Time to arise!

By Stephen Green

Ephesians 5:14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.

What would it mean if the church in our land were to arise?  I take it as given that the church as a whole is asleep, or more probably, in need of wakeful leadership.  Some churches are evangelising.  Many are growing.  But too many are not challenging the status quo.  They are not being counter-cultural.  They are not being prophetic in any kind of ‘forth-telling’ sense.  The prophetic books of the Bible constitute twenty-per-cent of the whole.  How much of today’s church is telling our rulers like it is as the prophets did?

This is a time when the enemy is coming in like a flood.  We find ourselves increasingly living in the days of Lot.  For just the latest example, Her Majesty’s new Secretary of State for Education has just appointed a homosexual activist, previously employed at Stonewall on getting their propaganda in schools, as an advisor.  No doubt Nicky Morgan’s new advisor will also be urging her to keep the Gove-made ban on talking about creation in biology in place.

With such apostasy and rebellion in the corridors of power, it seems high time for the Spirit of the Lord to lift up the standard we read about in Isaiah 59:19.  Or to put it another way:

Psalm 119:126  It is time for thee, LORD, to work: for they have made void thy law.

If the church arises, we shall be in tune with God, and can count on the miraculous.  When we do what only we can do, he will amaze us with what only he can do:

Psalm 68:1 Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered: let them also that hate him flee before him.

We really are in a spiritual war.  I have already mentioned the Secularist onslaught in schools, but it is infecting the whole of life, from moves to bring in euthanasia to public-sector employees being dismissed for responding to questions about their faith.

And that leads us to Islam.  Nature abhors a vacuum, and as Christianity has lost its intellectual and political – even its spiritual – confidence over the last two hundred years, so Islam is now quickly filling the gap.  If anything, it is time to arise because the whole future of what remains of our Christian civilisation depends upon it.

So what does this mean in our own lives?  Should we spend all our lives praying and campaigning?  Some are called to that.  The early church would not have grown so fast without the selfless missionary efforts of Peter, Paul, Philip, Barnabas, Apollos, Timothy, Luke and a host of other disciples, men like Joseph of Arimathea and Lazarus whose names we only know dimly and who were not in the immediate orbit of Luke when he was writing the Acts of the Apostles.  Others in our day still follow the example of the Twelve:

Acts 6:4 But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.

But the Gospel needs those like Mary the mother of Mark, like Joseph, like Joanna and Chuza and Susanna of Luke 8:3 and those of more modest means, even the widow with her mite, who can provide for the Lord’s work.  Those raising families and caring for the elderly and infirm need to provide for them.  Eleven tribes laboured so that one tribe could teach the word and care for the Temple.

BUILD, PLANT, INCREASE AND PRAY

We can feel as if we are aliens in the land, but we should eschew the temptation to stand around searching the heavens for signs of the Lord’s return.  We have work to do.  When the Jews were carried off captive to Babylon they were in despair.  They expressed it in Hebrew verse:

Psalm 137:1 By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. 2 We hanged our harps upon the willows in the midst thereof. 3 For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. 4 How shall we sing the LORD’S song in a strange land?

But then along comes Jeremiah, with his letter to the elders, the priests, the prophets and the people.  You are going to be there seventy years, he tells them.  There is no use moping.  It’s a little like God telling Joshua in Joshua 7:10 to ‘get thee up’.  Jeremiah also gives them, not his advice, but the word of the Lord himself:

Jer 29:5 Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them; 6 Take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there, and not diminished. 7 And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives, and pray unto the LORD for it: for in the peace thereof shall ye have peace.

What a great balance.  Build and plant, marry, have children, be increased, and pray for the land so you will have peace.  It is a wonderful pattern for all of us.  I am spending some time these days encouraging Christians to increase and prosper and have ‘good success’ by following the principles the Lord has laid down – and diligent, hard, honest work coupled with a positive attitude forms part of it, just like Jeremiah told the captives in Babylon.

LORD, WHAT CAN WE DO?

Christian Voice was formed, of course, to provide information to enable Christians to pray unto the LORD for our land.  And out of our prayer, we seek the Lord for what we can do.  In too many prayer meetings, the Lord’s people spend half the time discussing the problems and needs, then ‘go to prayer’ for the second half.  They spend that second half giving God his orders: ‘Lord, do this’.  ‘Lord, do that.’

Indeed, we need the Lord to do things for us, to grant us favour, to work miracles, but would that the Lord’s people would pray, ‘Lord, what can we do?’  The Bible is full, not of people who said, ‘We can do nothing, but Lord, please do this and that for us,’ but of people who saw a need and did something.  They were men, and more than the occasional woman, who took action.

The Psalmist says:

Psalm 27:14 Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.

