This sermon is number 2 in a series of 5
The God Of Justice - Part 2
"The First Charge, Aimlessness"
by David Legge | Copyright © 2011 | All Rights Reserved | www.preachtheword.com
Good evening to you all again, it's wonderful to be here, and to see so many gathered in the congregation tonight to hear the word of God. Thank you for coming, we do trust together that we will know the blessing of God as we have already been knowing these mornings and last evening. We're turning in our Bibles to the prophet Amos, if you have a copy of the word of God do turn with me there - it's three books after Daniel, so if you can find Ezekiel and then Daniel, you'll find Amos. We are in chapter 3 tonight, last evening we looked at chapters 1 and 2.
Amos chapter 3, we've taken as our title 'The God of Justice', and last night, if you weren't here, we looked at 'The Accused' - who God was accusing in the nations, and Judah and Israel, for their sin. Tonight we're looking at what I have called the first charge against Israel, and that is of 'Aimlessness'. Verse 1, and we're only reading chapter 3: "Hear this word that the LORD has spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying: 'You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities'. Can two walk together, unless they are agreed? Will a lion roar in the forest, when he has no prey? Will a young lion cry out of his den, if he has caught nothing? Will a bird fall into a snare on the earth, where there is no trap for it? Will a snare spring up from the earth, if it has caught nothing at all? If a trumpet is blown in a city, will not the people be afraid? If there is calamity in a city, will not the LORD have done it? Surely the Lord GOD does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets. A lion has roared! Who will not fear? The Lord GOD has spoken! Who can but prophesy? 'Proclaim in the palaces at Ashdod, and in the palaces in the land of Egypt, and say: 'Assemble on the mountains of Samaria; see great tumults in her midst, and the oppressed within her. For they do not know to do right', says the LORD, 'Who store up violence and robbery in their palaces''. Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: 'An adversary shall be all around the land; he shall sap your strength from you, and your palaces shall be plundered'. Thus says the LORD: 'As a shepherd takes from the mouth of a lion two legs or a piece of an ear, So shall the children of Israel be taken out who dwell in Samaria; in the corner of a bed and on the edge of a couch! Hear and testify against the house of Jacob', says the Lord GOD, the God of hosts, 'That in the day I punish Israel for their transgressions, I will also visit destruction on the altars of Bethel; and the horns of the altar shall be cut off and fall to the ground. I will destroy the winter house along with the summer house; the houses of ivory shall perish, and the great houses shall have an end', says the LORD". Amen.
Let us pray together, and as I said last evening and will do each night, if you're in touch with God I invite you to come with me now as we unite in prayer, and let there ascend to God now a real supplication that He might speak to us. I hope you want to meet with God - I know, standing here in the pulpit, I need to meet with God, and I hope you need to meet with God and feel your need of that, and are seeking and searching after Him and His voice tonight. If you're not, search your heart right now. You're maybe not a Christian, you're not born-again, or you're not right with God as a Christian. Well, come now, and say: 'Lord, speak to me'. Father, we thank You that You are the God who is, and is not silent. You are the God who speaks, You have something to say to us and to this generation in which we live. Oh God, we thank you for that promise that he that comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Lord, we seek You tonight; Lord, we seek Your face; Lord, we cry to You tonight to meet with us. Come Almighty to deliver, descend to us we pray, cast out our sin and enter in, be born in us today. Lord, meet every need. We were hearing this morning about Isaiah who confessed: 'Woe is me!', and when he confessed his need You met him immediately at the point of his need. Lord, meet my need, meet all our needs. Lord, we need You, we need Your grace, we need Your mercy, we need Your power, we need the outpouring of Your Spirit. So, in the name of our Lord Jesus, crucified and risen and exalted, we pray for the Holy Spirit to come and minister the truth of God. Help me, O God, I pray in the mighty name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Having announced judgement upon six Gentile nations in chapter 1 and the first three verses of chapter 2, Amos the prophet turns his attention to God's people. He starts with Judah from verse 4 on of chapter 2, and then he turns to Israel and he explains why judgement is coming upon them. They expected, of course, that God should judge the Gentiles, but they were shocked when God's prophet turned to them and seemed to be all the more scorching in his checking of their transgression and iniquity. You will remember, if you were here last night, that the Northern Kingdom of Israel - the nation was divided into two kingdoms, ten tribes to the north, two to the south, the north Israel, the south Judah - the Northern Kingdom of Israel that Amos is preaching to was enjoying relative peace, prosperity, and even a pseudo-religious revival of sorts. Things were going well, and people were attending their religious services. You need to be thankful for that, don't you - and when they came to the religious services, they were bringing with them generous offerings and gifts. To all intents and purposes, to the naked eye, everything seemed to be going well in the North - but here's a lesson that you will learn tonight, and right throughout this series: things are not always as they seem. Do you know that? True prophets of God do not look at the outward appearance only, true prophets of God look as God looks, they behold the heart. Cosmetically, as far as Israel was concerned, it was the best of times; but spiritually, as the prophet could see, and as God could see, it was the worst of times.
