“There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end thereof leads to destruction.”
The United States of America is filled with news reports regarding various Federal and State attempts at gun control. More and more often, a new, terrible, sinful event takes place in which many people are injured and some are killed. Tragically, many of those injured or killed are young children. Each new event has given rise to new efforts on the part of legislators, both Federal and State, to initiate and/or pass a multiplicity of proposed and suggested laws that can be loosely described as “gun control.” In reality, most such attempts at gun control are violations of the United States Constitution. George Washington, in his farewell address, warned America to adhere strictly to the constitutionally mandated manner in which the Constitution may be amended, if there is a prevailing desire to change the meaning of the Constitution. Washington said:
“If, in the opinion of the people, the distribution or the modification of the Constitutional powers be in any particular wrong, let it be corrected by an amendment in the way which the Constitution designates. But let there be no change by usurpation [wrongful seizure of power]; for though this, in one instance, may be the instrument of good, it is the customary weapon by which free governments are destroyed.” (George Washington, Address of George Washington, President of the United States….Preparatory to His Declination (Baltimore: George and Henry S. Keating, 1796), page 22)
Perhaps more significantly, each of the proposals for new laws focuses on the gun, or the weapon, and not on the person who committed the criminal act. There is a constant drum beat from the media and from many politicians advocating that, ”something be done” in order that “this will never happen again.” Both the reasoning and the proposals are flawed.
THE NEED TO FOCUS ON THE CAUSE
There has been virtually no effort on the part of anyone to address the true cause or causes of the problem. The real and ultimately the only problem is that men are sinners and therefore will sin. God’s Word says that, “the heart is deceitful above all things, desperately wicked, who can know it?”(Jeremiah 17:9) Indeed, God’s Holy Word says in Romans Chapter 3 beginning with verse 10 the following:
“As it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seek after God. They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one. Their throat is an open tomb; with their tongues they have practiced deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; destruction and misery are in their ways; and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
This foregoing passage from the third chapter of Paul’s letter to the Church at Rome, includes quotes from the fourteenth chapter of Psalm, the fifty-third chapter of Psalm, the seventh chapter of Ecclesiastes, the fifth chapter of Psalm, the one hundred fortieth chapter of Psalm, the tenth chapter of Psalm, the first chapter of Proverbs, and the fifty-ninth chapter of Isaiah. Clearly, the cause of these heinous acts is sin!
THE HEART OF THE PROBLEM IS THE HEART
If we are truly interested in solving the problem, we must address the real cause of the criminal act. We should look at the perpetrator and not the instrument used to perpetrate the crime. The problem according to Gods’ Holy Truth is that man is a sinner. In fact, ”there is none righteous, no, not one.” A little further on in the third chapter of Romans, the Apostle Paul, the writer, says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…..” thus we see that it is impossible to solve such a problem without addressing the true cause of the problem. The true cause of the problem is that the heart, in its unregenerate state, is desperately wicked. There is no one who is righteous. There is none who seek after God. Jesus said that “out of the heartproceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness [and] blasphemies.” (Matthew 15:19).
The problems can only be solved if one receives a new heart. That is exactly the business that Jesus is in. God promises to take out the old “stony heart” and to give one “a new heart” and, further, to write His law on that heart. How is this exchange accomplished? By the sheer gift of God. It is a gift, “not of works, lest any man should boast.” Man is redeemed from the curse ”of a stony heart” by the “precious blood of Jesus” alone! As a man thinks in his heart, so is he. (Proverbs 23:7)
AN ABSENCE OF PRAYER AND TRUE PREACHING
The ancient enemy of the souls of mankind, the adversary, the devil, has managed to get prayer out of public schools and virtually all forms of public life. The evil one has also managed to get God’s Holy Word out of public schools and virtually all forms of public life, even to the extent that many of our churches are simply avoiding preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. What is the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Paul summarized it in First Corinthians as follows:
“Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also
you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that
word which I preached to you - unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of
all that which I also received: Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that
He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that
He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred
brethren atonce, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen
asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was
seen by me also, as by one born out of due time. For I am the least of the apostles, who
am not worthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was in me. Therefore,
whether it wasI or they, so we preach and so you believed.” (1 Corinthians 15:1-11)
FIRST STEPS TO SOLVING THE PROBLEM
If we are really serious about wanting to do the things calculated to prevent such terrible and tragic criminal acts, we should be proclaiming the Gospel of Christ in every aspect of American life. We should be telling everyone of God’s Holy Law, commonly referred to as the Ten Commandments. The Lord God Himself commands that we hide His Holy Law in our hearts and write it on the doorpost of our houses. We should tell the commandments diligently to our children “when we lie down and when we rise up and when we sit in our house and when we walk along the way.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)
Additionally, we should make a national call to repentance, for all of us to turn from our known sin and place our trust in the Lord Jesus Christ alone for our salvation. We who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and who also believe in God’s Holy Truth, should urge people to call on the Lord God who will “answer thee and show thee great and mighty things such as thou knowest not.” We should be praying. Jesus Himself says, “Ask and it shall be given unto you; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened unto him.” (Matthew 7:7, 8)
WISDOM AND REVELATION IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST
THE CONTENT OF OUR PRAYERS
The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the church at Ephesus, reveals the content of his prayer for all the saints at Ephesus. In doing so, he actually affirms the fact that he had revealed in his letter to the church at Rome, that God’s Holy Spirit prays for us and makes intercession for us when we know not what to pray for as we ought. (Romans 8) In the same letter to the church at Rome, the great Apostle also reveals that Christ Himself sits at the right hand of the Father, and also makes intercession for us. (Romans 8) The content of Paul’s prayer revealed in the first chapter of Ephesians is, in reality, the content, at least in part, of the prayer of God the Son and God the Holy Spirit for His people . First, we see the actual content of Paul’s prayer beginning in verse 15 of the very first chapter of Paul’s Epistle to the church of Ephesus as follows:
WHAT SHOULD WE BE PRAYING FOR?
