by Pastor Mark Downey
I no sooner commenced to sitting down with a yellow legal note pad to write down this message, when a bird in the backyard began squawking. I wondered, "What's his problem." It sounded like some kind of warning, rather than the happy chirping of an early bird catching a worm. Perhaps another animal was encroaching upon his meal.
I love how the Holy Spirit works. Before I began to write anything about tribulation, the sounds of God's creation gave me a sermon example from the get-go. Through this otherwise mundane morning activity of nature, it came to my mind of a situation we had last year in our driveway.
We've got a big gravel driveway and a pair of killdeers decided to lay their eggs there. For some reason they nest on the ground, rather than in trees. The four speckled eggs were perfectly camouflaged in a small concave nest of gravel. I put up two saw-horses so cars wouldn't run over it. I couldn't see how they were going to make it with three or four cats in the neighborhood, as well as starlings and raccoons that eat eggs. After about 45 days, all four eggs hatched within an hour and four cute little chicks were scurrying about the property. This seemed to be an even more critical period of time for the killdeers as their family became moving targets out in the open. They stayed in the driveway area for another week with all four chicks in the gravel nest under their mother's wings, while the father came and went with food. It was amazing to watch their survival mode. As far as I know, they lived happily ever after.
Christian Identity has been accused of being obsessed with jews and having a mental fixation on racial matters. Although these are the predominately pressing issues of the day, our people, White Christian Israelites, have their own personal trials and tribulations which cause untold stress, worry and grief. These negative emotions can take their toll on any person's peace of mind. Animal behavior can sometimes teach us how to deal with life when we fail to learn the same thing in the Bible.
Life ain't fair. Life isn't a bed of roses. But, in spite of the unfairness and the void of utopian living, the Christian is offered a panacea whereby we can "count it all joy." We can have a perspective whereby even the worst of the worst has a silver lining. Many a tortured POW rested upon the memories of Scripture, which comfort the soul. "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me: thy rod and thy staff they comfort me" (Ps. 23:4).
Killdeer propagate their species through incredible adversity. "Just look at the birds in the sky! They neither sow nor reap, nor collect into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them! Are you not much more than they?" (Mt. 6:26 FF) Anxiety is addressed in verses 33-34 (NAS): "But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious for tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
Let's not get too ahead of ourselves in anticipation of the sky falling. Tribulation is not something coming in the future, when things really start to get bad, as the foreboding Rapturist would have you believe. We need to leave behind that kind of thinking if we are to believe that the future will take care of itself and that God will take care of us right now. Folks, tribulation has been going on for the last 2000 years. That's why, "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for My sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad" (Mt. 5:11-12).
Have you ever heard the adage, 'if you're looking for trouble, you'll probably find it'? Does the Bible tell us to seek trouble? No. It says we're sent forth as sheep in the midst of wolves and so we better be wise as serpents (Mt. 10:16) and agree with thine adversary (Mt. 5:25). This does not mean we become the same as those who persecute us, but to appease those who would have us appear as they do.
We are commanded to "Abstain from all appearance of evil" (I Thes. 5:22). That's not an easy thing to do in a society that calls good evil and evil good when you're carrying the Christian Identity message to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. The common idiom would be, 'suck it up'. God knows those that don't as "murmurers and complainers" (Jude 16) who continually find fault with everything except themselves. Such is the "latter time" or end of this age where mockers and scoffers of the utmost arrogance cause division and are devoid of the Spirit.
Today's Christian cannot afford to be without this Spirit. It is our sanity in an insane world. The Holy Spirit leads us away from leaning into our own understanding by "Not conforming to this world." We can prove what the perfect will of God is by knowing what we can and cannot change. The Christian is transformed by the renewing of his or her mind in how we reconcile tribulation.
The Bible says, "That we must, through much tribulation enter into the Kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22). This is the discipline of conviction that has kept Christianity alive for the last 2000 years. Life is not a bowl of cherries unless you yourself climb the cherry tree and reach unto the heavens for the choicest fruit without falling to the ground and breaking your neck. The risk involved in being a Christian is that we have to have faith. Faith flies in the face of doubt, fear and confusion.
There are an indescribable number of things that tribulate against our people from minor to major forms of pain and sufferings affecting young and old, male and female, rich and poor. We have, however, permission to communicate our cause of grief for God to intervene. If we had an Asiatic nirvana, what need would we have for God? And our people wonder why our God is jealous of strange gods? Mindlessly seeking after alien gods to escape tribulation is simply the insanity of compounding more tribulation. "But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all His commandments… that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee" (Deut. 28:15).
As a child reaches to the top of a stove and a red hot burner, a loving parent slaps his hand before a worse physical pain can afflict him. So too, our Father in heaven brings tribulation for good. "My son, despise not the chastening of the Lord; neither be weary of His correction: For whom the Lord loveth He correcteth" (Prov. 3:11-12). "He that spareth his rod hateth his son" (Prov. 13:24). Thank God for tribulation that spares us from total destruction.