In chapter 3 right through to chapter 6 Amos preaches three sermons. I've called them three charges, and he introduces each of them with this cry - verse 1 of chapter 3: 'Hear this word', verse 1 of chapter 4 'Hear this word', verse 1 of chapter 5 'Hear this word'. He wants them to hear the word of God, and the challenge for the people of Israel in his day and the challenge for us in our day is: will we look at things the way they seem to be, or will we hear this word, the word of God? Will we see things the way God sees them to be in our land, in the church, in our homes, in our families, in our own individual lives? Will we observe things the way they seem to be, or will we listen to God? You see, all might appear to be well, but the great issue is: how does God see it? Amos, whose name we saw means 'burdened', he was burdened because he did not unquestioningly accept the popular opinion on the status quo of the conditions that prevailed economically, politically, and religiously - but his ear was toward God, and because of that he was troubled with the very burden of God.
So his first message is what we're going to look at tonight in chapter 3, and effectively it is a justification from the prophet of why he is preaching judgement upon the people of God. You see, Israel were protesting, they were saying something like this: 'How can our God, our covenant God Jehovah, send judgement upon us? We are His chosen people!'. Of course, we know from Deuteronomy chapter 7 that that is the case, God very tenderly says to them there: 'The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the LORD loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the LORD has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt'. But you see, though they were chosen by God, that was the very reason why God was judging them. They protested: 'We're Your elect people!', and God is saying to them, 'Well, that's why I'm judging you'.
So the first point, if you like, of this sermon of his, or his charge to them, in a justification of why he is preaching judgement, is this: 'I am preaching judgement to you because of your election'. 'You are God's people', in verses 1 and 2 he says that, 'I brought you up out of the land of Egypt', verse 2, 'You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities'. You see, the Lord had delivered Israel from Egyptian bondage, and called them to be a special people, a holy people, a witness to the nations roundabout, and that was the very reason for their judgement - not an excuse to get out of it. Can I say that the same applies to the church of Jesus Christ today? Now, of course there is a great debate on election, and I'll not ask you to put your hand up if you're a Calvinist - but they usually shoot their hands up anyway! - or if you're an Arminian... and you're wondering 'Well, what are you?'. Well, I've probably been both, and sometimes at the same time - that'll really confuse you tonight! I have my beliefs about these great doctrines as they are, because they're biblical doctrines in the word of God, but most of the discussion that goes on about election and predestination is absolutely profitless. They are precious doctrines, but a lot of the debate causes more hot air and heat than light. But whatever your views on these great doctrines, I think I'm safe in saying that all camps are in agreement that biblical election always has a purpose in view. However God's people are elected, it's always with a purpose. Israel was elected by God to be the national witness to Jehovah to all the Gentile nations roundabout, and in the same way the church has been elected in Christ to be, as Jesus says, the light of the world - Matthew chapter 5: 'You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven'.
