PART I- LIVING THE DAYS OF NOAH
“And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.” (Lk 17:26-27)
We were watching a Ray Comfort video the other day at church in which he was interviewing people, near a campus perhaps – and a good number of them claimed to be Christian. And in the course of questioning they freely – and unrepentantly and unashamedly – admitted to a list of behaviors that the Bible labels as sin. It was like there was no understanding of what it means to be a follower of Christ. They confessed to blasphemy, stealing, lying, watching R-rated movies, having sex outside of marriage, stealing….and on and on. And they did so without a hint of remorse or godly sorrow. It served as a sobering reminder of the depth to which our social fabric has fallen. It was a picture of the fallenness of the Church, the failure to pass on even the very basics of the faith. The interviews presented a snapshot of failure. In the first chapter of Isaiah, the prophet communicates God’s indictment of the nation of Israel, a people once-dedicated to the purposes of God. As you read these words, apply them to our own country, to America. We too were once dedicated to God in our founding; at Jamestown and Plymouth and in New York at Washington’s first inauguration.
Does this apply to the United States? Though not in the same sense as Israel, we too were once God’s own. We were a land built upon a Judeo-Christian foundation. God blessed us with abundance and peace. But we’ve wandered far from those founding principles. We’ve forgotten the God of our youth. Some of our leaders have taken pride in our 60 million legal abortions since Roe-v-Wade. Now we’ve set aside God’s law for marriage between a man and a woman. We flaunt his statutes and then stupidly wonder at the chaos that follow. Setting aside His laws we have become like those the Apostle Paul wrote about in Romans 1:22. “Professing to be wise, they became fools.” So as a culture we’ve denied God’s existence – or declared Him irrelevant. And when “they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind.” (Romans 1:28) We’ve become like Russia during the years of the Soviet Union. When asked how that nation had come to that sorry state under Communist control, the great author Alexander Solzhenitsyn answered with the words he had heard as a child. “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”[i] America was once there….but now we “have turned away backward.”“Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth! For the Lord has spoken: – [This is a solemn decree from the Lord of the Universe to all of creation.] –‘I have nourished and brought up children, And they have rebelled against Me; – [This decree is pronounced against God’s own children. Once dedicated to God but now in open rebellion.] – The ox knows its owner And the donkey its master’s crib; But Israel does not know, My people do not consider.’ – [They no longer contemplate on or appreciate the blessings and ways of God.] – Alas, sinful nation, A people laden with iniquity, A brood of evildoers, Children who are corrupters! They have forsaken the Lord, They have provoked to anger The Holy One of Israel, They have turned away backward.” (Isaiah 1:2-4)
That apostasy comes with a cost. Do we see America in any of this? Isaiah 1:7: “Your country is desolate, Your cities are burned with fire, Strangers devour your land in your presence.” – [Strangers devouring the land!] – But it comes with a thread of hope….for those that remain faithful. Verse 9: “Unless the Lord of Hosts had left to us a very small remnant, We would have become like Sodom.” – [Recall that in Sodom, God could not find ten righteous.] In verse 10 he compares them to the “rulers of Sodom,” that morally-flawed cesspool of a city. [Are we even much better, celebrating our sin with parades and laws that make it a hate crime to follow one’s conscience in adhering to God’s laws?]
Then God turns to the practice of religion with its pharisaical hypocrisy. Verse 11: “I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams And the fat of fed cattle. I do not delight in the blood of bulls, Or of lambs or goats.” Verse 13: “Bring no more futile sacrifices: Incense is an abomination to me.” This is reiterated in Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy. He begins chapter three by rattling off a list of sins that will characterize the condition of mankind in the Last Days. “For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.” (2Timothy 3:2-4) And then he comes to this most-damning of conclusions, when he describes them as “having a form of godliness but denying its power.” (2Timothy 3:5) [Recall that the hypocritical Pharisees, even while knowingly handing-over an innocent Man, Jesus, to Pilate for judgement, insisted on not compromising their ceremonial cleanliness by entering Pilate’s Court. (See John 18:28) Talk about “having a form of godliness but denying its power.”] Now add just this one verse, 2Timothy 3:7. It says that these people are: “ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
Let me give a recent example of this. There is something called the World Parliament of Religions, which has been kicking around since 1893, but had a gathering in Toronto in November of 2018. The theme was love and inclusion….but that did not apply for believers in traditional Christianity. Subjects included: “Car for Our Earth, Responsibility for Our Future” & “The Spiritual Evolution of Humanity & Healing Our Mother Earth.” This was in essence a New Age event.Jim Wallis, attacked all things Republican and conservative. The Dali Lama weighed in with some remarks made remotely. The World Federalist Movement was there as was Diana Butler Bass, who dismisses the “blood of the Lamb” and the power of the Cross, as she leads her followers toward a more “contemplative” Christianity. Brian McLaren was there as the representative of the “new” form of Christianity. But most disturbing however, was a “A progressive Baptist minister, [who] – utilizing the Buddhist sand mandala technique, created an art piece of Kali – goddess of death and destruction – to express her hatred of the recently appointed Supreme Court judge, and those who confirmed him. Then, at the end of the week – with a group of religious progressives – they celebrated his hoped-for downfall with a dance-invocation to Kali.”[ii] [There’s nothing that says ‘Love & Inclusion’ like a severed head in the hands of the Hindu goddess of destruction!]
