The world did not know, did not recognise the Lord Jesus for who He was. They should have done so for He is the Light that dispels darkness. He shines into the heart of every man so that all are without excuse. “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” It is clear ‘his own’ here are not believers as then the verse would make no sense for it was believers who received Him and to whom He gave “power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name”. Everyone else refused Him. Were ‘his own’ the Jewish nation? This is not stated here although Jesus did say, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24). This passage must be extended beyond the Jews to include all men, for He is the Light “which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.”
The “common people heard him gladly” (Mark 12:37), but even they proved to be fickle and turned against Him in the end. Jesus knew this and consequently “… did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men” (John 2:24). How then was the Lord Jesus received by the political and religious leaders of the day when He came to earth?
Was He welcomed and received as a prophet, bringing the words of God to men?
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” (John 5:24)
No, He was rejected as a blasphemer.
“He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy. What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death.” (Matthew 26:65-66)
Was He received as a priest, speaking to God for men? No, for although He remains “a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec” (Hebrews 7:17), even although “he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself (9:26), and although “this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God” (10:12), all men hardened their hearts “as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness” (3:8). Stephen reminded his largely Jewish hearers of this.
“Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers.” (Acts 7:51-15)
Did they repent? No they did not. As Stephen told them of his vision of the glories of the risen and exalted Christ, did they receive his word? No they did not: “… they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, And cast him out of the city, and stoned him.” (7:57-58)
They received the Lord Jesus not as prophet, not as priest, but also not as King. They scorned Him, reviled Him. They said “We will not have this man to reign over us” (Luke 19:14). They subjected the Son of God to appalling mockery. Instead of putting Him on a throne, they nailed Him to a cross; instead of placing a crown on His head, they plaited a crown of cruel thorns and pressed it hard onto His head until it bled.
Let us ask ourselves a question. Do you think that if the Lord Jesus were on earth today He would receive any different treatment from presidents and prime ministers, from politicians, from the wheelers and dealers of the world, from judges or even from religious leaders who claim to speak in His Name? Would even from the ‘common people’ once more be fickle? I tell you He would not receive any different treatment today than He did then. All would hound and persecute Him, seek to silence Him, reject His teaching, scorn His authority and if they could, they would put Him to death, just as was done 2000 years ago.
Prominent among His persecutors would be those who today profess to worship and serve Him, those who long ago turned their backs on the truth, who tread the Word of God under foot and have replaced its teaching with wisdom of their own. Also politicians, leaders of idolatrous religions, judges and lawyers, and at their instigation the common people would all line up, vie with each other to throw the first stone, to deal the final death blow – just as they all did all those years ago. And how can I be so sure of this? Because, this is exactly what they are doing right now. They cannot touch our Saviour now for He is beyond their reach and forever will be, so in His place they reach out to remove His followers and obliterate all remembrance of Him. Let us not forget what Jesus Himself said:
“If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name's sake, because they know not him that sent me.” (John 15:18-21)
What fools they are to think that they can oppose and succeed against the Lord’s anointed! He holds them all in derision, laughs at their futility. Men refuse Christ as king and they refuse Him His crown, but He is set upon His throne by His Father. Who then shall remove Him? No one, I tell you, no one!
“He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.” (Psalm 2:4-6)
In a recent address to the first annual conference of the Law Society’s family law section, Sir James Munby, judge and president of the Family Division made the claim that British Courts are ‘no longer Christian.’ Think about it and this is really stating the obvious. He is of course, correct. He praised the fact that judges no longer have the task of promoting virtue and enforcing morality. Such thinking is ‘Victorian’. ‘Narrow views’ of sexual morality, of sodomy, abortion and adultery have no place in our modern world. In the same way that Christian clerics no longer claim to speak as the ‘defining voices of morality and of the law of marriage and the family’ neither do judges. He thus pretends to stand on a moral ground higher than Scripture, to be neutral, as do most of these unjust judges. What ruin, what disaster their judgements are bringing down daily upon our once blessed nation! They would introduce a new morality, a new standard - to use the judge’s own words – ‘of reasonable men and women in 2013’. No, it is a old morality, nothing new about it, as old as the sinful heart of man. Yes Judge, we get your message, we get the picture. We see the consequences of what you are doing: prisons overflowing with prisoners serving short sentences for hideous crimes, only to be released after half their sentences to start their wicked practices all over again; terrorists running free in our streets protected by ‘human rights’ legislation; feral youths terrorising housing estates with complete immunity; knife crime, gun crime in our rundown cities; the right to engage in the vilest behaviour all protected by law; harassment of the innocent using ‘anti-discrimination’ legislation; and so the list goes on. We don’t like your world judge, nor do we consider anything that you are doing ’reasonable’, nor do we like the standards you have foisted upon us without asking. Take note: you may escape our wrath for the time being, but you will not escape the wrath of God.
