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Spiritual Awakening

Today’s Bible reading begins one of my favorite books of the Bible: Paul’s letter to the Romans. Paul begins his Magnum Opus Systematic Theology by laying out the gospel message with a description of man’s descent from the time of Creation to his day — and to our day.

Paul says that God’s wrath is already being revealed against ungodliness because mankind has been able to clearly see God’s revealed glory, and yet refused to acknowledge God’s existence. He wrote this around AD 57. And yet, little has changed.

When the Jewish people cried out to the prophet Samuel for a king (1Samuel 8), he warned them that they didn’t need a king, since God was their king. The people said they wanted to be like other nations and to do that, they needed a king. The people kept asking Samuel for a king until he gave them what they asked for: King Saul. And he did everything that God warned the people he would do. (1 Samuel 8:11–18) They got everything they wanted.

In Romans 1, Paul says that God gave the people what they wanted. And the very thing that they wanted became their judgment.

Claiming to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man, birds, four-footed animals, and reptiles. Claiming to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man, birds, four-footed animals, and reptiles. Therefore God delivered them over in the desires of their hearts to sexual impurity, so that their bodies were degraded among themselves. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served what has been created instead of the Creator, who is praised forever. Amen.
They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served what has been created instead of the Creator, who is praised forever. Amen.
For this reason God delivered them over to disgraceful passions. Their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. The men in the same way also left natural relations with women and were inflamed in their lust for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the appropriate penalty of their error.
And because they did not think it worthwhile to acknowledge God, God delivered them over to a corrupt mind so that they do what is not right. They are filled with all unrighteousness, evil, greed, and wickedness. They are full of envy, murder, quarrels, deceit, and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, arrogant, proud, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, senseless, untrustworthy, unloving, and unmerciful. Romans 1:22–31 (CSB)

Finally, Paul complete his description of God’s judgment against Fallen Mankind:

Although they know God’s just sentence—that those who practice such things deserve to die—they not only do them, but even applaud others who practice them. Romans 1:32 (CSB)

Paul says, it wasn’t enough that people sinned against God. They took it one final step further: they encouraged other people to sin.

Even in my lifetime, I have witnessed this descent played out in society’s acknowledgement to leniency to approval of the sins that Paul spells out here. God has given mankind what mankind has asked for.

Sexually confused, they abused and defiled one another, women with women, men with men—all lust, no love. And then they paid for it, oh, how they paid for it—emptied of God and love, godless and loveless wretches. Romans 1:27 (The Message)

Here in verse 27, Paul is referring to Isaiah’s warning:

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness, who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Isaiah 5:20 (CSB)

Application

You may not have personally participated in, approved, or encouraged other people to commit the sins that Paul spells out so clearly. But Mankind has. And America has. We, believers, are at least partially to blame for society’s sinful demise. We have not been the salt and light that we are called to be. (Matthew 5:13–16)

Believers, we must confess and repent for our own participation in the sins of our culture. And we must beg for God’s forgiveness, grace, and mercy for our nation’s sins. Our only hope of avoiding God’s wrath being poured out on us is to repent and pray. (2Chronicles 7:14)

Pray for God to send a spiritual awakening and revival, unlike anything our nation has ever experienced. Pray for the Holy Spirit to convict believers of their own sin, as well as our sin of silence while the world has gone to hell around them. Pray that pastors will faithfully speak God’s Word and disciple new (and old) believers in the faith. And pray that believers will hear God’s invitation to seek Him with all that they are.

If we don’t pray, no one will. Lost people definitely won’t do it!
Prayer is our job!

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It never ceases to amaze me. Despite Jesus’ clear words in today’s Bible reading, people still think they’ve figured out when Jesus will return.

Pre-millennial. A-millennial. Post-millennial. Pre-Trib. Post-Trib. Mid-Trib. The theological term is eschatology, the study of the End Times. I admit it, I’m not convinced of the details of the End Times. But I do know that Jesus will return for His bride.

Jesus gives us things to look for, but He never tells us when but He says you can tell the seasons by looking at a fig tree. (Matthew 24:32)

Why would Jesus not tell his disciples when He will return? Well, for one thing, He didn’t know! (Matthew 24:36) Other than that, I think the most convincing reason He didn’t tell them/us when He will return is that He knows our hearts. He knows that if He said He wouldn’t return until the Twenty-First Century, the missions movement of the past one hundred-fifty years probably wouldn’t have taken place. We think we can wait until the last minute to get right with God and get busy with Kingdom affairs.

