Is there any hope for America?
I mean, can you see what's happening all around us? How did we get here, and what should we do? That's today on Living on the Edge.
Stay with me. Welcome to this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. I'm Dave Drew. Thanks for joining us as we begin a new series that seeks to answer the tough questions Chip just posed. And to help us do that, you'll hear from a close, trusted friend of Chip named John Dickerson. In these constantly changing times, Living on the Edge has made a commitment to turn to new teachers like John for a fresh, biblical perspective on the challenges believers are facing. Our mission to encourage Christians to live like Christians remains the same, whether it's through Chip's teaching or the occasional new voice.
So we hope you'll enjoy this series. John is a sharp, young pastor with a background in journalism. Chip will join us after the teaching to talk about his friendship with John and share his excitement for this series. Over the next several programs, John pairs his deep understanding of God's Word with his skills as a reporter to paint a picture of America's potential spiritual future. He begins by reminding us of where we've been. Well, with all that said, let's listen to John's message, What is Happening, from his series, Hope of Nations. I want to talk to you today about the times when your world shakes, and very often in our series as we open the Word of God, we talk about the real struggles that each of us face like cancer or death of a loved one or sometimes divorce or financial difficulties. And in this series, we're applying God's Word to those things, but we're also looking even bigger.
We're looking at the world at large because there's times when our world shakes, but there's times when the world shakes. How many of you remember where you were on September 11th when the terrorist attacks began and the planes were flying into the Twin Towers? I remember where I was. I was a college student at the time. I know some of you are like, wow, you're that young. And others of you are like, wow, you're that old.
Okay. I was a college student and I remember all the classes shut down and we all gathered around different TVs on campus because we didn't know what was happening in the one plane hit and then the next plane hit. And then we heard about the Pentagon and it was just this sense that we were under attack and the world was shaking. If you live long enough, you will go through times when the world shakes. Many of us remember when the stock market crashed and many people looked at their homes or their businesses or their retirement and the world shook. The reality is that if we live long enough, we'll live through a few of these times when the world shakes. We don't like to think about it, but it's part of human history and so my heart for you in this series is to prepare you spiritually so that no matter how the world ever shakes in your lifetime or in the lifetime of your kids and grandkids, that you're prepared and your kids and grandkids are prepared to stand strong and to be unshaken in a shaking world.
So that's the question that we're asking today. What can we do when the world shakes? What can we do not just when our world shakes, but when the world shakes? What can we do as a group of people and as individuals if there is another major terrorist attack? What will we do if all these countries who talk about firing off a nuclear missile, what will we do if one of them actually does?
What will we do if the stock market crashes again like it did in 2008? What will we do when the world shakes in our lifetime and in the lifetime of our kids or our grandkids? Well, as always, when we gather here, we look into the Word of God to answer these hard questions of life. And here's what God tells us in Hebrews chapter 12, written to followers of Christ. It says, therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, if we understand how Christ's kingdom, that we're citizens of it, it will never be shaken, then we can be thankful and we can worship God acceptably with reverence and awe. Now, the interesting thing about this passage written almost 2,000 years ago is that when this was written, a guy named Nero was in control of what seemed like the world. And Nero hated Christians. He was crucifying Christians.
In fact, Nero was so sadistic, this is all recorded in history, he would often impale Christians and light them up on fire as human torches in his gardens at night for his garden parties to entertain his friends. It was a time when Christians felt like they didn't know how they could keep going, and the writer of the Word of God reminds them, you have a citizenship and a kingdom that will continue advancing long after Rome has fallen. Now, Rome fell 1,600 years ago to us, but to the people who read this, Rome seemed undefeatable. And here's the reality about this truth that we're learning today, the object of hope. If you look at the object of our hope, no matter what we go through, it's not our circumstances.
It's okay to hope for good circumstances, and as Americans, we largely have really good circumstances compared to most people in the world and most Christians throughout history. But as a follower of Christ, you can have a deeper hope, and that is, I have a citizenship and a kingdom that will never be shaken. You realize there were Christians at this time who clung to this idea when they were pushed out into a coliseum in front of a jeering crowd to be eaten by a lion. There are Christians who clung to this idea in the last 50 or 60 years in the Soviet Union when Christians were often marched out into the snow, and sometimes the soldiers, they'd find a pit of water, and they'd make a Christian take their clothes off and get in that water, and they'd say, you're going to stay in that water until you freeze to death or until you denounce Christ and denounce your Christianity.
And there are Christians who have clung to this idea even as their earthly body passed away and their soul went into this kingdom that will never be shaken. One of my prayers in this series is for us to think bigger about the world, to see reality from God's perspective, and one of the realities of the time we live in is that today there are Christians in the world who are clinging to this idea as they see their pastors arrested in China. Did you know that right now in China, many church buildings are being bulldozed, many pastors are being arrested? We hear about this or some of us heard about this back in the 80s, but the way that the communist government persecutes Christians in China is flaring back up. There's a real crackdown right now on anyone who doesn't toe the line of the communist ideology. Did you know that right now, today in India, there are Christians who are being hunted because they don't believe the Hindu religion of their family and they're clinging to this?
I had a friend when I lived in California, he was an immigrant to the United States, and I asked him about his life story. He was an heir to a significant fortune in India, but his dad and his brothers who were devoutly Hindu, when he became a Christian, they actually started hunting him down to kill him because of his Christian faith and so he fled to the United States. Today in the world, there are Christians clinging to this idea. In some Muslim majority nations, not all, but in some Muslim majority nations, it's illegal to be a Christian. And there are Christians who are meeting today in living rooms, defying the law, hoping that guards don't show up and arrest them. I met a lady when I was in Iran, she's about my age, who fled Iran through Turkey and ended up coming to the United States because she was a Christian.
The whole house church she was a part of, they all got arrested and she was able to escape on a train to Iran. There are Christians in the world today clinging to this. And here's my heart for us as followers of Christ who happen to be born into the wealthiest and most free church in world history. My heart is that we would understand that what we have experienced is exceptional, it's not the normal. And to us, because it's normal to us, we can think, well, this is how it's always been for Christians or for people. But what we're going to see in this series is that we who've been born in about the last 150 years or so, especially in what we call the Western world, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Western Europe, you guys, our life expectancy is two times as long as average human life expectancy in world history. The fact that we can read is an anomaly.
Most people in human history did not know how to read. The medicine that we have, the education that we have, the freedom that we have, the prosperity that we have, these things are not normal, they're exceptional, they're unusual. And being born in such a time, if we're not careful, we can think that Christianity is kind of a good luck charm to help us live out the American dream. Now, God doesn't have anything against us living free and prosperous lives, He's all for that, but our hope is in a higher citizenship, our hope is in a higher kingdom. And if we anchor ourselves in that deeper hope, that eternal hope, then no matter how the world shakes around us, in economies or in warfare or in terrorist attacks or even in persecution, we can be unshaken. And this is my heart for you as a shepherd, is to grow your faith at that level. And for us to raise a generation with our kids and grandkids who have a faith at that level so that no matter what happens in U.S. culture or in world politics in the next 30 years, that our kids and grandkids will be able to stand strong for Christ. What are we learning? Well, today we're learning that when the world shakes, Christ's kingdom will not be shaken. When the world shakes, Christ's kingdom will not be shaken.
Scripture talks about even if the mountains should tumble into the sea, we will not be shaken as followers of Christ. We're going to be talking about culture and social change. And some people have asked me, well, we're talking about social issues and social change, is this a series for Democrats or is this a series for Republicans? You know, which political candidate is this series about? And I want to be really clear, this is not a Democrat series or a Republican series, and it's not a series endorsing any political candidate or politician. In fact, this is a series that will challenge us to zoom out and see those important debates as much smaller in the scheme of human history.
Here's an example. There's a true story in the Word of God where Joshua was leading God's people. And God's people were engaged in a physical war against a pagan enemy.
They were in battle. And Joshua's out one day surveying the battleground, and he sees this angelic messenger from God with a sword. And Joshua says to the angelic messenger, are you for us or for our enemies?
And here's how the messenger responds, neither. I'm here representing God, and it's this paradigm shift where all our little things that we debate about and argue about, which are important, I'm not demeaning the importance of the social debates going on today, but those things are down here. And we tend to say, well, is God on my side or their side? And God says neither. The question is, God's above all this. Who's on God's side? God's not a God who takes sides in human affairs.
