholic attend church regularly with more of a percentage of Catholics actually going to church, and not the 40% the news media says. Even with those paltry numbers of no more than 80 million people attending church regularly those industries would most certainly collapse if Christians weren’t involved in them at all.
No, with all of our leaving it up to the gubmint to straighten out society’s problems we have fallen away from Christ and the power of Christ is gone from the Christian Churches. There can be no nationwide revival until Christians turn from their sins, turn from their reliance on government to get things right with God, and renew themselves by church attendance, Bible reading of the true Bible, and prayer. Judgment is coming. If only 20 of those 80 million are really born again, they would have an impact on our society just by their separation from its wickedness.
We can scream against the godless all day long. We can rant and rave about how wicked they are but we are silent about our great falling away.
2Thessalonians 2:3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
The Bible defines “to fall away” as to go over to the enemy.
Jeremiah 37:13 And when he was in the gate of Benjamin, a captain of the ward was there, whose name was Irijah, the son of Shelemiah, the son of Hananiah; and he took Jeremiah the prophet, saying, Thou fallest away to the Chaldeans.
In the Tribulation to come, when those unfortunate wrecks turn from God and betray their brothers and sisters, they will not be able to be saved again as the Tribulation letter to the Hebrews states.
Hebrews 6:4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.
We have warmed our hands over the devil’s fire and have turned from the power of Christ and seek the blessing of Satan’s world, his politics, and his ways. We are supporting a world of wickedness with the money that God has given us, with our time and efforts, and we are denying the one who bought us by our actions. We live in an age when officials of Christian College in Pensacola can testify in IRS proceedings against Kent Hovind, the King James Bible Believing evangelist who has fought and debated against evolution world wide and helped send him to prison. We live in a world where Christian pastors are more interested in getting into the White House than they are into the throne room of our Creator. We live in a Christianity that is satanic in practice and that is hypocritical and inconsistent in its testimony before the unsaved.
There is only one thing you must do, you can do, you will do, if you are going to stop warming your hands over the devil’s fire. Repent. Repent and turn back to Christ. Turn away from this world. Repent. Stop screaming for the boys in Washington to take this country back for Christ. Only the power of Christ can do that. We have access to that power. But, will a just and righteous God give us one more chance to obey Him or have we gone too far?
Read Revelation 3:14-22 again.