Benjamin Keach was one of the best and most well-known baptist, puritan theologians of the 1600s. He was instrumental in introducing hymns into the church’s worship, and also was one of the framers of the 1689 London Baptist Confession. He also had a profound love for the church. He began preaching at 18, and pastoring at 28 and his ministry was tremendously blessed by God with growth in truth and defense against error. He was despised by the authorities of the Church of England and often persecuted for his faith. – See more at: http://www.freegracepress.org/products/the-glory-of-a-true-church-by-benjamin-keach/#sthash.7vwpKTyb.dpuf
Oh boy. This is another hard one. I’m sure we’ve all heard people say, “Don’t pray for patience. God will test you on it.” I want to suggest that we should indeed pray for patience. The fact is we all need it, whether it’s standing in line at the checkout counter, waiting for a family member to get ready so we can leave, trying to teach something to a person who just is not getting it. There are many things that come up in a day’s time that requires our patience … unless we want to alienate ourselves from everyone around us.
First Corinthians 13:4 tells us that “Love suffers long.” If you truly love a person, you are going to bear with them. Instead of letting your frustration show, you will breathe deep and remind yourself that, sure, you may be a little late but you will be with your loved one and it’s not worth both of you being stressed as you go out the door.
Sometimes we must make a conscious effort to do the right thing and I expect patience may be something that does not come easy for you but it is something you must work on. I am not a patient person by nature but, with God’s help, I have learned to trust Him when things do not go my way. As long as I am not making people wait on me, I’ve learned to get ready, let others know I’m ready when they are, and then find something to occupy my time until we are ready to go. It has done a lot to help my relationships.
In the words of Herbert the snail, “Have patience. Have patience. Don’t be in such a hurry. When you get impatient, you only start to worry. Remember. Remember that God is patient too and think of all the times when others have to wait for you.”
That puts it into perspective. Just as I want others to be patient with me, so I must be patient in return. I am still a work in progress but I’m thankful that God is working.
A review by Stuart Brogden
David W. Saxton’s God’s Battle Plan for the Mind is a tightly-packed synthesis of Puritan thoughts on biblical meditation from more than 3 dozen books. In twelve chapters, he covers several important topics, such as defining the difference between biblical mediation and unbiblical meditation. But first, he wants to show us the joy of developing the habit of meditating on the Word of God and throughout the book he shows the pitfalls of being negligent and the nourishment to our souls we gain by persisting in getting the most of our relationship with our Lord and Savior.
“What does it mean to meditate? It means to think personally, practically, seriously, and earnestly on how the truth of God’s Word should look like in life.” (page 2) That is helpful in our world in which so many endorse and practice pagan meditation. Saxton reminds us that God has designed us and ordained His Word to be compatible – we find comfort and relief when we are close to Him; we find our Who He is and how we draw close in His Word. “God has chosen primarily to help us deal with discouragements and sin by applying divines truth to our minds. … Biblical meditation on Scripture acts as a believer’s medicine because God’s Spirit always uses the balm of His truth to provide lasting comfort and help.” (page 3) If believers do not spend time and effort in the Word of God, contemplating its truth and application to him, he will be drawn aside to lesser things and be weakened rather than strengthened.
On page 8, our author quotes Philippians 4:8-9 as an example of how God shows proper biblical meditation. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me — practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (ESV) He then tells us (page 9), “This passage pronounces a blessing not on those who merely know God’s will, but rather on those who have put His will into everyday practice by dwelling on God’s truth.”
One aspect of this book that grew somewhat tedious for me is the sheer quantity and concentration of quotes from the Puritans. Many pages have 6 to 8 quotes, with sentences and paragraphs peppered with footnotes; often taking more space than Saxton uses. While it is good to read the thoughts of these long-gone saints, it is a bit distracting for so many quotes to be used in short space. But let’s get on with the book!