He's a God who is above in the sense of hierarchy and power. And the question for us is, are we on God's side? And I want to encourage you as we go through this series, there are great Bible-believing Christians who are Democrat, who are Republican, who have all sorts of different views and beliefs politically, who say my allegiance is to God. And as we go through this series, what we're going to see is that just like Rome seemed undefeatable, but then it fell, and the Soviet Union seemed undefeatable, but then it fell. Someday, please don't hear this as heresy, but according to the Word of God, someday there will be no Democrats or Republicans. In all human history, I'm sorry if that offends you, but according to the Word of God, someday, in fact, you could put it this way, someday the Democrats and Republicans will be as forgotten as the ancient cities of Troy and Constantinople. Some of you are like, what are Troy and Constantinople? That's the point, okay?
When those cities, those cities were undefeatable until they were defeated. And here's the more important thing for us as followers of Christ. I believe America is the greatest nation in all of human history. I'm a very patriotic American. I love this country, but as much as I love this country, I have an even higher citizenship.
And here's what we're learning in this series. We're pledging our allegiance. Our goal is to be on the side of Almighty God. Pledging our allegiance to His eternal kingdom, okay? Now this doesn't mean that things in this world don't matter.
They do. We need to vote our consciences, et cetera, et cetera, but in this series, we're zooming out to a bigger view and saying we're going to pledge our allegiance to an eternal kingdom where Jesus Christ will be worshiped as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. And that's where we find our stability.
That's where we find our identity. And the more that we do that in a time of peace and prosperity, the more we will be prepared for anything that may come our way in the next 30 years or in the lives of our kids and grandkids. Anyone want to be less surprised by the next big calamity that happens and more prepared? Less surprised, more prepared, that's what we're going for in this series.
Okay. So here's what I want to teach you today. Five forces that are reshaping the world right now. We're going to see four of these forces are always at play. They've been at play from the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve invited Satan and evil into this world until Christ returns. Four of these forces are true at all times.
One of them is unique to the era we live in. First force of the five, and it's true ever since the Garden of Eden until Christ returns, is that humans are sinning. Humans are sinning. Romans 1 says, For although they knew God, humanity, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Now, to be clear, Scripture is not saying that everyone always sins.
Okay. Even people who don't believe in God or Jesus are capable of doing really noble things, of saving lives, of making good choices. Scripture doesn't say that all people always sin, but it does say that all people sin sometimes. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, another passage says. In other words, whenever we look at human history in any century, in any civilization, where there's money, where there's power, where there's prestige, there will be some people who are lying, cheating, and killing, and stepping on other people to get to that power and money. It's just part of human history. And if we understand that, we'll be a little less surprised by some of the things that we see some people do, and we think, how could that happen? Well, humans are always sinning until Christ returns. It doesn't make it easier when we're in a hard situation, but at least we know what's going on.
It's kind of like, you know, when you're going through a medical treatment and you have uncomfortable tests and MRIs and other things where you're being poked and prodded and they're taking your blood and it's painful, but if you understand why it's happening, you can go through it because you understand there's a purpose for this. And when we understand we live in a world where people sin and their sins will affect us, it doesn't make it less painful, but we can be less surprised. Second force that is shaping human history is that Satan is scheming. Satan is scheming. In other words, it's not just that people make sins which are against God and hurt us.
That will happen until Christ returns. But in the unseen realm, there's an adversary of your soul. You have an unseen part of you that God calls your soul. And what God teaches is that you have a part of you that is invisible and eternal. And when your body dies, that internal part of you, your soul, will live for eternity with God or apart from Him. And Christ came so that if you believe in Him, you can be with God for eternity. He came to give you eternal life.
But there's an enemy of your soul. And Jesus describes Satan, who's a fallen angel. He's an angel who turned away from God. And when he left heaven, he took one third of the angels with him, fallen angels that we call demons. And Jesus describes Satan as active in this world, in the unseen realm. And in John Chapter 10, Jesus says that the thief, Satan, came into the world to steal and kill and destroy. So in the unseen realm, there's an enemy of your children's souls, of your grandchildren's souls, and he comes into families to divide and destroy.
He wants to get into your thoughts in a way that will destroy and cause death in your life. He comes into nations and groups of people, and he operates in the realm of ideas. Scripture, interestingly, describes that Satan, the whole angelic realm, is a little bit smarter than us.
We know this because the book of Hebrews says that when Jesus left heaven as God and humiliated himself to be compressed down into human form, he became a man. And Hebrews says that he made himself a little lower than the angels. In other words, angels, you can't outsmart them, and that's true of Satan, Lucifer, of the demonic angels as well.
