WHAT? Will Houston Censor Preachers’ Sermons for Hate Speech?

(© 2014 Rev. Dr. Curtis I. Crenshaw, Th.D.)

Will Houston officials order Christian ministers to turn over their sermons to be censored for hate speech? Who is King around this planet? Will preachers be so cowardly to submit the word of King Jesus to the tyrant Caesar? But see what the Lord God said in David’s time:

JESUS IS INSTALLED AS KING:

1 Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against His Anointed [Messiah], saying, 3 “Let us break Their bonds in pieces and cast away Their cords from us.”

4 He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the LORD shall hold them in derision. 5 Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, and distress them in His deep displeasure: 6Yet I have set My King on My holy hill of Zion.”

7 “I will declare the decree: The LORD has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You. 8 Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession. 9 You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

10 Now therefore, be wise, O kings; be instructed, you judges of the earth. 11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 12 Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him. (Psalm 2)

In Psalm two, we see the nations rebelling against the LORD and His Messiah, but God rules over them through His Messiah—now. The Lord Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth, now (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 13:33; Hebrews 1:5; 5:5). Notice that the Psalm is in four stanzas, and reveals that God’s law is for the nations of the world. In the first stanza, the nations rebel against the Lord and against His Messiah. In the second stanza, God laughs at such rebellion, for He is absolutely sovereign, and has installed His Messiah as King of the world. In stanza three, the Messiah speaks, saying that the Father has given Him the nations to rule. In the final stanza, the nations and leaders are commanded to repent, to kiss the Son, less they perish. Remember that this Psalm was written by King David almost 1,000 years before Christ came.

This Psalm shows there is spiritual warfare regarding who rules the world. The nations of the earth claim that they will rule, and so they rebel against God the Father and His Son, but the Father responds—too bad!—He has already installed His King, the Son, and that the nations must repent He will destroy them. Repent means to turn from sin, and in this Psalm sin is rebellion against the LORD and His Messiah.

 

WE HAVE BEEN HERE BEFORE:

We see the same Messiah as Lord in the New Testament. Consider Romans 10:9:

If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

As Greek grammarian Daniel Wallace has pointed out,[1] there are two issues with this verse. First, does it mean “confess Jesus as Lord” or “confess the Lord Jesus”? Wallace says the grammar is clear that it means “confess Jesus as Lord.” Second, what does “Lord” mean? In the context, Paul is quoting Joel 2:32 where “Lord” means the Old Testament LORD, Yahweh, the God of the Jews, and now of the Christians! In other words, the God everyone is to confess, is Jesus!

Caesar or Christ?

Furthermore, why did the Apostle Paul choose the expression “Jesus as Lord”? Was there something in Paul’s culture that needed to be addressed? The history of the expression “Jesus as Lord” was a powder keg.[2] The Roman emperors Augustus (31 B.C.-A.D. 14) and Tiberius (A.D. 14-37) rejected the expression “Lord,” but Caligula (A.D. 37-41) accepted it. The Roman Caesar, Nero (ruled A.D. 54-68), under whom Paul was executed, is described in an inscription as “Lord of all the world.” The title “Lord” was very common both of Nero and of Roman emperors subsequent to him. In fact the same Greek grammatical construction “Nero as Lord” is used in writing on the papyri (paper) and on ostraca (pottery) of Nero’s time. Once a year, all people under Rome’s authority were required to offer a sacrifice and confess “Nero as Lord.” “It was against such a religious claim, which demanded so much of the burdened conscience, that the Christians turned and rejected the totalitarian attitudes of the state.”[3]

Here is the point. The Roman emperors did not mind its citizens worshipping any god they chose as long as once a year they proclaimed the Caesar god as the ultimate Lord, meaning that Caesar was the lord of lords. And the emperors did not think of the divine title “lord” without the implication of obedience and worship, for if this had been so, why did they murder so many Christians for refusing to worship them? The ultimate lawgiver had the right to demand obedience over all other lawgivers. Caesar claimed ultimate lordship, ultimate obedience, and thus the right of absolute obedience, which directly conflicted with the authority of Jesus. To put it bluntly, every law enacted by any authority is an application either of God’s law or an act of rebellion. (If there were ever a time to read this book, get it nowNOT Ten Suggestions.)

