What Are You Willing to Give Up?

Today’s Supreme Court ruling federally legalizes same-sex “marriage.” It seems obvious to me that we need to prepare our people for persecution, while simultaneously preparing them to speak lovingly, yet truthfully, to the LGBT community. This will not be an easy road. What are we willing to give up? For this decision constitutes America’s attempt to re-define God’s own creation ordinance. This will have massive ramifications that we can only barely glimpse at the moment.

The somewhat provocative title of this post should not be seen as a call to emotional hysteria. All too often, the conversation is characterized by shrill voices on both sides of the debate, thus creating a climate where no one can listen. Evangelicals are rank with fear. Why? And what kind of fear is it? I think we fear to lose the comfortable liberty we have had for such a long time. We fear to lose what is in our bank account. We fear social ostracism. In other words, we fear man, not God. On the other side, we see the LGBT community using emotionally charged words to shout down the opposition. The words “bigot,” “hate-speech,” and “homophobic” are thrown at anyone who does not agree with their agenda. There is no communication going on, only a lot of shouting. The importance of books like Rosaria Butterfield’s masterpiece can hardly be underestimated at a time like this, because no one could possibly accuse such an ex-Lesbian of hate-speech, and yet she also speaks the truth. More books like this need to be written. The most thorough treatment of the exegetical issues is undoubtedly Gagnon’s book. For a smaller, more accessible book (although Gagnon is not too difficult to read), there is now Kevin Deyoung’s book. Butterfield’s book, though, is the most important of the three.

The accelerated pace of the sea-change going on now in America requires some comment. I am constantly hearing of people who think that “such and such thing cannot possibly happen in America.” I am not sure that anything is off the table anymore. The changes are easily fast enough now to make us dizzy. I am preaching this Sunday on Revelation 11. A more timely text could hardly be imagined. The two witnesses I take to be the church defined as a legally valid testimony on Old Testament Deuteronomic terms. The persecution rises against them until the church appears dead. The world rejoices. God will then vindicate those witnesses by raising them from the dead. I know that every era of church history has had people saying that the end is upon us. As a good Amillenial, I believe that they are all correct. The end-times are upon us. As Hebrews 1 says, we are in the last days now (“in these last days God has spoken to us in (or by) His Son”). The American church is about to be seriously pruned. We are about to look a lot more like the house churches in China. Anyone got some nice spacious basements?

What are we willing to give up? We are going to have to be willing to give up forever the idea of being “relevant,” at least in the way that many people mean the term. We cannot adopt the world’s way of doing things. Our way of being truly relevant is to speak the truth to people who do not want to hear what we have to say. We need to be willing to give up prestige, money, land, freedom, and life itself. They will be gone in a very short period of time. Our families will be torn apart. The government will take away everything we value. Welcome to the brave new world.

For the latter half of the twentieth century, Satan has been using the carrot to lure people away from the true church, and away from the means of grace. Satan is changing tools. He will now use the stick. Probably very few of us would have recognized ahead of time that the homosexual marriage issue would be the issue by which this change would take place.

As I was talking with one of my elders this morning about these things, it struck me forcefully that we need to pray for our dispensational Pre-millenial brothers. What is going to happen will knock their theology for a loop. They believe that they are going to escape the tribulation by means of the Rapture. Revelation 11 says otherwise. Even if verse 12 is talking about a Rapture, it clearly does NOT occur until after the death and resurrection experience of verses 7-11. At that time, those brothers will be wondering if God is incorrect in what He said, and what else God might be wrong about. They might very well forget to ask the question about whether they understand the text correctly or not. We need to pray for them that their faith will hold firm.

Do not fear what is about to happen. Above all, do not get hysterical, as if God’s grip on the world has somehow slipped. Instead, rejoice that the end is near. Count it pure joy when you experience trials of various kinds, knowing that the testing of your faith will produce perseverance. Know that the poor, dead-looking church over which the world will gloat will one day rise up again, in spite of the world. The world will then gape in dread and awe of the church as God resurrects it. SCOTUS may think itself the supreme court of the land. Boy, are they in for a shock!

26 Comments

  1. Truth2Freedom said,

    June 26, 2015 at 1:21 pm

    Reblogged this on Truth2Freedom's Blog.

  2. Mark Horne said,

    June 26, 2015 at 1:34 pm

    Lane,

    Your words are timely and full of grace. We definitely need to be prepared for the change(s) to come, ready to proclaim the gospel of our Savior, yet remembering that even if we are in our basements He is still on His throne. No man can thwart God’s sovereign plan and despite any loss of comfort we can, and will, rejoice in He who holds all in His hands. May your sermon Sunday ring loud and true. Blessings!

  3. rfwhite said,

    June 26, 2015 at 2:21 pm

    I’ll be praying right along with you, Lane. I’m to preach on the end of the (first) world from Gen 6-7 with Matt 24:37-39, part of the point being that Jesus exhorts us: “Don’t be deceived, don’t be afraid, and don’t be unprepared.”

