Prayer Targets: H.A. Ironside on Repentance; Call2Fall and The Return; LGBT Ruling
June 17, 2020
"I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you," says the Lord Almighty... (Malachi 3:6-7)
Dear Praying Friends,
H.A. "Harry" Ironside (1876-1951) was a prominent Bible teacher and pastor who wrote 60 books and numerous articles and pamphlets on biblical themes during 50 years of fruitful ministry. Ironside pastored Chicago's Moody Memorial Church from 1929 to 1948. Here are excerpts from his book Unless Ye Repent:
The book of The Revelation of Jesus Christ fittingly closes the volume of Holy Scripture. It deals with both the present age and the coming era, climaxing all God's ways with man, and bringing before us the eternal issues of the long conflict between good and evil. It is the Lord's last word to mankind until the voice of the returning Savior is heard from the heavens, calling His redeemed... And, significantly enough, it contains an urgent summons to repentance. In fact, the call to repent is found seven times in the letters to the seven churches...The churches of Smyrna and Philadelphia [alone] are without rebuke.
We see in Ephesus a thoroughly orthodox church that has failed because it has left the freshness of its first love. He would have them turn to the love and earnestness of their early days when He was precious to their souls; and for love of Him, they would toil and suffer that others might know Him. Smyrna is a suffering church, true to Christ despite persecution and poverty. Pergamos is a worldly church, yet reasonably sound in doctrine, though tolerating much that is very unsound in practice. There, positively evil things were tolerated, and unholy alliances formed, which were an affront to the One they professed to serve. Note the words, "Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth" (Rev 2:16). That Word is positively against all who make a pretense of godliness while walking in unholy ways. Is not the church in many places...settled down in the world with no thought of separation to Christ? In Thyatira, superstition and gross immorality prevailed, except among a very small minority who grieved over conditions but did not seem able to remedy them. We are confronted with conditions so grave, and wickedness so shocking that we might naturally hesitate to recognize it as a church of God at all. Yet the Lord addressed it as such. It bore His name. It professed to represent Him in the world. Yet it condoned iniquitous practices that were below the level of ordinary decency. On the other hand, this church had once been characterized by love and devotion of an unusually high order, and there were in it still a faithful remnant who mourned over its fallen condition and who were as the salt, preserving it from utter corruption. And, if today the churches would heed the call and repent, honestly facing every wicked thing in the light of the Word of God, there would come revival and renewal that would make the once powerless assemblies a living witness for Christ in the world.
Sardis is cold and formal, with very little evidence of divine life, though even in it a few are found whose garments are undefiled. There, all is outwardly correct. There is no intimation that vile practices of any kind were being tolerated. But all is cold and formal. It is the respectability of spiritual death. Yet it is evident there was a time when this church was aflame with passionate devotion to Christ. Hence the admonition, "Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee" (Rev. 3:3).
Formality has taken the place of living power. O that...there might be a great turning to God, a repentance that would again fill nearly vacant prayer rooms and bring the churches to their knees in brokenness of spirit until God should open the windows of heaven and pour out life-giving showers to revive the barren wastes and give the world to see again a mighty movement of His Holy Spirit.
Philadelphia is a true Bible church, where the authority of the Lord is recognized, and His name revered. Consequently, there is an open door for testimony, and faithfulness is manifested in maintaining the truth of God. With the church in Philadelphia the Lord finds no fault. He commends it for its faithfulness and promises rich reward; so, we find here, as in the letter to Smyrna, no call to repent.
