4th July 2015
Letter from the Pastor
"God gave them over ..."
Historians viewing our generation will, I believe, look back upon these times as years of appalling decline, morally and spiritually, in the Western nations. This I believe to be particularly ironic, as socially we consider ourselves in these ‘first world nations’ to be ever more enlightened and advancing; but when the Bible is brought in to shine its holy and righteous standards upon our thinking, attitudes and actions, the opposite is abundantly seen. These are tragic days of declension.
I wonder how these future historians will track the downward progression. Perhaps looking back a few decades from our own day they will see the regression happening at a fairly slowish rate … but then this regression could well be compared to a man falling down a hill which becomes increasingly steeper, eventually leading to a sheer cliff, the downward movement becoming faster and faster… to the point where all and any control is lost and he just hurtles down to the point of devastating destruction.
Last month a significant step in the latter part of the West’s fall was witnessed, I believe. On the 22nd May the Republic of Ireland held a referendum on the question of so-called ‘same sex marriage’ – the motion passed, 62% in favour to 38% against. The Irish, traditionally strongly Roman Catholic, threw off any prohibitions and church teachings against this proposed travesty, and further embraced nationally and democratically what the Bible clearly speaks out against in both Old and New Testaments, using strong terms such as ‘abomination’ and ‘vile affection’.
Many just saw this as another nation following suite; others had already legislated for this wicked change, Britain doing so last year. But here, I believe, we see something different … something more serious … worse. For in the case of all other nations, it was the government, or in the case of the USA, the courts, who had taken the grave decision to take their country further down this path of iniquity; but now, the matter was presented to the people themselves; the question was asked of them … and they themselves decided against righteousness in favour of evil.
As we witness these tragic developments, with all wholesome morality unravelling at this fearful pace, such things can be daunting and fearful for us as the Lord’s people. We are witnessing, adapting the language of the Psalmist, the potentially terrifying phenomena of the nation’s moral mountains being carried into the midst of the sea. The heathen are raging against all the Bible, God’s Holy Word, has to say regarding righteousness and goodness. These are intimidating times for the remnant of God’s people in Western countries.
The Bible is not silent on such regressions – indeed it speaks clearly of such happening before the end comes and the Lord Jesus returns in power and glory. But even before, in the chapter quoted above, Romans 1, we read of the rapid and terrible decline that had come to pass two millennia ago in the ancient Roman Empire. They too had cast off the obvious truth of God’s creating the world, which had led to degrading moral declension; the end of the descent was a descent into the complete moral and social chaos described at the end of that chapter. It all sounds so frighteningly familiar!
But reading more carefully this revealing chapter of God’s Word, we see it gives a blessed and vital insight into what is going on spiritually throughout this decline. Phrases such as ‘Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness…’ (v24); ‘For this cause God gave them up to vile affections…’ (v26); and the verse mentioned at the top, (v28) ‘God gave them over…’ all show us that in truth it is God who is reigning and in command over all this apparent chaos and rebellion. Men, like those in the 2nd Psalm, may ‘rage and the people imagine a vain thing … the kings of the earth may set themselves, and the rulers may take counsel against the Lord and against His Christ’ – all to the end that they may throw off all moral and spiritual restraint; but this does not alter the truth that the Lord’s Christ reigns, even in the midst of His enemies! He, in His righteous judgments, is the One giving such men up to the madness of their own passions and ungodly desires; God is the One who is giving them over to their sinful ways. He is still reigning, with unrestrained power and authority over all His world, ruling with wonderful wisdom and glory over all the affairs of men in that world.
And these things are to be a strength and comfort to us, as we see them in His Word, and believe and rest in them. For it is said of Christ that ‘He is head over all things … to the church’! Eph. 1v22. Seeing these things are so, surely it is for us to come to the same place as the Psalmist in that 46th Psalm did: to hear the voice of the Lord commanding us to ‘be still and know that I am God’ – even God over all that we see crumbling around us in these days of spiritual and moral decline. To be still and assured that this same God shall bring all this evil to an end, wrap up this world, judge His enemies and gloriously bring His people to the pure, happy and holy place of heaven. In the words of the dear Lord Jesus, speaking of the fearful days just before His return … ‘when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh’