Encouraging the Church After the Violence in Washington DC

The following is what I told my church on January 10, 2021. Click here for the audio.

Our commitment at CBC is verse by verse and expositional preaching. By exegeting scripture and applying its wisdom every week, we think the saints are most edified and prepared to live godly lives. We also recognize that there are circumstances in this world where particular special attention may be necessary to help the saints to take every thought captive to obey Christ. So there is something I want to tell you before I preach from today’s text, Psalm 98.

I have written what I am about to say so that I will not forget to mention anything and I won’t end up on any rabbit trails.

The events at our nation’s capital this week are remarkable. What I mean is that they are significant to us. They are worth mentioning or remarking about. I will be the first person to say that the heart of man has not changed since Adam brought condemnation upon our race.

Our thoughts are of violence and evil all the time apart from the grace of God.

But we recognize that although people are totally depraved, the outward manifestation of that is not always exhibited through the commission of the most destructive sins. Let me give you a simple example to make sure we are on the same page.

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When you drove here today, how many people swerved their cars to crash into yours? The fact that you are sitting here now tells us all that that number was zero. Why? Did you drive by only fellow saints this Sabbath afternoon?

Of course not. Do we deny the total depravity of all those other drivers? God forbid.

No, what you saw on your way here, and every day, is the reality that because of God’s grace and love toward us, many people don’t engage in the most destructive outward sins possible. For many people, God has allowed pride in their own-self-righteousness to be their prevailing sin. In some cases, totally depraved people don’t do the worst things their heart desires because of consequences they’d prefer to avoid. This is why we have good laws and enforce them in just societies.

And aren’t you glad? Would you rather live around more serial killers or more Mormons? Would you be more bothered by a faithful Roman Catholic family moving in next door or a pornographer? As long as we live in this cursed land, it is a form of a blessing from God to be surrounded by non-believers who at least pretend to give lip service to God’s law and His Word.

Let me tell you where I am going with all this. Recent events have shown that in the USA, men are beginning to exercise their depravity outwardly more than ever. Yes, yes, it could be argued that it’s been progressively getting worse for decades. I’ll stipulate that point. But the sheer acceleration of the approval of evil that we’ve seen in the past year, and especially since the presidential election, is like an emergency alarm sounding. It’s like a warning. When Obama took office in 2008, that was tragic and spelled disaster for our republic. This is worse in the sense that we are further down the road and picking up speed. I do not think it’s wise to pretend that this is fine or everything is normal.

Photo by Koshu Kunii on Unsplash

If you ran for office today and said the same things Obama said in 2008, you’d be crucified for your conservatism by the liberal media. We’ve moved left, and even the leftists are not left enough. Postmodernism is dead. It committed suicide as every logically inconsistent worldview must. We are in an era where absolute truth is believed in again, but what folks believe is the opposite of the truth. Therefore, everything we believe is considered a lie, and what we say is right is wrong, and what we say is wrong is right to our unsaved neighbors.

With that backdrop, I have a few pieces of advice I want to share with you to help you.

First, with all this unrest in our world, wait for information before making judgments, particularly publicly proclaiming your opinion. You must understand that you cannot trust almost any of the main media outlets to tell you anything true, or they’ll spin it to fit their agenda. This has been the case for about two decades at least, but now it’s out in the open.

Being quick to judge is not a biblical virtue, and judging with imperfect or incomplete information will only make you look like a fool. So wait and see what type of information you can get before expressing opinions on current events. Look for firsthand accounts, and be careful to discern the difference between reporting and editorializing. You have an obligation to truth and you do not do yourself, your family, your church, your coworkers, or your neighbors any favor by jumping to conclusions.

Your mission field needs you to be sober-minded. Let your reasonableness be known to every person.

Note, I am not saying you cannot condemn evil. We MUST do that. But let me give you an example of what I mean here. For both Black Lives Matter protests and the Stop the Steal protest this week, some people did not want to start trouble. *Most* of the people at these events were not trying to destroy property nor do violence. As usual, it was small groups of people who made larger crowds look bad while many peaceful folks simply wanted their voice heard and to participate in something they believe in, or at least something they think they believe in. I’ll submit to you that some protesters are more worked up than others and more like powder kegs waiting for a spark than others, but we should recognize that one’s presence at any of these protests doesn’t necessarily mean they endorse all the violence or looting or vandalism that occurred.

In conclusion, be slow to judge.

Secondly, do not be anxious. God is in control. I think “do not be anxious” and “do not be surprised” are the two most ignored commands of the New Testament. One way you can avoid anxiety is to keep your focus on the proper things. Thus, increasing your dose of daily Bible study and prayer, while keeping your social media feasting in check will be good for your soul. I get it. There are news outlets I trust like The Epoch Times and Disrn.com to give me honest journalism. But be sure you are feeding yourself with God’s Word and communing with God in prayer more during times like this. Our default is to get overly focused on the pandemonium around us and become over-consumers in this information age.

We planted Covenant Bible Church in August of 2020. As you may or may not know, it was because of my familiarity with the text of 1 Peter that we agreed to begin preaching verse by verse through that epistle. It wasn’t chosen intentionally to prepare the saints for suffering or persecution. Since providence is always wiser than we are, this wonderful book that is a guide to living through persecution and suffering has been feeding our souls for over 5 months now. I suspect that some of the freedoms and comforts we are used to in the USA are about to be diminished. The writing is on the wall.

Openly anti-Christian agendas are espoused by high ranking government officials, big tech, and even many supposed Christian leaders of our day. It isn’t far-fetched if you’re even a bad student of history to see where a culture like ours will lead us. This is amply documented. Apart from Spirit-wrought revival, things in the USA appear to only be headed toward destruction. At the very least, we should prepare for what is predictably possible or even likely.