In advocating biblical mediation, Saxton (pages 28 & 29) tells us that the Bible is full of admonitions for God’s people to remember – as a form of mediation. “Revelation 2:5 demonstrates that this kind of meditation is actually the first step towards evangelical repentance: “Remember therefore from when thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove they candlestick out of his place – unless thou repent.” “Remember” is the word mnamoneuo, which means “to recall information from memory.” The word does not suggest that a person has actually forgotten. Rather, it commands the believer to recall or to think about again.” I would add that this word also conveys the notion of being told to not forget something, to bear in mind – as when your mother would you to remember to bring your coat home from school. Still on page 29, we are given Thomas Hooker’s definition of biblical meditation, one I think worth meditating on: “Meditation is a serious intention of the mind whereby we come to search out the truth, and settle it upon the heart.” While I think this is an excellent definition, I am weary of present day duality of heart and mind – as if one’s heart (pointing to the chest) is what the Bible means by this term, rather than “heart” being a Hebrew metaphor for the seat of one’s being – the soul, which includes our mind.
In chapters 4 and 5, Saxton explores “occasional meditation” and “deliberate meditation”, showing from the Puritans and the Word of God how unplanned, near-spontaneous contemplation of some attribute of God is as valuable as planned study and prayer and pondering the Word. Occasional meditation ought to fill our minds during the day, rather than our routine absorption of cultural media and the attending thoughts it stimulates. We are cautioned to be on guard against the mystical practice of Rome and others with regards to occasional meditation, but also to persist in training ourselves to think on and ponder the Word of God and how it applies to our daily lives throughout our days. We are urged to memorize Scripture as a safe guard for our thought-life. That’s good advice – I dare most of us are not taking it! Deliberate meditation is pressed on us as necessary for spiritual life – if we do not make plans to read, study, pray over, and ponder God’s Word, our sinful minds will fill us with fleshly desires. I am an advocate of making time early in the day, the calibrate my thinking with the Scriptures before I engage the world. Many of the Puritans agree with me, but they also recognize the danger of dictating specifics to others – some may function better later in the day. So each man must be convinced in his own mind.
“William Bridge taught that meditation on the Word should be divided into four parts. The believer must consider the exactness of the commandment, the faithfulness of the promise, the terror of the threatening, and the weightiness of the examples.” (page 62) This I see as excellent counsel. Far too many Christians have a casual attitude towards the Word of God, actually caring not for various passages that do not conform to their presuppositions. Encouraging Christians to ever trust God, Saxton sums up a Puritan view: “In His wise and perfect dealings, the Lord sometimes causes His people to experience unusual times of joy, sorrow, decision, or change. These are all His divine gifts to turn the believer’s heart to seriously consider God’s dealings to gain His perspective from His Word.” If we grasp the truth of the sovereignty of God, we will embrace this idea – nothing we encounter is “happenstance”; all is God’s providential care, an expression of His kindness towards us. There is excellent teaching on choosing subjects to meditate upon – from sin and death to eternity to hell, and God’s rescue of His people. Our author quotes Thomas Watson (page 93): “Meditation on hell would rejoicing in a child of God … Christ Himself has felt the pain of hell for you. The Lamb of God being roasted in the fire of God’s wrath, by this burnt-offering the Lord is now appeased toward His people. Oh how may the godly rejoice!” Do we see the Lord in this light? Do we begin to comprehend how blessed we are by NOT having to face God’s wrath?
As with all things, Saxton and the Puritans see the main focus of meditation being to bring glory to God. How much of our prayer life is fleshly? Physical healing is always needed – but how often at church prayer meetings do we hear moans and weeping over spiritual matters? Is the eternal destiny of our family and friends as important as losing 10 pounds or getting a higher paying job? Do we recognize how desperately we need God’s grace this day? He quotes Henry Scudder (page 100) – “when you arise and dress yourself, lose not that precious time (when your mind is freshest) with impertinent and fruitless thoughts…. This is a fit time to think about why you have need of apparel.” The Fall affects everything in this age. I heard a pastor remark that every time a dog barks, he is reminding us that our race caused him and all creation to be cursed. We messed it up – not the dogs that God was kind enough to give us as companions. Do we admit to being Adam’s offspring, in need of the last Adam’s righteousness and thankful for His submission to the Father in all things? That is a good thing to meditate upon!