  4. Howie Donahoe said,

    June 26, 2015 at 3:33 pm

    Reading the decision now, along with the excellent dissents. And drawing some serious comfort from listening over and over again to the chorus of Building 429’s song “Where I Belong.”

  5. greenbaggins said,

    June 26, 2015 at 4:28 pm

    On my admin page for wordpress, the header has been turned into a rainbow, no doubt in “honor” of the SCOTUS ruling. What a beautiful symbol of God’s promise never to destroy the world again through a world-wide flood!

  6. roberty bob said,

    June 26, 2015 at 4:35 pm

    This will be a grand opportunity for Christ’s church to make discipleship a priority so that there will be many more of us who, by God’s grace, take our apprenticeship to Jesus seriously. We will become Christian spouses in our marriages, Christian parents to our children, Christian workers in our businesses, and so forth. My guess is that with some focused effort, we may even become gracious ministers of rescue, redemption, and reconciliation to those who self-identify as LGBT.

    Then, in the great covenantal coin flip, we may find ourselves someday once again as the Head instead of the Tail!

  7. Ron said,

    June 26, 2015 at 6:12 pm

    Brothers, check out Triablogue today.

  8. Ron said,

    June 26, 2015 at 6:13 pm

    Steve’s a posting machine so these posts might be on page seven by nightfall.

  9. June 26, 2015 at 8:47 pm

    Even Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts, in his dissent, recognizes that the next step will be the legalization of polygamy. It might take ten or fifteen years, but it will happen. Slippery slopes and all that.

  10. Mark B said,

    June 26, 2015 at 8:56 pm

    Good post Lane, but I’d have to disagree with you on this:
    “no one could possibly accuse such an ex-Lesbian of hate-speech”
    Why ever not?? As Christians we tend to judge the world through our own values and mores, things like truth, reason, logic. Our opponents are unencumbered by such things under their veil of politeness. In their view, you and I are no different than ISIS. The world may grudging tolerate fools if they stay in their churches, but haters, not so much. Listening to the bubbling elation of the NPR announcers and commentators today, and having read the court decision, including the dissents, one thing stood out. They view this not as the end, but the beginning. It’ll go something like this– The Bible is hate speech, and thus not protected under the first amendment, for surly the founders could not have intended to protect hate speech, right? Of course you have the right to freely express your religion, as long as it doesn’t contradict the Constitutionally enshrined right of the Gay “couple” to do what they do….

  11. Mark B said,

    June 26, 2015 at 9:16 pm

    “it struck me forcefully that we need to pray for our dispensational Pre-millenial brothers. What is going to happen will knock their theology for a loop. They believe that they are going to escape the tribulation by means of the Rapture.”
    A more constructive thought than mine. Since this particular train started barreling down the tracks a few months ago, I’ve been thinking that dispensational Pre-millennialism is going to be one of the more short lived heresies in the grand scheme of church history. As “first world problem” has become a catch phrase of late, does that mean this is a “first world Church heresy”? Honestly, could anyone other than a spoiled, coddled, entitled, wimpy western Christian have believed that one? I wonder how many other first world Church heresies we have that we aren’t aware of……

  12. Reed Here said,

    June 27, 2015 at 9:28 am

    Fathers and Brothers, my fear is that we, shepherds of the Church, will not discern the sovereign will of God in these things.

    Judgment begins with the house (family) of God.
    Judgment follows the Church’s failure (refusal) to be salt and light.
    Judgment involves a visitation of more corruption from the sins in view.

    I imagine that if our forefathers, from any generation of the Church, would look at this spread of sexual immorality like a head to toe corruption and ask, what did they do to call for this sovereign hand of God? I imagine they would look at the repeated eruptions of racial troubles like boils bursting out across a body and ask, why is God giving them more of that judgment?

    And then, considering that God is in charge of the leaders of all nations, I imagine our forefathers would ask, what did this generation of the Church in America do to see this hand of judgment come down on their heads.

    (E.g., look up the Puritan’s thoughts on the biblical response to sins of a nation. You will see an example of what I’m suggesting.)

    And yet I fear that far too many of us shepherds will find even entertaining such thoughts as offensive. We will hear them as saying its all out fault, and never simply ask God, what is our fault? We will expend billions of ergs of energy at our fingertips opining away on the wickedness of this all, and yet hardly ever get to the one thing God calls on His Church to do in such situations:

    Seek repentance.

    In God’s providence I am already in a sermon series devoted to these kinds of questions. I will not have to switch up my sermon tomorrow very much to bring into view this perspective on current events.

    I pray for y’all not likewise persuaded. Maybe not tomorrow’s sermon, but soon please, we need to be leading God’s people to respond with repentance. The pruning is certainly coming. We will rejoice in the perfecting of glory and joy – those of us not cut away.

    Now is a time to weep and mourn, moan and lament in ashes and humility.

    (Wayne Sparkman has a good bibliography of such materials.)

    [NOTE: a friend who works in Montgomery’s state archives just informed me that all the state buildings relevant to some historical perspective, e.g., the confederate flag issue, have closed and cancelled all activities today. As well, private run civil rights museums closed early yesterday, and will stay closed today. Apparently there will be some rallies downtown today which there is a fear of the possibility
    of judgment. Please pray for us as we experience a hand of judgment our community refuses to see.]

