CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

Warnings Met With Deafness

May 28, 2015

I am not sure which is worse: all the evils, calamities, destruction and attacks on the West and on Christianity, or the seemingly complete inability of most folks to see it happening, or to heed the warnings about all this. We have had so many folks offering so many warnings, yet most folks seem to be deaf and dumb, or just don’t care.

The inability of Westerners, especially Western Christians, to heed the warnings and respond to the alarms is just utterly frightening. It is as if the West has been immobilised by alien rays, and they are just unable to respond to the myriad of danger signs all around them.

danger 2We are so overcome with relativism, truth decay, political correctness, and idiotic ideas about tolerance that we refuse to get shook up about anything, and we remain rock hard regardless of all the warnings about our own doom. Perhaps we can understand non-Christians acting this way, but it seems Christians are hardly any better.

Most believers today are so conditioned by the spirit of the age, so biblically illiterate, and so duped by the lies of secular humanism, that they can’t seem to think straight – at least in terms of a biblical worldview. They have become utterly incapacitated to think and act like disciples of Christ, and appear to be indistinguishable from their pagan counterparts.

So bad has the situation become that the following scenario – admittedly a fictional one – is really not all that hard to imagine:

A believer can hear the thumps and the screams. He knows the burly and drunken man next door is beating his girlfriend once again. Every blow can be clearly heard. The sound of broken and smashed furniture is all too audible. But so too are the blood-curdling screams of the terrified woman.

The impulse arises to call the police and put an end to this horror. But then those old words creep back into the believer’s mind – words he has heard so often and which have become part of his worldview: “But wait, who am I to judge? Only Jesus should judge. After all, I am a sinner too. I have no right to be self-righteous here. I cannot speak out like this. I am no better than he…” With that mindset, he goes back to sleep, and hears about the death of the neighbour woman on the morning news.

Sound a bit far-fetched? Maybe. Maybe not. I actually think it is far more realistic than you might imagine. We are so morally, spiritually, theologically and biblically dumbed down as believers, that we certainly are like this when it comes to other life and death moral and cultural issues.

German Christians in the 30s and 40s had some pretty good ideas about what was happening all around them, but they preferred to say nothing and do nothing. Christians today are surrounded by abortion mills killing countless babies; they see all around them the moral freefall of the culture; they can hear all about the war against marriage and family, etc., yet they say nothing and do nothing.

And when people come along warning them about all these great evils, instead of getting irate at the evils, they get mad at those bringing the warnings. They shoot the messengers and condemn the watchmen, and simply go back about their business.

How do we explain this callousness, this deafness, this indifference, and this refusal to listen and to act accordingly? I have mentioned some possible reasons above which certainly apply to believers as well. But above and beyond all this is a spiritual condition which is really of concern here.

That is, all this is simply another indication not just of a church which has lost its way, but an indication that the judgment of God may well be falling on us. Yes you heard me right. This inability or unwillingness to hear the alarms and to pay attention to the warnings is likely part of the judgment of God on a dying church.

We read about this so often in Scripture. Let’s start with Jesus. He often berated the religious folks of his day for their hardness of heart and deafness of ear. And he made it clear it was tied in with the just judgment of God. Consider for example Mark 4:10-12:

When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. He told them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that,
“‘they may be ever seeing but never perceiving,
and ever hearing but never understanding;
otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!’”

Jesus is here appealing to words found in Isaiah 6:9-10:

Go and tell this people:
“‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’
Make the heart of this people calloused;
make their ears dull
and close their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.”

We get more of the same elsewhere, as in Matthew 13:14-15:

Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says: ‘You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them’.

These sorts of words appear often in the Old Testament. Another example is Jeremiah 5:20-22:

Announce this to the descendants of Jacob
and proclaim it in Judah:
Hear this, you foolish and senseless people,
who have eyes but do not see,
who have ears but do not hear:
Should you not fear me? declares the Lord.
‘Should you not tremble in my presence?

