It is somewhat singular, but just as they say fish go bad at the head first, so modern divines generally go bad first upon the head and main doctrine of the substitutionary work of Christ. Nearly all our modern errors, I might say all of them, begin with mistakes about Christ. Men do not like to be always preaching the same thing., There are Athenians in the pulpit as well as in the pew who spend their time in nothing but hearing some new thing. They are not content to tell over and over again the simple message, “He that believeth in the Lord Jesus Christ hath everlasting life.” So they borrow novelties from literature, and garnish the Word of God with the words which man’s wisdom teacheth. The doctrine of atonement they mystify. Reconciliation by the precious blood of Jesus ceases to be the corner-stone of their ministry. To shape the gospel to the diseased wishes and tastes of men enters far more deeply into their purpose, than to re-mould the mind and renew the heart of men that they receive the gospel as it is. There is no telling where they will go who once go back from following the Lord with a true and undivided heart, from deep to deep descending, the blackness of darkness will receive them unless grace prevent. Only this you may take for a certainty.

“They cannot be right in the rest,
Unless they speak rightly of Him.”

If they are not sound about the purpose of the cross, they are rotten everywhere. “Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” On this rock there is security. We may be mistaken on any other points with more impunity than this. They who are builded on the rock, though they build wood, and hay, and stubble, thereupon to their sore confusion, for what they build shall be burned, themselves shall be saved yet so as by fire. Now that grand doctrine which we take to be the keystone of the evangelical system, they very corner-stone of the gospel, that grand doctrine of the atonement of Christ we would tell to you again, and then, without attempting to prove it, for that we have done hundreds of times, we shall try to draw some lessons of instruction from that truth which is surely believed among us. Man having sinned, God’s righteousness demanded that the penalty should be fulfilled. He had said, “The soul that sinneth shall die;” and unless God can be false, the sinner must die. Moreover, God’s holiness demanded it, for the penalty was based on justice. It was just that the sinner should die. God had not appended a more heavy penalty than he should have done. Punishment is the just result of offending. God, then, must either cease to be holy, or the sinner must be punished. Truth and holiness imperiously demanded that God should lift his hand and smite the man who had broken his law and offended his majesty. Christ Jesus, the second Adam, the federal head of the chosen ones, interposed. He offered himself to bear the penalty which they ought to bear; to fulfil and honour the law which they had broken and dishonoured. He offered to be their day’s-man, a surety, a substitute, standing in their room, place, and stead. Christ became the vicar of his people; vicariously suffering in their stead; vicariously doing in their stead that which they were not strong enough to do by reason of the weakness of the flesh through the fall. This which Christ proposed to do was accepted of God. In due time Christ actually died, and fulfilled what he promised to do. He took every sin of all his people, and suffered every stroke of the rod on account of those sins. He had compounded into one awful draught the punishment of the sins of all the elect. He took the cup; he put it to his lips; he sweat as it were great drops of blood while he tasted the first sip thereof, but he never desisted, but drank on, on, on, till he had exhausted the very dregs, and turning the vessel upside down he said, “It is finished!” and at one tremendous draught of love the Lord God of salvation had drained destruction dry. Not a dreg, not the slightest reside was left; he had suffered all that ought to have been suffered; had finished transgression, and made an end of sin. Moreover, he obeyed his Father’s law to the utmost extent of it; he fulfilled that will of which he had said of old—”Lo, I come to do thy will, O God: thy law is my delight;” and having offered both an atonement for sin and a complete fulfillment of the law, he ascended up on high, took his seat on the right hand of the Majesty in heaven, from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool, and interceding for those whom be bought with blood that they may be with him where he is. The doctrine of the atonement is very simple. It just consists in the substitution of Christ in the place of the sinner; Christ being treated as if he were the sinner, and then the transgressors being treated as if he were the righteous one. It is a change of persons; Christ becomes sinner; he stands in the sinner’s place and stead; he was numbered with the transgressors; the sinner becomes righteous; he stands in Christ’s place and stead, and is numbered with the righteous ones. Christ has no sin of his own, but he takes human guilt, and is punished for human folly. We have no righteousness of our own, but we take the divine righteousness; we are rewarded for it, and stand accepted before God as though that righteousness had been wrought out by ourselves. “In due time Christ died for the ungodly,” that he might take away their sins.

