As we argue, urge, mobilize, vote, write and so forth, we need to remember that all these things, however righteous they are in themselves — and they are — cannot supply an essential element of cultural reformation. In order to turn our culture back from the brink, we need to pray for the arrival of widespread fear.

In the book of Acts, it is striking how often this comes up. The things that provoke it vary — from signs and miracles, to the sudden death of a pair of liars, to a beatdown performed by a demoniac on the sons of Sceva.

“And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles” (Acts 2:43).

“And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things” (Acts 5:11).

“And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them” (Acts 5:13).

“And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified” (Acts 19:17).

This is quite a challenge, because at the end of the day believers are a flock of sheep, and not a pride of lions. The fear that comes upon the outsiders has to come because God, in some fashion, has made manifest to them that He is with us. If they mess with us, they are messing with Him.

This is true all the time, but it is not manifest all the time. It is true all the time because God will never leave us or forsake us. It is not manifest all the time because the Spirit, always present, is not always blowing. When it is manifest, when the wind stirs, the church has the mojo. When it is not, then the GOP, and Romney, and the NFL, all feel safe in saying that Arizona should much rather provoke the evangelicals than provoke the gayboys.

When the wind blows, then men of God preach boldly. When the wind blows, then God adds to our number daily those who are being saved. When the wind blows, then the Church is simultaneously respected and feared. When He does not, our sails hang slack.

One last thing. When men preach boldly — as when they declare that sin is bad and Jesus is good — it is easy to represent them as having a go-to-hell dismissiveness about them. But it is actually the opposite. Those ministers who crawl on hands and knees in order to obtain the respect of the world — an odd way of proceeding, I should think — are those whose mealy-pulpitoons amount to a wish that the world would continue on its way to Hell, not warned, not rebuked, not hindered in any way. And those who try to stand across the way are accused of having engineered the way in the first place, and of harboring a not-so-secret wish that all non-Christians would tumble headlong into the Abyss.

Have it your way. This perversion fits with the other one. If someone can’t tell the difference between a boy and a girl, then why should we expect them to be able to tell the difference between truth and flattering lies? If you don’t know who you should be loving, then why should you know who loves you?

Our sovereign God can create the fear necessary for cultural reformation out of unlikely materials. He has done it many times before, and we should be trusting Him to do it again. We don’t need to have an asteroid land on that iconic Hollywood sign. We don’t know where the black swan will appear. But this kind of fear will be one of the characteristics when it does.

Theology That Bites Back



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  • timothy


  • http://www.elmhurst-farm.com David Axberg

    Truth spoken here. Amen

  • Ben

    I’m curious to know if the internet has negated the effects of what would be known as a “revival”! It seems that in the past revival has been a product of what psychologists refer to as “mass hysteria”(in a good way though). Before the internet you could have a population with a limited ability for communication in or out of their bubble. Set that said population up with certain beliefs and fears and then have those fears stoked until they are in a fury and the feed them the “seeds” of revival and blammo, they are all found on their knees weeping and praying like never before. But today we have the internet. We can communicate worldwide in an instant and our previous beliefs and perceived consequences have been shown to be limited in their ability to do us any actual harm. Therefore, I believe that any “revival” will be limited and may not even happen at all. 

  • Matt H

    I guess the internet finally beat the Holy Spirit. Who’da thunk it?

  • Robert

    Ben, are you saying that the internet is stronger than God? Look what the internet did with the Arab Spring? The internet accelerated what was happening, it didn’t impede it.

  • Robert

    Would be cool to see the asteroid hit the Hollywood sign

  • Ben

    No I do not think that the internet is bigger than God or that God is not able to work. But I do question whether the internet has a way of bursting our previous bubbles. 

  • RFB

    Oh, I see…we are wiser and smarter because internet.

  • RFB

    My last was not trying to be a wiseacre, but the internet has in some sense become an idol.                                                                                                                                                                      I am currently living in a culture with a cross-section that has never not had the intertubes. I come from a world where the normative features included desk-top dial phones with non-coiled cords and party-lines, where high-tech was a teletype, and where we made note of the local air-raid shelter locations. Radio was AM only, and one played a “record”, usually at 45rpm. Only luxury vehicles, mostly “Caddy’s”, had A/C, and I pumped gas as a part-time job; the gas was 16.9 per gallon. Hurrumph!!!

  • Jane Dunsworth

    Doesn’t that presume that previous revivals were nothing but a “bubble”?
    I suppose it depends what you mean by revival. Some “revivals” were no doubt bubbles. But I do believe there is such a thing as true revival, impervious to the Internet (because it is a work of God and therefore impervious to any human agency.)

  • denise

    Thing is… when you read Rev.9 (all of it) even after witnessing  God’s wrath being outpoured on earth and mankind (vss 1-19) Man’s response still isn’t going to be fear. Man remains unrepentant. (vss 20-21)

  • Robert

    If there is a true revival, then the internet will only accelerate it.

  • Robert

    2 million deportation in the Obama administration. We all know that the Obama administration won’t be blamed for it.

  • timothy

    Back to the fear.
    I am intrigued at how the appearance of angels, or our Lord are often accompanied by them saying, “be not afraid”.

  • http://www.bullartistry.com.au/wp Mike Bull

    On “be not afraid,” the scariest thing for those throwing Christians in jail and murdering them is the fearlessness of Christians who face incarceration, torture and death. It gives the bad guys bad dreams. Our job is to fear God, and the Lord frequently scolded Israel for their lack of fear of Him and His law, at which we are to tremble. (The Law of God is Good and Wise didn’t go down too well with our congregation initially, but they are getting used to it. Thanks Pastor Wilson). /// 
    Regarding the internet, God used the Greeks to install a universal language and the Romans to build universal highways. Throughout Christian history, along with smallpox and avarice, commerce has carried the Gospel virus as well. The internet, like printing, is a neutral channel. In an article a few years ago, Steve Kryger notes that the sex trade has been the driving force behind innovations on the internet, most of which are now used by Christian ministry. As it was in Canaan, the houses, vineyards and technology of the godless will be inherited by the saints. /// 
    Were there any miracles during the Reformation? Not the first century kind, which is interesting. It was just like it was with Joseph – he himself was the sign. The miraculous signs were the saints themselves, men and women who feared God and had no fear of men. The reason is that God’s angels basically retired from ministry with the end of the Old Covenant. We are the angels now, God’s heralds with the ev-angel of Jesus, and we are supposed to be shiny and terrifying. (This relates also to the meaning and mode of baptism, but you guys have hard hearts on that one.)
     ///   Denise – good point but that is describing first century events where plenty of Jews did believe. The judgments hardened the hearts of those who made themselves like Pharaoh (as Paul says in Romans) into vessels of destruction. Many did repent, beginning at Pentecost.

  • timothy

    Mr. Bull.
    Excellent response. ///
    I would like to point out how God answers prayers on the Internet using the conventions of the Internet./// I ask my brothers and sisters in Christ to consider Mike Bull’s downright Trinitarian convention of the three slashes “///” as a replacement to the 140 nbsp work-around we have been struggling with under the hand of Pastor Wilson austere and demanding Calvinism.

  • timothy

    Mr. Bull///
    On the subject of fearlessness–if we could develop that a bit. Courage is not the absence of fear, but the will to do what must be done even though one is afraid./// Is fearlessness courage? or is it something else?

  • http://illinoisfamily.org Laurie Higgins

    After working in a public high school writing center for almost a decade, I learned firsthand what is taking place in public schools regarding homosexuality and gender confusion (which in my district, included multiple teachers teaching Tony Kushner’s astonishingly obscene and profane play Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes). I have now been working for a pro-family organization and writing about culture issues related to homosexuality and gender confusion for five years. What has been most frustrating to me and others doing the same kind of work around the country is the cowardice of Christians, starting with pastors and priests.
    One wonders what American Christians think about New Testament verses regarding the persecution and hatred we are assured will come our way. In my experience, Christians are unwilling to speak truth about homosexuality unless they are guaranteed such an action will be cost-free. There appears to be no persecution they’re unwilling to endure. Even the cold shoulder of an acquaintance is too much to bear.
    Meanwhile, our children are fed body and soul-destroying lies as incontrovertible fact in their schools. Parental rights, religious liberty, and speech rights are slowly being devoured by this ravenous beast (the “LGBTQII” movement), and we bequeath to our children and grandchildren a culture of even greater oppression than what we have now. This beast knows that it’s easier to transform the hearts and minds of 16-year-olds than 26-year-olds and easier still to transform the hearts and minds of 6-year-olds, so the beast is coming in to our elementary schools disguised as the Anti-Bully or gussied up in the cloak of “family diversity.” I continually ask how evil do the ideas have to become and how young the children to whom these ideas are presented before the church will rise up in righteous wrath. So far, no answer.
    This has been an unintentionally lengthy and heartfelt thank you to Pastor Wilson. He speaks with the courage, boldness, and wisdom for which many of us having been praying for many years. Finally, a man who by his example gives us permission to describe this evil in unsparing, unvarnished, blunt language rather than the whitewashed, milquetoast language of the “effete evangelicals.”  
    Thank you, Pastor Wilson.

  • timothy

    Thank you God for the bravery of Laurie Higgins.

  • carole

    Hi Laurie,
    I completely agree with you and also have seen it firsthand. What utterly baffles me is that Christian parents hand over their parental responsibility and duty of raising their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord to the government!! How can that seem like a good idea?  Most women I know would not ask the government to choose a babysitter for their babies, but at 5 years of age, they effectively say, “Here you go.  Here is the child God gave me to raise.  Hope you do a good job.”
    I understand there are single moms and situations where people need government assistance, but many families are just not willing to go back to a one income households for homeschooling or are not willing to pay tuition for Christian and Classical school, or have been so brainwashed they think the “experts” are the only ones who can teach (and that is the biggest hoot of all).This honestly I just can’t wrap my head around.
    Another big Thank you to Pastor Wilson for leading the way in Christian and Classical education for community schools and homeschoolers! I believe the more kids we can get  off of welfare schools, the better chance we have for a cultural reformation.

