The Transforming Power of Biblical Forgiveness

By Denise George   •   January 30, 2019 

On the second anniversary of the mass shooting at Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, S.C., family members of Myra Thompson join in song during a memorial service. Photograph: Newscom

On a hot, muggy night in Charleston, S.C., 21-year-old Dylann Roof walked into the basement of the Emanuel A.M.E. Church and joined a dozen Wednesday evening Bible study members as they studied Mark 4. It was June 17, 2015.

The teacher, Myra Thompson, warmly welcomed the 5-foot-9-inch, 120-pound boyish-looking man with the pale face. Roof’s tousled blond hair was cut in a salad bowl shape, and he wore a tourist’s fanny pack around his waist. 

Clementa Pinckney, Emanuel’s pastor, invited Roof to sit next to him, and someone placed a Bible in his hands. Roof sat quietly during the Bible study, saying nothing, his facial expression blank.

At 9 p.m., Myra ended the study, standing with the others to pray.

“Our Father, who art in Heaven,” they prayed together, “hallowed be thy—”

Suddenly Dylann pulled a Glock .45 from his fanny pack. Piercing the quiet fellowship hall with an exploding CRACK! CRACK! CRACK!, he opened fire on the praying members. Shooting each person multiple times at point-blank range, and shouting hateful racial slurs, he killed eight church members immediately, including Myra Thompson and Pastor Pinckney. The ninth victim died shortly thereafter. 

Roof walked out, leaving the dead, dying and terrified behind him on the blood-stained floor. The church security camera recorded his image, the gun still in his hand.

Word of the church massacre spread throughout the city, turning Charleston’s narrow streets into tangled mazes of screaming sirens, flashing lights and panicked onlookers.

When Myra’s husband, the Reverend Anthony Thompson, pastor of Charleston’s Holy Trinity Reformed Episcopal Church, arrived home from his church’s Wednesday evening program, a friend telephoned him.

“There’s been a shooting at Emanuel Church!” he said. Anthony rushed to the church. When he discovered his wife’s murder, he fell to the pavement and cried.

Rev. Anthony Thompson stands outside Emanuel African Episcopal Church.Photograph: Reuters/Newscom

Police found Dylann Roof the next morning, arrested him and took him back to Charleston. When two FBI agents interrogated him, the young racist laughed, bragged about the murders and claimed he had hoped to start a race war. He admitted he had chosen Charleston and the Emanuel A.M.E. Church for his massacre because of their past slave history.

On Friday, June 19, fewer than 48 hours after the murders, Anthony reluctantly attended Roof’s bond hearing. A video camera from the detention center linked Roof to the courtroom. Judge James Gosnell invited the victims’ family members to speak directly to Roof through an audio connection. Although Anthony didn’t intend to say anything, he felt led by God to walk forward. He depended on God to put His words into his mouth.

“I forgive you,” Anthony told Dylann. “And my family forgives you. But we would like you to take this opportunity to repent. Repent. Confess. Give your life to the One who matters the most: Jesus Christ, so that He can change it and change your attitude. And no matter what happens to you, then you’ll be OK. Do that and you’ll be better off than you are right now.”

Several other family members at the hearing also offered their forgiveness.

City and state police prepared and braced themselves for the racial riots they expected to explode in Charleston, fearing the bloodshed, violence and looting as recently witnessed in Ferguson, Baltimore, Berkeley and other cities after racially-motivated crimes had occurred.

But, to the world’s amazement, Charleston erupted not in violence, but in grace, the city responding with acts of love and kindness. Charleston’s mayor, Joseph Riley, witnessed firsthand the unexpected results of Biblical forgiveness, stating: “A hateful person came to this community with some crazy idea he’d be able to divide. But all he did was unite us and make us love each other even more.”

Makeshift memorials of flowers grew in front of the church. Compassionate donors pledged thousands of dollars to help the victims’ families. Thousands of people gathered in downtown Charleston for an evening vigil and prayer service. The whole city mourned the senseless deaths, visible acts of love setting off a godly chain of events as blacks and whites embraced, crying together and comforting one another in Charleston’s crowded streets. More than 15,000 people of all colors and faiths joined hands, creating a flesh-and-blood human bridge, a chain of visible love that stretched for two miles and crossed Charleston’s Ravenel Bridge.