Read it all.

A funny yet tragic video about how many college students today have been conditioned to disregard obvious biological indicators to identity. Logic and analogical reasoning are sorely lacking; so too the capacity to make factual determinations that deny manifestly false subjective claims.

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Around-the-Horn[1]8 Things Everybody Should Do Before 8 am
Life is busy. It can feel impossible to move toward your dreams. If you have a full-time job and kids, it’s even harder.  How do you move forward?

Stott Bowdlerized
Clearly the editor wanted to introduce a new generation to Stott’s beautiful book; his intentions were noble. But the project was a mistake. The Basic Christianity people are buying and reading today is a bad imitation of the original. The editor and publisher had no right to transform Stott’s book as they did, whether or not the author granted his permission.

Keeping the Faith In A Faithless Age: The Church as Moral Minority
“The greatest question of our time,” offered historian Will Durant, “is not communism versus individualism, not Europe versus America, not even East versus the West; it is whether men can live without God.” That question, it now appears, will be answered in our own time.

Preston Sprinkle on Grace, Truth, and Homosexuality
It is an understatement to say that the question of homosexuality stirs up controversy among Christians today. Every month, we see news of various denominations and churches either struggling to come to agreement or taking opposite sides on questions related to sexual morality, love, fidelity, and marriage.

Knox: The Life and Legacy of Scotland’s Controversial Reformer
Renegade. Reformer. Revolutionary. Five centuries after his birth, the influence of John Knox can still be felt right across Scotland. But who was this man? What did he do and why today is he both valued and vilified?

Pope Francis and The Shipwreck That Is Marriage In The Modern World
Imagine that there is an active Catholic layman named “Bob” and that his complicated life has included a divorce or two. But there is no one person named “Bob.” Instead, there are legions of Catholics whose lives resemble this case study described by Father Dwight Longenecker in an online essay responding to “Amoris Laetitia (On Love in the Family),” a 60,000-word apostolic exhortation from Pope Francis.

Watch: College Kids Can’t Explain Why A Short Man Is Not A Tall Asian Woman
An amusing and incredulous video.  This isn’t moral relativism, it’s a completely fact-free new moral code, one based entirely on consent and harm. Or, I should say, immediate harm.

“God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” – JOHN III. 16.

jc_ryleLook at the well-known text which heads this page. Its words are probably familiar to your ears. You have very likely heard them, or read them, or quoted them, a hundred times. But have you ever considered what a vast amount of divinity this text contains? No wonder that Luther called it “the Bible in miniature!” -and have you ever considered what an immensely solemn question arises out of this text? The Lord Jesus says, “Whosoever believeth shall not perish.” Now, reader, DO YOU BELIEVE?

Questions about religion are seldom popular. They frighten people. They oblige them to look within and to think. The insolvent tradesman does not like his books to be searched. The faithless steward does not like his accounts to be examined. And the unconverted Christian does not like to be asked home-questions about his soul.

But questions about religion are very useful. The Lord Jesus Christ asked many questions during His ministry on earth. The servant of Christ ought not to be ashamed to do likewise. Questions about things necessary to salvation,-questions which probe the conscience, and bring men face to face with God,-such questions often bring life and health to souls. I know few questions more important than the one before you today. DO YOU BELIEVE?

Reader, the question before you is no easy one to answer. Think not to thrust it aside by the off-hand answer, “Of course I believe.” I tell you this day that true belief is no such “matter of course” as you suppose. I tell you that myriads of Protestants and Roman Catholics are constantly saying on Sundays, “I believe,” who know nothing whatever of believing. They cannot explain what they mean. They neither know what, nor in whom, they believe. They can give no account of their faith. Reader, a belief of this kind is utterly useless. It can neither satisfy, nor sanctify, nor save.

I invite you in all affection to consider the question which heads this tract. I ask you to give me your attention while I try to place it before you in its full proportions. In order to see clearly the importance of “believing,” you should ponder well the words of Christ to which I have already referred. It is by the unfolding of these words, that I shall hope to make you feel the weight of the question, “Do you believe?”