In chapter 10 we are given the benefits of meditation: it deepens repentance; increase resolve to fight sin; inflames heart affection for the Lord; increase growth in grace; provides comfort and assurance to the soul; creates a life of joy, thankfulness, and contentment; deepens and matures a Christian’s experience; and improves the knowledge and retention of God’s Word. That’s quite a list! Any one of these benefits is more than enough to show any child of God that he should spend more time and mental energy consuming and pondering the Word of God and how, now, he should live. None of us has “arrived” nor will any of us do so in this age. Brothers and sisters – we need these benefits and others who have gone before us bid us drink deeply from the fount of God’s Word to gain them. If you and I are honest, we admit we have no excuse for our negligence in pursuing godliness. Saxton calls upon the Puritans to speak to this in chapter 11 – Enemies of Meditation.
But there are a couple things in chapter 10 that must be highlighted, showing us that neither Saxton nor his beloved Puritans had it all together, either. First up, a short quote from Thomas Watson, a very credible witness for the Lord – but not perfect. Saxton quotes Watson from Heaven Taken by Storm (pages 106 – 107): “If only people meditated on the damnableness of sin … they would break off … sinning and become new creatures.” This is cobbled together from a short paragraph from Watson’s pen:
Meditation produceth reformation, Psalm cxix. 59. ‘I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies.’ Did but people meditated on the damnableness of sin; did but they meddled with it, there is a rope at the end of it, which will hang them eternally in hell, they would break off a course of sinning, and become new creatures. Let all this persuade us to holy meditation. I dare be bold to say that if men would spend but one quarter of an hour every day in contemplating heavenly objects, it would leave a mighty impression upon them, and, through the blessing of God might prove the beginning of a happy conversion.
First, let’s all agree that spending time humbly before God as revealed in Scripture will cause reformation within the Christian. But can pondering sin and stopping any one or several of them actually cause a child of wrath to be born again and adopted by God? Mr. Watson had this backwards! God is the One who works transformation by raising a spiritually dead person to new life, becoming a new creature in Christ – not by any works on the part of the creature, for then we would have cause to boast in our flesh! God works reformation in the lives of His people, as we all are on a journey of becoming more conformed to Christ and need His Spirit working within us to make it so. These two things are not the same. From other things written by Watson, I think he knew this – but his writing and thinking (like mine) is not perfect. And he errs in this instance.
Secondly, after quoting Jonathan Edwards (page 110), Saxton says, “Meditation causes believers to grow in grace because it allows the word of His grace to minister a genuine building up of the soul.” (emphasis mine) We must always be on guard with how we characterize the Creator. He does not need our permission or cooperation to work His grace in our lives. He does instruct and equip us to cooperate with Him in this endeavor, but we do not allow Him to work His grace in our lives. Our brother would serve us better by saying that meditation promotes the Word of His grace to build up our soul.
Sanctification (which all of what this book discusses fit within) is a curious process. Unlike justification, sanctification is not monolithic. And while we are encouraged to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in our ongoing sanctification, there are times in each believer’s life that He sanctifies us without our cooperation. Praise the Lord that He does not grow weary or negligent in His work, though we may be from time-to-time! But note this – apart from the Spirit working in us, we cannot sanctify ourselves. Jesus said, “apart from me you can do nothing.” Game, point, match.
Last gripe – in the last chapter, careless language once again inserts an unbiblical image that has been promoted and abused by many, though I do not think this is Saxton’s intention. On page 130, Saxton tells us: “Our deceitful hearts seek to convince us that we have the innate ability to live the Christian life in our own power. Only humble prayer can drive out that evil spirit.” Two things are evident in this short quote: He contradicts himself, telling us rightly we cannot live the Christian life in our power, then telling us how to do so! Then he tells us that sin in us is an evil spirit. Accepting this image without realizing God’s truth leaves us open to being misled. Bob Larson has made untold sums of money playing on the fears of those who do not know the Lord or who are ignorant of the fact that if the Spirit of the living God indwells us, no evil spirit can therein abide. Though our flesh is affected and afflicted by indwelling sin, our soul is perfectly righteous and “possessed” by the Spirit of God. Only lost persons can have an evil spirit within them. That should make us thankful yet again to be found in Christ!
To conclude (lest I go on too long, as is my wont), this is a most excellent book, much needed in every church and by every child of God – for who does not need more grace and closeness with our Lord? Saxton tells us (page 131), “normal Christian growth can be a messy, painful, and imperfect struggle. Yet, just the same, it is a struggle worth fighting.” In his conclusion, he tells us, “The believer’s ultimate purpose is to glorify God through becoming more life Jesus Christ (Rom 8:28-30; 2 Cor 3:18). … This process of progressive sanctification is all of the Lord’s grace, yet it is a duty in which God’s people are responsible to participate.” “Find your greatest delight in life in the presence of Christ though His Word.” (page 137)
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:27).
Ultimate peace: fearing nothing. I doubt very many of us could say there is nothing that we fear but the truth is, for those who know the Lord, we never have a genuine reason to be afraid. Philippians 4:6-7 tells us, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” That is the key: present your requests with thanksgiving, and trust God to take care of the situation. Once you hand it to Him, truly release it. He will carry your burden so that you don’t have to.
Like love and joy, peace is something others notice. In this world of constant change and turmoil, peace is a rare commodity but one that many would like to possess. You have the ability to do so.
I realize if you have walked in fear a long time, this may be difficult for you, but I encourage you to consciously work to get there. Start by thanking God that He is in control of a situation, even if you have no idea what in the world He’s doing. Thank Him for His love and His care. Ask Him to remove all fear and wariness from you and replace it with His peace. Do this as long as it takes until you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He is listening and has only good in store for you. His definition of “good” may be different than yours but it will be good in the end.
Be encouraged, dear Brothers and Sisters. This world is not our final Home. One day all the things that trouble us here will be gone forever. I am looking forward to that day but, for now, let’s do our best to walk in the Spirit so that we do not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.
A review by Stuart Brogden
Zack Eswine has written an easy-to-grasp overview of a condition many Christians and pastors spend too little time understanding. Some because they’ve bought into the lie that being healed by the stripes of Christ is a temporal healing, and we should have no sickness if our faith is strong enough. Some because they do not understand mental problems and do not trust psychiatrists. Eswine studied Charles Spurgeon, who suffered with depression and wrote about it, and he brings the Word of God and the words of men to bear to clear the air and give us hope. My hope is to bring to light a few of the good insights this book has to offer and help my fellow Christians better understand this issue so that we might be used to do good to our brothers and sisters who are suffering with depression.
So let’s sample this book, see how Spurgeon dealt with it, and how our Creator advises us.
“Conversion to Jesus isn’t heaven, but its foretaste. This side of heaven, grace secures us but doesn’t cure us.
“Though substantial healing can come, Charles reminds us that often it waits till heaven to complete its full work.
“We do not profess that the religion of Christ will so thoroughly change a man as to take away from him all his natural tendencies; it will give the despairing something that will alleviate that despondency, but as long as that is caused by a low state of body, or a diseased mind, we do not profess that the religion of Christ will totally remove it. No, rather, we do see every day that amongst the best of God’s servants, there are those who are always doubting, always looking to the dark side of every providence, who look at the threatening more than at the promise, who are ready to write bitter things against themselves …
“Therefore we sufferers of depression in Christ may grow terribly weak, even in faith, but we are not lost to God.
“It is Christ and not the absence of depression that saves us. So, we declare this truth. Our sense of God’s absence does not mean that He is so.”
This is critical for us to grab hold of – our position as children of God, His redemption and righteousness is not based on or determined by how we feel. It is based on His work to earn His place as the Lamb of God, taking our sin upon Himself, and imputing His righteousness to us. These facts and the promises of God are what determine our standing before Him. Our emotions are given to us by God but we are prone to being dragged away from Truth by them.
“Religion offers both a challenge and a help to those who suffer mental disorders. This challenge surfaces when preachers assume that depression is always and only a sin.”
The author goes on to identify the hope is, as studies which indicate people who are part of a religious community do better with mental health (citing Lauren Cahoon, “Will God Get You Out of Your Depression?” (ABC News, March 19, 2008))
Depression for the Christian is often based on the perception that God has abandoned him. This is a very tangible example of how our theology matters and how our faith must rest in Christ and not our perceptions of His love for us. No doubt, this is easy to say and terribly hard to find comfort in when one is captured by his emotions. Our author quotes saints of old often and here, he shows us they did not neglect Satan. The devil doesn’t cause depression but he certainly is eager to encourage it! At this point, the Christian must fight.