Yet I told you my second admonition is to not be anxious. And this is because God tells us not to be anxious. Jesus said as much in Matthew 6 and Paul in Philippians 4, and these are not the only places we find this command in holy writ. The God who wrote these scriptures is the same God who decreed all of history. He knows what you are about to suffer. He commands you to fear Him and tremble before His Word and His judgments, not the temporary sufferings of this present age.

By meditating on His unchangeable promise of eternal life and the certain return of His Son, you can have a mind that is not conformed to this world. By considering all His previous undeserved goodness to you, you can abandon any sense of entitlement you feel to future comforts and pleasures. And by bathing yourself and your family in His Word and prayer, participating in the sacraments, and submitting to His will as you are conformed to the image of His Son, you can enjoy the peace that surpasses understanding regardless of your circumstances. Will you worship Him when things don’t go your way?

Worship Him by obeying His command to not be anxious, and seek help to find practical ways to grow in this grace.

Finally, I want you to understand something very personal. I am a man who will lead you. One of the reasons CBC was started was I looked around and saw no men who were worthy and willing to lead in times of difficulty. Or those who are willing have such terrible theology they are unhelpful at best.

I am not perfect. I can easily say with Paul “not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” But I believe that desperate times call for men, and women, who are willing to do hard things, have the virtue that they may not fall into temptation, and the mind and resolve to follow through with doing what is right and necessary regardless of the perceived consequences.

I believe that true leaders lead from the front. It is often misinterpreted as pridefulness when a man wants to stand before a congregation or a crowd on the street corner or an abortion clinic and proclaim that he knows the truth. This is because most of the time men speak they are lying or acting out of pride in their own skills and knowledge. Yahweh says, “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, but let him who boasts boast only in that he knows the Lord.”

Thus, it is fitting for men of God to stand and proclaim the truth of God unashamedly, while risking the chance of being seen as prideful or self-seeking. Satan is smarter than all of us and has cleverly set up systems of men all over who appear to be doing the same thing as I’m doing right now, but for selfish ends rather than the glory of God.

But the wisdom of God is more profound than the wisdom of even the greatest angel. And God has said that it is through the foolishness of preaching that he will make His name known among the nations. It is through what the world sees as unwise that God will bring to nothing the wisdom of the world.

Therefore, I solemnly resolve and swear before you to never stop preaching God’s Word. In the sight of God and you saints, I want to clearly and publicly covenant with you that I will not turn away from God’s ordained means of saving sinners, edifying the saints, and speaking the truth to a wicked and depraved culture. I want you to know that this is an unwavering commitment of mine that I have made for over a decade now, but I am renewing my vow, if you will.

As long as the members of Covenant Bible Church see fit, I will stand and preach what God has said in this pulpit, on the street, at the abortion mill, on social media, with my neighbors, in my home, and even in prison if God provides me with such an opportunity. I will preach His truth to my friends and my enemies and I will never back down regardless of the personal cost. I want to believe I am not unique in this, but I think history and the nature of man shows us that this is not as common as we wish it to be.

Even among faithful saints of God, not everyone is called to the level of outspokenness that I sense I am called to. Not every Christian is made with the same gifts or calling, and the good works God has ordained for you differ from mine. What I am trying to say is that I do not believe I am some sort of super Christian. But by the grace given to me, I may be the type of man many of you need to lead you into the battle ahead. And I want you to have a sense of security that if you put your life in my hands, I will protect it and nourish it and defend it against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

What this means is that I want to teach you the Bible and theology so that you will have the proper focus on what God would have you focus on at such a time as this. I want you to know the whole counsel of God’s Word, even the parts that sting for you to hear or read, and even the parts that are hardest for us to digest because of our corrupt flesh that loves the world so much. I want to take you verse by verse and let the Spirit comfort you when you are hurting, strengthen you when you are weak, admonish you when you are idle, assure you when you lack assurance, and grant you perseverance and virtue when you are suffering.

I want to stand and preach to abortion-minded mothers and fathers, protesters, government officials, and you as well. I want you to consider what a cost this is and could be to my family, and remember that if I end up suffering for our shared faith. A preacher is like a quarterback in football. He often gets the biggest accolades when the team achieves victory, but he is also the one who is blamed when they lose. Therefore, I put myself at particular risk by being outspoken on behalf of you.

I want you to remember me and each other if times get tough. If someone in our body is being persecuted, we should rally behind that person whether he or she is a wedding photographer or florist or baker, the preacher, or a man holding a sign at an abortion clinic. We should prepare our minds for the possibility that someone in our church may be persecuted for their stand for Christ, and in particular, those of us who avoid such suffering should minister to that person and his or her family. It may not be me, but I am putting myself on the front line and want it on your mind that my wife and kids would need extra support should difficulties occur. The persecution any of us may face could be something like a job loss or it could be much more devastating. Either way, we should, as we have opportunity, do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

Voddie Baucham is quoted as saying, “There is one sure way to avoid persecution: compromise.” I will not compromise. Covenant Bible Church will not compromise. If you want to be a part of a church that will not compromise, that is what we are and will be. But it will not be easy and it may come at a great cost to you and your family. What I can promise you is that it will be worth it to obey Christ for the sufferings of this present age are not worth comparing with the glory to be revealed to you. And I can tell you that we will stand together as a church body.

In conclusion, be slow to judge and quick to hear in these tumultuous days. Seek the things above us that you may not be anxious for your life. And resolve in your hearts now what you will do if your feet are put to the fire, and commit to standing by those who go before you to suffering in the faith, if that should be God’s will. If you are not a member of a local church where you have this kind of promise, now is the time to count the cost and make that happen. We would be happy to talk to you about that.

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