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THE CULTURE WAR AND THE COMMAND OF CHRIST

by Dr. Robert Hymers

A sermon preached on Saturday Evening, November 19, 2005
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

"We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:20).


The fourth chapter of the book of Acts is being replayed on our college campuses, on the streets and in the malls here in Los Angeles - and across America. Just as there were two groups in the fourth chapter of Acts, so there are two groups today.

The first group, headed by the ACLU and People for the American Way, are against Christianity and are doing all they can to destroy evangelism in our country. The second group are the Christians who refuse to be silenced, who say,

"We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:20).

The militant secularists who want to stop all mention of God and all evangelism, must be challenged by Bible believing Christians who say they have no authority under the Constitution of the United States of America, and under God, to muzzle and silence those who proclaim the gospel of Christ.

This struggle is part of what Patrick J. Buchanan spoke about in his speech at the Republican National Convention in 1992. In that speech Buchanan coined the phrase "the culture war." The liberals at the time jumped all over him in the media, saying he wanted to start a war. Ridiculous! The "culture war" was started in America by the liberals themselves! Notice that, now, even the liberals use Buchanan's phrase. Even the most left-wing politicians recognize now that Buchanan's phrase was a good description of the current situation in the United States. We are indeed in a "culture war." One side in the war wants Christianity and its message stamped out. The other side wants to proclaim the gospel of Christ openly without being restrained by "laws" that don't exist in the sight of God. They say that you cannot speak of Christ in your school. They say that you can only invite people to church in certain "designated" areas. The truth is that they want to stamp out evangelism and stop us from spreading the message of the gospel.

That's exactly what happened long ago, in the book of Acts, when the "authorities" tried to appeal to some unknown "law" to stop the Christians from obeying Christ and spreading His message.

Let's break down the "culture war" and make it easy to understand. They want to contain Christianity, make it illegal to speak of Christ in public places, and stop evangelism. That's the purpose of the ACLU, People for the American Way, the National Education Association, and other groups that want to stamp out evangelistic Christianity.

Nothing has changed. It was the same in the first century. Look at verses 17 and 18.

"But that it [Christianity] spread no further among the people, let us straitly [severely] threaten them, that they speak henceforth [no more] to no man in this name. And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus" (Acts 4:17-18).

They wanted to contain Christianity, make it illegal to speak of Christ in public places, and stop evangelism. But the Apostles said,

"Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:19-20).

Dr. John MacArthur, though wrong on the Blood of Christ, is correct when he gives this comment on Acts 4:19 - "Christians should obey governmental authority (Romans 13:1-7; I Peter 2:13-17), but when governmental decrees are clearly contrary to God's Word, God must be obeyed" (The MacArthur Study Bible, note on Acts 4:19). The classical commentator Matthew Henry said, "Nothing can be more absurd than to hearken unto weak and fallible men…more than unto a God that is infinitely wise and holy, our Creator and sovereign Lord, and the Judge to whom we are all accountable" (Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible, note on Acts 4:19).

Jesus had told the Apostles,

"Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15).

Now the "authorities" told them they could not obey Christ's command in the Great Commission. The Apostles answered that they must obey God, and not man-made law on this matter. And so it is today.

We revere the memory of John Bunyan, that stalwart Baptist who spent twelve years in Bedford Jail because he preached the gospel without a "license" from the government of England. We venerate the name of Pastor Richard Wurmbrand, who spent fourteen years in prison because he refused to obey the Communist government and stop preaching the gospel. We praise the Christians in China who are threatened, intimidated and imprisoned by the Communist government for spreading the gospel. We praise the Christians in Indonesia, and other Muslim lands, who experience great violence, and even death, for proclaiming the gospel. And we venerate the Apostles who said,

"Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:19-20).

And we here in America are called upon by Scripture to do exactly the same thing. We are told by God to evangelize all men, in every place.

"Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15).

And we must obey God rather than men to fulfill this clear command.

Now stand and read Acts 4:29 aloud.

"And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word"
     (Acts 4:29).

You may be seated. Great Spurgeon said, concerning this passage,

The opposition of the world is often a very great blessing to the Church. If it be met by holy boldness, it is sure to yield a glorious triumph to the servants of God…Trial is often sanctified to this noble end. Let the world oppress the Church; let the members of that Church be thoroughly weaned from any other ground of comfort; let the Lord Jesus be their only rock and refuge (C. H. Spurgeon, "The Holy Child Jesus," The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Pilgrim Publications, 1979 reprint, volume IX, p. 697).

Christ told us to "preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15). Let us continue to obey Him rather than men. Though the Communists, the Muslims, the ACLU, and all the demonic powers of this world come against us, and

"Straitly threaten [us], that [we] speak henceforth to no man in this name" (Acts 4:17),

let us say with the Apostles,

"We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:20).

(END OF SERMON)
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THE OUTLINE OF

THE CULTURE WAR AND THE COMMAND OF CHRIST

by Dr. Robert Hymers


"We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:20).

(Acts 4:17-18, 19-20; Mark 16:15; Acts 4:29, 17)