They have a little bit higher IQ than Albert Einstein and you and me. So you can't outsmart Satan, and this is why Jesus tells us over and over, he's the way, he's the truth, he's the life, and he's given us the word of God so that where we can't outsmart Satan, God leads us in paths that protect us from Satan when we follow his word. But the point is this, that Satan works in the realm of ideas. Not only is he a little bit smarter than us, but he has been doing his thing of killing and stealing and destroying for thousands of years. So, you know, some of you in this room have been alive for 70 years or maybe 80.
You've got a little bit of life experience. Our spiritual enemy has thousands of years of life experience that he's gained, and he knows exactly how to turn people against each other, how to enslave people. He knows exactly how to kill and steal and destroy, and this is why we need Christ so much as our hero, as our savior, as our rescuer. But what Satan knows more than most Christians is that whoever controls the ideas controls the power, that ideas are what shape human history, that our ideas are what move the wheels of tanks, that ideas are what make nations march and armies go to war.
He knows the power of ideas, and we've seen in the last 100 years of human history the power of ideas. If you think back to World War II, you think of Nazi Germany and the evils that it committed, the industrial-scale genocide, the killing of millions and millions of people. If you were to ask Americans today, some people would say, well, it's all because of Adolf Hitler. That's partly true, but the bigger truth is that it's because of ideas. There were ideas that were planted 10 years before World War II in the minds of young Germans, and as a nation embraced a set of ideas, or sometimes we call it an ideology. That's a lens through which you see reality.
The set of ideas that you use to view reality is your ideology. And it was as the German people embraced an ideology about race and an ideology about Jewish people and about who they were and who villains are and what is moral and what is right and wrong, from that came some of the most horrendous evil in all of human history. In the midst of this horrendous darkness shines some beacons of light of Bible-believing Christians who stayed true to their faith in Christ even as the world shook around them. And one of my favorites of those is a sister in Christ named Corrie Ten Boom. Corrie Ten Boom was a follower of Christ who lived under Nazi rule. And as the Nazis overtook the country in which she lived and the city in which she lived, they started saying, if you know any Jewish people, you've got to turn them in. And Corrie Ten Boom knew from reading the Word of God she could not be a part of something like that. And she decided she would defy the laws and the authorities, and she would actually hide Jewish people in her home. So Corrie Ten Boom was a part of Christians who, bound to the Word of God and committed to God's view of reality, said, no matter what the government authorities say, we're not going to be a part of killing Jewish people.
And so they actually built these secret compartments and secret passageways in their houses so they could hide Jewish people. Well, eventually Corrie Ten Boom got discovered as someone who was hiding Jewish people, and so the Nazis arrested her, and they took her to one of their concentration camps. In that concentration camp, Corrie tragically watched people starve to death and people die from disease and people die from abuse. Her own sister, Betsy, she watched Betsy die in that concentration camp.
Her dad died in another concentration camp. Through it all, Corrie kept her faith in Christ. At the end of World War II, she had survived, and God then used Corrie Ten Boom to write a number of books, some of my favorite books, where she describes a faith in Christ that carried her through unthinkable suffering because she had a citizenship in a higher kingdom, and she was able to endure unthinkable things because of her faith in Christ. And here's the thing. You can have that kind of faith in Christ, whether what you're going through is cancer or someday something much worse.
You can have that same kind of faith in Christ. Corrie wrote this about the ideas that produced the genocide and evil and the industrial-scale murder of World War II. She writes about her brother Wilhelm, who was a doctoral student in Germany ten years before World War II. You maybe have heard of this night called the Crystal Night, the night of broken glass, the Kristallnacht in 1937.
Teachers and bakers and architects went out and started to drag Jewish people into the street, break the windows of Jewish restaurants, burn Jewish synagogues, and that's when the real persecution erupted. But ten years before that, a number of thinking Christians were starting to say there are ideas in our culture that will lead to death. In fact, here's what Corrie writes about her brother Wilhelm. She says, Wilhelm saw things, I felt. He knew what was going on in the world.
Oftentimes, indeed, I wished that Wilhelm did not see quite so well, for much that he saw was frightening. She's talking about ten years before the eruption of the culture. She says a full ten years ago, way back in 1927, Wilhelm had written then in his doctoral thesis done in Germany that a terrible evil was taking root in that land.