After the shooting, and having witnessed the powerful and peaceful results brought about by Biblical forgiveness, the world struggled to better understand it. They wondered how Anthony Thompson could forgive his wife’s cold-blooded killer, and even share with him the message of Christ’s forgiveness and salvation.

They asked some hard questions:

Before Thompson forgave him, should Roof not have first apologized, expressed remorse and tried to make amends for his actions?

Did forgiving Roof mean that Thompson dismissed, excused or condoned his ruthless act?

Mustn’t Thompson have felt forgiving before he forgave Roof?

How could Thompson forgive so quickly, before his wife was even buried? Doesn’t genuine forgiveness take years to accomplish?

Society discovered important truths about Biblical forgiveness and how it differs so greatly from the world’s false concept of forgiveness. They learned that Biblical forgiveness:

  • Can forgive any crime, no matter how atrocious—not dismissing, condoning or excusing an offender’s actions, but blaming him and then forgiving him. Thompson blamed Roof for killing his wife, and therefore he could choose to forgive him.
  • Doesn’t depend on the offender’s response. Roof remained consistently unrepentant, showing no remorse and never apologizing. “I would like to make it crystal clear,” Roof wrote in his journal, “I do not regret what I did. I am not sorry. I have not shed a tear for the innocent people I killed.” Later, during his April 2017 trial and federal death sentence, Roof publicly stated: “I felt like I had to do it. I still feel like I had to do it.” Thompson forgave Roof without the young racist’s response, remorse, repentance or apology.
  • Doesn’t require the forgiver to feel forgiving. Forgiveness is a choice of the forgiver’s will, not a decision based on emotional feelings. Paul writes: “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13).
  • Requires believers to pray as Jesus taught, asking God to “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12).

Anthony Thompson chose to forgive the sinner Dylann Roof because Jesus Christ had chosen to forgive the sinner Anthony Thompson. “Scripture tells me that I am a sinner, forgiven by Christ, and saved by grace,” Thompson admitted. “Therefore, I am obliged to forgive others who hurt me.”

Jesus gave believers the perfect example of Biblical forgiveness when He forgave those murderers who nailed Him to the cross. “Father,” He prayed aloud in His time of great suffering, “forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

Anthony Thompson’s choice to forgive his wife’s murderer brought Scriptural forgiveness and Biblical teachings into the world’s media limelight. Christ worked in the midst of this tragedy to change hearts and lives.

Dylann Roof had hoped to fuel a race war by killing Emanuel’s members. But as a Christian Examiner reporter later wrote: “It … has had the opposite effect, allowing the grieving families to put the Gospel’s power on full display for not only Roof but for a watching television audience.”

Anthony Thompson continues to pray for Roof, hoping that before the misguided young man dies by lethal injection, he will ask God’s forgiveness and receive God’s salvation through Jesus Christ. But Anthony has laid down his heavy burden, he has forgiven his wife’s killer and he has chosen to move forward in Christ’s ministry, just as he knows Myra would wish him to do.  ©2019 Denise George

Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version.

Denise George is the author or coauthor of 31 nonfiction books. She recently worked with Anthony Thompson on his new book: “Called to Forgive: The Charleston Church Shooting, A Victim’s Husband, and the Path to Healing and Peace” (to be released in June 2019 by Bethany House Publishers). Denise is married to Timothy George, Th.D., founding dean of Beeson Divinity School, Samford University.

Have you asked Christ to forgive your sins? Start here.

The Transforming Power of Biblical Forgiveness

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When We Are Forgiven

By Erwin Lutzer   •   January 30, 2019 

 

Whether we were brought up in a strict home or a lenient home, we all have a conscience. And there’s nothing we can do about the stain of sin upon our conscience. Time will never obliterate our sin. We need God to do that for us.

The story of David is well-known; he committed adultery with Bathsheba. She became pregnant, and then he had her husband, Uriah, killed. 

For a while, David thought his sin was covered, that he had done what he needed to do to get out of the mess and salvage his reputation. But the cover-up didn’t work very well. It never does.