Too many have mis-read that verse to say, ‘Wait for the LORD’.  There are times when we do have to wait for the Lord.  That is why we are called to importunate prayer, giving him no rest.  But the verse says wait on the Lord. Waiters are constantly busy, taking orders, looking for something to do, someone to serve.  We need that attitude.

In the year king Uzziah died, the prophet Isaiah had a vision of the Lord in his glory.  He cried out in recognition of his sin, and an angel of the Lord cleansed it with the burning coal.  Then Isaiah heard a voice from heaven and he responded to it:

Isa 6:8  Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.

The Lord is looking for those who will go for him, for those who will take action, for those who want to know what to do.  He receives so many prayers asking him to do something, that when a prayer comes up asking for something to do, I believe all heaven takes notice.

And when such a prayer is made, calling out as did king Jehoshaphat in 2Chron 20:12 for something to do, the answer will come.  It may come immediately.   More probably it will come after some days, or a week, or a month.  It may come in a co‑incidence, or in a dream, or at the mouth of two or three witnesses.  Whenever and however, it will come.

SPEAKING TO ELECTED REPRESENTATIVES

The prophets of old were told to arise and were sent before kings and rulers.  Elijah was told to confront one of the godless, cruellest and most autocratic kings who ever lived:

1Kings 21:18 Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, which is in Samaria: behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth, whither he is gone down to possess it.

But he went, and God used him to confound the prophets of Ba’al.

(By the way, let us get the pronunciation right, dear friends.  In languages like Hebrew and Aramaic and even modern Arabic, Swahili and Welsh, every letter is pronounced.  So it isn’t ‘Bale’ it is ‘Ba’al’ – two syllables.)

Jeremiah was also sent to those who would put him in a rat-infested dungeon as soon as look at him, but he still had to go:

Jer 1:17 Thou therefore gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee: be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them.

Our leaders, our Members of Parliament, local Councillors, even people we meet and witness to in the street or in our everyday lives, are not nearly as dangerous as Ahab or Zedekiah.  We don’t want to be confounded when speaking to them.  We had better have confidence in the word of the Lord:

Deut 31:6 Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.

There are always opportunities to bring matters before our MP’s and local councillors.  It is a simple matter to write a letter, and it needs to be.  Letters to MP’s should be short.  You can even ask for a meeting.

Here is a tip when you meet your MP or even your local councillor for the first time.  Thank them just for doing the job.  No-one ever does that.  It is almost literally a ‘thankless task’.  They will be overwhelmed.  Then you can offer to pray for them in the midst of all the difficulties the job brings.  They will be touched that you care.  Then you can raise the issue you went in about.

It is quite in order as we seek the Lord for something to do to respond if the door opens to become an elected representative, such as a local councillor or even an MP.  Examples of the Lord’s people in office abound in scripture.  Even leaving aside all the Godly kings, and all the Judges of Israel, Joseph, Nathan, Isaiah and Daniel come immediately to mind as men who did the Lord’s work in high office.

PARENTS AND SCHOOLS

Many of our members and readers are parents.  Every parent has to decide whether to home-school (thank God we still can in these islands), pay for schooling, perhaps in a Christian school, or send their children to publicly-funded schools.

In the case of the latter, today there are academies, free schools, community schools, foundation schools, foundation trust schools, voluntary aided schools, voluntary controlled schools and possibly some others I have not listed.  But all of them have boards of governors and all of those boards of governors hold elections for parent governors.  Some even co-opt governors, and local political parties are always looking for volunteers to serve on school governing bodies.

Parents, not teachers, are responsible for their children’s education:

Deut 6:6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

School governors have responsibility in particular for religious education, for sex education, which is now usually called PSHE (Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education).  An individual school governor can offer to take assemblies, can ask to see books and videos and raise considered objections, perhaps to materials from Stonewall, Brook Advisory, the Family Planning Association or other publishers with links to contraceptive manufacturers.  Our booklet, ‘A Generation Betrayed’, is available to give more information.

Even parents who are not school governors are fully within their rights to take children out of PSHE or RE classes, to express their views about the content of lessons and offer materials, skills and time to the school.

OUR DUTY TO BE INFORMED – EVOLUTION

Parents also have duty to be informed themselves about the subjects being taught and the capacity of those subjects to undermine Christian belief.  Science and Biology need constant vigilance for unfounded statements supporting the hypothesis of evolution.  The BBC also never let pass by an opportunity to promote  evolution as fact in every nature programme.

School books on biology never mention any problems with evolution, ignore scientific qualifications like ‘could have’, might have’ or even ‘must have’ and give an impression of certainty.  They present the fictional ‘evolution’ of the horse as fact.  Some even speak of human embryos having ‘gills’, a throw-back to Haeckel’s fraudulent embryos drawings.

To counter this drip-feed of Darwinism, this month we have two advertisements in the Newsletter for creationist materials.  You will find them on pages 3 and 20.  Either or both would initiate good discussions with children about our origins.