There are four things which I wish to show you, and to impress upon your mind.

I. God’s mind towards the world – He “loved” it.

II. God’s gift to the world – “He gave His only begotten Son.”

III. The only way to obtain the benefit of God’s gift – “Whosoever believeth on Him shall not perish.”

IV. The marks by which true belief may be known.

Read it all.

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Around-the-Horn[1]

Getting Better By Not Trying Harder
It’s not our hard work that changes us, as if we were paying God back, it’s the Spirit of God within us, empowering us to do what God wills.

Gender Non-Conformity Running Roughshod Over Parents’ Rights
Excellent article from Carl Trueman at First Things: One objection that has been made a number of times to my criticisms of transgenderism is that, if someone want to change from their birth sex to the opposite, what harm does that do to me? Why should I worry if, to borrow from Jefferson, it neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg? That is true, and from that perspective I care as little about the issue as I do about what my neighbors may or may not be doing in their bedrooms after dark. That is part of what living in a free country means. What I do care about, however, is how the issue is being used to transform the public square, in particular to undermine parental and women’s rights.

Will Pope Francis Break the Church?
From Ross Douthat, NYT: The media are not deceived in thinking that Francis differs from his predecessors in substance as well as style. He may not be a liberal Catholic as the term is understood in an American or European context, but he has a different set of priorities than the previous two popes did. He reads the times differently, and elements of his agenda are clearly in tune with what many progressive Catholics (and progressives, period) in the West have long hoped for from the Church.

Keeping the Faith in A Faithless Age
From Albert Mohler: “The greatest question of our time,” offered historian Will Durant, “is not communism versus individualism, not Europe versus America, not even East versus the West; it is whether men can live without God.” That question, it now appears, will be answered in our own time.

Is Speaking Your Mind A Christian Virtue?
We live in an age where “speaking your mind” is considered a virtue and a hailed as a sign of good leadership. But is this trait something the Bible commends? Should Christians be known for “speaking their mind?”

Church in Hard Places
The Church is a display of God’s glory, mercy, and wholeness in the midst of a broken and hurting community. Churches in hard places often share common struggles: A lack of well-trained leadership; a lack of resources to equip workers in these communities; a sense of alienation from the broader evangelical church.

How Your Possessions Are Affecting Your Heart
It is not necessarily that my actions follow the desires of my heart. Instead, I find that my heart appears naturally drawn to the places where I have invested most.

Ann Voskamp Addresses Conference Via Translator
From the Babylon Bee: Ann Voskamp, author of the immensely popular One Thousand Gifts, spoke to a packed house last night at the Passionate Borderless Empowered Frontiers Without Borders Conference through her recently-hired translator, who is fluent in Voskamp-to-English.

I. “Look to see:

edwards1) That the influence be upon the will or heart, not on the imagination, nor on the speculative understanding or thought processes of the mind, even if these processes sweep the emotions along with them as a consequence. That the disturbance in their thinking not be excessive, in that their thinking is [actually] bothered by those things it has reason to be disturbed about; and that the troubling of their minds seems to function in such a way, with the kind of troubling and exercising of the mind that is thoughtful: meaning that it is based on reasonable, solid consideration; a solid perception and conviction of truth, that is, of things as they really are.

2) That it is because their state appears terrifying on account of those things, because their state is indeed a dreadful one; and that their concern over their state be of a substantial quality, not so much characterized by pangs of conscience and sudden changes of emotion, abnormal and frightened behavior, and a capriciousness of mind.

3) That according to their expressed opinion, their state really is one of sin; that they are convinced of their guilt which consists in offending and insulting so great a God: One who hates sin and has set himself against it to punish it, etc.

4) That they are convinced of sins, both inward and outward: that their outward show of the sense of sin in the heart is not apart from a reflection on their wicked lifestyle; and also that they are not only convicted of sin in their lifestyle, but of sin in their heart. And in both, that what is disturbing them are those things in which their sinfulness is the real cause.

5) That they are convicted of sins of the spirit, which find their origin in their spiritual defects, such as living without love for God, without accepting Christ, without thankfulness to Him, etc.

