The Righter Report

God’s Little Troublemakers

By Pete Righter

Some years back if you’d been watching any sports events on TV, you probably saw this one commercial for Lite beer. And there was this one guy – I think his name was Bob Eucker – who always liked to go up into the stands at baseball and football games and stir up trouble. He’d sit down between two guys who were drinking Lite beer and nudge one of them in the ribs and say something like, “That guy sitting on the other side of me says that Lite Beer tastes great.” Well that would get the first guys attention and he’d say, “Oh yeah?” Then he’d turn to the other guy and tell him the first guy said that Lite beer is less filling. And that guy would then get up and look at the first guy and yell, “Tastes great!” And the other guy would yell back, “Less filling!” And the war would be on. The whole stadium would be in an uproar. Then the camera would pan back at Bob Eucker and he would just be sitting back there yucking it up at all the trouble he’d caused.

Well, I’m here today to tell you that God has his own little troublemakers. Wherever the full gospel of Jesus Christ is being preached, God’s little troublemakers are at work. But their mission is to save lives, not stir up unnecessary trouble. Keep that story about Bob Euker in mind as we read from the twenty-third chapter of the Book of Acts:

“Paul looked straight at the Sanhedrin (the members of the Jewish ruling council who were trying to sentence Paul to death) and said, “My brothers, I have fulfilled my duty to God in all good conscience to this day.” At this, the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near Paul to strike him on the mouth. Then Paul said to Ananias, “God will strike you – you white-washed wall! You sit there to judge me according to the law, yet you yourselves violate the law by commanding that I be struck!” Then Paul, knowing that some of them were Sadducees (who didn’t believe in the resurrection and afterlife), and the others Pharisees (who did believe in it), called out in the Sanhedrin, “My brothers, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee, and I stand on trial today because of my hope in the resurrection of the dead.” When he had said this, a dispute broke out between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. And there was a great uproar, and some of the teachers of the law who spoke out who were Pharisees stood up and argued vigorously…..The dispute became so violent that the Roman commander was afraid that Paul would be torn to pieces by them. He ordered the troops to go down and rescue him by force, and take him back to the barracks. The council was in an uproar.”

One of God’s little troublemakers had struck! Less filling! Tastes great! That’s the kind of thing you sometimes run into when you’re preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Some years ago, an old English preacher by the name of Smith Wigglesworth remarked, “If you leave people as you found them, God is not speaking through you. If you are not making people either mad or glad, there is something wrong with your ministry. If there’s not a (spiritual) war going on, you’re not doing your job.”

Another commentator, a gentleman by the name of Arthur Wallis, speaking on the apostolic style of preaching that we see in the Book of Acts, said, “Such preaching makes indifference to the word of God impossible – it sets the hearers into one of two camps. It’s calculated to either produce a revival or a riot.”

Whether we like it or not, God’s people are sometimes called on to “rock the boat,” and to preach a confrontational gospel. And just what is a confrontational gospel? It’s any message that preaches the entire gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s a message that not only tells the world that Christ is the only way to salvation and eternal life, but it’s also a message that confronts unrighteousness, exposes ambivalence, and challenges people to reexamine their lives to see if they have made Christ not only their Savior, but also the Lord of their lives. The Bible doesn’t say that Jesus is our Lord or Savior. It says he is our Lord and Savior! And when you acknowledge that and advance his gospel with all the dedication, vigor and passion that you can possibly muster, then you too will have become one of God’s “little troublemakers.”

America today is at a crossroads. We have traded in the “tastes great” gospel of Jesus Christ for one that is “less filling.” We have sought to make ungodly people godly without converting them from their sin. We have taught grace without godliness, salvation without repentance, and tolerance in lieu of moral outrage. And as a nation, we have strayed far from the commandments of God.

As Carl Henry so eloquently noted, “America has turned its back on God. It mocks God. Instead it worships a twentieth century Baal, incarnated in sensuality, materialism, and immorality of every kind.”

We see this even in some of our mainline churches today. Over one hundred years ago, Catherine Booth remarked, “It is a bad sign for the Christianity of this day when it provokes so little opposition from the world. When the Church and the world can jog along together side by side comfortably, you may be sure there is something wrong.”

America has gone from a righteous, Christian nation to a predominately pagan, “anything goes” moral sewer of a society, where in the name of tolerance and appeasement we ordain practicing homosexual ministers, engage in the genocide of millions of unborn children, and then we go home and quietly lay down on our couches because we don’t want to give anyone the appearance of being judgmental or intolerant. Do we hate God so much that we will let these outrageous deeds pass without so much as even raising our voices for what’s right in his eyes? Are we so fearful of mortal man and public opinion that we no longer fear the wrath of the Almighty and Invincible King of Kings and Lord of the universe? Are we so gutless and timid about speaking out that we can ignore the righteous blood of Christ and his apostles, who cry out to us from heaven to take a stand for what’s right in the eyes of God? Is this what our faith has come to?