You see, election is always for a purpose. The Lord Jesus said this Himself in John 15:16 to the Apostles: 'You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you'. Paul the apostle again, in that great chapter of Ephesians 1, where he touches upon predestination and election, says: 'Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy', there's the purpose, 'and without blame before Him in love'. Do you see it? Election is for a purpose, and we saw last night that where there is privilege - and there is a great privilege in being part of God's community - there is also responsibility. If you're a person tonight that celebrates the biblical doctrine of election, however you understand it, do you also understand the grave responsibility that there is in being a witness to Christ in this day and generation? Because with privilege comes responsibility, and with responsibility there is accountability. You are accountable for being a part of the church. 'I don't know why you preach about the sins of Christians', a church member said to the pastor after a service, 'After all', they said, 'the sins of Christians are different from the sins of unsaved people'. The minister replied like this: 'Yes, they are different, they're worse!'. They are, because of our election. That's why Amos was justified in bringing a message of judgement to Israel and Judah, because of their election - God had saved them at a very great price, and yet it wasn't as great a price as it cost to save you, child of God, the blood of Jesus!
It's serious, that's why Christians sinning is a serious matter, that's why endemic sin in the church is a serious matter - because, as Peter said in 1 Peter 4:17, judgement must begin at the house of God. That's what you find in Amos and many of the other minor and major prophets: God coming to visit His people with a message of judgement - why? Because higher standards are required and expected of those who belong to God. So he cites first of all their election as a justification of this strong message, but secondly Israel personalises their protest. That's often what happens, you see, they start attacking the preacher. They were in effect saying: 'What right has this common herdsman, this farmer, shepherd, to denounce us and to warn us of judgement? Who does he think he is? He's not even a professional prophet, his father wasn't a prophet, and he never went to a prophetic seminary'. So Amos cites God's commission of him as a prophet as the justification of him bringing this message of judgement. We see it in verse 3: 'Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?'. You see, Amos and God were walking together because they were agreed.
Look at verse 4: 'Will a lion roar in the forest, when he has no prey? Will a young lion cry out of his den, if he has caught nothing?'. Then verse 8: 'A lion has roared! Who will not fear? The Lord GOD has spoken! Who can but prophesy?'. We saw last night from chapter 1 and verse 2 that God was roaring like a lion to Israel and Judah. This was God's message, He's roaring in His wrath! And Amos was in agreement with God on everything, because he was walking with God. In fact what God was doing, in verse 5 we read, He was setting a trap for sinners: 'Will a bird fall into a snare on the earth, where there is no trap for it?'. Israel would be overcome, as we know, by that Northern Empire of the Assyrians; and the southern kingdom of Judah would be overcome and taken into exile into Babylon, another great empire. All Amos was doing was, as he says here in verse 6, he was blowing a trumpet to warn the people that this God of justice was coming to His people to judge them, the judgement was going to start at God's house!
Now here's the reason why God's people had to be warned by the prophet: they had to be warned because they were not walking with God. They were not walking with God, and therefore the consequence was that they were not hearing from God, because they were not in agreement with God like the prophet was. God had shared His secrets with Amos so that he might preach it, blow it like a trumpet and warn them. Now, there are many great lessons here that I don't have time to go into tonight, some of which are important regarding the gift of the prophet, both in the Old and the New Testament, and how God, when He's going to reveal something, He reveals to His prophets first that they might warn people. It's amazing - but here God shares with His intimate, His confidant Amos, the secrets of His heart. I'll tell you this: I don't know much, but I know this much, that we need a prophetic edge in our pulpits today. We need, effectively, a prophetic voice, men who will speak to the times because they have heard directly from God - that's what Amos was, he was a nobody as far as the theological boffins were concerned, he wasn't an ecclesiastic, but he was a farmer who God had met. Because he was walking with God, and was in agreement with God, he heard from God and he heralded forth the message that he heard - and that's always the way it is.