The professing Church replied to Munby through the mouth of George Carey, former archbishop of Canterbury. He tried to show how Britain’s legal system owes much to the ethics of the Christian faith as he understands them. He bemoans the marginalisation of the Christian faith in modern Britain. Quite correctly, he observes how the much lauded liberal concept of ‘social inclusion’ is used to exclude all that is Christian, regarding our belief system as a dangerous anachronism. Whilst speaking of ‘tolerance’ for others, Christians are ostracised and their faith scorned. Carey went on to enumerate many recent appalling examples of discrimination and intolerance toward individual Christians and Christian beliefs by government, local councils and the judiciary. Britain is not a fair-minded place to live as personal liberty continues to be eroded. Where there is no transcendental and unchangeable moral or ethical basis of law – existing beyond the reach of men to change it - tyranny will always result as the strongest attempts to impose by force his own moral code on everyone else. This is precisely what is happening today. There is no justification for the new morality other than brutal and cynical coercion. Having lost God there can be no ground for right and wrong. We are left with ‘reasonable and liberal’ moralising political platitudes that confirm the position of those in power and maintain or increase their controlling power over the rest of us.
Sadly in the end, Carey completely misses the point and eventually joins the opposition. With some obvious differences, among other matters so-called ‘gay rights,’ he almost appears to be saying that the equality, freedom and progress so much desired by our liberal élite can be found by embracing rather than repulsing the Christian faith. He then launches into an unfounded tirade against Oliver Cromwell and the ‘cruel’ Puritans. Cromwell, as a manifest tyrant, he says, would have welcomed the doctrine of ‘political correctness’. Such manifest ignorance of history is inexcusable. A left-wing historian and admirer of Cromwell called him ‘God’s Englishman’ and so he was. Despite his clear differences with the Puritans this historian demonstrates in his books a much greater understanding of Cromwell. George Carey succeeds only is displaying his own deep seated prejudices, typical of the slushy sentimentalism that is dominant in professing Christianity today. He makes not a single appeal to Scripture, nor even to the words of the Lord Jesus.
Dr Nazir-Ali, the former bishop of Rochester, in an aside when warning of ‘unforeseen consequences’ of plans by prime minister David Cameron to issue Sharia-compliant bonds raised a very telling point with respect to Judge Munby’s not so thinly veiled threats about allowing Christian ideals to influence judicial decisions in family courts. He is quite prepared to override parent’s wishes, particularly those with religious concerns. Having ruined our economy, politicians and bankers now seem oblivious to all risks in the overwhelming drive to make up the losses by bringing money into Britain from anywhere and anyone at any cost. Unlike former archbishop Rowan Williams who sees a possible future accommodation with Sharia law in Britian, Dr Nazir-Ali understands the real risks. He holds dual nationality of Britain and Pakistan. What is interesting is that he questions the constitutional position of Sir James’ views. We cannot support the union of Church and State as held by the Church of England, nevertheless the point made by Dr Nazir-Ali is significant. It shows above all that judges in Britain have largely become a law unto themselves with little regard for any legislation or tradition that impinges upon their own views and assumed positions. They seem to see themselves as little less than omniscient and omnipotent. The fact is that all members of the judiciary sit as ‘judges of the crown’. The coronation service and oath are clear that the monarch is required to uphold ‘the laws of God’ and the true profession of the Gospel. In England to sit as a secular judge in a multi-faith society, as Munby appears to suppose he does, is thus strictly speaking unconstitutional. But what do judges care about that? Probably very little.
