Posted in encouragement, theology

“He is coming soon” – Thoughts on sin, the world, and Jesus

By Elizabeth Prata

Word of the week: Sin. Societal, cultural, financial, economic, political. The world as we know it is winding down. (It has been this way since the Garden). Each week we see a precipitous decline, lurching forward in slow to great bursts, bringing the world ever closer to the consciousness that things will not remain as they have been. And still, as much as the world sees that the events we are experiencing for the worse, and perhaps never to be the same again, the world still insists that this has nothing to do with Christ. They say, ‘Oh, the world is changing, and the Zombie/Mayan/Cayce/Nostradamus apocalypse may be near, but it has nothing to do with that guy, Jesus.’

A prophecy from Peter: “They will say, Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation. (2 Peter 3:4).

They say such things because they believe them. Satan has blinded the lost to the things of Christ. It has always been so. The Israelites taunted Jeremiah with the same:

Behold, they say unto me, Where is the word of the LORD? let it come now. (Jeremiah 17:15)

And why do they believe the Zombie/Mayan/Cayce/Nostradamus apocalypse and not the Christian Revelation of the promised Apocalypse? Because the aforementioned are from satan. Now satan, they’ll believe, because the world’s children are satan’s children. (1 John 4:5).

Technically, the world has been ending since Genesis 3, but the feeling of chaotic flying apart has increased dramatically of late. Remember Obergefell v. Hodges? It was a landmark civil rights case in which the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples by both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, according to Wikipedia’s summary.

That was in 2015. I can’t believe that was four years ago! Yet since then we have endured the Planned Parenthood undercover videos controversy, third-trimester abortion controversy, post-birth abortion controversy, advance of homosexuality and now pedophilia normalization, racial disharmony in the form of social justice and wokeness, and the beginnings of evangelical acceptance of and redefinition of the sin of homosexuality. Wow.

I remember the verse in Romans 1:30, where Paul is explaining God’s wrath upon sin. The passage describes the downward spiral of men as individuals but especially collectively. Paul lists tons of sins, and though the list isn’t meant to be exhaustive, he says

They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed, and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant, and boastful. They invent new forms of evil…(Romans 1:29-30).

Let that sink in. They invent new forms of evil. The extent of man’s sinfulness really knows no bounds. The only reason we are all not ravening madmen, slobbering over performing the deepest depravity, is due to the restraining influence of the Holy Spirit on the world in the form of God’s general ministry of common grace and the specific Holy Spirit ministry of restraint in His elect.

Barnes’ Notes explains inventors of evil quite well:

This doubtless refers to their seeking to find out new arts or plans to practice evil; new devices to gratify their lusts and passions; new forms of luxury, and vice, etc. So intent were they on practicing evil, so resolved to gratify their passions, that the mind was excited to discover new modes of gratification.

When the Holy Spirit releases his restraint upon the world after the rapture, watch out! Man’s inventiveness will no longer be toward beauty, art, music, science; it will be toward depravity, sin, and evil like the world has never seen before. (Matthew 24:21).

Though it’s disheartening to experience living in the world like this, the Bride is still resplendent, evangelism is still occurring, souls are being redeemed, the Church is still growing…and God is still on His throne.

I’m enjoying the Spirit’s sweet presence every day. Do you? I hope so. I enjoy my walk with Jesus in increasing amounts of awe and joy. I am encouraged by knowledge of the sovereignty of the Father. Seeing these world events and understanding where we are on the timetable of God’s prophetic clock, I’m struck with wonder at the vastness of His intelligence and the scope of human history- and grateful that I am a part of His kingdom.

Yes, the days are difficult, and I mourn for people who are lost in sin and I mourn for my own sins. But though the events we read about here and elsewhere far from saddening me, make me think of Exodus 15:11

Who among the gods is like you, LORD? Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?

In the current phase of Christianity, many have lost that sense of awe. I think it is because many popular teachers and preachers have taught and preached a raised up man. The excessive focus on our prosperity, our self-esteem, our pits, our problems, combined emphasis of His love to us, His friendship with us, His “romance” of us the Bride, downplaying majesty, wrath holiness, and reverence, has resulted in a lowered God. With our eyes on man, we lose focus. Man is not awe-inspiring, man is ‘awe-ful’! Look to Christ.

Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. (Isaiah 45:22).

Too often Western Christianity looks to Him as a friend, (which He is) but in looking at Him only as friend, through that one facet, and not so much as Sovereign King, Judge, and Holy God. This looking exclusively at Jesus through one facet has allowed many to devolve His status in their minds from friend to ‘old buddy, pal o’ mine.’