In Proverbs 29 and verse 18 the Authorised Version reads: 'Where there is no vision, the people perish'. Sometimes I think we miss the point of that translation that we have become so familiar with. Here's what it actually means: 'Where there is no revelation', that type of vision, 'the people cast off restraint'. When there is no one to tell us what God is saying, the people do what they like - God's people! In fact, you have an amazing illustration of this in 1 Samuel during the period of the Judges. You remember that there is this great epitaph over that epoch: 'Every man did that which was right in his own eyes, there was no King in Israel'. Eli the priest was blind, what a metaphor of God's people in those days - blind through their sins. Eli's sons, the Bible says, corrupted themselves and did not know the Lord. Do you know what God had to do? He had to speak to a child, Samuel. No one was walking with God or agreeing with God, and we read in 1 Samuel 3 and verse 1: 'Then the boy Samuel ministered to the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no open vision', or there was no 'widespread vision' - and because there was no open revelation, the people cast off restraint. Do you see this?
God revealed His heart to Amos because, though he was a nobody in the eyes of most people, he was in touch with God. Now, education is good, and I thank God for the thimbleful that I have. Experience is great, and many of you have much more than I. Gifting is a tremendous thing from the hand of a gracious God, and biblical knowledge is essential when it comes to preaching - but none of those things will make a Holy Ghost prophet! Psalm 25 verse 14 says: 'The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, and He will show them His covenant'. Do you understand? You've got to walk with God. It was Murray M'Cheyne, that great Scots Presbyterian, who said: 'It is not great talents God blesses, so much as great likeness to Jesus' - I like that. Do you know that you become like those you spend time with, those you walk with? Only a man walking with God could hear from God in order to speak for God and say: 'Hear this word! Hear this word! Hear this word!'.
Can I ask you a question: who is speaking for God today? I don't want you to misunderstand me, because there are plenty of speakers about - but you can teach a parrot to speak, in fact God made a donkey to speak! There are sermons for every occasion freely available to preach verbatim, you can download them off the Internet - but where are the prophets for God, walking with God, agreeing with God, speaking for God because they have heard from God? We have a shortage, I believe, of men and women speaking for God - because few people are truly walking with God! Just before the outbreak of the revival in the Hebrides, Duncan Campbell was met at the pier of Lewis by a minister and two of his office bearers. Just as he stepped off the boat an old elder came over to him and faced him with these words: 'Mr Campbell, can I ask you this question: are you walking with God?'. Duncan Campbell said: 'Oh, here were men who meant business, men who were afraid that a strange hand would touch the Ark'.
Can I ask you tonight, Christian: are you walking with God? 'What does it mean', you say, 'to walk with God?'. Well, I haven't got time to go into all that it might mean - there are many sermons, this could be a series! We are told to 'walk in the light as He is in the light', confess our sins, that's part of what it is to walk with God - keep short accounts. We're told to 'walk circumspectly', that means walk wisely, carefully, not as fools. There are many things that could tell us how to walk with God, but I want to stick to the text tonight, chapter 3 and verse 3, Amos says: 'Can two walk together, except they be agreed?'. To walk with God is to be in agreement with God, and if you want to receive God's burden - and maybe you don't, because it's a very painful and very inconvenient thing to receive from God at times - but if you want to get in touch with God, like Amos, for God's people and for our land; if you would look beyond the superficial, the way things seem to be, and see things the way God beholds them - that's what vision means, to see things the way they really are - and if you would speak to God for this generation, and I'm not just talking about preachers because all of us are meant to be gossiping the gospel, all of us, as we heard this morning, are meant to be speaking for Jesus Christ; and if we want to make an impact on this day and generation in which we live we've got to walk with God - and that means agreeing with God!
Maybe you're not fully understanding what I'm getting at tonight. I remember years ago I had the privilege of entertaining the late Dr Rex Mathie in my home, he was preaching in our pulpit. I had time to talk intimately with him, and one of the questions that was searching my heart at that time was what, in essence, the fullness of the Holy Spirit was. I asked him: 'What would you say the fullness of the Holy Spirit is? Whatever that initial experience might be, maintaining it in your daily everyday life?'. He said: 'David, I believe the fullness of the Holy Spirit is the other side of the coin of the Lordship of Jesus Christ', and here's how he put it to me, 'David, when you and Jesus aren't arguing about anything you will be full of the Holy Spirit'. Can two walk together except they be agreed? I wonder here tonight are you and Jesus arguing about something? Can two walk together except they be agreed?
