Forward Toward the Philistines
Written by Gabriel Rench on December 10, 2018
Guest Post by Jared Longshore
Secularism is all in a tizzy. She is hot and pouty. She’s fired up and making her demands. She’s defying the armies of the living God, and she’s soft as cotton… which is not a good combo.
God’s people have struggled at times with going forward at God’s command. He said to go out of Egypt, but they grumbled. He said to go into Canaan, but they balked at the giants in the land. Jesus likewise has told us to go into the world teaching people to obey Him. He’s reminded us that all authority in heaven and earth has been given to Him. But we often still drag our feet.
We’re presently dealing with two types of feet draggers. The first is the oblivious evangelical. He really isn’t concerned with what’s going on. He doesn’t want to be an alarmist. He admits there’s some squirrely things going on out there. But, “Hey man, what’s the biggie with lesbians kissing in the Thanksgiving Day parade? It’s just a parade!” “Don’t get too authoritarian” they say. “You catch more secularites with honey than with vinegar” they say. The second is the anxious evangelical. He’s bumfuggled by the ascendency of perversion. He’s in the throws of despondency. He’s grasping for a human savior with a shiny red tie and greasy hair. Shades are down. Fingernails are gone. “What’s going to happen to my kids?” he frets.
The problem with the first group is they don’t see how big the bad guys are. The problem with the second group is that they don’t see how hard they fall.
Goliath Doesn’t Want Your Cold Water
Back in the day it was a common phrase in youth group to say we’d win people by giving them a cup of cold water in Jesus’ name. There was perhaps a time when that strategy wasn’t such a terrible idea. But the enemies of God are more numerous, quite a bit more rebellious, and far more motivated. Goliath really is defying the armies of the living God.
When Goliath was out tut-tutting before the armies of Israel, we have a key sentence in 1 Samuel 17:23, “And David heard him.” It is my humble contention that many reformed evangelicals are not listening to the bellowing blasphemies of Goliath. And it follows that they are playing the whole cultural engagement game poorly. Sometimes very poorly like the recent attempt at ETS to justify transgenderism. We’re not in the mid 90’s anymore. Take note of how much they don’t want your cup of cold water if Jesus’ name comes with it…
When they demand bakers celebrate sodomy… they defy God and His armies.
When parents have their children stolen from them for the simple fact that they’d rather not have white coats mutilate their children’s genitalia… they defy God and His armies.
When they indoctrinate cradle babies in queer theory… they defy God and His armies.
When they slaughter the helpless… they defy God and His armies.
When they prostitute 10 year old boys… they defy God and His armies.
When Goliath did it, David heard him. David cared about God’s name and ways. He had what theologians in eras gone by once called… a backbone.
The call then is not to wrestle against flesh and blood. Rather it is to stop pretending that God is a take it or leave it commodity. Stop pretending that you love the Philistine who is destroying himself by defying God. You don’t really love him if you remain silent. You don’t really love him if you fail to tell him what he’s doing is wrong and dangerous to his well-being. The call is none other than to do what Jesus told us to do, which is to go and make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that Christ has commanded. The call is to stop being affected by the cool shame. The call is to preach the gospel straight up the middle, three yards and a cloud of dust style. And do it with love, holding back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.
The Bigger They Are…
The other reality that is apparently upon us is evangelicals shaking in their boots. Which is something we believers in the Most High simply should never do. Calls have been sent forth that we pull back away and retreat into commitment.
Who can’t sympathize with those who feel this way? Yes, the elementary school bathrooms are not what they used to be. Yes, the public square does have some festivities that used to make the common American blush, things that might leave your kids with nightmares.
Yet there is a little secret we share around these parts… the emperor has no clothes. The enemies of God are lame. They discipline the righteous with rods made of cotton candy. They do things like threatening to suspend your Twitter account. Oh me, oh my, whatever will the kingdom of Christ do without Twitter?
Secularism really is a big bad swollen belching giant who has raised his hand against the living God. So don’t run from him. The bigger they are, the harder they fall. He’s teetering like a drunken sailor. He’s empty on the inside. He’s primed and ready for the gospel right between the eyes. Why would we retreat now? Why would we shrink back at this moment? When the putrid fruits of godlessness are budding, that’s the time to hold the line. That’s the time to advance.
We advance not with a sling and stone, but with God’s gospel of peace. “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord” (2 Timothy 1:7-8). What is that testimony? It is that Christ shed His blood for sinners. He is the Son of God become man for us and for our salvation. He will save His people. He will inherit the nations. We, his people then should offer ourselves willingly in the day of his power, which is today–Saying, “Be reconciled to God. Come away from your sin and welcome to Jesus Christ, the one who lived, died, and rose again to make slaves free, to make the godless godly.” Forward toward the Philistines.
Jared serves as an Associate Pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Cape Coral, Florida. He and his wife Heather have six children. Jared serves as a board member and Administrative Director of Founders Ministries. He has earned MDiv and PhD degrees from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. He writes at founders.org.