It is exactly because God’s people grow hard of heart, cease to fear the Lord, and no longer tremble at his presence, that this divine hardening comes into play. Jesus made this perfectly clear regarding the masses of religious people in his time, and I have no reason to think it is not fully relevant to the situation we find ourselves in today.

Today there is so much coldness of spirit, hardness of heart, and refusal to be a humble, obedient people, that God may well be bringing judgment on his church in the form of this deafness and dumbness. How else can we explain this zombie-like condition of so many believers?

How else can we account for a church that seems to be in such a deep sleep, with all the warnings, alerts and alarms getting absolutely no response? If this spiritual deafness and blindness is an act of divine judgment, then the only response we can offer is contrition, repentance and a change of heart.

We must cry out for his mercy. That is all we can do. If the warning signs are falling on deaf ears, then we are in a very serious spiritual condition indeed, and falling on our faces before almighty God is our only hope.

[1208 words]

21 Responses to Warnings Met With Deafness

  • Two quotes come to mind:
    “To tolerate evil is to compromise with evil and it makes you a partaker of that evil.” (Butch Paugh)
    “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out— Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.” (Martin Niemöller in Germany under Hitler)

  • Great piece Bill – again! Surely the answer is clearly stated 2 Thes 2?

  • Yes Bill I agree. We have been sent a mute and blind spirit…surely a sign of the times?
    Terry McDonnell, WA

  • Re: Homosexual Marriage. An attack on the cornerstone of the foundations of our society. You know we’re in deep do-dos when the most conservative political commentator in the country says ” the battle for same-sex marriage has been won” and the “most conservative PM” in decades is wavering. Personally I feel physically ill at the thought of it.(maybe homophobia is a real illness- perhaps it’s me who needs to see a doctor)
    But, any national vote is bound to be won by the pro-SSM mob simply because the populace is simply ignorant on issues of Christian spirituality and the sacredness of marriage. How would they vote if we decided to abolish Aboriginal land rights- s omething which is based on their scared association with the land- no, we must respect THEIR belief systems, but to hell with the Christian. I see in the not too distant future when upright, law-abiding citizens will face possible criminal charges for doing no other than defend their faith- that time is soon people, and be prepared.Still, can’t be as bad as being crucified for your beliefs.

  • I think you are exactly right Bill, although it is a very sobering idea – it is like Romans 1 where God says “claiming to be wise they became fools” and also that God gives stubborn sinners over to their sin. Or in this case spiritual blindness.

  • Very apropos warning Bill. I have taken the liberty of providing a link to it on my blog,
    http://itaintthesame.wordpress.com

  • For Australians, to defend marriage:
    http://preservingmarriage.acl.org.au/

  • Bill, you write above,

    ‘The impulse arises to call the police and put an end to this horror. But then those old words creep back into the believer’s mind – words he has heard so often and which have become part of his worldview: “But wait, who am I to judge? Only Jesus should judge. After all, I am a sinner too. I have no right to be self-righteous here. I cannot speak out like this. I am no better than he…” With that mindset, he goes back to sleep, and hears about the death of the neighbour woman on the morning news.’

    And lest we forget it is the Roman Catholic Church and perhaps many other denominations who are responsible for this emasculation and feminization of the conscience. Hence the result in Ireland

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/damianthompson/100266512/the-vatican-knives-are-out-again-for-disgraced-gay-cardinal-keith-obrien-should-we-feel-sorry-for-him/

    David Skinner UK

  • “It is as if the West has been immobilised by alien rays, and they are just unable to respond to the myriad of danger signs all around them.”

    Very well said, Bill.

    Your above post about the mental paralysis afflicting the West’s political and religious leaders reminds me of some prophetic lines penned by two famous 20th-century poets, W.B. Yeats and T.S. Eliot.

    W.B. Yeats, in his poem “The Second Coming” (1919), wrote:

    “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.”