Look around. Do you see a sense of urgency in the lives of churches around your town? Do you see a sense of urgency in the lives of the leaders in those churches?

Application

There’s no reason to fear the end-times … if you are a believer. Your eternal destiny is secure. But if you aren’t a believer, you have a lot to fear! Don’t hesitate! No one knows when Jesus will return! And no one knows when their own time is up! Don’t wait! Get right with God now!

Now, if you are a believer, your work isn’t done yet! Sure, your eternity is secure, but don’t you want to bring as many into the Kingdom of God as possible (here and now, as well as then!)? If you have breath in your lungs and if your heart is still beating, your work isn’t done yet! You can still tell people about Jesus. And you can still pray! Pray for God to create a spiritual awakening, that people will be drawn to Christ and that believers will pursue Gospel-centered conversations with lost friends and loved ones.

No, the work of God’s people is not yet done yet. And Jesus won’t return until it is. So, let’s engage in His business until He returns! (Luke 19:13)

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Jesus Christ is risen from the dead!
He has conquered sin and death!
He has made a way for us to be made right with a Holy God.

Trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary have installed Dr. Adam Greenway as the Ninth President of the Fort Worth Seminary. You can learn more about Dr. Greenway on Southwestern’s website. Given Dr. Greenway’s young age (41), I expect him to stay a long time.

One of my professors (from all those years ago) commented that news of his nomination by the presidential search committee was the most exciting news he had heard in a long time. I agree.

When I enrolled in 1985, Southwestern was known as the Cadillac of the Southern Baptist Seminaries. The library was the largest theological library in the world. The School had campuses in Oklahoma and Houston, among other places. There was a lot to be proud of!

At the same time, the SBC was in the throes of a contentious power struggle. Southwestern was the crown jewel of the Convention so it seemed to be Ground Zero of the conflict.

In the years following my graduation, many of my professors transferred to other SBC institutions. Others were shown the door in the months following Dr. Paige Patterson’s arrival on campus.

One day in 2004 I visited one of my professors. I only recognized a half-dozen names on the posted faculty Directory on the wall. The professor I was visiting said he had been told this would be his last year. He had not planned to retire yet and saw many more years of teaching in his future. Unfortunately, many students were robbed of his wisdom.

I’ve seen the Seminary’s enrollment go from its heights of well over 5000 Masters and Doctoral-level students in the 1980s to its current student population of 3000+ which includes undergraduates.

Call me crazy, but the general “feeling” on campus was different. At one point, I remarked that it felt “religious” (not in a good way). A couple of years ago, it just felt cold and dead.

Last year, just after Dr. Patterson’s termination, I drove across town to see if things felt different. They did. The flags that greeted visitors lifted a little in the breeze. It seemed a fresh wind was beginning to blow through.

I am looking forward to my next trip to campus! I’m interested to see how things have changed in light of the new administration.

On January 30, I asked the question, How low can we go? The context of this question had to do with how Virginia and New York seemed to be besting each other to be more liberal than the other.

And then I read about yesterday’s Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act (S. 130) that failed to pass in the Senate. If passed, the Bill would protect babies who survived an abortion, granting them full, protected human rights and would require medical professionals to report such situations.

Unfortunately, the bill which received somewhat bipartisan support failed to reach cloture (2/3 majority vote). Three Democrats voted in favor and no Republicans voted against, and three Republicans did not vote, Lisa Murkowski (AK), Kevin Cramer (ND), and Tim Scott (SC).

The bill couldn’t get a 2/3 majority vote! Who can’t vote to protect a living, post-birth baby?! This shouldn’t be considered a “Right vs. Left” issue. This is a “Right vs. Wrong” issue. Can we not agree on this basic definition?!

President Woodrow Wilson was right when he said of the US Senate,

“the only legislative body in the world which cannot act when its majority is ready for action. A little group of willful men, representing no opinion but their own, have rendered the great government of the United States helpless and contemptible.”

I commented on Facebook this morning, “The fact that this legislation didn’t sail through with 100% support is a terrible indictment on our nation. I honestly cannot see how any decent human being could vote against infanticide. God have mercy on us!”

“Decent human being”. Evidently, the bar for my definition is set too high.

It is past time for God’s people to fall on our knees and cry out to God to have mercy to us and to grant us the grace of a deep repentance. We need a Spiritual Awakening greater than the First and Second Great Awakenings to right this ship.


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