“We plead not ourselves, but the promises of Jesus; not our strengths but His; our weaknesses yes, but His mercies. Our way of fighting is to hide behind Jesus who fights for us. Our hope is not the absence of our regret, or misery or doubt or lament, but the presence of Jesus. “Doubting Castle may be very strong, but he who comes to fight with Giant Despair is stronger still!”” (a quote from Charles Spurgeon, “Christ Looseth From Infirmities,”)
He goes on to cite “three tough words” from Spurgeon. First, he defends those who suffer by pointing them to Christ. Secondly, he cautions them not to haunt themselves on purpose with the dreaded notion that somebody somewhere might be happy. Thirdly, Spurgeon would – when he thought it necessary, be direct with those who refused to fight their depression. His sermon, A Call to the Depressed, is cited as a prime example of this tactic. “Perhaps in this sermon, we see Charles the human being trying imperfectly to administer help to sorrows not easily diagnosed. In his earnest and fragile attempts to help, we see our own.”
“Jane Kenyon’s remarkable poem, “Having it out with Melancholy,” poses two “God” problems associated with depression and our attempts at care. First, depression ruins our “manners toward God” because it teaches us “to exist without gratitude,” and tempts us to answer the purpose of our existence as “simply to wait for death,” since “the pleasures of earth are overrated.” Second, depression tempts our friends to offer the following advice: “You wouldn’t be so depressed if you really believed in God.””
This chapter provides the reader with biblical counsel for those who are depressed, who, our author points out, “lean on metaphors” to describe how they are feeling. Mental problems are hard to convey to those who have not experienced them, so abstract descriptions rarely suffice. The Bible communicates mental anguish via metaphor: Ps 88:3-7, 69:15, Job 13:25, Prov 18:14, et. al.
Three ways metaphors are sufficient to communicate to those in depression:
“(1) Metaphor leaves room. It does not propose to cover every angle, understand every possibility or to explain every detail. It does not require only one possible explanation. Language that proposes to do this with depression exposes its ignorance of the situation at hand.
“(2) Metaphor allows for nuance and difference. Since each person’s experience with depression differs, metaphor allows for diverse expression. Formulaic prose or platitudes immediately reveal their lack of realism regarding how depression damages someone.
“(3) Metaphor requires further thought and exploration. It is a word of invitation more than destination which, we observed earlier, is crucial for gathering up the debris of depression.”
The Bible communicates a creator God Who completely understands His creatures and the plights we face.
“A larger story about God exists that possesses within it a language of sorrows so that the gloomy, the anguished, the dark-pathed, and the inhabitants of deep night are given voice. Such a god-story is neither cruel nor trite. Such a story begins to reveal the sympathy of God.”
Divine sympathy is your teacher, dear caregiver; your ally and friend, dear sufferer. Let His sorrow’s language help you.
Four ways we can make things worse:
“1. We judge others according to our circumstances rather than theirs. “There are a great many of you who appear to have a large stock of faith, but it is only because you are in very good health and your business is prospering. If you happened to get a disordered liver, or your business should fail, I should not be surprised if nine parts out of ten of your wonderful faith should evaporate.” Jesus teaches us about those who lay up heavy burdens on others but do not lift a finger to help (Matt. 23:4).
“2. We still think that trite sayings or a raised voice can heal deep wounds. A person “may have a great spiritual sorrow, and someone who does not at all understand his grief, may proffer to him a consolation which is far too slight.” Like a physician who offers a common ointment for a deep wound, we “say to a person in deep distress things which have really aggravated him and his malady too.” In this regard, Charles teaches us the Scriptures, “Whoever sings songs to a heavy heart is like one who takes off a garment on a cold day, and like vinegar on soda” (Prov. 25:20).
“3. We try to control what should be rather than surrender to what is. We must not “judge harshly, as if things were as we would theoretically arrange them, but we must deal with things as they are, and it cannot be questioned that some of the best believers are at times sorely put to it,” even “to know whether they are believers at all.” The Scriptures teach us about Job’s friends who struggled at this very point.