6) That the opinions that they hold concerning the insufficiency and uselessness of their own doing, are not simply from some imaginative wandering of their thoughts brought on by bad behavior, but are rather from a conviction that they did their duties in a defective way, that it, not being done from a right motivation; with the conclusion that it is not some good mixed with the bad, but that they are entirely corrupt.

7) That it is truly a conviction of sin that convinces them that God would be just in their eternal condemnation, in rejecting their prayers, in paying no attention to their sorry state along with all their desires and attempts to find deliverance [from it], etc. and is not simply an imagination or pang of conscience, and cooling of emotion through some real or supposed sign of Divine Goodness.

8) That they are so convinced of sin that in their inward thoughts and reasonings they do not make excuses, and implicate through a quarrel with God that they are in some way unable: for instance, they do not make excuses for ignoring Christ, for lack of love for Him, on the basis that they are not able to honor and love him.

9) That they do not introspectively consider their conviction as being so important, and that they are humble now [in God’s sight]. That which is chiefly their focus of attention is the Gospel. If this conviction [of sin] is genuine, we will not need to insist on it, otherwise it will become obvious that it was purely out of works, having nothing to do with grace.

So with regard to conviction and humbling, look to see if the mind is really convinced of these things, even while looking for that which many theologians insist we look for, things that are actually only outward works. But also look for convictions that seem to be deep and fixed, that have a powerful controlling influence on the character of their thinking, with a direct relationship to lifestyle.

II. Look to see:

1) That they have not only a appearance of conviction of sin; but a fitting sorrow for sin. That is, that sin is a burden to them, and their hearts are tender and sensitized to how they relate to it — as the object of concern and anxiety.

2) That God Himself and spiritual things are to be admired on account of the beauty of their inherent goodness.

3) That it can be discerned in their perception of the sufficiency of Christ, a sense of that divine, supreme and spiritual superiority of Christ; and that their understanding of this inherent superiority is the real foundation of their satisfaction that He [alone] is sufficient.

4) That their deeply held view of the truth of the things of God is discerned [by others] to be in actuality in some way or other primarily based on a perception of their spiritual superiority.

5) That their ideas, enlightened thoughts, and experiences in general, are not superficial pangs of conscience, flashes of spirituality, imagination, or unusual occurrences, but solid, substantial, deep, and worked into the very fiber and character of their souls, and found to be directly related to a [changed] lifestyle.

6) That they desire to be holy, and that all their experiences increase this longing. Ask them about their attitude and willingness to bear the Cross, giving up everything for Christ, choosing instead to wait for their possessions till heaven, etc. — that is, whether their spiritual experience has a direct relationship to their lifestyle in these ways.

7) That their behavior at present seems to agree with such experiences — meaning, whether this experience inclines them to think much of how they are living now, and even more of how wrong their past lifestyle was. Is there an attitude of digust toward past evil practice? Is there a longing for a complete freedom from sin, and a longing for those things that are holy, along with determined and strong resolutions, combined with fear and a jealous guarding of their own hearts.

[Finally,] whether, when relating these experiences, they put on an air expecting to be admired or applauded, and would be disappointed if they do not see something of that admiration in you; but are shocked and displeased if you do admire them. Inquire whether their joy truly and in a proper way is joy in God and in Christ, joy in His Divine Goodness; or whether their joy is completely directed to themselves, joy in their own superiority or privileges, in their experiences; what God has done for them, or what He has promised He will do for them; and whether they are not taken with their own ideas and feelings.”

updated language version by Bill Lowry

Adam Lambert, Mad World

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Carrie Underwood, I’ll Stand By You

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Phillip Phillips, Home

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Jordin Sparks, I Who Have Nothing

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Katharine McPhee, Somewhere Over the Rainbow

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Lee DeWyze, Hallelujah

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Kelly Clarkson, Respect

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Reuben Studdard, How Can You Mend A Broken Heart

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Fantasia Barrino, Summertime

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William Hung, She Bangs

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We’ll end with Daughtry’s performance of Home.  While it was not a song he sang in competition he did come back the following year and perform it live on the show.  It would also be the walk off song for those eliminated in season 6.