C.T. Studd on one occasion was on furlough, and he decided to go to the Keswick Convention. F.B. Meyer happened to be the speaker on that occasion, and in one of the sessions C.T. Studd was asked to come to the platform impromptu and give a 15 minute report on his work in Africa. He did that, and there was an amazing thing happened in that meeting: God came down. A sense of God's Spirit filled the place, and there was a brokenness on the congregation, and people began to weep as he related to them his experience of serving the Lord on that great continent. When he got down from the pulpit, F.B. Meyer, well, he didn't really know what to do. He could hardly preach. After the meeting Meyer came and sought out Studd, and he just said these three words to him: 'What is it?'. He was meaning: 'What happened? How did you do that?' - but of course it wasn't him, it was God. This is what C.T. Studd said to F.B. Meyer, a great expositor and preacher of the word of God, he couldn't have been anything else to be at Keswick Convention, and C.T. Studd, that broken missionary, said: 'Have you given all of the keys of your life to Jesus Christ?'. Do you know what that means? Like the keys of your house, to every room, have you given every compartment, every secret place to Jesus Christ, that He might fill it?
Meyer realised that he had never done that, and so that evening, after the convention, he went alone with God and he began to give the keys over to Him. He gave the key of family, he gave the key of possessions, he give the key of his future and his health, and he tried to do in Hebrews 12 what we're called to do: to lay aside every sin, and the weight that weighs us down, keeping us from running the race - but there was one key in F.B. Meyer's life that was a real problem in giving over. Do you know what it was? It was his popularity as a preacher, it was his reputation as an expositor of the word of God - he couldn't give it up! He heard God's Spirit speak to him in that moment, in that crisis, and God said: 'Everything or nothing! Partial obedience is disobedience'. Like Jacob, he wrestled with God, and he broke through and he gave up his reputation and God came and met him!
Can I ask you tonight: have you given all the keys of your life to the Lord? That's what it means to walk with God, to be in agreement with Him, not to be arguing with Him about anything. C.T. Studd and F.B. Meyer became great friends after that event, and they just called one another 'C.T.' and 'F.B.'. C.T. later came on furlough to another Keswick Convention were F.B. Meyer again was the speaker, and they shared a tent with one another. Early in the morning F.B. was woken up by C.T. on his knees with a candle lit and an open Bible, and he was weeping. F.B. Meyer said to him: 'What is wrong, brother? What are you doing?', and the tears came streaming down his cheeks, and he said, 'The Lord spoke to me this morning when I woke, and He said 'If you love Me, keep My Commandments', and there are so many that I have not obeyed!' - that was C.T. Studd! The reason for God's blessing on his life was that he walked with God, which meant he was in agreement with God.
They were questioning Amos as the prophet of God, his message of judgement, and he told them: 'It is justified because of your election, God expects more of you, but it is justified because of my commission as a prophet. I am walking with God, and I am in agreement with God, that's why I have heard from God - but you are not'. Effectively what he was saying was, blowing this trumpet of judgement: there are consequences when you reject God's commissioned prophets, when His prophets cry, 'Hear this word!', and you don't listen. In verse 3 right through to verse 8, we read it, the prophet effectively was saying: 'Judgement is not descending without a reason' - and if you look at these illustrations, they are all about effect and cause. He asks seven cause and effect questions which are showing these people that the judgement that is coming is directly related to their iniquity and their backsliding, and because essentially they have disregarded the word of God.
