What Do We Do Now?

Posted: June 29th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

Friday morning our Supreme Court ruled that the constitution guarantees the right of same-sex marriage in all 50 states. Obergefell v. Hodges is going to go down in history next to Roe v. Wade as one of our government’s most blatant departures from Biblical morality. Yet, no court, governing official, or majority vote can change the definition of marriage. It is a God designed covenant and far outside of man’s legal jurisdiction.

We live in a sin-sick world where immorality is being celebrated and encouraged more each day. We have started on a downward slope away from God and it seems wickedness in our society is continually gaining more momentum.

When all our efforts seem useless against the evil influences of the world, what is the Christian to do? Are we to revolt against the evil leadership of our nation, trust in the political process to work things out, or simply throw in the towel?

In the scriptures we are encouraged to take a much different approach.. Many of the Christians in the first century were under a hostile and corrupt government. They faced torture and execution for their faith. What is it that God called upon them to do?

Pray: Christians are urged to pray for “kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in godliness and dignity” (1 Tim 2:1-4). Daniel and the Levites in Nehemiah’s day confessed the sins of their nation to God and pleaded for His forgiveness, though they themselves were faithful and righteous men (see Neh 9 and Dan 9). We should fervently be doing the same.

Honor: Even under the tyrannical rule of emperor Nero, Peter commanded the brethren, “Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king” (1 Pet 2:17). The immorality of our government does not relieve us of our responsibility to submit to them and respect the God given authority they possess (Rom 13:1-7). If persecution for our faith arises, we should not be preparing ourselves for revolt, but for remaining faithful in the midst of suffering. In the footsteps of Jesus, we must not revile or threaten, but entrust ourselves to Him who judges righteously (1 Pet 2:21-23).

Commit: Persecution from within or without is looking more imminent every day. The pattern of every great empire before us reveals that it is not a matter of “if”, but just a matter of “when.” Unless Christ first comes again, our nation will one day fall. And as our nation’s foundation crumbles, our religious liberty will crumble with it. Our faith must be prepared to face the refining fire of trials (1 Pet 1:6-7). We must commit in our hearts right now that we will remain faithful unto death (Rev 2:10). We must decide once and for all that Christ is more important than life itself and no threat will ever cause us to compromise our devotion to Him.

Trust: “The Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, and bestows it on whomever He wishes” (Dan 4:17). God is always in control. We must not deceive ourselves into thinking the political process puts history into our own hands. Our votes or petitions can never circumvent the purpose of God. Our nation will rise or fall at His command. And if it is His will to punish the wickedness of our nation, we must entrust ourselves to His protection. Remember, “the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment” (2 Pet 2:9). Whether in life or death, God will keep us safe.

Warn: “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people” (Prov 14:34). Our country is in danger; not from terrorism or tyranny, but from the righteous judgment of God. The Old Testament prophets are filled with divine warnings to nations that had abandoned God. We need the same warnings today. We must be watchmen like Ezekiel crying out the spiritual warning, whether our nation is willing to hear it or not (Ezek 3:17-19).

Love: Sin is a deadly cancer and our country becomes more infected by it each day. If we truly seek to heal it, our warnings must not be self-righteous or brash. We must compassionately and sincerely point them to the Great Physician. We must season our speech with grace, speaking the truth in love and sincerity. As Jesus was a friend to tax collectors and sinners, we must be a friend to homosexuals.

Let us not lose heart at our nation’s condition, but strengthen our resolve to shine the light of God’s love and truth in the midst of this darkness.

-Grady

 


Evangelism Report – June 2015

Posted: June 29th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt 28:19-20).

God promises that He will always be with us in the work of evangelism. If we pray for His wisdom and courage, we can trust that He will provide it. And there is no question that we need it. We may plant and water, but it is God who gives the increase (1 Cor 3:6).

If we love the lost souls around us the way we should, we will be fervently asking for God’s help in evangelism. If we love them the way that God does, evangelism will always be on the forefront of our minds. Let’s make a special effort this month to keep the Lord’s work in our daily prayers.

What can you be praying about? We have continued to make progress with our meetup studies. Our online membership has increased from 56 to 64 this past month. We had 3 new visitors to our Genesis study and Scott Bale was able to have a personal study with one of these contacts. We continue to have a number of return visitors as well.

Our Acts study with L. A. will be tomorrow night. Scott Bale also plans to start another study each 1st Tuesday of the month at Schnucks in Des Peres, this time on the book of 1 Timothy. Our prayer is that these efforts can continue to present opportunities for personal studies and inviting visitors to our assembly.