We see in this first chapter of Paul’s Epistle to the church at Ephesus, beginning with the sixteenth verse and continuing through the end of the chapter, the content of Paul’s prayer for the church at Ephesus. In reality, this is the prayer which Christ prays in His intercessory prayer for His people. It is also the prayer which the Holy Spirit makes, according to the will of God, for God’s people when they know not how to pray as they ought. “Therefore, I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayer: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what isthe exceeding greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Himat His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all thingsunder His feet, and gave Him to behead over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” (Ephesians 1:15-23)
After giving thanks for these Ephesian Christians, which we also should be doing continually for those whom we know are God’s people, the following requests are made:-
· That you and all of God’s people would receive the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. What a tremendous request! Our Savior actually intercedes on our behalf, that each of us should receive wisdom and revelation through the Spirit in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself prays in the seventeenth chapter of the Gospel of John a substantially similar request; that we might know Him, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent. Jesus reveals that this is eternal life. So your Savior, your Creator, your Redeemer, your Master, and your Lord, prays that you might KNOW Him.
· He also prays that the eyes of your understanding be enlightened. That is simply to say that you receive light and understanding.
· That you may know the hope of His calling. Jesus calls all of His people to come to Him, to learn of Him, to take His yoke upon themselves, and follow Him.
· That you may know the riches of the glory of His inheritance. We are made children of God through the Lord Jesus Christ. By His precious blood the enmity has been destroyed. Not only have we been made children of God, but we have been made heirs of God and joint heirs with the Lord Jesus Christ. We share in all of His inheritance. We, who are sinners by nature, children of wrath, have been made alive in Christ Jesus, adopted into the family of God, and made joint heirs with Christ.
· Jesus also prays that we might know the exceeding greatness of God’s power “to usward who believe according to the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ Jesus when He raised Him from the dead and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places far above all principality and power and might and dominion and every name that is named.” Any one of these prayer requests would be magnificent standing alone! However, the Lord Jesus Christ intercedes on our behalf in making ALL of these requests and repeats them in substance in other places. For example, in the third chapter of Paul’s epistle to the church at Philippi, in verses two through fifteen, we see the Apostle Paul disclaiming any righteousness in himself as a result of his own good deeds, which he actually refers to as “dung.” In the Old Testament, we see that all of our righteousnesses (combined) are as “but filthy rags.” And Paul requests in that third chapter of Philippians that he might know the Lord Jesus Christ and “the power of His resurrection” and “the fellowship of his suffering” and that he be “conformed to his death that he might by any means attain to the resurrection of the dead.”
· Christ makes these intercessory prayer requests on our behalf not just so that we can be “fat and happy” but that we would be holy and that we might fulfill the righteousness of the law. The marvelous gift, the unspeakable gift of eternal life is given to us through Christ Jesus our Lord as a starting point, not as an ending point. We are called to know the fullness of God’s Word. We are called to be doers of His Word and not hearers only. Nevertheless, without having been “made alive in Christ Jesus, redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus, and given eternal life as a sheer gift in Christ Jesus and having received the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, we can do nothing. In the fifteenth chapter of the Gospel of John, Jesus says that apart from Him we can do nothing. Being in Him is the starting line. Then we are to run with patience the race that is laid before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.
STRENGTH TO RUN
In third chapter of his epistle to the church of Ephesus, Paul again sets forth the content of his prayer, which in reality is Christ’s prayer for His people, as follows: “For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and depth and height and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:14-19) Thus we see the requests that are made:
· That God would grant that we would be strengthened with might by His Spirit in our inner person. If we are not strengthened with might by His Spirit in our inner person; if Christ is not dwelling in us and working in us both to will and to do of His own good pleasure, we will faint before the race is finished.