    T.S. Eliot, in “The Hollow Men” (1925), said the following:

    “We are the hollow men
    We are the stuffed men
    Leaning together
    Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
    Our dried voices, when
    We whisper together
    Are quiet and meaningless
    As wind in dry grass
    Or rats’ feet over broken glass
    In our dry cellar….

    “This is the way the world ends?
    Not with a bang but a whimper.”

    Keep up the good work, Bill.

    John Ballantyne,
    Melbourne.

  • Bill…I wrote this poem a few days ago under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit as I saw a recent local business savagely attacked by homosexual activists for standing up for the sanctity of marriage.

    NOT ONE pastor, priest or board member from any of the local churches made any public comment (even to address it for their congregations).

    Here is that story…
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/jewelry-store-sign-prompts-same-sex-couple-to-ask-for-refund-1.3077192

    The poem…

    They’re Coming For Me.

    As the music I hear from a distance is played
    With the cheers and the chants from the lost and depraved
    Comes ever closer to ones that He saved
    I know well, they are coming for me.

    I could not sit still with a fire in my bones
    Even knowing tomorrow that I may stand alone
    In this old fallen world I do not call my home
    And I know, they are coming for me.

    I went before wicked ones who sat in high places
    And I spoke from the Truth as I stared in their faces
    Their cold empty hearts cleave to Satan’s embraces
    How I know, they’re soon coming for me.

    As holy coals touched me I heeded His Word
    ‘In this way you walk’, said the voice that I heard
    In shakings and sufferings the Holy Ghost stirred
    And I see now they are coming for me.

    Like a Stephen I stood, took my stand and position
    When even most church goers barely would listen
    I finished the race and completed my mission
    Even though now they’re coming for me.

    Now they knock on my door and they call out my name
    And lead me through scorning and mocking and shame
    Stepping up on the threshing floor I humbly proclaim
    That I knew they were coming for me.

    A special chorus starts for the hordes of the godless
    The demon possessed jeer them on in their likeness
    The blood-stained machine fueled by thickly black darkness
    I saw long ago it was coming for me.

    The chanting and drums of the chorus gets loud
    As banners are raised from the prouder than proud
    As death closes in and to Satan they bowed
    Jesus said He was coming for me.

    I trusted His word when He said ‘I’m in you’
    The devil tried sifting me througher than through
    Holy Spirit did what He knew I couldn’t do
    I knew He was coming for me.

    God held back no more as the last saint was counted
    And on horses of glory the Holy Ones mounted
    The dead in Christ first as the trumpet call sounded
    Then I knew He was coming for me.

    I lifted from earth in my new redeemed flesh
    And I saw the I AM conquering sin, hell and death
    I entered His glory as I drew my last breath
    His angels were coming for me.

    In eternity’s view time is just but a vapor
    Just a moment to write my name up on that paper
    A white garment fitted through tears that I taper
    Oh what joy He was coming for me.

  • This very much feels like PM Tony Abbotts’ Pontius Pilate moment.

    He seems to have some semblance of faith but is at a crucial decision point. Does he stand firm on this issue or does he turn this over to the jeering crowd and try to wash his hands of any personal responsibility in the process?

  • Brilliant article!

    Tomorrow in Brisbane (Sat May 30, 2015) there is a peaceful walk against abortion. 100 000 babies are murdered every year in Australia through abortion.
    Please attend if you can. If not, could you please cover those of us in prayer who plan to attend and seek the Lord Jesus as to what else you could do.

    http://www.walkforlittlefeet.org

  • Thanks Darryl,
    Though I am cautious about “inspiration”, this is a wonderful piece. Well done.
    Jeremy

  • I have been struck lately how the lie that redefining marriage will have little effect on people is so similar to the lie from the snake in the Garden of Eden. Very clearly a tactic from the same source.

    “Falling on our faces before almighty God” was always our only hope. With all this “truth decay” around it’s a very good thing that Jesus is our drentist. (sorry)

    God bless.