Laodicea is lukewarm...while professing to have Christ in their midst, He is outside the door... to all these churches there comes the voice of the Lord, declaring, "I know thy works." Everything is open to His searching gaze. In five out of the seven letters, we find the exhortation to repent. Russell Elliot has remarked that "a lukewarm state is not a passing from cold to hot, but from hot to cold" (A Last Message). If private devotion is neglected, we will soon become lukewarm. In His grace He sends trial and affliction to draw the wayward heart back to Himself. "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent" (Rev 3:19). He stands outside the door -- and note, it is the door of the church, not merely of the individual -- knocking and seeking restoration of fellowship. The door is unlatched only by repentance. "To this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word" (Isa. 66:2). "Be zealous therefore, and repent." The hour is late. The end of the age draws on. Repentance, if it be worthwhile, must come soon...Oh, what God might yet do with a truly repentant church, aflame with loving devotion...! (H.A. Ironside, Unless Ye Repent, excerpts from chapter 9, edited for space. All of chapter 9 can be found at Herald of His Coming)
Call2Fall and The Return -- On June 28, two Sundays from now, churches across America will take time during their Sunday worship services to express our dependence on God before we celebrate our Independence on the Fourth. Each able member who wishes to join in will spend a few minutes physically on their knees, humbling themselves before God in repentance of personal and national sins and seeking his mercy, forgiveness and deliverance from the plagues and troubles that threaten us. Each will be joining in unity with churches believers across our land. We will be asking God to draw our churches and nation back to Himself.
Clearly, God is speaking to His people in America right now, and like the people of Judah, we must listen. He spoke plainly to them and us through Joel the Prophet (see Joel 1-3). The theme of Joel is national repentance and God's resultant blessing. It opens with the land having suffered a devastating plague of locusts and hordes of insects that literally stripped the land desolate. The army of insects did unthinkable damage, pointing prophetically to foreign armies that would have destroyed Judah had the people not repented of their sins. God sent the Prophet Joel to warn the people and call them to repentance via a national Solemn Assembly. They all knew what that meant -- such assemblies (called sacred assemblies in some Bible translations) had been taught, practiced, and modelled throughout Old Testament history. The call to Solemn Assembly was a call to repent of all accumulated, unconfessed, and unrepented of sin and a time of return and wholehearted dedication to the Lord (Joel 2:12-14).
Everyone was expected to participate -- young and old, rich and poor, the priests, elders, and laymen (2:15-17). God called them to return to Him with fasting (1:14; 2:12, 15) and to gather on a day or days designated for that purpose. They did. In a response akin to God's call and promise in 2 Chronicles 7:14, they came together in heart-rending repentance, the priests weeping as they came (1:13-14; 2:17). And in an act of amazing mercy and grace, God intervened, forgave the people of their sins, and immediately reversed the plague, sending rain to end their drought and providing grain to eat and wine to drink. God healed the land from the damage done by hordes of insects (2:18-27). Moreover, God turned back the alien armies that posed a threat to Judah and promised the people they would never be put to shame again (2:19-20).
Yet far beyond restoring temporal provision and prosperity to His people, He promised remarkable spiritual blessing -- short and long term. Speaking of the time to come, He promised to pour out his Spirit upon all flesh, cause their sons and daughters to prophesy, send men young and old to have supernatural encounters with the Lord, and, He promised "whosoever would call upon the name of the Lord would be delivered [saved] (2:28-32; Acts 2:16-21). In Chapter 3, God warns of His plan to judge the nations and to bless His faithful people. Akin to 2 Chronicles 7:13-14, it is an awesome transition from national judgment to national repentance to extraordinary national blessing.
Challenges are ahead for Christians who want their children to grow up in the America we have known and live out their faith in peace and safety. The Call2Fall and The Return are timely indeed. Please visit the links and urge your pastor to lead your church in the Call2Fall on Sunday, June 28.