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Around-the-Horn[1]‘Who Are You Sleeping With?’ My Conversation with Timothy Keller
Drawing on his experience in urban, culture-shaping Manhattan, Keller responded that one of the biggest obstacles to repentance for revival in the Church is the basic fact that almost all singles outside the Church and a majority inside the Church are sleeping with each other. In other words, good old-fashioned fornication.

Everything That is Solid Melts into Air – The New Secular Worldview
The story of the rise of secularism is a stunning intellectual and moral revolution. It defies exaggeration. We must recognize that it is far more pervasive than we might want to believe, for this intellectual revolution has changed the worldviews of even those who believe themselves to be opposed to it.

Howard Schultz Wants You To Try Some Civility With Your Coffee
“I’ve always viewed the American dream as a reservoir, and it has constantly been replenished with values, work ethic and the spirit of the American people,” he said. “But sadly, our reservoir is running dry — depleted by cynicism, despair, division, exclusion, fear and yes — indifference.” 

The Death of Moral Relativism
“Some sort of moral system is coming into place,” Brooks says. “Some new criteria now exist, which people use to define correct and incorrect action.”

White City: The New Urban Blight is Rich People
There is really only one strike against the New Urbanism, but it’s a strike thrown by Nolan Ryan: It turns cities into playgrounds for moneyed, childless whites while pushing out the poor, the working-class, immigrants, seniors and anyone else not plugged into “the knowledge economy.”

How To Read Dante in the 21st Century
These breathtaking lines conclude Dante’s Divine Comedy, a 14,000-line epic written in 1321 on the state of the soul after death. T. S. Eliot called such poetry the most beautiful ever written—and yet so few of us have ever read it. Since the poem appeared, and especially in modern times, those readers intrepid enough to take on Dante have tended to focus on the first leg of his journey, through the burning fires of Inferno. As Victor Hugo wrote about The Divine Comedy’s blessed realms, “The human eye was not made to look upon so much light, and when the poem becomes happy, it becomes boring.”

5 Ways “God’s Not Dead” Fails Christians
“God’s Not Dead 2” opened this weekend.  I have low expectations and zero desire to see it. “God’s Not Dead” sets out to be an encouragement for young Christians encountering challenges to their faith. But in the end, it actually fails its key audience and becomes the thing it’s preaching against. Here’s how:

I’m A Christian and I Hate Christian Movies
It’s practically catechistic among many faith-based devotees and movie producers that mainstream critics pan the films because they “don’t believe in Jesus.” The problems run deeper. Jesus is all right; the screenwriters, not so much.

The Omni-Directional Blessing of Bible Reading
I can easily name the most important lesson I ever learned about being a Christian. This advice has guided me for nearly 20 years as I’ve walked as a disciple of Christ. And it applies to every single believer.

martyn-lloyd-jones. . . He [Jesus] tells us His kingdom is not like earthly kingdoms. In what way?

First of all, it is not a visible kingdom. It is not an external kingdom. He said Himself that “the kingdom of God cometh not with observation” (Luke 17.20). You can see an earthly kingdom, the kingdom of Great Britain, for instance. It is visible, it is obvious, it has its limits and it can be defined. We know all about it; it can be seen. It cometh with observation, it can be observed and examined. His kingdom is not like that; it is quite different. That is where they went wrong. They would persist in estimating what He said in terms of their visible, external kingdoms and because His did not correspond, they said, “This is no kingdom at all.”

I the same way, His kingdom is not great in an earthly sense. There is no pomp and show with respect to it. He put this very plainly to His own disciples who were muddled on this point: “But Jesus called them unto him, and said, ‘Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercised dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon the. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20.25-28).

That is the trouble. With an earthly kingdom, there is a great prince on his throne and every one is standing at attention, he remains there, they bring him everything, he does nothing, everything is done for him, they minister unto him. But Jesus says, “My kingdom isn’t like that. And I myself have not come to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give my life as a ransom for many.” And just before He went to the cross, beholding the king of glory, the everlasting kind, He took up a towel and He washed their feet and He wiped them with the towel. Is this a king? Is this a kingdom? “It’s all wrong!” they said. “It’s baffling, it’s bewildering.”