Psalm 51 is David’s prayer of confession before God as he spills out his heart, and Psalm 32 is the psalm that David also prayed, most probably in connection with Bathsheba, as he thanked God for His forgiveness. It shows a wonderful contrast between the burden of guilt and the blessing of forgiveness.

Stage 1: The Burden of Unforgiven Sin

Psalm 32 reveals David’s experience in three stages. The first stage is the burden of unforgiven sin, the burden under which David lived when he tried to cover his sin. What was that like? Some scholars think that David was in this state of cover-up for nearly a year before he came clean with God.

You’ll notice that this psalm begins by saying, “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit” (Psalm 32:1-2).

And now comes the description of life with unforgiven sin. “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer” (Psalm 32:3-4). 

Eighty percent of our emotional energy is usually spent trying to cope with self-condemnation and the sense of guilt that many of us have experienced. As a matter of fact, guilt tends to break down the immune system, making a person more susceptible to disease. 

So unconfessed sin affected David’s body. He also says in Psalm 51:3 that it affected his mind: “My sin is ever before me.” 

And unresolved guilt affects behavior. If you don’t overcome guilt, you will have a tendency to addictions. You’ll have a tendency to repeated compulsive and destructive behavior because you are trying to somehow resolve the tension of who you know you should be and who you know you are.

When my wife and I were in England, we went to John Bunyan’s grave. He was the man who wrote “The Pilgrim’s Progress,” in which he talked about Pilgrim walking with this heavy weight on his back. And on Bunyan’s tombstone is a carving of a man walking with a weight on his back that was too heavy for him to carry. That’s the way it was for David when he was in the mode of cover-up, minimizing his sin and refusing to ask God’s intervention and forgiveness. That’s stage 1.

Stage 2: The Agony of Confession

Stage 2 is the agony of confession. Confession is not easy. David says, “I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and you forgave the iniquity of my sin” (Psalm 32:5). In other words, “I stopped living a lie. I stopped hiding. I exposed my soul with its sin to God.” So now David has come clean.

Why is confession so difficult? It’s because there are alternatives to confession. We dodge repentance through rationalization. “Everybody does it,” we tell ourselves. We minimize our sin and magnify the sins of others: “Well, I’m not as bad as So-and-So.” Or we think that somehow we must pay for our sins.

But the one thing that is most difficult is to simply be honest with God and say, “All the closets of my life are now open to You. Everything is exposed. Nothing is hidden from Your sight. You know it’s there, and now I am acknowledging it is there, too.” The agony of confession!

Stage 3: The Blessing of Forgiveness

The third stage is the blessing of forgiveness. It’s the burden John Bunyan had on his back, until it rolled away, and finally he was able to get up and walk in freedom. Charles Wesley put it this way: “My chains fell off, my heart was free. I rose, went forth and followed Thee.”

Notice how David describes it: “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered” (Psalm 32:1). God took the ugly mess and He sent a snowfall to cover the ugly trails and all of the ruts in the road of my life, and He no longer holds us guilty as a result of it. Oh yes, consequences may continue, as David experienced, but the guilt is gone. There is now freedom.

In verse 5 David says, “You forgave the iniquity of my sin.” Verse 7 says, “You are a hiding place for me.” Now that my sin is forgiven, we are back in fellowship. You have forgiven me. You hide me. Verse 7 continues, “You preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance.”

Then in verse 8, God says, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.” 

It is as if David is saying, “When I was out of fellowship with God, I had no sense of God’s guidance. But He forgives me, He hides me, He guides me, He inspires me.” And he says in Verse 11: “Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!” You give praise to God because of the freedom and because of the conscience that has been cleansed.

Are we willing to come honestly and openly and say, “Jesus, here I am, exposed in Your presence”? We begin there, and then we go to those whom we have wronged and we say, “At all costs, I want to be right before God and man.”  ©2005 Erwin W. Lutzer

Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. 

Adapted from a sermon preached Aug. 21, 2005. Used by permission of Moody Church Media.

Erwin W. Lutzer is pastor emeritus of The Moody Church in Chicago, Ill., where he served as the senior pastor for 36 years. He is also a radio speaker and award-winning author.