Quite simply, western Christianity by and large does not have a transcendent view of God anymore, and thus a sense of awe is lost. This particularly applies to prophecy.

Only a Sovereign God expressing His will upon the world knows the end from the beginning. Only He at His will and pleasure states what will happen in a thousand years, or six thousand years, and it comes to pass exactly as He said!

Habakkuk finally got it, saying in chapter three:

Yet I will quietly wait for the day of trouble to come upon people who invade us. Then he said,

Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places.

No matter how low the world gets, the Lord makes me tread on high places. Let our Holy awe of Him be a mixture of love, reverence, and fear.

He is coming soon. (Revelation 22:20).

coming again verse

 

Posted in discernment, Uncategorized

Discernment in entertainment is really cultural discernment, and we need it

theater sign

We are told to be in the world but not of the world. What this means is we have to know the world if we’re in it. Not love it. Not cater to it. Not compromise with it. But we have to be aware.

so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs. (1 Corinthians 2:11).

Be sober-minded and alert. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)

I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. (John 17:14-15).

Because being IN the world means you take in a movie once in a while, or read a book, or attend a poetry slam, or visit an art museum…Entertainment is a fact of life, sometimes a quite nice fact!

Here are three resources to keep in mind for when you take in the messages of the world. Movies, for example, are not non-theological. They do have a message. These resources help you discern that message and how to combat it as you make your entertainment choices.

#1- Start with this short article from Ligonier:

TableTalk: Discerning Entertainment
by Burk Parsons

Entertainment of all sorts can be a wonderful way to rest and recuperate from the busyness, noise, and struggles of life. … But we must always guard our eyes and our hearts. For we cannot even begin to understand all the ways that Hollywood has affected us. Entertainment affects our minds, our homes, our culture, and our churches. Consequently, we must be vigilant as we use discernment in how we enjoy entertainment—looking to the light of God’s Word to guide us and inform our consciences.

#2- Professor Grant Horner is professor at The Master’s University and has written a book on discerning entertainment called Meaning at the Movies: Becoming a Discerning Viewer. This first one is a link to an article discussing his 2011 book.

It’s All About the Fall

Author Grant Horner believes every film is ultimately about the human condition—and that watching movies is serious business that requires solid discernment. The article asks Horner the following questions and more.

Your book doesn’t list movies we should or shouldn’t watch as Christians. Why not?
But is there a standard or a cutoff point you go by?
Many people limit “discernment” to avoiding the negatives: If a film doesn’t have sex, violence, or bad language, it passes the test. Anything wrong with that approach?

Here is a link to Dr Horner’s book:

Meaning at the Movies: Becoming a Discerning Viewer
This is a purchaser’s summary of the book:

This is the best book I’ve read on the intersection of faith and film. The first chapter, which gives a biblical and theological explanation of art and culture, is worth more than the price of the book on its own. Horner uses Romans 1 to explain that all human production is characterized by both a knowledge of God and his truth and also the suppression of that knowledge. For this reason, Horner argues, we must be discerning when we watch movies. We can enjoy them and learn much from them, even when the film has been crafted by a non-Christian. But we also need to be discerning (even when the film has been crafted by a Christian). Horner’s book is well written and his arguments are persuasive. The last half of the book features an insightful look at a handful of important film genres, and in each case Horner gives a wonderful discussion of the genre itself, along with a theological look at why we find that particular genre appealing. This book should be required reading for anyone interested in faith and film, and I would recommend it to anyone wanting to understand the arts in general.

Here is part 1 of a ten-minute Youtube interview from the Full Circle Ladies with Grant Horner regarding his book on movies and discernment. And here is part 2.

#3- The Gospel Coalition has some things to say about discernment and teenagers, this nations’ largest consumer of entertainment.

Teach Teens Discernment
by Jaquelle Crowe
We cannot grow without discernment. Yet discernment isn’t a sort of hyper-criticism that turns you into an embittered watchdog sniffing out others’ mistakes. Instead it’s a holy call to discern what is pleasing to God and what is not (Rom. 12:1–2). It frees you to relish what’s beautiful and true, and to reject what’s ugly and false. Discernment equals growth.

The article deals with the following issues:

  • How to Explain Discernment to Teens
  • How to Help Teens Pursue Discernment
  • No In-Between

It’s high summer…may your entertainment be light and your days be long. 🙂