I'd like to speak about idiots for a moment. Lord knows we have more than our fair share of them. An idiot is someone who forsakes the power of God. An idiot is destitute of reason and common sense. An idiot does not have the intellectual capacity to renew his mind. An idiot does not "consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ" (I Tim. 6:3). Every day we come into contact with idiots who try to push our buttons or try to engage us in their level of adversarial behavior. They are, "Proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmising, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself" (I Tim. 6:4-5).
The Bible doesn't put it this bluntly, but we have been given the gift of how to deal with idiots that cause so much tribulation. And we can have fun at the same time rather than wringing our hands in anguish. Are you ready for some good clean Christian fun (enjoyment, joy)?
Our text message for today is Romans 5:1-11. Some people cannot figure out why tribulation produces patience and what that brings to the believer. Let's read these verses and find out. Starting in verse 1 we find, "Being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Justification means we are no longer accused and condemned in our sins; it imputes to us the righteousness of Christ and we are given a new start in life. The reason for Paul's exhortations is because many who commit to Christ, after so many years in sin and rebellion to God, feel they can't be forgiven. They can.
"By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God" (v.2). We are actually led or brought into the presence of the Lord's full favor. Faith opens the door for us to accept God's sovereignty. Access is not something we can achieve. The joy is not in a better future or that the law of averages will give us a break someday. The joy is an immediate bond with the indisputable reputation of God in the here and now.
"And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope: and hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad [poured out] in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us" (vs.3-5). We learn to trust God explicitly based on our experiences with Him. Time after time, He has helped us endure afflictions, troubles and hardships. We see Him perform miracles over and over again, until all our doubts are erased. He is not to blame for these tribulations. So that now we joyfully endure these trials and testing, looking forward to the next one, just to witness again how God will have victory over it. We build up our faith in order to maintain the daily rigors of stress. The true saints of God are citizens of His Kingdom and therefore come into conflict with other man-made jurisdictions, which are going to turn all hell loose on them. The measure of where you stand with God, is equal to the wrath of His adversaries.
That's why so many sheeple have been pacified with the strange gods of Mystery Babylon. While our nation swirls down the sewers of politically correct tolerance, our genetic memory of discrimination becomes neutralized. We are told ever so sublimely that our living ecumenical hell is heaven on earth. The satans among us, in other words, those people who usurp the Kingdom of God, impose their brutal sense of government over society and hence tribulation. This has never prevented Christian dissent, not even under duress. The greater our stand, the greater our tribulation. The greater our blessings for our stand, the greater move towards the Kingdom of God. What's a Movement to do?
The purpose of tribulation is to mold us in the image of God (Romans 8:29). The adversary is one who tries to break your spirit and maturity in Christ. The Christian will overcome adversity no matter what, because of the overflowing love of God that the Holy Spirit puts in your heart. Yes, there will be those who try to quench (extinguish) the Spirit (I Thes. 5:19), but they will not have the victory over those who have the laws of God written on their heart and the renewing of their expectations, on a daily basis, of God fulfilling His promises. We have no fear of shame, because fulfillment does not depend upon us, but on God. It is impossible for God to fail in anything.
"For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (vs.6-8). The Life, Death and Resurrection was and is for us, if we accept it. Even if our people reject it, it is still for us. The leap of faith to accept this premise can change your life. What if it's not true? Do you believe that Christ died for us? That we are reconciled to God through His death? The way to test this truth is to live by it and, at last, to die by it. Most everyone wants to live. Hardly anyone wants to die for someone else. Who would give their life for a scumbag weasel crook or criminal? Yet, God shows His love for us by putting His son on the Cross to pay for our sins, our crimes. That's hard to accept for some self-righteous folks, but verse 6 said we were "without strength", which means we were spiritually dead. When we seek and find Christ, we are born-again or born from above and life is a whole new ballgame. We were sinners, dead to God, and yet God rejoined His Spirit into us as a result of allowing Christ to die for us.
"Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from the wrath through Him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement" (vs. 9-11). Atonement means forgiving our old sins and change us into repentant disciples. If we know what joy and satisfaction Jesus brings, we shall find ourselves more and more seeing life as He saw it. It will do any Christian good to review his own life and reflect how much of it is lived as if God were a friend or a foe. His blood was exchanged for our freedom.
"We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are the called according to His purposes" (Romans 8:28). There's your hope and joy in trials and tribulations. All this suffering is working for a divine purpose. God will reveal it to the patient elect, when He "shall wipe away all tears from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away" (Rev. 21:4).
Right now, we can chart a course in that direction. By observing divine commands, the Christian should remain in the calling in which he was chosen. Were you chosen as a slave? It doesn't matter; don't fret about it. But if you're able to become a free man, then go for it! "For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's freeman; likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ's servant" (I Cor. 7:22). Any way you wish to look at it, we're either a slave to God or a slave to the world. Choose your yoke of adversity. Christ tells us, "My yoke is easy, and My burden is light" (Mt. 11:29), yet how many people serve false gods?! "You were bought with a price, do not become slaves of men" is the command (I Cor. 7:23). How? "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). Why? Because "knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance; for ye serve the Lord" (Col. 3:24).