Our VBS is also just around the corner on July 20-24. By switching our time to 7pm each night, we hope it can be more of a full family event and not just something people drop their kids off at. We will have classes for children of all ages, as well as adults. Everyone will be studying the life of Christ.

We will be putting together a sign and flyers in the next week or two. We encourage you to use these generously to invite your friends and neighbors. Let’s get excited about sowing the seed in these young hearts. Let’s spare no effort or expense in trying to leave a deep imprint of Biblical truth upon these impressionable minds. And let us pray that the hearts of their parents will be eager for the nourishment of God’s word as well.

Another evangelistic effort on my desk is the authoring of some new tracts. After spending months tract shopping, I only came up with 19 tracts that I felt were well-suited for evangelism. As you may have noticed, even when spread out, they still don’t come too close to filling up our rack in the foyer. There is still plenty of space to address other topics and reach other audiences with these tools.

Having searched through most available tracts from the bookstores, I’m resolved to start writing a few of our own. This will not only allow us to customize the content of the tracts, but include our own personal information. They can be teaching tools and business cards all wrapped into one. L. A. has authored some tracts like this in the past, but their information is now all outdated. It is time to refresh our supply and put tools like these to work once again.

As I begin working on these new tracts, I want to welcome the input of the brethren. Is there any specific topic you feel would be effective for evangelism? What do you think our tract rack is missing? What type of layout do you find most readable and attractive? I would love to hear your suggestions.

Do you have some other effort in mind you think would help us to spread the gospel in our community? Let me or the elders know. Within the boundaries of God’s word, we want to explore every tool and every opportunity possible to reach out to the sin-sick world around us. Evangelism won’t just happen by accident. It takes purposeful preparation and zealous workers.

“Beseech the Lord of harvest to send out workers into His harvest” (Matt 9:38). But don’t pray for workers unless you are willing to be one yourself. Stay salty and stay bright!

-Grady

 


Faith, Darkness, and Doubt

Posted: June 29th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

“Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days” (Dan 6:10).

It is in times of need and pain that we turn to God most diligently, yet ironically, those are the very times when we’re most disturbed by doubt. We need to grow in the direction of a faith like that of Daniel, whose many years in this world had taught him to go ahead and trust God, no matter what seemed to be happening at the moment. As a human being, Daniel would have known as much about doubt as any of us. But he also knew a thing or two about the management of doubt.

There is no such thing as a truth so clear that no circumstance can call it into question. In the practical living of daily life, we all understand that doubt can creep into our minds concerning even the things that we’re most sure of. However rock-like the things may be that we believe in, our feelings of security and confidence are not set in stone. They fluctuate, often rather quickly. And so, common sense tells us not to throw away our faith at the first sign of trouble. If our principles have been carefully acquired and lovingly nurtured, then they’re too valuable to be discarded when momentary doubt raises its head. When difficulty must be dealt with, that is when we need our principles the most.

Oswald Chambers wisely said, “Believe God is always the God you know Him to be when you are nearest to Him.” When darkness sets in and doubt makes its expected assault, we must not throw away the confidence that has been granted to us in the sunlight. Like Daniel who remembered to pray and give thanks even on the darkest day of his life, we must remember that the great reality of God does not change. The light that is visible to us in this realm may rise and fall, and with it our feelings of courage or despair, but He does not ever cease to be the eternal “I AM.” This must be our faith. This is our Father’s world, and let us “ne’er forget, that though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the Ruler yet” (Maltbie D. Babcock).

“I believe in the sun even if it isn’t shining. I believe in love even when I am alone. I believe in God even when He is silent” (A World War II Refugee).

-Gary Henry

 


A Friend To Sinners

Posted: June 29th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

The Pharisees derided Jesus as a “friend to tax collectors and sinners” (Lk 7:34). Yet this was a designation He gladly accepted. Jesus reached out in compassion towards those most looked down upon in the religious circles. When others were keeping their distance, Jesus was often found sharing meals with these spiritual lowlifes.

He never for a moment left them with the impression that He approved of their sinful lifestyles. But neither did He leave the impression that He was disgusted or repulsed by them. He left an impression of love, compassion, and genuine concern for their spiritual infirmities. He taught them the hope of repentance and helped them find healing in God’s forgiveness.