  • timothy

    Carole and Laurie.
    I have tears of gratitude in my eyes.

  • JohnM

    Carole, I’m with you in sentiment, but I’m not baffled. Most parents simply don’t see public education for what it is. I didn’t  when I sent my kids to school.  It was just something I took for granted, the way my parents, and their parents did.  Maybe it’s what it has become, maybe it’s  what it has always been. I’m not sure which.   I think at this point many a mother would in fact ask the government to choose a babysitter for their babies given the option. 
    But as for revival, is that so likely to happen?  Or instead, has America maybe just run it’s course and become the contemporary Rome?  Of course we could continue to circle the drain for a while, like the Romans did,  probably depends upon what is going on in the rest the world.  But there never was a reason to think our empire would be an exception to history.

  • carole

    Hi John,
    But  if our physical empire runs its course there is still reason to hope for our spiritual one which is of far greater importance.  And maybe when enough parents are afraid to hand over their children, when they do see that what is going on in those institutions is truly frightening, that fear will be the start of the spiritual revival we need

  • J

    If we take Doug’s three examples from the word on what causes fear of God and for the time being go with a cessationist view that leaves us two possibilities. Sudden death and a beat down by demoniacs. If we are looking for fear on a national scale, then I wonder if we are all prepared for the kind of event or events that will bring it about. I’m totally for everyone beating their chests and sounding the battle cry but I would encourage us all to “take care lest we ourselves are disqualified” when the horse manure hits the fan. I’m in no way saying to quiet down, in fact I want us to yell louder but when repentance inducing wind comes let’s all have the oil in our lamps to greet Him.

  • Kimberley

    I was so encouraged to read this earlier. I went to bed last night praying for a revival in our nation. I do not want this country to turn into what I see it turning into for my children and their children.

  • Ellen

    “Zoan’s princes are fools, the princes of Noph are dupes; the chieftains of her clans have led Egypt astray. The Lord has infused into them a spirit that warps their judgement; they make Egypt miss her way in all she does ……………… The Lord will strike down Egypt, healing as he strikes; then they will turn back to him and he will hear their prayers and heal them.” (Isaiah 19: 13, 14 & 22).

  • Greg

    Isn’t it obvious by now that this isn’t the season for God to serve justice upon the Amalekites, Canaanites, and Babylonians? Their time will come. But right now, He is using them to discipline us. This is about our unfaithfulness. Until we tear our shirts, cover ourselves with ashes, and repent, the situation will just keep getting worse. This isn’t about their sins; it’s about ours.

  • Roy

    J……..I think I get where you’re coming from here and I’m fairly sure I agree. Could you flesh it out a little more?

  • J

    Sure Roy, I’m sort of stating two things in my mind. First is spiritual preparedness for the repentance to come. The second would be physical preparedness. I would liken the lack of spiritual preparedness I’m cautioning against to the Christian praying fervently for the Lord to make him more patient. Then two months in to what ever way that prayer was being definitively answered by day after day of “patience” opportunities the same Christian looks up and says “Deliver me oh Lord from my distress!………NOW!!!!”. The same principle goes for the physical side of things but in more tangible ways. When the power goes out and there are no more loaves of bread on the Walmart shelves, I would hope we all knew our Bibles well enough to have some preparations for that. People love to scoff when their bellies are full and I’m no predictor of the Lord’s ways, but if you have a nation as rich and lavish as ours it seems at least reasonable in light of nations like us that were humbled in the Bible to consider the possibility of national repentance being born from devastation on a national scale. I just don’t want all of us to be the ones loosing our “moral high ground” when that sort of story line plays out.

  • Roy

    J……Thanks for the flesh. I’m on board here. Reality almost always trumps theory. I’m not big on chest beating in general, but especially when a delay in righteous judgement appears to be the blessing on which we are hanging our hats. To quote Mike Tyson, “everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth”.

  • Tim Nichols

    The fear in question will not be arising around the Reformed portion of the Church, because the Reformed portion of the Church no longer believes in the means that God uses to bring it.

  • timothy

    This is about our unfaithfulness. Until we tear our shirts, cover ourselves with ashes, and repent, the situation will just keep getting worse. This isn’t about their sins; it’s about ours.

    @Greg…I don’t take to this position. When the Holy Spirit prompted Paul that Paul would go to Rome and be imprisoned and suffer, Paul went to Rome. This really is an opportunity to rejoice. That’s how I experience it.
    God bless.

  • J

    Tim Nichols, that’s one of the biggest brushes I’ve seen used in a while. Are you a part of the reformed or not? Historically it seems you would be incorrect and since not a whole lot has changed in the reformed’s belief (kinda one of their sticking points) over the past 500 years I’m having a difficult time understanding where you’re coming from.