They had not listened to what He said: “My kingdom is not of this world.” It does not belong in the same category. You can drop your old way of thinking for this is new in every sense. We can also put it like this: because it is different, there are no armies in this kingdom. He has no great officials. There is no great hierarchy of officers. There is no great pomp and show and ceremony. Alas, my friends, the church herself has forgotten this, at times, has she not? She has become so much like earthly kingdoms, with great pomp and show and her dressing up and all her ceremonies and all her hierarchies. I tell you, it is not in the New Testament.

But, alas, it has come into the church, this very great confusion against which He warns people (and here warns Pilate). He puts it quite simply, He says, “You know, if my kingdom were an earthy kingdom, I wouldn’t be arrested as I am now and the high priest wouldn’t have sent me to you. I would have had soldiers and they would have protected me and defended me against the Jews. And the Jews would never have been allowed to arrest me. But,” he says, “My kingdom is not like these other kingdoms, it doesn’t’ look like them, it’s not like them in any respect.”

His kingdom is unlike earthly kingdoms in that it is not concerned with the types of things that earthly kingdoms are concerned about. Now, this is the very essence of the modern difficulty. The Jews always wanted our Lord to deliver them from the Roman Empire. Before our Lord came into this world, the Roman Empire had conquered Palestine and the Jews; that was why Pilate was there, he was a representative of the Roman Emperor and the Roman power. The Jews, of course, did not like that. They had a nationalistic spirit and they thought that when the great Messiah cam that He would come as a great warrior, form a great army and lead them against the Romans, and, with His power, He would conquer the Romans and dismiss them from the country and then He would elevate the Jews to the highest positions and lead them as a great world conqueror.

When Jesus began to preach and call Himself the Messiah and the King and when He began to say that He was going to found a kingdom, they said, “Now, when are you going to do this?” Their ideas were political and they were military and they were always waiting for Him to speak in that way, but He would not do it. Remember earlier in John 6, they tried to take Him by force to make Him a king and He fled away from them up on top of a mountain!

Do you remember how often they tried to get Him to speak about these things? Do you remember how one afternoon the Herodians and others came to Him and they pulled a coin out of their pockets and they said, “now, we’ve got a question to put to you: Is it lawful to pay a tribute unto Caesar or not?” It was a very clever question. They wanted Him to commit Himself on the political issue. But He saw it and Hew was not to be drawn in. He said, “Let me see that coin.” He took it in His had nans said, “Whose is this image and superscription?” They said, “Caesar’s.” “Very well,” He said, “and at this point He did not begin to give a political oration and say, “It’s a shame we have ever been conquered! It’s time we rose up and delivered ourselves out of this!” He did not suddenly turn into a politician. No, this is what He said: “Very well, render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s, whose image is on you. You’re interested in the coin, what about yourself? I’m concerned about you – not coins, but souls! Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and render unto God the things that are God’s.”

Even John the Baptist seems to have stumbled at this point. He sent his two disciples to ask the famous question: “Art Thou He that should come or do we look for another?” (Matthew 11.3). “I thought you were He,” John says, as it were, “but I am beginning to doubt it. You’re spending your time up there in Galilee with just a handful of common people and preaching your sermons and doing your miracles. When are you coming to Jerusalem? When are you going to do the big thing.” But our Lord never spoke politics. He never touched them. He never had anything to say about the contemporary political situation. As He said to His father and mother in Luke 2.49: “Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” Read your four gospels and try to see Him dealing with contemporary political or social events. He never touches them and neither do His apostles. Read through the Act of the Apostles, read the Epistles. You cannot find it there! If He were here today He would not be talking about the problem in South Africa, He would not be dealing with these political questions, and yet we are being told that Christianity comes right into politics and that the tragedy of the world it that the church is not preaching politics! It’s a lie, I say, a travesty of the New Testament gospel!

“But wait a minute,” says someone. “Didn’t your Old Testament prophets deal with these matters?” Of course they did, not because there were politicians but because the nation of Israel was the church at the same time. The nation of Israel was a theocracy. She was the church; she was God’s people and so the prophets spoke to the people of Israel as God’s people. They do not speak to them as they would speak to any other nation, they are not interested in the other nations, they are speaking to God about His own people and the business of Christianity is still to do the same thing. In the first instance, the gospel has nothing to say to man except that he is lost and damned and in need of salvation.

Listen to the entire sermon.