A Prepared People
Not every people is suited for freedom. If there is not some control over the passions of men, freedom gives license, and people do that which is right in their own eyes. Listen to what God has to say about man’s heart:
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9)
There are no exceptions:
Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned: (Romans 5:12)
When Adam fell, man’s nature was changed and frozen. Each and every human being is a sinner both by nature and by choice. There is nothing in the law that can fix this problem. All the law can do is tell us whether or not we have broken it.
Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. (Romans 3:19-20)
Since we have all broken God’s law, the law has no choice but to condemn us as sinners. Romans 6:23 tells us what the penalty for sin is:
For the wages of sin is death… (Romans 6:23a)
This is talking about spiritual death. Everyone of us is born spiritually dead, and if the situation is not corrected, we will all die the second death, which is an eternity in the Lake of Fire.
And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:14-15)
History has shown that sinful people will do wicked things. It happened in Israel of old, it is seen in the pagan nations, and America has proven to be no exception. As soon as the knowledge of God is rejected, people do the most wicked things. Romans Chapter 1 describes this in detail:
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. (Romans 1:18-32)
I don’t want to take the time to get into everything in this passage so I will let it speak for itself. What I do want you to notice in particular is that they did not want the knowledge of God, and they refused to glorify Him as God, making Him like their idols and like animals. If this doesn’t sound like modern America, I don’t know what does. Once this state of mind is reached, God gives them over to a reprobate mind. A reprobate mind cannot reason correctly, and cannot come to proper judgment of things. As a result, things just get worse and worse.
The Fear of God
Something is missing in modern America, and in the world as a whole. The Bible tells us what it is:
There is no fear of God before their eyes. (Romans 3:18)
We might expect this to be true for those who do not know God, that is, those we call the lost. The problem is, this is also true for most of those who claim to be Bible Believing Christians.
Here are some verses that tell us what the fear of the Lord is:
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7)
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding. (Proverbs 9:10)
The fear of the LORD is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate. (Proverbs 8:13)
The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility. (Proverbs 15:33)
There are other verses that I could include, but these four make some very important statements. The first tells us where knowledge starts. When we fear God, we seek to know about Him and what He expects of us.
Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. Knowledge must come first, but once a person has the knowledge of God’s precepts and the penalty for breaking them, the fear of the Lord will cause him to use what he knows wisely.
The knowledge of the precepts of God, and the knowledge of how God blesses those who follow His precepts causes those who fear the Lord to hate all that is evil. He understands that God’s precepts are good, and violating them only brings pain.
Finally, the fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom. This really completes the circle. We start with knowledge, which leads us to wisely using that knowledge for the good of ourselves and others. From there, we hate all that brings pain upon ourselves and others, we hate evil. As we apply God’s precepts, wisdom causes us to study to learn more about what God expects, which leads to more knowledge, more wisdom, more hatred of evil, and a search for more knowledge of God.
Those who fear God will not live according to what is seen in Romans Chapter 1. When we live by God’s precepts, God becomes the God of our nation, and this brings His blessings.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance. (Psalms 33:12)
If we want to keep our freedoms and our way of life, we need to get back to having a proper fear of God. This kind of fear restrains us from doing the evil things that freedom makes possible.
To have a proper fear of God, one must first understand God’s precepts. What is it that He expects of us? To understand the things of God, one must be a truly saved person.
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. (1 Corinthians 2:14)
The Gospel would have been lost had it not been for the Cathares/Baptists through the centuries. They were used of God to keep the Word of God pure. Without the Word of God, no one can be saved.
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17)
From the time of the “Christianization” of Rome until the thirteenth century, most people did not have the Word of God in their native language, it was either in Greek or Latin. This changed starting in the fourteenth century and continued through the seventeenth century. It was during this time that the Scriptures were translated into the language of the people. It started with John Wycliffe, and ended with the translation of the King James Bible in 1611.
The availability of the Word of God for the common man made it possible for the man in the pew to know and understand God’s precepts. Understanding God’s precepts increased the fear of God in their hearts. It resulted in more true conversions to Christ instead of conversion to religion. Under the old system where only the elite and the priests, could read the Bible, there was a fear of the state church, but no fear of God.
As the people learned what God said, they became more restrained in their conduct. They knew that violating the precepts of God brought more than just temporal punishment. They started to understand the consequences of their sin, and used restraint to avoid those consequences. This was a necessary step in the preparation of a people for freedom.
In America we are starting to see our freedoms eroded because there are too many Americans who have departed from God’s precepts. They are doing things that cause harm to society. This is forcing the government to enact laws to restrict this kind of behavior. As the government passes these laws, we lose more and more freedom.
We have seen that the Cathar people were pure people, people who lived holy lives. We have also seen that the Cathar people are the true Baptist people of our day.
There are some things that the Baptists did that led to America. To begin with, there would have been no reformation had the Baptists not insisted on keeping the Holy Scriptures pure.
John Wycliffe has been called the “morning star” of the Reformation. This is because of his insistence on giving the people the Word of God in their own language. It is his influence that caused the reformers to start studying the Scriptures. John Wycliffe was a Lollard, and the Lollards held to the same doctrine as the Cathares, they were Baptists.
The Reformation was a reformation of the Catholic Church. While it did change some things, it was not a complete departure from the doctrine held by Rome. They held to baptismal regeneration, the necessity of “baptizing” infants, sprinkling or pouring instead of immersion, and the union between church and state. They persecuted and killed Baptists for their beliefs.
In spite of the persecution, the Reformation did allow Baptists to gain some notoriety among the people. This happened because the people could now read the Bible. When they did, they learned that the Baptists were right. This made persecution by the state church much more difficult.