Jesus’ Parable

 

 

Everyone loves a good story.  To sit and listen in awe and amazement as the story, its characters and plots come to life in one’s imagination as you envision the scene playing out in your mind’s eye…  What an awesome experience!

A lot of those imaginative qualities of bygone eras have seemed to dwindle some as people and generations have become accustomed to instant ways to satisfy that need to escape into a good story, if only but for a moment.

Most stories today are written, read, watched, or played out for purely entertainment reasons.  But when Jesus told a story, He wasn’t worried about providing people a temporary flight into the fantasy.  His stories, which we have come to know them as being parables, are like a good bowl of hot, homemade oatmeal – they stick to you.

And that stickage, was and is, for a purpose.  He had lessons about this life and relating to people; lessons about the Kingdom of God and eternity that He wanted people to lay hold of.  Not just to pass a story along, but to apply to one’s life that it might do the hearer a world of good both now and forever.

In this new series, I have grouped some of Jesus’ Parables together to be used as individual lessons, or, as the title suggests, as a series.    Below you will find six links to six of the parables I have covered.  At a future date, I will cover and add more to the list and update you when that happens.

As always, while I provide resources and activities for lessons and lesson development, I encourage my readers to do their own personal studies as well.

To access the lessons, simply click on the links below.

Loving people; serving them and treating them as one would want to be treated is a priority for living as God’s people and serving Him.  The parable of the Good Samaritan shows us how this love and concern we are to have for others can cross barriers to just do what is right to help others.

Prayer is more important than most people believe. Prayer, for the Christian, is more than just requesting from God, it’s more than petitioning and supplication. It is a place of comfort where we can unload the heaviness within. It is a source we can rely on when fighting against the adversities that are without. It is a little sanctuary in the big mess of this world where we can meet with our Creator one on one and know that we are heard. And, Jesus teaches us how to do it right.

Not only does Jesus teach us how to do it right, but using the parable of the Friend at Midnight in the middle of His instructions, Jesus teaches us that we must have persevering prayer.

So many are running after the here and now reward. They are seeking a temporary reward hoping for eternal benefits. This is not how it happens in God’s economy for if one has already lifted themselves in the front of others then they have their reward (see Matthew 6:2). But, if one works with the love of Christ in showing the same humility He lived, they have a day coming where they will reap the benefits of those seeds of humility they planted in the lives of others.

In this parable, Jesus teaches about guests who are invited and seek to exalt themselves when they vie for the best places to sit.  He also covers in this parable the need to treat others fairly and look to invite those who could never pay you back.

Every time someone leaves the world of sin behind and comes back to the Father, He is overjoyed. Heaven is singing and shouting praises. People matter to God. Lost people are loved by God. His strongest desire is to see them come back home in His loving arms where they belong. What an eye-opening picture the story of the Prodigal Son presents and encourages every soul to turn to God today. The Father is waiting to receive you!

One day Jesus is coming back. Until then, keep praying and don’t give up! Your heavenly Father hears every cry uttered from your lips and spoken silently in your heart. You are loved, my friend. Let your faith rise in your Savior today and believe in His love and power at work in your life. Keep on keeping on. Always pray and not faint!  May the parable of the Persistent Widow encourage you today!

There is going to be a great, heavenly celebration one day. Will you be there? Have you answered Jesus’ invitation to come?  The Parable of the Great Banquet gives a hardy story of many who are called but begin to make excuses for why they can’t come.  When they refused to commit and follow through, the master of the house called for those who would normally be overlooked.  Don’t let outward appearances fool you.  Heaven is going to be full of people who others would discount, but had a receptive heart to the call of Christ.

I hope you enjoy these lessons.  My prayer is that these lessons will be helpful to you personally or to use in your own classroom settings.  I have a few more series in progress and to work on before we reach the end of the year.  Until next time, many blessings to you all!

Sunday School Lesson Series: “Jesus’ Parables”


 

24 of Bonhoeffer’s Most Challenging Quotes

Wisdom for instituting change.

 

by Godinterest

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German pastor, theologian, spy, anti-Nazi dissident, key founding member of the Confessing Church as well as one of the most influential spiritual voices across the globe for decades. It’s a good thing for the modern Church that Bonhoeffer was determined in his course.