Our own government is making the same claim today, not caring what god one worships as long as its citizens give ultimate allegiance and confession to the Caesar. Thus, Jesus allegedly has no jurisdiction in the public arena such as in political elections, in government, in our schools, over the officials we elect, in the laws of sexuality and abortion, or in the forced redistribution of wealth through some taxation that is wrong. (We Christians do believe in paying taxes.) It is allegedly a confusion of Church and state for the Church or for Christians to “force” their morality on society, but it is acceptable for the secularists to force their morality on the Church. They are confining Jesus to an ever-diminishing private Church. It is politically correct to be religiously “neutral” about all religions except Christianity. One can bash Christians and Christianity with approval. Can you imagine the Houston authorities telling Imams to submit their sermons to be censored before they deliver them? Islam believes in the death penalty for LGBT.

The reason Christians are hated is still the same: We recognize no ultimate King but Jesus, which means the government and the public ethics of abortion, sexual disobedience, can be judged by Jesus, which is intolerable today. The ACLU insists that the Jesus God stay out of the public arena under the mistaken guise of separation of Church and state, misinterpreting the Constitution to mean freedom from religion rather than freedom for religion. But the Constitution itself is under, not over, King Jesus and His law. Christians are allowed, for now, to confess Jesus as Lord privately but not publicly. “There is nothing new under the sun.”

The issue, however, is not sincerity but truth. We are tolerant personally, and we are non-violent, loving our enemies, but we are lovingly intolerant regarding the truth of Holy Scripture. Jesus is the only way to God because He said so: “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me’ ” (John 14:6). And this salvation is free for the asking, so why would one turn down a free gift of such magnitude just because it is the only gift that brings salvation. It is unimaginable to say, “I reject the gift because it is the only one.”

There are no generic gods, brothers and sisters, we must stand and fight with our spiritual weapons of the gospel, not with violence! Beware of the wrath of the Lamb, for judgment begins with the household of God (1 Peter 4:17).

 

WE CONQUER BY THE PREACHED WORD:

How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? (Rom 10:14)

These words with a line through them indicate not a good translation. What the Apostle Paul means is that when preachers preach the true gospel of the death and resurrection of Jesus the Lord, people are hearing HIM! If they reject the word so preached, THEY REJECT HIM! Moreover, read what the Apostle Paul said about our preaching:

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18).

 

 WE MUST PREACH GOD’S LAW, HIS TEN COMMANDMENTS, AND THE GOSPEL:

That means preaching His morality, such as the sins of our culture (LGBT) and the gracious forgiveness of Jesus the Lord. We must not be cowards (Revelation 21:8). Of course people will not like to hear about God’s gracious commandments, designed to protect us from ourselves. If you don’t order the book above (NOT Ten Suggestions), at least download chapter 2 from the book in pdf. Here is the complete book’s cover:

PREACH THE LAW:

NotTenSuggestions_frontcover-2

Remember that the law leads us to Christ for forgiveness, and Christ leads us back to the law to please Him.

PREACH THE GOSPEL:

Cross_1

Death of Lamb for Our Sins

 

Bodily  Resurrection of the King of kings

 

Ascension

Ascension and Enthronement of the King of kings

AMEN. Ώ

 

[1] Daniel Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1996), pp. 187ff.

[2] The history is from: Adolph Deismann, Light from the Ancient East (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1978), pp. 350-357; Colin Brown, The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1971), 2:511-515; C. E. B. Cranfield, The International Critical Commentary: The Epistle to the Romans (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1979), 2:526ff.

[3] New International Dictionary of the New Testament Theology, 2:511.

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