· That Christ may dwell in your heart by faith. Once again, the request that Christ makes for His people is that He may dwell in our hearts by faith. We need the Lord Jesus Christ dwelling in our hearts by faith. We have enemies which have been identified as being the world, the flesh, and the devil. If Christ is not dwelling in our hearts by faith, we cannot overcome the wiles of the devil. We must use the weapons of our warfare which are not carnal but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, casting down imaginations, and every vain thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ and have on the whole armor of God that we might be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
· Christ prays that we would be rooted and grounded in love. That love would so permeate what we do, that we would act toward others as the Lord God has acted toward us. Indeed, we are called to esteem others better than ourselves. This is a practical impossibility in which we fail nearly all of the time, unless Jesus dwells in our hearts by faith.
· Christ also prays that we would be able to comprehend the breadth, and length and depth and height and know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge that we would be filled with all of the fullness of God. How can one know that which surpasses knowledge? How can one be filled with all of the fullness of God?
Being filled with all of the fullness of God and knowing the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge involves a brief understanding of the attributes of God. The attributes of God have been defined in many different places throughout the ages. There are certain incommunicable attributes. God is eternal, He is from everlasting to everlasting and this is not communicated to His children. God is immutable, He is unchanging. Indeed, His very name of Jehovah (Yaweh) means that He is eternal and faithful and changeless. This is not communicated to His children. We are up one minute and down the next. The Lord God knows our “uprisings and our downsittings.” He knows them all together. We see that God is also omnipresent. He is everywhere at the same time. Thus, we who have been given to the Father, are enabled to understand that the Lord Jesus Christ sits in heaven in the exhalted position at the right hand of the Father and also abides in us. He is omnipresent. This attribute is not communicated to His children. God is also omnipotent. He is all powerful. This is not communicated to His children. These attributes of God belong only to Him and are not given to His children.
God’s communicable attributes have been identified as holiness, righteousness, justice, goodness, love, mercy, compassion, loving kindness, long-suffering, and faithfulness. The fruit of the Spirit set forth in Galatians 5:22 also contain communicable attributes of God. In application, it is these communicable attributes with which we are to be filled and for which the prayer set forth in Ephesians Chapter3 addresses.
It is only as God’s people begin to apply these prayer requests to our lives as revealed to us in scripture that we can even begin to solve the problems of sin manifested in the lives of unbelievers involved in the horrific murders reported in recent months and which have given rise to a near constant drum beat for “gun control.” It is “Christ in us the hope of glory” that works in people’s lives to restrain them from committing sinful grievous acts, and moves them, being filled with the Holy Spirit and the Lord Jesus Christ, to bear fruit of the Spirit and to be doers of God’s word and not hearers only. We need to be praying that God would raise up men all over this nation to preach the Truth of His Holy Word. Christ is our hope. Christ is our only hope. There are not enough laws existing in the minds of man to control sinners and prohibit ungodly acts. There are not enough policemen in the United States of America, nor can there ever be enough policemen in the United States of America, to restrain evil. It is only as the Living God changes hearts and redeems people with the precious blood of Jesus, making them new creations, indeed, taking out their stony hearts and giving them a new heart of flesh, that evil will be restrained. Why should those who do not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ fear or be apprehensive of the proclamation of the Gospel of Christ? Why should not the Truth of Jesus be proclaimed in the schoolhouse, in each personal house, indeed, from the housetops at every level and the Gospel of Jesus Christ preached on every occasion everywhere? For those who believe that this great proclamation of the Gospel of Christ is not true, if theyare true to theirbeliefs, what difference could it possibly make to them? Why should those who believe that prayer is a myth, only for cripples, that God does not answer prayer, that God does not intervene in the affairs of men, and, indeed, that God does not exist, even let their foolish hearts care? If it is a non-event, then what difference would it make?
Should we at least consider that perhaps-just perhaps- God’s Word might actually be true? It is, of course! Shouldn’t we at least consider teaching the Truth of God’s Holy word contained in the Bible in the schools of America? Shouldn’t we at least call for national repentance and prayer to be made in name of the Lord Jesus Christ to turn the hearts of men to God? Shouldn’t we ask that they receive the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, and that the eyes of their understanding being enlightened that they may know the hope of His calling and the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, that they might know His resurrection power and that they might be strengthened with might by His spirit in their inner man? Isn’t this a logical argument? Let us who know the Lord Jesus Christ pray that those who are in authority over us would receive the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ and that Christ might dwell in theirhearts by faith, that they, being rooted and grounded in love, might be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that they too may be filled with all of the fullness of God. Now unto Him who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we could even ask or think, unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end, Amen.