God’s “Little Troublemakers” are a peculiar breed of individuals. They exemplify the notion that once a person is “born from above” and regenerated with the burning fire of God’s Holy Spirit, they then become the instruments of God’s divine plan. God’s word is indelibly inscribed on their hearts and souls. They are incensed when people twist and distort the scriptures in an effort to justify their worldly passions. They start loving the things that God loves and hating the things God hates. Issues of legality and morality are seldom shaded in gray. Matters of conscience become crystal-clear, black and white, good or evil. They have a burning and unquenchable desire to win souls for Christ. The Spirit of Christ compels them. Christianity ceases to become some warm and fuzzy once-a-week Sunday side-show. Instead, it is now a 24 hour-a-day, God-wrought crusade against evil and deception for the salvation of souls. They know that heaven and hell are real, and that we are daily involved in eternal life-and-death struggles for the redemption of mankind. They see worldliness, materialism, and self-gratification as Satan’s time-consuming distractions that only result in more and more people arriving in hell each day. They marvel that the rest of the world is so caught up in it that it hasn’t figured this out yet.

Once anointed with the Holy Spirit, “God’s Little Troublemakers” no longer have a fear of mortal man. They would just as soon walk up to the antichrist and read him the riot act as look at him. They are God’s little spiritually-impassioned wrecking-balls of evangelism and conviction. Though imperfect in the flesh, they are emboldened by the Spirit. Though looked upon as so much self-righteous, despicable rubbish by unregenerate men, they are seen as precious in the eyes of the Lord.

And the paradox of the Old and New Testament prophets and disciples is this: Ultimately, they gave their lives so that others might have the words of eternal life. Greater love hath no man than he lay down his life for another.

Now there’s absolutely no doubt that when a confrontational message is preached, there will come those from the pews of our churches and from society at large who will say, “Judge not and you will not be judged” (Matthew 7:1). In reality, their sole intent is to stifle the messenger so they won’t be convicted of their iniquity.

People today are so afraid to speak out on an issue and be labeled as judgmental and intolerant that they’re not speaking out at all. They’re allowing our nation to be utterly destroyed by all manner of iniquity. People who are starting to feel the heat of the conviction of the Holy Spirit for their sins, and who are uncomfortably squirming in their seats, love to quote that verse about not judging just to try to shut you up. They can’t stand the heat. Jesus is not saying that we cannot make judgments about sin – he is saying that we should not be hypocrites if we do. In Matthew 7:5 he says, “You hypocrite, FIRST take the plank out of your own eye, AND THEN you can see clearly TO REMOVE the speck that is in your brothers eye.” Note that it’s okay to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Just make sure that first there’s not a plank in your own eye.

Now I want to remind you that the world generally despised and rejected Jesus Christ. He was looked upon as a radical extremist and a troublemaker of the first order. Today, the unregenerate world looks upon him simply as either a myth or a minister of love, peace and tolerance. But love is often confrontational. It speaks the truth even when the truth is unpopular. Regarding peace, Jesus said (Matthew 10:34-36), “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword (the sword of the Spirit – the word of God – note Hebrews 4:12). For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. A man’s own enemies will be members of his own household.” Preaching the entire word of God will do just that. And as for tolerance, Jesus was anything but tolerant. Not once did he compromise God’s word for man’s. He rebuked hypocrisy, exposed sin, and regularly confronted the scurrilous and demonic doctrines of the corrupt religious leaders of his day.

You may remember another one of God’s little troublemakers, Stephen. You see him in Acts chapters six and seven. Stephen was “a man full of God’s grace and power, and he did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people.” But the Bible says that opposition arose against him. Why? Because his message was a threat to the religious establishment of his day – an establishment that rejected Jesus Christ and those who proclaimed his message. Here again was a man who would not compromise God’s word for the doctrines of the world. He was wholly and totally committed to God. He was on fire for the Lord. And he was brought into the council of the Sanhedrin to account for his testimony. And here’s what happened next: After a long litany of historic review about the nation of Israel, Stephen looked at the members of the Sanhedrin and cried out,

“You stiff-necked people with uncircumcised hearts and ears!
You always resist the Holy Spirit. Was there ever a prophet
your fathers did not persecute? They even killed those who
predicted the coming of the Righteous One. And now you
have betrayed and murdered him – you who have received the
law that was put into effect through angels, but have not
obeyed it!’ When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this
they were furious, and gnashed their teeth at him. But Stephen,
full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory
of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look,’
he said, ‘I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at
the right hand of God.’ At this they covered their ears, and
yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed him….and
they dragged him outside the city and stoned him to death.”
(Acts 7:51-58)

They were furious! They gnashed their teeth and screamed at the top of their lungs! The council was in an uproar.