Consider Jesus’ example throughout the gospels. He spoke words of hope to an adulterous Samaritan woman (John 4). He touched lepers (Lk 5:12-13). He called a tax collector to be one of his apostles (Lk 5:27-28) He allowed a scandalously immoral woman to anoint his feet (Lk 7:36-50). He often reached out to those with unclean spirits. Some of his closest followers had once been demon-possessed (Lk 8:1-2). And we could go on and on.

While Jesus spoke hope and comfort to these people, His harshest rebukes were reserved for those who did not see themselves as sinners. The hypocrites, those blind to their own sins, were the ones He referred to as “serpents” and a “brood of vipers” (Matt 23:33). While he often shared a table with tax collectors and sinners, He more than once turned over the tables of the temple dwellers (John 2:15; Matt 21:12).

I’m afraid sometimes we get things backwards and fail to reflect Jesus’ character toward the sinful world around us. We approach the spiritual bankrupt of the world with disdain and rebuke, while treating the more religious and respectable sinners with tolerance and understanding. We view certain sinners as more repulsive, keeping our distance, and hesitating to reach out to them with the gospel. While the more “civilized” sins that are less upfront and messy do not deter us at all from extending our friendship and understanding. We’d rather be a companion of respectable hypocrites, than humble and despairing sinners.

Is this the way Jesus approached sin? If anyone ever had a right to look down His nose at those less righteous than Him, it was Jesus. Yet, there has never been anyone more compassionate, loving, and welcoming toward sinners as He strove to teach them the gospel. If we are going to follow in the steps of the Great Physician, we cannot turn up our nose at those most afflicted by the disease of sin. We must develop a bed-side manner that will convince even the most stubborn patients to take the medicine God has prescribed for the healing of their souls.

-Grady

 


Painful Sayings

Posted: June 29th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

“For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears; not so that you would be made sorrowful, but that you might know the love which I have especially for you” (2 Cor 2:4)

Paul was never afraid to say what needed to be said even when it hurt the most. The oft spoken line is, “the truth hurts,” to which there is much merit. As children of God, obedient to His will, we are also moved to painful sayings.

I am sorry,” might be the most difficult of them all. But admitting we’ve done wrong to God and His church is vital if we ever want to drink from the fount of blessing again. The language of repentance is bitter to speak, but what marvelous grace does it bring about! Regarding the many hard sayings in his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul says in his second epistle that he rejoiced in the effect of the rebukes: godly sorrow which produced in them repentance leading to life (2 Cor 7:9-11). Even though it’s painful to say “I am sorry,” repentance is the language of the gospel.

Even the phrase, “I love you,” can be difficult to say sometimes. In fact, the harder it is to say “I love you,” the more pressing is the need to say it. Men who play their cards close and miserly meter out words of encouragement and love to their spouses, or children or neighbors are sorry servants in the kingdom. Women who, in their coldness, give no words of praise, but would rather highlight the negative, are without Christ’s badge of discipleship. We are commanded to love as Jesus loved (Jn 13:34-35). This love (‘agapeo’ in the Greek) can be commanded because it isn’t based on emotion. Rather, having this kind of love means being devoted to its object, despite its unloveliness. We need to be willing to show each other that we are devoted to their wellbeing and sometimes that means saying “I love you” when it’s painful.

You are the man” is another saying that brings much anguish, but it is vital to the health and purity of the church. Many think expressing any sort of disapproval contradicts love. Love, to most people, is agreeing and supporting someone regardless of their choices. However, Biblical love demands we act in the best interest of our brothers. That means when we see them struggling with temptation we reach out to them and pray with them (Jas 5:16). That means, if our brother persists in ungodliness, we first remove the beam from our eye in order to remove the speck from his eye (Mt 7:1-5). Jesus tells us, “If your brother sins, rebuke him” (Lk 17:3). The true friend who is devoted to his brother will snatch him out of the fires of temptation, for, Jude says, he hates “even the garment polluted by the flesh” (Jude 23). This loving rebuke, as modeled by Nathan to David, “covers a multitude of sins” (1 Pet 4:8).

The last, and perhaps most painful saying of them all is “I forgive you.” Again, it must be stressed, the language of forgiveness, like the language of repentance and love, is the language of the gospel. Our very salvation depends upon our humility in forgiving one another just as God in Christ forgave us (Eph 4:32). To finish the teaching of the Teacher, “If your brother sins rebuke him. If he repents, forgive him” (Lk 17:3). There is no depth of depravity that man could sink to that God would not forgive in Christ. If our Heavenly Father is full of such mercy and grace, then we also must have a heart of forgiveness and a tongue of mercy. How could Jesus say to those who despised Him, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do”? How could Stephen pray to the Father the same prayer for those hurling stones to mutilate his body? Because they knew God is a merciful God.