This is the mindset that is preparing the way for the eventual rise of Antichrist. It brings to mind the Scripture found in 2Thessalonians 2:9-12. “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
The squishy theology represented by the Parliament of World Religions is fast spilling over into the Christian sphere. Pew Research found that at least 60% of those claiming to be Christians hold to at least one New Age belief – in contravention of the Scripture. Pew questioned Americans about their beliefs concerning four New Age beliefs: That “spiritual energy can be located in physical things,” a “Belief in psychics,” Reincarnation and Astrology. They found that among Evangelical Believers – 47% said they held at least one of these beliefs.[iii] And then there are these gems:
- 77% of all Americans believe that personal salvation is a result of good works.
- More than 30% churchgoers say they have never felt God’s Presence during a service.
- 70% of all young people who grow up in church leave the church by their 20’s.
- 44% of U.S. adults say that God plays no role whatsoever in their life.
- 65% of all “Christians” believe there are multiple paths to Heaven. U.S.
- One third of all Americans believe after they die, God will give them a 2nd chance.
- 70% of those attending church one or more times a month never share their faith with a stranger.
- Almost 50% of all Evangelicals, 18-29 years of age, favor same sex marriage.
- Two thirds of those who are 18-34 years of age, do not believe pre-marital sex is ever wrong.[iv]
You want to know why the Church is failing. Many of the shepherds have fallen victim to the lie. A survey from the 90’s revealed that in many mainline denominations, a majority of the clergy no-longer believed in the fundamental truths of the faith. They rejected the deity of Christ, the virgin birth, the bodily resurrection, the blood atonement and the return of Jesus. So now when you see that over 50% of “pastors had viewed internet pornography within the last year and 30% of those had visited within the last 30 days,” it should come as no surprise.
So as I look at the landscape of our culture and our country and out Church I am greatly saddened. This was driven home at an event my wife and I attended at a small town church about 30 miles from our home. It was a Veterans Day celebration – a choral concert put on by the Christian school there, to honor those who served. At the start of the program, the principal came out to make a few remarks. He talked about how he was also a teacher who taught history and the Constitution and the Bible. He made the point that he taught them together – because they belonged together. The Bible is the foundation of our governing principles and they in turn serve as the framework of our history. And I thought to myself, this was a dying thing I’m seeing. I thought of Antifa thugs terrorizing citizens and the assault on our borders and the incivility being practiced and encouraged by one wing of the political class and the attempt render null-and-void the election of an American president. We were witnessing a culture that is vanishing. The America I had grown up in is gone….and what will replace it we cannot yet know. But one thing I do know. God’s word is true! “Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the Lord guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain.” (Psalm 127:1) We can do nothing without the Lord! I am convinced of that. Just look at what happens when we try. Verse 2 drives that point home. “It is vain for you to rise up early, To sit up late, To eat the bread of sorrows; For so He gives His beloved sleep.”
So how can we sure we are following His will and not ours? By living to God’s standards. Here they are in a nutshell, taken from John 14:15-17. ‘If you love Me, keep My commandments…..[Do that and we get this]….. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, ……. [But listen to this]……whom the world cannot receive.” The Helper, the Holy Spirit is NOT promised to the world. It is a gift set aside for His children; a gift to His own.
So we must ask ourselves: Which world we are living in? Are we living in the world of Noah and Lot? There’s was a world of violence and moral depravity and sexual and especially homosexual excess. There’s was a world of the total rejection of the ways of God. Our world is fast heading that way …. On the road to Sodom….On the road to Gomorah. Here is the bottom line on it. Christianity is NOT just a profession of faith! Christianity is NOT just a prayer said and filed away in the distant past! Christianity IS a living and growing relationship! Christianity IS a walk with God! Christianity IS an ever-transforming life! “Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2) (KJV)
Christianity IS LIFE! We cannot separate ourselves from it’s demands. And its demands are more pressing as we see the day approaching. I do not deny the Romans 7 dilemma here. As Paul lays out, We don’t do the good stuff we want to do and instead do the bad stuff we don’t want to do. At the end of that chapter he cries out: “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24) And in the next verse he gives us the answer. “I thank God – through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Then in the next two verses, Romans 8:1-2 he celebrates the conclusion. “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.”
So we are living through a time that looks very much like the run-up to the days of Noah and Lot. Beginning next time, we’ll start to break down the characteristics of The Time of Our Visitation.
[i] Alexander Solzhenitsyn, remarks made at the Templeton Address, London, England, 1983. Mollie Panter-Downes, Solzhenitsyn,
The New Yorker Magazine, May 30, 1983
[ii] “Anger, Vitriol and Venom” From the Parliament of the World’s Religions, Lighthouse Trails, November 10, 2018
[iii] Pew Research, December 2017