Another thing that having the Bible in your native language accomplished was the exposure of the corruption in the state churches. There was a movement within the Church of England that was called puritanism. As they tried to purify the Church of England, they found themselves being persecuted just like the Baptists.
The timing of all this had to come from God. The American colonies were just starting to be established. The persecuted Christians started moving to the colonies where they could have religious freedom. However, they only wanted religious freedom for themselves. They, in turn, persecuted those who differed from them, especially Baptists and Quakers.
Each colony had its state church, and oppressed all who were not part of it. Being a citizen of the colony was equated with being a member of the state church.
Under these conditions Baptists were able to flourish on the outskirts. As they grew in numbers, they became a force to be reckoned with. Thomas Jefferson got his ideas on government from the Baptist, and enshrined them in the Declaration of Independence. James Madison put Baptist principles in the Constitution through the Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the Constitution.
It was only because of the influence of Baptists, and their principles of freedom, that we gained freedom in America. Let us never forget these facts, and let us pass them on to our children.
Tomorrow we will look at how we, as Baptists are losing our heritage, which has resulted in the loss of our influence on our nation. The only hope for America is that Baptists return to what they were in ages past.
We Are Losing Our Heritage
We have learned that Baptists have a glorious history and heritage. It is the Baptists, by whatever name they have been called in any particular place at any particular time, that have kept the doctrines of Scripture pure through the ages.
This glorious heritage is being lost today. If our preachers and our schools don’t get back to teaching who we are, and where we came from, all that is Baptist, and all the benefits that come from our principles, will soon be lost.
The loss of our heritage has already cost us our influence in the world. It will end up destroying us as a people. God put it this way through the Prophet Hosea:
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children. (Hosea 4:6)
When we stop teaching who we are, the first generation doesn’t suffer too much loss because they know the truth. It is their children and grandchildren who suffer. We started loosing our heritage when Whitsittism took hold in the Southern Baptist Convention. Today many Baptists think they are the fruit of the Reformation, and that they are just another Protestant group.
As a result of our lost heritage, we are no longer a distinctive people. We have nothing to offer that the others don’t also offer. Our churches have become entertainment centers, just like the others. They don’t stand on Bible doctrine, just like the others.
There is no longer anything in the lives of most who call themselves Baptists to show there is something different. As a result, we have lost our influence.
America has forgotten that it was built on Christian principles. Most of America may never have known that those Christian values were actually Cathar/Baptist principles. The sad thing is that most Baptists are also ignorant of this truth. We have allowed ourselves to be divorced from our heritage, and we have let our nation down in doing so.
I want you to pay close attention to the following four verses from Matthew Chapter 5:
Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 5:13-16)
As Christians, we are the salt of the earth. It doesn’t say we should be, it says we are. Salt accomplishes several things. First of all, salt adds to, or brings out flavor. This place called earth, that God created to be our home, is a wonderful place when God’s righteousness rules. It is a very difficult place to live when unrighteousness rules. When Christians flavor human society with righteousness, it shames the unsaved into living by righteous principles also. This gives life a much better flavor.
Salt also preserves. When a people live by the righteous principles of God, their society is preserved. God does not have to bring judgment, and His blessings can flow. When Christians cease being an influence for righteousness, God removes His blessing, and brings judgment. The judgment of God is upon America today, and only Christians returning to the righteous precepts of Scripture can turn away this judgment.
Salt purifies and heals. In the process of purifying and healing, salt stings. The purifying and healing process is painful because the bad things must be removed, and they don’t want to let go. If we want our nation healed, we must not be afraid of the pain that it will cause. People’s feelings will be hurt. People will get angry and try to remove us, just like a person will try and wash salt out of a wound because of the pain.
Salt that doesn’t do these things is useless. Christianity that doesn’t flavor, purify, and heal society is also without value to society. There was a time when Christians were looked up to and respected in America. Today Christians are looked down upon and seen as a problem in society. The reason is, we have lost our savor. It is time to get it back.
Likewise, we are the light of the world. Again, it is not that we should be, it is that we are. Light illuminates, it allows people to see. Christians should live lives that cause God to be glorified. Our works should be such that God receives glory from the lost world.
Light exposes error and reveals truth. Modern Christianity, including most who call themselves Baptists, has blended itself with the world. Today many churches have their flashing lights that look just like the lost world’s lights. Instead of exposing error and revealing truth, the light of most who profess to be Christians actually blinds the world to error and truth.
The Bible is very clear that, as the redeemed of God, we are to be different. There should be something that is visible showing that we are the children of God.
Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. (Titus 2:14)
Jesus gave Himself to redeem us for a purpose. The word “purify” in this passage has the Greek word “katharos” as its root. We are to be Cathares, or pure people. The word “peculiar” means different, not like others. We are to be a people that is zealous of good works. Too many want to divorce the Christian life from following the clear precepts of the Word of God.
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: (1 Peter 2:9)
There is a reason we are to be different. God has chosen us to be His representatives on this earth. We are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, and a peculiar people for the purpose of showing forth the praises of God. He has called us out of darkness into the light. That light should shine forth from every part of our lives.
The only hope for America is that we get back to our roots. We must regain our saltiness and clean the soot off our chimneys. It will cost us something to do this, just as it cost our Cathar ancestors. Through their line, God prepared a people for freedom. This free people changed the world. At no time since the first century, when they turned the world upside down, has a people had such an influence for God. Sadly, our lack of doctrinal purity, and our lack of purity of life, is allowing the forces of evil to increase. The result is a world that now mocks and laughs at us. It is time for a change.