All of these sayings may be difficult, but if we want to glorify our King, we will learn the gospel language. When you’ve done wrong, waste no time in your heartfelt apology so that you can be reconciled. Be liberal with your love language as God is liberal towards you in His words of love. Wield the Spirit’s sword with tact and compassion to snatch your ailing brother from the fire. And lastly, be generous and quick to forgive our debtors (Mt 6:12) for our fellowship with the Father rests on it.

-Jerome Sasanecki

 


War: Carnal or Spiritual

Posted: June 29th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

Bombings and killings in modern times perpetrated by Muslim terrorists remind us that, historically, religion has often spread to new areas or maintained its control of nations and territories by violence and war. This, we hasten to say, however, is the modus operandi of false religion and not God-ordained religion—Biblical Christianity.

The twenty-first century populace is almost totally ignorant of the spread of religion throughout a significant part of the world by means of force. How many folks know that the world now occupied and dominated by the Muslim religion was conquered—not by argument and reason but by warring marauders. Muslim warriors moved in the 7th and 8th centuries from southern Arabia across Palestine to points eastward, northwestward, and southwestward. They crossed the Mediterranean Sea into Spain and were poised to conquer all of Europe until stopped by Charles Martel at Tours, France in A. D. 732.

More of today’s society is familiar with the Crusades, first inspired by Pope Urban II in A.D. 1095. The “holy warriors” of Catholicism mounted attack after attack against Muslims in Palestine, especially at Jerusalem, in order to reconquer what to them was “holy ground.” Even Louis XV, our own “St. Louis,” led crusaders into battle to recover this “sacred” land. It was never beneath the dignity of the “Holy See” to employ men of war to fight or execute heretics—religious men or groups who opposed the authority and decrees of the pope.

Even Protestants in the early days of the Reformation were known to take up the sword in persecution of “heretics.” Some believed in cities and territories that, like ancient Israel, were both religious and civil states—states governed by religious creeds, violations of which brought the arm of the state in sentences of death to victims who were then sent to the executioners. Death was often the price of rejecting the state or city religion.

So far as we know today neither Catholicism nor Protestantism is in a position of authority to exercise the power of war. In most countries there is separation of the powers of “religion” and “state.” But it is clear in some Muslim countries that the power of the state is in the hands of these leaders. And as we are seeing on a rather regular schedule there are factions and leaders who are willing to kill for their faith.

Let us not therefore be surprised that men who claim to serve God will kill for the faith in which they believe. But let us remember that this is not the way of Jehovah—the God of creation, of Abraham, of Moses, of David, and of our Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, there was a time when God maintained a religious-civil state in the nation of Israel and used war to punish enemies of righteousness—even His own people.

And, yes, this is the same God who instituted a new covenant and has taught His people, Christians, that their warfare is not “carnal” or “fleshly”; that His people today are fighting against a spiritual host of wickedness; that their battle is for the minds of men and women; that they are fighting a fight of faith that seeks to conquer men by reason and understanding of truth; that they are seeking to bring every thought and intent of men’s hearts into captivity to God’s will as revealed in the scriptures. The goal is to lead men by the gospel to obedience and submission to the teaching of Jesus Christ (2 Cor 10:3-6; Eph 6:10-12; 1 Tm 6:12)

Christians do not conquer by guns and bombs and knives and swords, except by the “sword of the Spirit” which is the word of God (see Eph 6:17). In the kingdom of God established by the apostles in these last days of the second and final covenant, God’s citizens show their peace and good will toward all men by beating their swords into ploughshares and the spears into pruning hooks (see Is 2:2-4).

-L. A.

 


The Touch of His Hand

Posted: June 29th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

Most Bible students are aware of what Jesus could do with the touch of his hand. He was the Son of God and often laid his hands on diseased people and made them whole. He healed the blind, the lame, and the dumb. But He also healed the paralytics and those who had died. No man was able to successfully contest the results of His merciful acts of healing.