- Lord, may the churches of America respond to you in repentance in these Spirit-led Solemn Assemblies! (Dt 4:30-31; 2 Chr 15:1-15; Is 44:22, 55:7, 59:20; Jer 3:12-15, 22, 4:1-14, 24:7; Lam 3:40; Hos 6:1-3, 12:6, 14:1-4; Joel 2:13; Zec 1:3; Mal 3:7; 2 Cor 7:10; Jam 4:8; 1 Pet 2:25)
Supreme Court Ruling Advances LGBT Agenda -- On Monday, the Supreme Court issued its ruling on three combined LGBT employment discrimination cases. The ruling redefines and reinterprets the term "sex" in the 1964 Civil Rights Act to mean not only biological gender -- male or female -- as intended by Congress in 1964, but also "sexual orientation" and "gender identity." Shockingly, Chief Justice Roberts (a George W. Bush appointee) and Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch (a Donald Trump appointee) abandoned any semblance of judicial restraint and constitutional integrity and sided with the liberal wing of the Court to rewrite the simple meaning of the English language, rewrite history, rewrite the Constitution, and posture the legal foundation of the United States in audacious defiance against the Word of God and the God of the Bible.
The implications of this decision are far-reaching and open wide the door to the persecution of Christian businesspeople via discrimination lawsuits and threats of lawsuits by people who identify with the entire spectrum of LGBT identities. Job applicants and employees who feel they have been discriminated against because of their sexual identity or practices will rush to court. Worse still, a veritable pandora's box of challenges will be unleashed when it comes to desegregating bathrooms, locker rooms, showers, and changing facilities so that girls and women in their most vulnerable states will now be subjected to sexual predators who "identify" as the gender opposite their biological sex. We are already seeing this "gender identity" ploy in women's sports, with biological males competing and winning, even setting new records once held by biological women. Much more could be said, but this is a sweeping ruling that will have impact far beyond complaints and lawsuits against business and will reach into independent non-profit and faith-based organizations and will be a catalyst for sexualizing all other public policy.
In a statement released by FRC, President Tony Perkins said: "Allowing judges to rewrite the Civil Rights Act to add gender identity and sexual orientation as protected classes poses a grave threat to religious liberty. We've already witnessed in recent years how courts have used the redefinition of words as a battering ram to crush faith-based businesses and organizations." No exemptions for churches or religious organizations were written into the ruling. In the Majority opinion, Justice Gorsuch wrote, "[H]ow these doctrines protecting religious liberty interact with Title VII are questions for future cases ... while other employers in other cases may raise free exercise arguments that merit careful consideration, none of the employers before us today represent in this Court that compliance with Title VII will infringe their own religious liberties in any way."
Just as it erred grievously in the 1857 Dred Scott decision (slavery), the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision (abortion), and the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision (same-sex marriage), it has erred again, basing its decision not on the law as duly enacted by Congress and signed by the president, the Constitution, or even our national moral and legal heritage, but rather the precepts, principles, and pressures of an increasingly decadent, declining culture. The Supreme Court has blindly accelerated our cultural decline and its negative impact on our families, churches, schools, and communities as well as businesses and other cultural institutions.
As Christians who have a grasp of Scripture and world history, we can easily (and sadly) predict the outcome of this ruling for our children and our nation. It will be much more difficult for us to raise our children, to stand up for our values publicly, and to defend our faith while the law and the courts come against us. But defend our faith is what God has called us to do (see must reads: Splinters in the Bench; FRC Press Statement; Washington Post; Perkins: Supreme Court Rewrites Civil Rights Act. See also Good News from HHS before Bad News from Supreme Court by Peter Sprigg)
- Father, nothing but your heavenly intervention and aid can turn back the darkness we face, but you have called us for such a time as this. May each and all of us who call you Lord humble ourselves before you and consecrate ourselves afresh to you and to do your will. Help us to hear your voice as never before and to act on you word. Intervene, Lord, open the eyes of your people. We must arise as one person to prayer and action. Lead and guide us to win back our nation to you! (Ex 23:6-8; Lev 19:15; Dt 1:16-17; Ps 19:7; Pr 31:8-9; Mt 19:4-5, 28:18-20; Eph 1:20-22; 1 Tim 1:8-11, 6:11-16; 2 Tim 3:16; Jude 7)
Thank you for your prayers over these very serious matters!