In our battle to protect the doctrine of justification by faith alone, the Law of God disappeared from the church, and then it disappeared from America as a country. Christendom was first killed by the church and then by the civil magistrate. We need to consider looking at these events as a result of corporate sin, and providentially a warning sign from God. Mental health experts cannot save us. Education cannot save us. Politicians cannot save us. Sadly, even the modern church today cannot save us. Revival and Reformation are the only things that can save us as a nation.
Like most other people, I’ve spent a lot of time the last few days watching TV about the murder of 19 children and 2 teachers in Uvalde, Texas. Everyone has an opinion. Generally, the solution among the political and media elite ranges from a call for more gun-control, more mental-health expenditures, better security at schools, improved training for the police, and better police equipment for dealing with these calamitous and horrendous events. I have not heard much about more education. I think the modern generation has given up on education as a cure for all the evils in the world, except maybe for fighting against what they call racism.
The only person I heard who seemed to be asking the right question was Greg Gutfeld, not particularly one of my favorite TV personalities. He asked the question as to why these massacres were a such a common occurrence today and were not so just fifty to seventy years ago. What has changed in America? Well, he was at least getting close to asking the right question. It was a good question. But, like most other commentators I’ve heard, he really does not have a clue as to the right answer.
Jesus was once asked about tragedy and massacres. In Luke 13: 1-5 he was asked about a tragedy in Galilee which occurred without any apparent reason. It just seemed senseless. There was nothing evil done by the victims that would call for such carnage. It appears that the people were just worshiping God, and suddenly their “blood was mixed with their sacrifices” (v. 10). A bloodbath, of all places, in the house of worship. He went on to speak about not only that tragedy but also about another dreadful event that killed 18 people at the tower of Siloam.
His answer today would seem rather abrupt and terse. He made sure first that they understood that such human disasters are not always correlated with some particular sin on the part of the victims. There was no sin on the part of these Galileans that was any greater than other Galileans.
But, what does he say? I tell you “unless you repent, you shall all likewise perish.” He speaks to them not only as individuals, but also as a corporate people. He goes on in the following verses (6-9) to give a parable about the barren fig tree, and how it will be cut down unless it starts to produce fruit. The caretaker of the tree asks for more time before the tree is cut down, and the owner appears to be compassionate and grants more time. However, the owner reminds the caretaker that the tree’s day of being cut down will indeed come unless it produces fruit. That tree was cut down in AD 70 with the complete destruction and devastation of Jerusalem.
The reason for such providential injections of heart-rendering calamities into society is very often a result of the awful religious condition of that society. In other words, our culture has rotted, and senseless tragedies can be viewed as a warning sign. Israel had rejected the Savior and they would face judgment unless they repented. Such events as the Galilean catastrophe and the Siloam disaster cannot be tied to the condition of the victims in particular, but to the condition of religion in the nation as a whole.
America was once a part of Christendom. Even though not everyone was Christian, the values of the Christian faith permeated not only the church, but also civil society as well. Her culture had a Christian base. Our eighteen-year-old boys used to go off to war to fight for their country, but now some of them take up arms and murder our own people, especially our own children who are the most vulnerable of all.
Jesus’ answer can only be understood in terms of religion. In a secular world, religious answers are not relevant, because religion is not relevant. But as Christians, we know that the religious condition of the people is the most relevant issue of all. We know why America has changed in the last 50-70 years. America has cast off the Christian Faith as a nation, and we are suffering the consequences of that rejection. Rampant divorce, broken homes, abortion, pornography, homosexuality, adultery, and mass-shootings are the result of a change in religion. Unless we repent and turn back to the Triune God as a nation, things will only get worse.
Who then is to blame? I blame the church. The church has ceased to be the salt of the earth. Liberalism captured the church in America in the early 20th century. Rapturism captured the church in America in the mid-20th century. Radical Two Kingdom Separation (R2K) has captured the church in America in the early 21st century. We have now been told that the two kingdoms refer only to the battle between God and Satan, and how dare we cross over the holy line of telling the civil magistrate that he is accountable to the God of the Bible. I believe that the Law was never meant to convert nations, but it can be a restraint on 18-year-old boys full of hate and anger.
In our battle to protect the doctrine of justification by faith alone, the Law of God disappeared from the church, and then it disappeared from America as a country. Christendom was first killed by the church and then by the civil magistrate. We need to consider looking at these events as a result of corporate sin, and providentially a warning sign from God. Mental health experts cannot save us. Education cannot save us. Politicians cannot save us. Sadly, even the modern church today cannot save us. Revival and Reformation are the only things that can save us as a nation. And even if we see Revival and Reformation, it will take decades to see the resultant fruit that may be the only hope to recover our nation. Get ready for a long hard ride!
Larry E. Ball is a retired minister in the Presbyterian Church in America and is now a CPA. He lives in Kingsport, Tenn.