Why should Amos preach a message of judgement? They were God's elect people, he was God's commissioned prophet, but something else: the world's reaction roundabout Israel was a reason why judgement was coming. Look at verses 9 and 10: ''Proclaim in the palaces at Ashdod, and in the palaces in the land of Egypt, and say: 'Assemble on the mountains of Samaria; see great tumults in her midst, and the oppressed within her. For they do not know to do right', says the LORD, 'Who store up violence and robbery in their palaces''. What Amos was doing in verse 9, if you look at, is: he was summoning the Gentile nations roundabout, Ashdod is Philstia, the Philistines, and you know where Egypt is, and he is summoning them to witness against the Northern Kingdom whose capital was Samaria, mentioned there at the end of verse 9, he's calling them to witness against Samaria because Israel's sin was so great that it even appalled the Gentile pagan idolaters! Was God justified in bringing judgement on Israel? Yes, not just because of their election and because of the prophet's commission, but because of the world's reaction: what a travesty it is when the world catches Christians and the church in sin!
David's adultery with Bathsheba gave, the Bible says, great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme. I mentioned last evening the church at Corinth - oh, they're called saints of God in chapter 1, and they are a very charismatic church, they are gifted more than any church was, it would appear, at that time. Yet they were getting drunk around the Lord's Table, they were taking one another to court and washing their dirty linen in public, we read in 1 Corinthians 5:1: 'It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles; that a man has his father's wife!' - incest and fornication. Do you see what was happening here within the church? What an indictment, that the world could look on and say: 'What are these Christians playing at? Look what they're getting up to!'. You tell me tonight, you tell me that that's not what the world has been saying in this last year alone! What an awful indictment can be found in verse 10, one translation puts the beginning of the verse like this: 'They do not know how to do right'. Imagine such a statement of God's people: they do not know how to do right!
Their greed, their idols, they had perverted in every way imaginable, they were addicted to affluence and all sorts of sin. They were like the rich farmer that we so aptly apply to unconverted people: 'I will tear down my barns and build greater ones', and God said, 'You fool! For this night your soul will be required of you, and then whose shall those things be which you have provided?'. If you're here tonight and you're not saved, you need to sit up - and I know I'm preaching primarily to Christians, but this is all applicable to you: judgement day is coming! You will give an account to God, and God, though He is a loving God, and He sent the blessed Saviour, the Lamb of God to Calvary, and He suffered in your place and bore your shame and took your hell and your wrath to forgive you - if you will not repent and believe the gospel, you will have that wrath visited upon you for all eternity! Yet the church is guilty, like Laodicea who had to answer to God, this sovereign God, in Jesus Christ - that Judge-Priest who we see in the opening chapters of the book with flaming eyes of fire, x-ray eyes, with feet of brass, judgement feet - and He's walking as a Judge-Priest in the midst of the candlestick lampstands representing those seven churches of Asia, and what is He doing? He's assessing them, He's weighing them, and He is saying this: 'Let him who has ears to hear, hear what the Spirit says to the church' - like Amos, 'Hear this word!'. God is roaring like a lion - do you hear Him? Laodicea said: 'I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing', and Jesus said, 'You do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked'.
God will judge those, Amos teaches, who use violence and injustice to gain possessions and power, verse 10. In verse 11 we read that Israel would fall to an enemy, and of course that happened in 722 BC when the Assyrians came. They might be resting on their ivory beds in their expensive mansions, their summer houses and their winter houses would be stripped from them, and they would be led off as prisoners of war. The wealthy would have no houses at all, though they had many; and their man-made religious security in Bethel, where they had set up their own religious denomination, if you like, it would be obliterated. Imagine what is happening here - it's tantamount to what Isaiah said in Isaiah 63:10, listen: 'They rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit; So He', God, 'turned Himself against them as an enemy, and He fought against them'. There would be little left of Israel, verse 12 shows us: 'As a shepherd takes from the mouth of a lion two legs or a piece of an ear, so shall the children of Israel be taken out who dwell in Samaria'. Remember who the lion is here, it is God - and in the book of Exodus the law laid down that if a shepherd lost an animal, he had to pay for that animal. The only way he could get out of paying for it was to prove that it had been killed by a wild beast, and he did that by bringing home some of the parts that were not devoured - so he would have had to get from the teeth of the lion an arm or an ear or something like that. Amos is saying: 'God is roaring against His people as a lion, and the nation will not repent, they will not listen - and soon there would be none left but a remnant'.