  13. Reed Here said,

    June 27, 2015 at 10:12 am

    Consider: http://erlc.com/erlc/herewestand

  14. John Murphy said,

    June 27, 2015 at 2:44 pm

    Could someone outline what Mr Baggins means by “our dispensational Pre-millenial brothers. What is going to happen will knock their theology for a loop.”

  15. Mark B said,

    June 27, 2015 at 11:39 pm

    @J. M. 14
    Ever see the “left behind” movies/books/conferences (as one example)? It’s a theological view of Revelation that popped up about 100 years ago and has gained a lot of traction with Christians in America (that’s the short version, I know I’m perhaps oversimplifying a bit). Basically these folks believe that they are going to have relatively wonderful lives as Christians here on earth in America, a great Christian nation, and then God is going to sweep them up into the sky before lots of bad end times stuff happens. They claim to base this view on Revelation, and usually have a huge complex chart that takes literally the symbolic passages in Revelation. (I grew up with this view). Well, as America slides further from being a Christian nation (as this scotus decision indicates) and it starts to become more of a social stigma to be a Christian, and maybe even some mild persecution comes their way, that would be troubling to them because they think that the Bible says that won’t happen. So, I think Mr Baggins is reminding us to pray for them, perhaps that they will realize that the Bible is true, the problem is their erroneous interpretation of it, and that they will stand strong in the faith.

  16. Reed Here said,

    June 28, 2015 at 8:46 am

    John, when persecution begins in earnest, a pre-millennial dispensationalist mindset will expect to be raptured out of the persecution. When that doesn’t happen, they will conclude they’ve been left behind, as ones who made a false profession of faith in Christ.

  17. roberty bob said,

    June 28, 2015 at 9:16 am

    “. . . when persecution begins in earnest . . . .” — Reed Here

    Someone should ask our Christian brothers and sisters in Syria and Nigeria when the persecution will begin in earnest. These brethren may have something to say about this.

    Then again, The Revelation comes true when persecution begins in earnest in the United States of America! So they say.

  18. John Murphy said,

    June 28, 2015 at 9:52 am

    Thanks for the answer guys. I hadnt realised that the existence of persecution was so detreimental to the pre-millenial theory. Is it not true that this is also a sucker punch for any post-milenials out there? also how did those folks deal with the reality of our brothers and sisters around the world who are murdered for their faith? why wasnt that a sign of the tribulation for them? or did the theory only centre on america?

  19. Joel Norris said,

    June 29, 2015 at 12:10 am

    Why would pre-trib premillenialists think they missed the Rapture if no one else disappears? When persecution comes, wouldn’t they switch to a post-trib premillenial view?

  20. Stuart (OPC) said,

    June 29, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    As others have noted, the SCOTUS decision will give leverage to persecute Christian businesses (e.g. wedding cakes, flowers, rental property). I have seen “Christian businesses” that did not always have the best testimony and I have problems with using the name of Christ just to promote business, but to the degree that one genuinely wants to witness to Christ or promote truth in how they do business how about this: “Notice to all customers: 10% of all profits will be given to X Church. 100% of all profits realized from business transacted with customers perceived by management to oppose Christian morality will be allocated to Right to Life, Focus on the Family or such organizations that support Christian morality and biblical sexuality.” I suppose keeping a proper security system or team in place might reduce the small profits this approach might generate (unless there was as a Chickfila moment).

  21. Mark B. Hanson said,

    June 29, 2015 at 3:37 pm

    Please note that persecution is only a problem for premillennials who believe in a pre-tribulational rapture (dispensationists, mostly, as GB mentioned). There are some that believe the rapture will happen in the middle of the tribulation; others at the end. But those are minority views.

  22. Michael said,

    June 29, 2015 at 4:40 pm

    What a ridiculous assertion and a lack of charity to our pre-mil brothers and sisters. Ironically, it’s the SBC that has stood strong against the cultural and ecclestiacal cesspool that we call America today. I don’t think anyone in the PCA should be self-righteous about persecution given our own internal problems with SJC, Federal Vision, women deacons, theistic evolution, and antinomians.

  23. July 1, 2015 at 12:08 am

    […]  Fellow blogger, Lane Keister, with whom I trade barbs from time to time, wrote a piece titled What Are You Willing to Give Up?  He posits, “This will have massive ramifications that we can only barely glimpse at the […]

  24. July 4, 2015 at 12:01 am

    […] the Presbyterian Church in America and is pastor of Lebanon Presbyterian Church in Winnsboro, S.C. This article appeared on his blog and is used with […]

  25. Mark B said,

    July 11, 2015 at 6:32 pm

    :) :)

  26. Ron said,

    July 13, 2015 at 9:25 am

    “When persecution comes, wouldn’t they switch to a post-trib premillenial view?”

    If their commitment to pretrib rapture is unshakeable, then I suppose they’ll be constrained to think that the current persecution is not *the* persecution. Indeed, it cannot be.


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