Bonhoeffer grew up amid the academic circles of the University of Berlin, where his father, Karl Bonhoeffer, was a professor of psychiatry and neurology and was awarded a doctorate in 1927 at the age of only 21.  He also studied at Union Theological Seminary in New York from 1930—1931. During that time he attended Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem and became deeply interested in the issue of racial injustice.

Bonhoeffer’s involvement in a plot to overthrow Adolf Hitler  led to his imprisonment and execution on the 9th April 1945.

More than seventy years after his death, Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s writings on faith, the Church, ethics and the nature of God serve as a touchstone for all of us who seek to understand a Christian’s responsibility in the face of injustice and have gone on to have a profound influence on Western Culture and the legions of Christian thinkers who’ve encountered them ever since.  He also remains an important symbol of opposition to Hitler.

Here’s a look back at some of Bonhoeffer’s most powerful quotes.

ON GRACE

“Cheap grace is preaching forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”

ON JUDGING OTHERS

“Judging others makes us blind, whereas love is illuminating. By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.”

ON LIFE

“Christianity preaches the infinite worth of that which is seemingly worthless and the infinite worthlessness of that which is seemingly so valued.”

ON SIN

“May we be enabled to say ‘No’ to sin and ‘Yes’ to the sinner.”

ON JUDGING

“Judging others makes us blind, whereas love is illuminating. By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.”

ON SERVING GOD

“We must be ready to allow ourselves to be interrupted by God.”

ON GOD’S LOVE

“God does not love some ideal person, but rather human beings just as we are, not some ideal world, but rather the real world.”

ON GOD’S WILL

“Being a Christian is less about cautiously avoiding sin than about courageously and actively doing God’s will.”

ON SERVING OTHERS

“The Church is the Church only when it exists for others, not dominating, but helping and serving. It must tell men of every calling what it means to live for Christ, to exist for others.”

ON OBEDIENCE

“One act of obedience is worth a hundred sermons.”

ON EVIL

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

ON AFFIRMATIVE ACTION

“We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.”

ON STANDING UP FOR INJUSTICE

“If I sit next to a madman as he drives a car into a group of innocent bystanders, I can’t, as a Christian, simply wait for the catastrophe, then comfort the wounded and bury the dead. I must try to wrestle the steering wheel out of the hands of the driver.”

ON GRATITUDE

“In normal life we hardly realize how much more we receive than we give, and life cannot be rich without such gratitude. It is so easy to overestimate the importance of our own achievements compared with what we owe to the help of others.”

ON FOLLOWING CHRIST

“When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”

ON INJUSTICE

“We are not to simply bandage the wounds of victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.”

ON PEACE

“There is no way to peace along the way of safety. For peace must be dared, it is itself the great venture and can never be safe. Peace is the opposite of security. To demand guarantees is to want to protect oneself. Peace means giving oneself completely to God’s commandment, wanting no security, but in faith and obedience laying the destiny of the nations in the hand of Almighty God, not trying to direct it for selfish purposes. Battles are won, not with weapons, but with God. They are won when the way leads to the cross.”

ON ‘DEFENDING’ THE BIBLE

“Do not try to make the Bible relevant. Its relevance is axiomatic. Do not defend God’s word, but testify to it. Trust to the Word. It is a ship loaded to the very limits of its capacity.”

ON REAL MORALITY

“The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.”

ON PEOPLE

“We must learn to regard people less in light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer.”

ON SPIRITUALITY

“When all is said and done, the life of faith is nothing if not an unending struggle of the spirit with every available weapon against the flesh.”

ON FELLOWSHIP

“The first service that one owes to others in the fellowship consists of listening to them. Just as love of God begins with listening to his word, so the beginning of love for our brothers and sisters is learning to listen to them.”

ON PROOF OF GOD

“A God who let us prove his existence would be an idol.”

ON THE FUTURE

“The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.”

https://godinterest.com/2018/03/24/24-of-bonhoeffers-most-challenging-quotes/

Are Your Standards Right?