  • @Annette
    Do not forget that for Tony Abbott, he said he is the last man standing in his household that defends marriage as man and woman. Apparently the rest of his family (especially a lesbian sister) support the other side. That’s got to be hard.
    Pray for him and support him in any way:
    https://www.pm.gov.au/contact-your-pm

  • Thank you Bill for the thought provoking article. I have for a period of time been one of these people who have tried to ignore things around me. However the illustration of the women assaulted by her partner and then being found dead the next dayis often true. We live in perilous times. I have been a follower of Christ for 30 years, and I can only see things getting harder. I took the action by some other commentators on this blog and have sent emails to various politicians requesting that the marriage act not be redefined. Thank you Mark Wong for posting the links too.

  • Surely, even in a world where religious arguments don’t count, the bestt protection and weapon of attack is the truth, logical fact. I pray Tony Abbot will stand strong, emotionally this is hard in his situation, but that is how the enemy works, attacks in the area of emotions, because he knows that in the area of truth he has nothing to say, and less to win. a marriage can only be the union of 2 complementary parts, we know this in carpentry and electrics, we are just deliberate blind in the area of human sexuality because we love darkness rather than light. I am so glad that Jesus and the host of heaven stand against this in all its unfailing capacity even if we don’t always. It will either be defeated by the light or snuff itself out in its own darkness
    Many blessings
    Ursula Bennett

  • I always thought that these verses represented God’s frustration at our stubbornness and hard heartedness somewhat like a parent with a stubborn and rebellious child who refuses to obey though the logic of the instruction is right there in plain daylight, but no, they won’t see or listen. Continuous disobedience in the face of truth and God’
    s pleading for repentance and obedience brings with it its own deception, I am not sure why God even needs to send “a great deception” as warned in 2 thes 2 In Rom 1 it is more a case of “giving them over to their own lusts” and I wonder if these actually mean the same thing. But in the background I hear God’s desperate pleeding with the souls he loves so intencely. .
    Many blessings
    Ursula Bennett

  • Today’s brand of Christianity is fake and phony, external only. The need to expound on the new birth is seldom heard in our day. I want to share a couple of links to sermons from C. H. Spurgeon that are similar to this topic, first – http://www.spurgeon.org/sermons/0068.htm
    secondly – http://www.gracegems.org/Spurgeon/joash_and_his_friend_jehoiada.htm

    Here is an excerpt from the latter –

    “Joash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD–all the years of Jehoiada the priest.” 2 Chronicles 24:2

    After the six years living in the house of God, Joash had a grand start in life with everything to his advantage. Alas, alas, alas, that, with such a bright beginning–he should come to such a wretched end!

    Notice also that, being thus well-started, “Joash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD–all the years of Jehoiada the priest.” While that godly priest lived, the king was under his influence; he consulted him in every matter of importance. He was plastic under Jehoiada’s hand, and he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord–not only that which was right in the sight of godly people. His life seems to have been at least outwardly obedient to the law of Jehovah, and he yielded himself up, apparently, at any rate, to be a loyal servant of the great King; and that he did, not for a short time only–but all the years in which Jehoiada lived.

    But Joash buried all his religion in Jehoiada’s grave!
    The graven images which he had broken down–were set up again.
    The Asherah poles which he had cut down–were worshiped again.
    And he who seemed so zealous a servant of Jehovah–had now become a worshiper of the foul idols, and bowed before the accursed Baals. Oh, sad, sad, sad!

    There was a lack of godly principle in Joash–and it is of this, that I want to warn all.
    Do not be satisfied with the practice of piety–without the principles of piety.
    It is not enough to have a correct creed–you must have a renewed heart.
    It is not sufficient to have an ornate ritual–you must have a holy heart and life.
    If this change is not wrought in you by the Holy Spirit–you who yield so readily to godly parents, will yield just as quickly to evil companions when on your own out in the world…..

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