November 18, 1999
What if God is "giving us up"?
By JOHN ANDERSON www.cryministry.com
"I will return again to My place till they acknowledge their offense. Then they will seek My face. In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me." (Hosea 5:15)
"Oh unhappy men, when God leaves them to themselves, and does not resist them in their lust," Martin Luther said. "You have the curse of God on you!"
Luther was warning about that most alarming of judgments: being "given up" by God.
Three times Romans 1 declares, "God gave them up;" and author John Young says, "He gave them up to the consequences of their chosen way of life" to heterosexual immorality, homosexual perversion, and a reprobate mind (Romans 1:24, 26, 28).
About sinning Israel, God said, "Ephraim is joined to his idols; leave him alone." (Hosea 4:17)
Pastor and author John McArthur says in his book, The Vanishing Conscience, "[The Apostle Paul] reveals that those who ignore or suppress their conscience risk a dreadful judgment: God ultimately abandons such people to the devastating effects of their own sin."
And Maurice Roberts in Banner of Truth says, "We are, as a civilization, rotating back to the state of affairs depicted by the Apostle Paul in the first chapter of the Epistle to the Romans. It is summed up in one word: Decadence. Society today...is repeating the very vices which always provoke God to give the world over to its own sensuality and self-destruction."
Is God now abandoning us "to the devastating effects of our sin," and to our "own sensuality and destruction," where unrestrained sin becomes its own punishment?
Are we "risking a dreadful judgment"?
"That is exactly what we see happening in our nation," McArthur says. "It is also the record of human history nation after nation being abandoned by God after they first abandoned Him and became hopelessly enthralled with their own sin."
Francis Schaeffer wrote in Death in the City: "There is only one perspective we can have of the post-Christian world of our generation: an understanding that our culture and our country is under the wrath of God." Then he repeats, "Our [his emphasis] country is under the wrath of God." And again a few sentences later, "We are under the wrath of God."
Schaeffer also said: "[God] works in history on the basis of His character, and when His people and their culture turn away from Him, He works in history in judgment."
To contemplate such a reality is sobering.
But why shouldn't we be abandoned by God? What do we as a nation have to recommend ourselves, arrogant and imperious as we are, to a holy God? Why shouldn't we be forsaken by God when the blood of over 38 million of our aborted unborn cries to Him for justice, and our unblushing immorality heterosexual and homosexual rises to Him as a stench?
And why shouldn't God abandon us when we have deserted Him; when for generation we have increasingly been clamoring for Him to do leave us alone? Our word to Him, more and more been "get out, we no longer want You in our public life, we no longer want You in our schools, we no longer want Your values and standards, we no longer want You around"?
What could we say if God has taken us at our word and left us alone?
Is Luther's "curse of God" upon us, where we have been given over to our lusts, perversions and reprobate minds? Does this help explain our bold sin? Our self-absorption? Our murderous attitude toward our unborn? Our brazen filth and violence in our entertainment? Our indifference toward perversion? Our violence on our streets, or in our schools?
It could be. Archbishop Michael Ramsey says, "When men and nations turn away from God's laws, and prefer the courses dictated by pride and selfishness to the courses dictated by conscience, calamitous results follow. God is not absent from the contemporary scene; He is present, present in judgment through the catastrophes which follow human willfulness." Theologian Charles Hodge said: "[Men] array against themselves the wrath of God, who has revealed his purpose to abandon to the most degrading lusts those who apostatize from him...As they deserted God, so God abandoned them."
Our usual response toward any of this is denial, even disdain: "The Lord will do nothing, either good or bad!" (Zephaniah 1:12)
Our society urgently needs us in the pulpit to expound clearly on sin and judgment as Luther, Young, McArthur, Roberts, Schaeffer, Hodge, Ramsey and others have done. Our hearers may tremble. Let them tremble. Let us in the pulpit tremble first. Repentance may follow. However, if we truly love we will not hold back Truth.
There is hope. Hosea said that God would "return again to My place (leave them alone) till they acknowledge their offence. Then they will seek My face." (Hosea 5:15) God's purpose in leaving them was redemptive.
f we in the pulpit are hesitant to speak of the realities of judgment, we should remind ourselves that on the great day of judgment, condemned souls will hear the just sentence of abandonment, "Depart from me." And part of the terror of their eternal torment will be the horrendous awareness of being abandoned by God forever.
How many of them will curse the spongy message they heard from us?
It is the highest priority that we in the pulpit repent of any compromised, man-fearing message we may be giving; and then call our congregations and parishes to also repent. Because as Archbishop Ramsey warns us: "Divine judgment falls first upon God's people the Church...The Church shows the message of divine judgment to the world as she sees the judgment on herself and begins to mend her ways."
Let us join in prayer:
Our gracious and beautiful Heavenly Father, You would be entirely just in giving us up, abandoning us to our sin. It could well be that we are seeing the evidence of this in our midst. We humbly cry to you in repentance. Forgive us. Do not leave us alone. But in your mercy visit us once more with revival in your Church and spiritual awakening you our nation.
John Anderson has been in ministry over 34 years, including 24
serving three churches. Since 1988 he and his wife, Esther, have been
in traveling ministry across the world. Recently they have based their CRY
OF THE INNOCENTS MINISTRY near Washington, D.C. John is editor
of The Pastor's Alert, a publication of The
Alliance for Revival and Reformation. He is author of two
books, CRY OF THE INNOCENTS and THE CRY OF
COMPASSION. He and his wife travel extensively in speaking
engagements; and is one of those available from The Alliance
for such engagements. You can reach him via e-mail at CryMinJohn@aol.com.