For me, when these materials bring out the lack of transitional organisms, the absence of any evidence of the beneficial mutations which are required to drive evolution, living fossils like the coelacanth, animals like the giraffe and bombardier beetle which defy evolution because so many things have to ‘arise’ simultaneously for the animal to function, the ‘irreducible complexity’ of creatures like the sea anemone, the information which has been packed into the DNA of the lowliest plant, then they speak of a Creator more wonderful than I can imagine.

HOMOSEXUALITY

It will not be long before a teenage son or daughter comes home and raises the question of ‘gay marriage’.  What do we say?  Well, we need to be informed, both about what the Bible says and about the evidence which stacks up against that lifestyle and those practices from a practical, social and health point of view.

Our booklet The Trivialisation of ‘Matrimony’ has a host of well-argued points to put a spanner in the works of any pro-sodomy thought-process.  Like ‘A Generation Betrayed’, it is available through our Resources Page 11.

The key verses are those in which the Lord Jesus expresses God’s plan for human sexuality:

Mark 10:6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. 7 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; 8 And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.

And of course becoming ‘one flesh’ in the conjugal sense implied is something two men or two women can never do.  Between them they lack the necessary complementary equipment.  Young people can readily grasp that you cannot make a car with only nuts or only bolts.

And by speaking with them about these things, we encourage our children to challenge the status quo and be counter-cultural.  That’s prophetic.  And it’s ‘cool’.

ISLAM

All of us also need to be informed about Islam.  Whatever anyone may say, Christians and Muslims do not worship the same God – or god.

The Bible says Jesus is the only-begotten Son of the heavenly Father:

2Pet 1:17  For he (Jesus) received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

The Quran is quite clear about the core belief of Christianity:

Surah 19:88. They say: “((Allah)) Most Gracious has begotten a son!” 89. Indeed ye have put forth a thing most monstrous! 90. At it the skies are ready to burst, the earth to split asunder, and the mountains to fall down in utter ruin, 91. That they should invoke a son for ((Allah)) Most Gracious. 92. For it is not consonant with the majesty of ((Allah)) Most Gracious that He should beget a son.

Allah is not given to understatement, is he?  But if he says he has not begotten a son, we must take him at his word, and he cannot then be the same being as the Almighty One.

Curiously, the Quran endorses the Bible and those who follow it:

Surah 5:66. If only they had stood fast by the Law, the Gospel, and all the revelation that was sent to them from their Lord, they would have enjoyed happiness from every side. There is from among them a party on the right course: but many of them follow a course that is evil.

And then contradicts it.  That has led some Muslims to claim the Bible somehow became ‘corrupted’.  Mohammed was born in 570 AD.  The canon of scripture had been settled for generations by the time it was recognised by the Council of Nicea in 325, at Hippo Regius in 393 and at Carthage in 397.  The Christian Church would have had to collect all copies of every Bible in every language from every corner of the world and then re-issue them.  It is a preposterous assertion.

Muslims believe Allah has ninety-nine beautiful names, but not one of them is ‘Father’.  At the Lords cricket ground there is an honours board.  A batsman’s name goes up on it if he scores a hundred runs.  If he scores ninety-nine his name does not appear on the board.  Allah may have ninety-nine names, but if he is missing ‘Father’, his name is not on the honours board of divinity.

Our booklet ‘Understanding Islam’ is also available on the Resource Pages.

LIVING A LIFE HONOURING TO GOD

Finally, all of us should be leading a life honouring to the Lord and providing an example to our children.  That involves studying the word of God and delighting in it as well as sharing it as a family.  It means we never apologise for the word of God, but seek the Lord in it, seeing what he has to say to us in our day.  And scripture says that if we do these things we shall prosper in all we do:

Psalm 1:1 Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. 3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

A similar thing is said to Joshua by the Lord himself.  I cannot think this is just for him at that time.  I believe there is an eternal, spiritual principle being spelt out here, as good for the leader of a nation as it is for a businessman, employee, pastor, father, mother or any individual at all.  Studying, meditating and obeying the word of God prospers all we do:

This verse is, by some strange quirk, the only place in the King James Bible where the Hebrew word ‘sakal’, which is elsewhere rendered as ‘wisdom’ and ‘understanding’, is translated as ‘success’.  It makes little difference which of those three words we might put there.  The sense of it is very plain.  Studying, meditating and obeying the word of God prospers all we do:

Joshua 1:8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

I have just tried to set out a sort of framework for how we might respond to living in the days we do.  To sum up:

It’s time to seize the moment, to be active, hard-working, going for increase, defending our families, getting informed, being scriptural, teaching our children and praying for our nation.

It’s time to take on the role of forth-telling prophet in whatever way presents itself, basing all we do on the Bible and standing up for the Lord Jesus, the incarnate, crucified, risen, ascended, glorified Son of God.

In short, it’s time to arise!

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