Furthermore, we know that apostles, who were inspired by the Spirit of God to reveal the gospel, also laid their hands on the sick and healed them of their diseases. This power was given to them by God to confirm that the gospel plan of salvation they preached to the world was a message from God (see Mark 16:17-20; Heb 2:3-4). And they, as Jesus, established the truthfulness of their message by raising people from death. They even laid their hands on fellow Christians and gave them the ability to work miracles, including healing, prophesying, and speaking in foreign languages (see 1 Cor 12:1-11).

These facts are indisputably recorded in the scriptures that inspired servants of God wrote for men of all ages to believe and obey. But are men in the 21st century able to perform these supernatural deeds? Many men say, yes, but we have yet to see or hear of any reliable reports of the kind of miraculous deeds that men of the first century performed. We know many who claim to speak in tongues and perform other such unverifiable miraculous deeds—men who believe that they can impart supernatural blessings from God by the laying on of their hands. But where is the evidence? Why not raise the dead or heal a paralytic to confirm this claim.

I have always been struck by the practice of the Popes to lay their hands on little children, some of them seriously ill, as though to impart an apostolic blessing. Though they claim to be Peter’s successor, there is never any verifiable evidenced that anything unique was received—nothing supernatural as with Jesus, Peter, or other apostles. Yet, his followers believe and will tell you that he has special power and that the touch of is hand imparts apostolic blessings from God.

Do these folks believe that he is something more than mortal? I suspect some do. Do they believe he is filled with the Holy Spirit as were the apostles? Again, I am sure many do. But, we ask, if, indeed, he is the successor of Peter, as he claims, where are what Paul called the “signs of an apostle”—miraculous works of healing paralytics, restoring sight to the blind, or raising the dead (2 Cor 12:12; see Mark 16:17-20).

As noted in a previous article, I would present the same challenge to those who claim to speak in tongues—languages unknown to them. The fact is that recordings of these kinds of sessions have been made and the “sounds” and “phrases” are not languages known to man as with the apostles (see Acts 2:1-13). But we would also call on them to work a verifiable miracle to confirm that God’s Spirit dwells in them. Do what Jesus and the apostles did.

We urge all Bible students to recognize that the miracles of the first century were special and were given by God to confirm the revelation of scriptures from God and that they ceased when the fullness and perfection of knowledge in God’s revelation was made known to men and was written (see 1 Cor 13:8-10; Jude 3). No man today has displayed the power of Jesus and his apostles as a channel of God’s blessings to man. Yes blessings today come from God providentially through nature, the talents and skills of men, and the teaching of scriptures, but let no man claim for himself supernatural power unless he is able to confirm it by the miraculous signs that Jesus and the apostles displayed.

-L. A.

 


Forgetting What God Has Done

Posted: June 29th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

“For this they willfully forget…” (2 Pet 3:5) It was just as true in Peter’s day as it is in our own: many questioned whether the day of judgment promised by God would ever come to pass. They said, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.”

But to doubt that God is going to destroy the world is to forget that He has already destroyed the world once before, by water. And the promise to us that God is coming in a judgment of fire is no less certain to be fulfilled than His promise in Noah’s day that the flood of water was coming. When God says a thing is going to happen, it’s going to happen. Those who doubt it have simply forgotten their history.

But Peter said an interesting thing when he said, “This they willfully forget.” The doubters of his day were not just forgetting the fulfillment of God’s promises in the past; they were forgetting willfully. That is, they were forgetting because they wanted to forget. Evidences of the certainty of God’s promises were inconvenient obstacles in the path they preferred to follow, so they simply put this information out of their minds. But we don’t do much better today, do we? Eric Hoffer was right: “Far more crucial than what we know or do not know is what we do not want to know.” We seal our own doom by what we don’t want to know.

Yet the truth about God is independent of our attitude toward that truth. What is true about God is true whether we care to know it or not. What He has done, He has done whether we remember it or not. And let this sink in: what He will do, He will do whether we are prepared for it or not.

God is the great reality that overarches and encompasses every other reality. Indeed, no other reality would exist if He had not created it and made it real. It is greatly to our advantage, then, to think and act rightly in relation to God who is our Creator. Remember—rather than forgetting—what God has done in the past is the key to dealing reverently with God in the present. And it’s the key to clear thinking about His promises in the future. If we’re ever tempted to doubt or wonder Will He do it?, what He’s done is all the answer we ever need.

“The truth does not vary because men forget or ignore or traduce it” (Irwin Edman).

-Gary Henry

 


Prayerful Living

Posted: June 7th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col 3:1-2).