Quote, right at the university, he said. Seeds, idea seeds, were being planted in the minds of the incoming generation of a contempt for human life such as the world had never seen, and the few who read his paper back in 1927 laughed at him. So those ideas aren't going to have those kind of consequences.
And Corrie writes after World War II, well, now, of course, people aren't laughing about Germany. As Christians, we know the principle from Scripture of sowing and reaping. What you choose to believe about yourself and others will define your life and what nations and people groups choose to believe defines human history, and that's the third force that is always at work in human history that ideologies, sets of ideas adopted by groups of people, are warring, are competing. You've been listening to the first part of John Dickerson's message, What is Happening?, from his series, Hope of Nations.
Chip will join us here in studio with some additional thoughts and his application in just a minute. John's subtitle for these messages is, Standing Strong in a Post-Truth, Post-Christian World. And sadly, we're living in a time when God is being disregarded, right and wrong are considered subjective, and followers of Jesus are persecuted.
But it didn't used to be this way. So what happened? How did we get here?
And what can be done, if anything, to right the ship? Through this series, John will reflect on the impact of the Christian faith throughout history, and where the society, and America in particular, is headed. He'll also highlight opportunities we could take advantage of to engage the culture around us. For complete information for Hope of Nations, just go to livingontheedge.org.
App listeners, tap Special Offers. Chip, this is a brand new series you're introducing, featuring the teaching of your friend, John Dickerson. Take a minute and talk about your work together over the years, and why these messages will be so impactful for our listeners. Well Dave, I have to tell you that people have been asking me all kinds of questions like, I mean, what happened to America?
Is there hope for our nation? And how did we get here? And it seems like it all happened so fast. John wrote a book, really kind of put him on the map, called The Great Evangelical Recession. He was a very acclaimed, award-winning research journalist.
I actually won the Tom Brokaw Award. And out of that, God began moving in his heart. He became a pastor, and I met him after he pastored for four or five years. And I asked him if he would join me on my staff in California, and we shared the teaching. And what I found was a young man with a mind like a razor blade, who loved to do, literally, research at a level that no one that I've met, that was deeply biblical, that was a millennial, and cared deeply for his generation. And I thought, oh, John, you need to share what you're learning. And so this hope of nations was developed in our time together, and then he taught it, and then he refined it, and then it became a book. And I just thought, the Living on the Edge family needs to hear this.
If I was 40, 45 and under, with kids, family, or single, I would want to know this because it's how we got here and what you need to do. And if I was like 55 and up, and I had older kids or grandkids on the way, I would want to hear this and actually get the book so that I could begin to know how do you respond in a post-truth, post-Christian culture. Excited for John to share his thoughts with us, and I think our Living on the Edge family is going to deeply resonate and learn a lot. Thanks for that, Chip. Well, we hope you'll make plans to be with us for this entire series. And if you happen to miss a program, you can always listen on the Chip Ingram app or at livingontheedge.org.
Okay, Chip, let's get to that application. As we close today's program, I'd like you to lean back and ponder what you have heard my good friend John Dickerson share. It's sobering, isn't it? I mean, he's going back and helping us see how things that were unimaginable happened in Germany. He's helping us see that there's a power in ideas. And when those ideas are followed, I mean, long before John Dickerson, there was Francis Schaeffer and many others who told us, as long as 30 or 40 years ago, there are certain ideas when truth gets eroded that will play themselves out in ways that are disastrous. And we are now in the midst of some of those.
Now, we're not without hope. Jesus said, I'll build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. And Jesus said, I'm with you always.
Jesus says, I've put you here, my children. You're the salt. You're the light. We're the difference makers.
But you know, you can't make a difference. And you can't do anything other than get either afraid or angry if you don't know where we've come from, why we're here, and then what we're supposed to do about it. So don't miss this next broadcast.
You're going to love it. Just before we close, I want to say thanks to those of you who are giving regularly to the Ministry of Living on the Edge. You're making a huge difference helping other Christians live like Christians. If you're enjoying the benefits of Living on the Edge but aren't yet on the team, would you do that today? You can set up a recurring donation by calling us at 888-333-6003, tapping the donate button, or visiting us online at LivingOnTheEdge.org. And thanks for doing whatever the Lord leads you to do. Well, for all of us here, this is Dave Druey saying thanks for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge.
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