April 26, 2018 by ManofProverbs

 

Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him–Proverbs 26:12

Our Hearts

Pride and self-importance cause people to seem wise in their own view, which leads them to be arrogantly confident in their own ideas. Wisdom comes from God and is not formed by human reasoning, but accepting what God has said and revealed in Scripture. We have to understand that that there is potential deceit within our hearts and we must not assume that our standards of right and wrong are God’s standards. Jeremiah 17:9 states, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

The heart is the inner being of a person that includes our desires, feelings and thoughts. The heart is extremely evil and corrupt, as a result people turn to selfishness and evil rather than to God. This cannot be cured and cannot be changed by itself. Only God’s grace can cure it. We need to ask God for wisdom.

Seeking Wisdom

James 1:5 says, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. We need to be asking God to give us wisdom in dealing with and coping with our trials. Wisdom means the spiritual ability to see and evaluate life and conduct from God’s point of view.

In 1 Corinthians 2:16 Paul says, “For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” To have the mind of Christ means knowing God’s will and his plan and purpose. It means seeing things the way God sees them, valuing things the way He values them, loving what He loves and hating what He hates. This is how we should be setting the standards in our life.

Setting Standards

Many times we set our standards based on our own understanding, preferences, and how we were raised. There have been many times as I’ve got older that I have realized that some of the standards I was setting were based on my parents preferences. We also set standards to what we think is right, which is flawed. We need to be seeking God’s wisdom when setting our standards. As a whole, we need to also realize that our standards may work for us, but may not work for other people. For example, dressing up for church, I personally feel that I should dress up for church, because I’m going to worship God. Other people do not feel that they should dress up for church. I should not apply my standard to other people. In reality, I don’t think God cares what I’m wearing, it’s my heart at that time when I’m worshiping Him.

When we set our standards in our lives, seek God’s wisdom. Our ways are deceitful, God’s are pure and just.

Are Your Standards Right?

VIDEO A Country That Honors God

What Truly Protects a Nation

July 3, 2018 By Charles F. Stanley

 

As you look at the state of our nation today, what do you see? The Bible says, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Ps. 33:12), but this is not a popular belief in our society. However, it’s the only way our nation can flourish. Further support for this truth is found in Proverbs 14:34, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.” Abandoning the Lord leads to disgrace and the loss of His blessings.

Contrary to popular belief, what actually protects a nation is not military strength but the righteousness of its people and government. When the Lord is honored in a nation, He is exalted, and the people are protected. Therefore, we should look at our nation today and ask ourselves whether we as a country are honoring God. Our future depends on the answer.

Freedom doesn’t come cheaply, and it’s always under attack by our enemy, the devil. His ungodly and unbiblical influences fight against our beliefs, but the Lord gives us courage to resist.

As believers, we are under the divine guidance of our Commander, the Lord Jesus Christ, and we do not fight with weapons but with the Word of God—the only message that can transform lives and influence the world for good. Christ’s church will not be overpowered, and He will be faithful to raise up believers in every generation. We have been commanded to proclaim the gospel throughout the world, and this commission is not just for those trained as missionaries but for each of us in our own places of influence.

However, this means we must be willing to stand firmly for our convictions when they are challenged. Convictions are unaffected by the times, the values of the culture, or the popularity of current ideas. Christian beliefs may be unpopular presently, but the Lord is our defense as long as we exalt and obey Him as Lord and honor His Word as our compass for life.

As followers of Jesus, we are His representatives, and there is no room for compromise with the immoral, disrespectful, or self-indulgent aspects of our culture. So, how are we to respond to this world in which we live? Others may criticize and stand against Christianity, but we who love the Lord must stay true to Him. We can’t afford to let ourselves be lulled into thinking that because we live in a free and prosperous nation, nothing bad is going on or could happen to us in the future.

Despite the sinful condition of our culture, we should not be discouraged. Our God is greater than the world’s knowledge and wisdom, and His purposes are not thwarted by sin. He is sufficient and adequate to guide us through whatever we face—our responsibility is simply to believe, trust, obey, and follow Him, modeling the Christian life for those around us.

 

This article is adapted from the Sermon Notes for Dr. Stanley’s message“Standing on Your Convictions” which airs this weekend on TV.

https://www.intouch.org/read/blog/a-country-that-honors-god