Do we have difficulty keeping our minds peacefully focused on God while we are praying? If so, a part of the reason may be that we have not cultivated the habit of thinking about God throughout the day. Minds that do not normally think of God at other times will find it hard to stay focused on Him during occasional periods of prayer. Thus it will help us when we are praying to be people who are accustomed to “living prayerfully.”

There is such a thing as a prayerful state of mind even when we’re not actually praying. We can think about God as we fulfill the routine of our daily activities. We can be mindful of Him in a general sort of way. Historically, those who have tried to take the spiritual life seriously have always reported that they found it beneficial to live consciously in the “presence” of God, being aware of His reality at each moment. Doing this is hard at first, simply because our minds are undisciplined. They are used to wandering wherever they wish: here, there, and everywhere. But with serious intent and with the discipline that is acquired in living the spiritual life, we can learn to live in a constant state of mindfulness about God. He can become our preoccupation.

When we’re not specifically thinking about God, we can at least be thinking about the higher and better things in the world that He has made. Paul wrote, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy; meditate on these things” (Php 4:8). To think on these things is to bring ourselves closer to God and to make our minds more inclined to the act of prayer.

God is pleased with those who seek Him diligently. And seeking Him surely means that, amid the welter of our worldly concerns, our minds will always be seeking Him out.

“Another way to stay with prayer is to keep your mind from wandering too far at other times of the day. Keep it strictly in the Presence of God. If you think of Him a lot, you will find it easy to keep your mind calm in the time of prayer” (Brother Lawrence).

-Gary Henry

 


Lottery Fever

Posted: June 7th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Articles

The lottery, if no one wins, grows until occasionally someone of average wealth wins 25 or 50 million dollars. The publicity they receive by the national media heightens the expectations of many Americans that they might be the next big winner in this legalized game of chance. Fleshly “greed glands” salivate at the thought of winning such a fortune and a lust of what money can buy reaches a fever pitch with every materialistic-minded patriot of this prosperous country. Lottery fever, however, is a serious spiritual illness that has attacked the vast majority of citizens of the “land of the free.” How, some are sure to ask, can you call this a “spiritual illness”?

First, it is a way of providing the necessities of life that is never legitimized by God. The Bible claims to be a complete guide for life and godliness and speaks approvingly of many avenues of work that man may employ to provide for himself and his own (see 2 Tim 3:16-17; 2 Pet 1:3). The scriptures speak of farming, buying and selling, entering business, putting money into interest-bearing accounts, hiring out one’s skills, working as a slave, and other forms of “labor for hire.” Man is instructed to work with his hands that which is “good” (Eph 4:28). But nowhere does God speak favorably of gambling.

Second, the lottery, as gambling in general, is founded on and sustained by deception. Gaming people hold the bait of “winning” before all its clientele when “losing” is the name of the game. The odds in all games of chance are rigged to make losers, but advertising is geared to convince participants they will win. The fact that so many invest in the lottery is evidence that they, like a mouse reaching for cheese on a trap, take the bait and are a party to the deception.

Third, the lottery promotes “greed,” a sin and attitude condemned again and again by biblical writers. The scriptures teach Christians to be content with the necessities of life and warn against covetousness—the lust for and exaltation of money and mammon (see Luke 12:13-21; 1 Tim 6:6-10). People do not play the lottery to devote what they receive to the needy, to establish a home for indigent citizens who need care, to support evangelists where the gospel has not gone, nor to publish and distribute booklets to reach the lost with the gospel. Let’s get real, brethren. People play the lottery to get rich—ignoring Paul’s warning that the “love of money is the root of all kinds of evil” (1 Tim 6:10).

People play the lottery because they have visions of a new sports car, a new family vehicle with four-wheel drive, a shiny streamline boat, a dream home, a condo on the lake, membership in a prestigious country club, trips to exotic and historical parts of the world, and any number of worldly attractions that appeal to the flesh. And, of course, they will contribute just enough to the church to salve their conscience or get a tax break.

Yes, brethren, lottery fever is a spiritual illness that every Christian must fight. Let’s not deceive ourselves into believing that our motives for gambling would be any different from the man on the street who has no knowledge of God and His word. Gambling in general and the lottery in specific arise out of deception, are fired and stirred by greed, and are efforts and means to provide for one’s needs in a way that is never legitimized by God, by Christ, or the apostles.

A reminder from Paul: “But they that are minded to be rich fall into a temptation and a snare and many foolish and hurtful lusts, such as drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil: which some reaching after have been led astray from the faith, and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Tim 6:9-11).

-L. A.