One of God’s little troublemakers had struck again! So much for “tolerance.” And look at what happened when Stephen rebuked those obstinate people for their sins – the Glory of God appeared! Imagine, if Stephen were standing here today and spoke out against the backslidden and the unregenerate, and he said:

“You stiff-necked and rebellious people – you, who continue to resist the Holy Spirit, reject Jesus Christ, and live for yourselves. What hope can there possibly be for you? When, if ever, are you going to get yourselves right with the Lord?”

How popular would that be?

Why was John the Baptist beheaded? Was he a reed swayed by the breeze of political correctness? Was John one of those guys who wanted everyone to be his buddy? Was he someone who sought after his own well-being and personal indulgences? John the Baptist spoke out strongly against the corrupt religious leaders of his day. He went after King Herod and reminded him of his adultery. He called the Sadducees and Pharisees a “Brood of Vipers!” He wasn’t playing the world’s game and looking out for his own welfare and popularity. He wasn’t practicing “tolerance” and preaching a watered-down gospel that sends people to hell. He was preaching the word of God, trying to turn someone to repentance and salvation, and for that he was labeled a troublemaker and eventually put to death.

Why was Paul beaten and persecuted? Why was James put to death with the sword? Why were the prophets and the apostles martyred? They didn’t go after these guys for preaching love and tolerance. They went after them because they exposed sin, corruption, and idolatry, and took a stand for what’s right in the eyes of God. They were God’s little troublemakers, and the world couldn’t handle it. The world stood convicted of its sin, and in order to justify its own worldliness and unrighteousness it chose instead to kill the messengers. Sound familiar?

And herein lies the crux of this message: Exposing sin and confronting apathy and unrighteousness are critically essential to salvation. Without conviction there is no need for a savior. And if the world has no need for a savior, then Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection has absolutely no relevance or significance.

Now for those in the church who say we shouldn’t “rock the boat,” I ask: “What kind of baptism and faith do we have that calls for almost no separation from the world, produces no personal sacrifice, and breeds practically no animosity towards sin? What kind of born-again experience is it that makes Christ our Savior, but fails to make Him Lord of our lives? And what kind of faith is it that permits us to follow the dictates of this world, and pursue our own pleasures, wants, and feelings, rather than the commandments of God?” What kind of faith is that? James calls it “dead faith.” Where is the evidence of our salvation and new birth if we’re not trying to follow God’s word? We say, “Just confess Jesus and you’re saved.” Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter into heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father.” We say, “Just say this simple prayer and you’re in.” He says, “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

A man by the name of Thomas Kempis once wrote, “Many follow Jesus unto the breaking of bread, but few to the drinking of the cup of His passion.”

Now would you like some sound, scriptural proof that the compromised Church of Jesus Christ has been inundated by the worldly doctrines of tolerance and appeasement? Simply put, there is little or no persecution of Christians in America. Persecution arises when the Gospel of Christ becomes a threat to a perverse and degenerate society. Persecution is evidence that Satan’s demonic empire is being threatened – that sin and corruption are being exposed, and that Satan and his people are starting to feel the heat. Persecution is evidence that one of God’s little troublemakers has smashed the foundations of a self-righteous society, and by God’s righteous Spirit, has brought conviction to the masses. Yet today, the confrontational gospel has yet to shake the foundations of the church, much less the world.

Contrast that with the confrontational message of the early prophets and apostles. King Herod and his “wife” were so incensed by the impassioned discourse of John the Baptist that they had him imprisoned and beheaded. Paul’s teachings so enraged the idol makers of Ephesus that the silversmiths and craftsmen stirred up an enormous riot that almost resulted in Paul’s death. And Stephen’s message before the Sanhedrin so infuriated the Pharisees that they gnashed their teeth and turned into a raging mob. Time after time, from the Old Testament to the New, God’s little troublemakers spoke out against the scourges of political correctness and condemned evil and iniquity. Time after time, they were alienated, branded as troublemakers, and were beaten and put to death for exposing lies, greed, and deception. The world was not worthy of them. They were the ancient gladiators of truth and justice, and they served God with humility and honor. Great are their rewards in heaven. I, for one, am grateful and envious of their passion, courage, and perseverance.

So let this lesson serve you well. Come out of the world and into the faith. Dare to recognize that your eternal rewards are far more encompassing than your earthly desires. Realize that you cannot be a friend of this world and serve Christ too. You will only love the one and hate the other. And understand that in serving your earthly passions you will not only fail to bring the word of salvation to those who tomorrow may pass from this earth into hell, but you will also ultimately antagonize your Creator, to whom you must someday give a full and honest accounting for all you’ve done, or failed to do in this life.

Acknowledgments to Dr. Michael L. Brown and his book, “It’s Time to Rock the Boat,” which formed the backbone of this message.

– The Righter Report

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September 27, 2014 - Posted by | America, Evangelical, God, Human Interest, Theology, Theology Articles | , , , , ,

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