George Carey, were he true to the Scriptures, would find there that we face an ongoing battle with the powers of the kingdom of darkness. ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’ has probably been expunged from his hymnbook. There can be no truce, no neutrality, no ‘common purpose’ with the enemies of Christ − for this is what they are. The darts and arrows are aimed not at the impersonal ‘Christian faith’ but at the person of Christ Himself, whose rule over all nations is His inheritance. It is small wonder then that the struggle is bitter.
“I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.” (Psalm 2:7-8)
This is not a struggle between two conflicting philosophies, but a battle to the death between two diametrically opposed camps that will continue to the overthrow of one side or the other. Thankfully, we know from the Word of God who is on the losing side and to whom victory belongs and so can take heart. Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans, for all their imperfections, ‘warts and all’, knew this too and were consistent in their application of the Scriptures to national life. This is why they are so misunderstood and hated by those bent on compromise with the enemy. Few, if any today, in the Church of England are worthy even to stand in the shadow of such men. Let Cromwell’s stature outside our Houses of Parliament remain and stand tall. To the Puritans are attributable many of the freedoms now so fiercely under attack by godless men, including being able to express contrary opinions in print. Clerics who defend liberal and secular ‘values’ claiming they are somehow ‘Christian’ are deceivers and traitors to the cause of Christ, sunk in irredeemable apostasy.
Of course the Christian faith is intolerant. It has to be. There are many things that cannot be tolerated under any circumstances. Our God is a jealous God. “For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God” (Psalm 34:14). He alone is God and as such we worship no other and work towards the destruction not the accommodation of all others. To invite people from other lands to enter our country and set up their altars to false gods under the guise of tolerance and ‘multi-cultural’ understanding is the height of folly. To see our prime minister and his wife parading in a Hindu temple in London and other leaders praying in mosques are appalling acts of direct provocation to God, a sign of hatred towards Him and thus a denial of all things godly and Christian. For what will men sell their souls? Where there is one God there can be only One whom all men worship legitimately. “I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me” (Isaiah 45:5). All other worship is to be prohibited not welcomed as cultural diversity.
No one is free to worship idols whether they be of wood or stone or idols of the heart. Those who permit such things will bring retribution upon themselves and their children, according to Scripture, to “the third and fourth generation of them that hate me” (Exodus 20:5). Do not dare tell me that the God of the Old Testament is not the same as the God of the New! He is the same: “For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed” (Malachi 3:6). “For our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29). How are we forced daily to endure hearing the Name of God blasphemed, God and Christ mocked with people thinking it is as nothing! The abolition of all vestiges of the Christian Sabbath, the introduction of a seven day working week for so many, leaves little opportunity for the worship of God and a welcome rest for men. Woe betide those who seek to insist they cannot work on Sundays! They receive no support from the courts, politicians, employers or anyone else − that all belongs to a bygone age.
Unlike our secular and liberal democracy that makes up laws on the hoof, the Christian faith does not and never will tolerate those who abuse their parents, nor murderers, nor adulterers, sexual deviants, nor thieves and liars, nor the greedy. Today life is cheap and violence goes unpunished, robberies are often ignored, marriage and the faithfulness that accompanies it are of little value. Theft and lies are rationalised, ‘everyone is at it’. Greed has moved from being a sin and raised to a virtue, becoming a national pastime at work and at play. God hates these things and so we too must be totally intolerant of them.
Is there any tolerance in the teaching of Scripture? There is none for sin, but there is mercy and grace towards every sinner who turns from sin and wrongdoing and trusts in our Saviour alone for salvation. Heaven rejoices.
“I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.” (Luke 15:7)
Outside Christ there is nothing that can be tolerated for all else is sin.
“Before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour.” (Isaiah 43:10-11)
“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts4:12) Only the Lord Jesus is the Saviour. In the Scriptures we find more than just tolerance, we find God’s grace and mercy towards undeserving sinners. We find an open invitation to return to God through His Son.
“Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.”(Isaiah 55:1)
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
“That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3:15-17)