“4. We resist humility regarding our own lack of experience. “There are some people who cannot comfort others, even though they try to do so, because they never had any troubles themselves. It is a difficult thing for a man who has had a life of uninterrupted prosperity to sympathize with another whose path has been exceedingly rough.” The Apostle Paul teaches us to comfort others out of the comfort that we ourselves have needed and received (2 Cor. 1:4).
“According to the Bible, when we encounter someone who weeps, we too are meant to weep (Rom. 12:15). When someone encounters adversity they are meant to reflect and meditate, and we with them (Eccles. 7:14). Without this together-sympathy our attempts to help others can lose the sound of reality. The loss of this sound of reality forges the larger reason for our harshness.”
I wrap up with the author’s review of how our Savior relates to us. The common passage, Hebrews 4:14-16 (Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.) emphatically tells us that Jesus has suffered temptation and is able to sympathize with us – and He bids us come to Him! He is the cure what ails our souls and minds. This is not, as we are told, only in the here-after – the Lord is our comfort in this age. For in this age we are hated by the world, attacked by our flesh, and wearied by all the effects of sin that inhabit us and our environment. Jesus is our ever present helper and that’s where I want to end.
We live in a day and age where false doctrine and heresy becomes more and more rampant within the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. In any and every way possible, the evil one seeks to undermine the Scriptures with the oldest question in all of history spoken to the minds of people of all walks of life, but particularly to those who claim the name of Christ.
“Yea, has God really said?”
In this excellent video by Pastor John MacArthur, he deals with the false teaching propagated by many in mainline evangelical denominations and by those who in the Charismatic movements. This message entitled, “Spiritually Living, Yet Still Stinking” he deals with the false teaching of sinless perfectionism and that we can live a fully sanctified life before being redeemed from this corrupt flesh. This form of Arminianism was taught and spread by false teachers such as Charles G. Finney, who is considered the father of modern-day revivalism.
From MacArthur’s message found in the video below:
It was J.C. Ryle in his marvelous epic book written in 1879 by the title of Holiness who said, “Sudden instantaneous leaps from conversion to consecration I fail to see anywhere in the Bible.” And the reason J.C. Ryle didn’t see them is because they’re not there. That was an utterly unbiblical concept. He knew what all accurate theologians know, that justification and sanctification are inseparable. They both come at the instant of salvation. Justification is immediate and sanctification is progressive, but they cannot be separated. And sanctification is not some experience subsequent to salvation.
Paul claimed to be the chiefest of all sinners, and 1 John is clear that if anybody says he or she is not a sinner, then they are calling God a liar. We will never achieve sinless perfection in this life. However, we can give thanks to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ that one day He is coming back and He will change our corruptible bodies into that which is incorruptible. What a glorious day that will be.
There is a video floating around in social media where a preacher by the name of Tatsuo Akamine was arrested for “disturbing the peace.” The officer eventually arrested him and took him away. I am writing, not to give an exhaustive thought on the whole situation, but to present a lost theology that I think applies here and in many other contexts within our American culture.
First, it is best to watch the video to get some background.
Also, if you want to tap into my brain as to what sparked me to write about this, please read Tony Miano’s article about what both the preacher and the officer did wrong. It is very enlightening, and it will further assist where I am coming from in this article. (Tony Miano is a preacher with 20 years of law enforcement experience as well as several run-ins with the law in other countries)
Let’s kick start this with a thought from Charles Spurgeon from “Lectures to my Students.”
“I am somewhat pleased when I occasionally hear of a brother’s being locked up by the police, for it does him good, and it does the people good also. It is a fine sight to see the minister of the gospel marched off by the servant of the law! It excites sympathy for him, and the next step is sympathy for his message. Many who felt no interest in him before are eager to hear him when he is ordered to leave off, and still more so when he is taken to the station. The vilest of mankind respect a man who gets into trouble in order to do them good, and if they see unfair opposition excited they grow quite zealous in the man’s defense.”
Obviously, this portion of LTMS would be fitting if the preacher, Tatsuo, was yielding to arrest without giving any resistance. But it is a great point to ponder should we have to be persecuted for righteousness sake.