But we have to be patient and have faith; not to be confused with weakness and inaction. Even the brother of the prodigal son was miffed, that his father didn't throw a big party for him after so many years of honorable service. But his father told him, "My child, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours" (Luke 15:31). By the same token, we shouldn't be all bent out of shape when good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people. You know why? Because in God's infinite mercy and judgment, the converse is true with good happening to good and bad happening to bad. If we can't handle the truth, our yoke of adversity will be on par with our unbelief.
Have you ever noticed people on a streak of Murphy's law, which states that if something bad is going to happen, it probably will. Which reminds me of I Cor. 15:19, "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable." As we renew our mind with the refresher passage that "surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever" (Ps. 23:6). Folks, this is not pie-in-the-sky theology; it's an antidote to the syndrome of misery. The joys of tribulation in this lifetime are steppingstones to God's promises.
We're not supposed to be ascetic hermits living in a cave, whipping ourselves until we bleed, waiting for the end of the world. Yet, people do the same thing, in essence; beating themselves up by playing the "payback" game. Movies and entertainment inculcate this evil spirit of reciprocating tribulation. It doesn't work in the real world. "Be of the same mind toward one another" (Rom. 12:16); because "knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord" (Eph. 6:8).
How can kindness and charity "heap coals of fire" on the head of our enemies? The Lord "is like a refiners fire" (Mal. 3:2), and He can burn the adverse thoughts from a persons mind. We are talking about our own fellow believers with whom we come in conflict, not the avowed enemies of God. The two are completely distinct from each other. Here is the joy of tribulation and the truth that shall make us free: "Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, 'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord'" (Rom. 12:19 NAS).
How many of us can't handle this truth? Two parties in a road rage situation leave little room for divine intervention. If I am ever in this kind of situation, I hope I can separate the mental problem the other driver has with the power of God to reconcile what could otherwise be explosive. Are there any gray areas? Yes, I'm glad you asked. We have tares among the wheat and wolves in sheep's clothing that do not deserve the same consideration as the true believer. A true disciple of Christ will "let love be without hypocrisy" (Rom. 12:9). "You cannot partake the table of the Lord and the table of demons" (I Cor. 10:21) (demons: meaning a depraved reprobate mentality). "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers, for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness?" (II Cor. 6:14). How do we identify such persons? "Ye shall know them by their fruits" (Mt. 7:16).
You know when a person produces friendship or hostility. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to determine a benevolent or malevolent spirit. "A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit" (Mt. 7:18). In the middle of tribulation and the love of God (Romans 5:3-5), we find experience. By being patient in our tribulations we are able to experience a hope that no other religion can offer, and that is the exclusive relationship we have with God. "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you" (II Cor. 6:17). The underlying principle here is that it will be stressful, but not distressing to set ourselves apart from the moral corruption of all that is in the world. God cannot fully bless His vessels of honor that are in compromise, or complicity with, evil.
In the parable of the sower of seeds, some fell upon stony places without much soil, and when the day heated up, they withered away. A person can hear the Word of God, but without any depth of understanding or being well-rooted whenever tribulation or persecution arises because of Scripture, that person is offended and falls away (Mt. 13:5-6, 20-21). There's your apostate church not wanting to discriminate. They are constantly walking on eggshells so as not to hurt anybody's feelings, or renew their minds. Little do they realize the greater curse they bring upon themselves.
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril or sword?" (or you fill in the blank) (Romans 8:35). We can't separate ourselves from contact with the evils of the world. We can't run or hide from it in a cave, but we can decide not to be conformed to the evils of the world. We can be reassured by the love of Christ that He will repay tribulation to them that trouble us (II Thes. 1:6).
When the apostate church or the individual believer forsakes God and serves other gods, God says "wherefore I will deliver you no more. Go and cry to the gods which ye have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your tribulation" (Judges 10:13-14).
In conclusion, there's been a lot of hoopla and charismatic hysteria over a so-called 'Great Tribulation' that purveyors of the 'The Rapture' have been merchandising for decades. They say they're going to float away to heaven while the rest of us are left behind to experience all hell breaking loose in the big daddy of all 'tribs'. However, as stated earlier, the Bible disclaims any rapture theory with the simple admonition that in order to enter into the Kingdom of God, we must go through much tribulation (Acts 14:22). To teach something other than the plain truth of Scripture invites tribulation to those who teach it.
For those, my brethren, who receive not a love of the truth "I marvel that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which, however, is not another; but simply a contrivance of some people to disturb you, and who wish to overturn the gospel of the Messiah … if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed. For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be the servant of Christ" (Gal. 1:6-10).
Brothers and sisters in Christ "count it all joy, when you fall into various trials; understanding that the proof of your faith produces patience. Then let patience have a perfect effect, in order that you may be perfect and complete, defective in nothing" (James 1:2-4). Have a nice tribulation!