Now I'm going to make a statement - and you don't have to agree with it, but I believe it's true. From human perspective - mark now, from human perspective - the church is only ever one generation away from extinction. From human perspective the church is only ever, in any locality or geographical location, one generation away from extinction. Someone has said: 'The church that marries the spirit of the age will be a widow in the next'. If she will not hear God's voice, if she will not walk with God, if she will not agree with God, it is probable that she, in that geographical location, is heading for extinction. I know Jesus said: 'I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it' - but let me tell you this: the churches of Asia Minor that Jesus spoke to, many of them were extinct in several years' time because they didn't repent. God is building His church, there is revival in China and many other parts of the world, God is doing it - but I have a burden tonight for here, I have a burden for Ireland and for the United Kingdom. Friends, if the churches don't repent there is judgement!
C.H. Spurgeon said about worldliness in the church, listen, I'm almost finished: 'I believe that one reason why the church of God at this present time has so little influence over the world' - that was in Spurgeon's day - 'it is because the world has so much influence over the church'. He further said: 'Put your finger on any prosperous period in church history, and I will find a little marginal note reading thus: 'In this age men could readily see where the church began and where the world ended'. Never were there good times when the church and the world were joined in marriage with one another. The more the church is distinct from the world in her acts and in her actions, the more true is her testimony for Christ, and the more potent is her witness against sin'. Addressing a National Seminar in the Southern Baptist denomination, George Gallup, who takes Gallup polls, spoke to the leaders of that church and said: 'We find there is very little difference in ethical behaviour between churchgoers and those who are not actively religious. The levels of lying, cheating and stealing are remarkably similar in both groups. Eight out of ten Americans consider themselves Christians', Gallup said, 'yet only about half of them could identify the person who gave the Sermon on the Mount, and fewer still could recall five of the Ten Commandments. Only 2 in 10 said they would be willing to suffer for their faith'. Donald Gray Barnhouse, a great preacher of bygone days, said this: 'Some years ago musicians noted that errand boys in a certain part of London all whistled out of tune as they went about their work. It was talked about, and someone suggested that it was because the bells of Westminster Abbey where slightly out of tune. Something had gone wrong with the chimes and they were discordant, and the boys did not know there was anything wrong with the peals, and quite unconsciously they had copied their pitch'.
The church that marries the spirit of the age will be a widow in the next. Are you walking with God? Are you in agreement with God? Are you hearing from God? Are you speaking for God? Let us pray. As we have looked at the aimlessness of God's people who were wayward, going in no direction because they were not walking with Him, in these closing moments analyse your heart. If you were asked the question Duncan Campbell was asked, how would you answer? Oh my friends, what are you arguing with Jesus about? Who here tonight will settle the matter? Maybe there is an unsaved person who will not repent of a particular sin because you love it - will you repent of it tonight and realise that Jesus will give you the power over it? But you must change your mind and allow Him to come in and change your heart. Backslidden believer, maybe it's something in your life that you're wedded to, and it's got a stronghold now, a foothold in your life - will you come tonight, while the Spirit of God is here, and dealing with people, and say: 'God help me, I can't help myself! But Lord I will walk with You, I reach out my hand' - as Bill sang earlier - 'I reach out my hand, take it and walk with me'. But wait till I tell you: all of us, all of us need to repent daily, we need to die daily, we need to take up our cross and follow daily.
Father, I pray tonight that You will do something, something supernatural, something significant and lasting in my heart, in all our hearts, in our homes, in our land. Oh God, we hear You roaring, God of justice, let us be close enough to listen. Amen.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at the Annual Christian Police Association meetings in Portrush, Northern Ireland, by David Legge. It was transcribed from the second recording in his 'The God Of Justice' series, entitled "The First Charge, Aimlessness" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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