I had a brother in Christ who came and helped us during an outreach for Cheyenne Frontier Days 2014 here in Cheyenne, Wyoming that talked about all the times he was arrested and set free. That’s right! He has been arrested multiple times, held in confinement, but no charges were ever made against him! Why? This is what he says (not exact words).
“Our law system, unfortunately, is designed for you to plead ‘not guilty’ so that you can pay court fees, lawyer fees, and so on. Although I could easily challenge the law, I don’t. Why? When I go to court, and they hear about what I did, when they ask me if I would like to plead guilty or not, I always say, ‘Guilty your honor.’ That shocks the judge and officer every time. They are expecting me to say ‘not guilty’ and evoke amendments and rights, but I don’t have time for that. When they ask me ‘why’, if I am allowed to give an explanation, I just kindly tell them,’If preaching the gospel is a crime, then I am guilty as charged.’ This way, they can see that I am being unlawfully held. But if they charge me with something, it actually has to be illegal, or they have to find some way to dig up a law that says it’s illegal. They haven’t done it yet, and I continue preaching and handing out tracts and talking to people until one day it actually becomes illegal.”
This is a great point to consider. I have often felt this way when discussing the subject of preaching the gospel. Sure, we don’t have any right to be dishonoring to the Lord and belligerent. And we do have rights as Americans. But we are Christians first, Americans second. We are to yield to detainment even if it is unjust at times, and we know it.
In my career, I have been brought to the law before, but not for preaching the gospel. But I still applied the same biblical principles of peace, yielding to those in authority, and cordial, Christian behavior. It really helped people to see that I wasn’t the monster they wanted me to be. It made the process much smoother, and in the end, God delivered me without conviction. If He didn’t, I was still prepared to endure what I felt would be God’s will for me at the time. That’s right. I was ready to go to jail for something I didn’t do. It is a different feeling. It is a different way of thinking, knowing that I would have to prepare to praise God for going to jail. Military jail at that. But God is faithful and sovereign.
The reason I felt this way is because whether it is for the gospel or not, I feel like we forget that God’s people have endured different kinds of suffering in the Bible. Also, there are multiple Scriptures that teach us something about yielding to authority without resistance, even if we know we are in the right. I pray these Scriptures would help us to have a right attitude about how we are to approach authorities.
Ecclesiastes 10:4 “If the spirit of the ruler rises against you, Do not leave your post; For conciliation pacifies great offenses.”
Titus 3:1-2 “Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.”
Romans 13:2 “Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.”
1 Peter 2:23 “…who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously…”
I know that each Scripture above has its individual contexts. I know that when it comes to the gospel, we are to obey God rather than men. I know that if the laws of the land are unjust, we are to take up the banner of Christ and speak up against it. However, don’t take what I am saying out of context. The Scriptures above indicate some kind of yielding and suffering under authority. If a ruler or authority comes against you, control your body and tongue, and yield to the authority that has been given to them. This doesn’t mean you always have to remain silent. It just means your attitude and motives need to be submissive to the authority that has been granted to them when the time comes for you to face arrest, detainment, or possibly death (if it ever comes to that). Also, another option, as Tony Miano points out in his article, is to actually stop doing whatever is causing the authority to come against you, and further inquire about the law or contact a law organization like Liberty Institute to find out more information.
One final thought. In presenting these texts, I am not saying you shouldn’t go to the law if you feel it is necessary. I am also not saying that you shouldn’t utilize some of the resources like Liberty Institute that help people who are unlawfully charged. What I am saying is that maybe it is time we start showing the world how sovereign God by showing some submission, and how we care more about souls being saved than our own rights. Some of us like to tell non-believers that we don’t have any other rights before God because we are sinners who have broken His law, and yet turn around and demanding “our rights” when law enforcement challenges us. This ought not to be so. We are to be Christians first, with the humility of Christ to guide us in our sufferings and persecutions. If we are to be hauled away by the law, go to with a humble heart that doesn’t resist. If it is not for the gospel, the same applies, because we are still ambassadors of the King.
I pray God prepare us all for the persecution that is on the horizon. I am also desperately praying for revival. Go into all the world. Preach the gospel to every creature.