On the election: a prophet in our midst...

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My brother-in-law, Jim Lingo, forwarded this to our family asking us all to watch it. Instead, I read the transcript evidently provided by a machine. The transcript is rough, but readers will be able to make the corrections and fill in the blanks. The sermon is preached by Pastor Tom Nelson of Denton Bible Church.

Back 2,000 years ago, John the Baptist was imprisoned for preaching against the incestous sexual perversion of the one holding political authority over him. The man's name was Herod and eventually Herod rewarded John's prophetic witness by cutting off his head.

While John was still in prison. Jesus, declared to the crowds that John the Baptist was not effeminate... 

he was not the sort of man dressed in soft (malakos) clothing who hung out with the elite of Washington D.C., New York, and Silicon Valley:

What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft (malakos) clothing? Those who wear soft (malakos) clothing are in kings’ palaces! But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and one who is more than a prophet. (Matthew 11:7-10)

What an honor it was for John to have Jesus commend his rebuke of Herod in this way!1

 He was still in prison and about to lose his head, but Jesus had placed His seal of approval on John's head—and that was enough. That's always enough for the Christian.

Before Matthew's account of Jesus' words about John comes to an end, we read that Jesus ended His discussion of John by saying:

From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force. (Matthew 11:7b-9, 12)

There are some who think Jesus here is complaining about the ungodly and their attack upon God's authority and kingdom. I think not. Generally speaking, Jesus didn't complain. Although He is forevermore the only true victim, as the Lamb of God He went to the slaughter without protest (Isaiah 53:7). So no, it's my thinking that Jesus is not whining that His Father's kingdom "suffers violence."

John is the key to this enigmatic statement, coming as it does on the heels of Jesus pointing out that John was not the sort of soft, effeminate man who hung out with the rich and powerful. Quite the opposite: John was the sort of man who takes the kingdom of heaven "by force."

John the Baptist had zeal. The Apostle Paul had zeal. Jesus had zeal. Remember His cleansings of His Father's house?

From his godliness, the Apostle Paul's zeal in pursuing the kingdom of God was never enough, so we read him asking the brothers in Ephesus and Philippi to pray that he would preach even more boldly (Ephesians 6:19,20; Philippians 1:20).

There is a certain sort of Christian man today who would cluck his tongue over John the Baptist's preaching against Herod's sexual perversion.

Herod was the authority established by God and John should submit to him.

Herod wasn't a Christian, so John shouldn't expect him to live according to God's best rules for human flourishing.

Herod didn't have the Holy Spirit, so what he needed was to hear about God's grace—not the rebuke of God's servant who is called by God to give the world the Good News of the Gospel!

John confused the two kingdoms we are working so very, very hard to keep separate.2 It was his calling to preach to the church—not the state; and it's only when the church repents and returns to God that we can have any hope for better leadership in our nation.

John was a moralistic meddler in the affairs of the state and got what he deserved.

John should have stuck to leading worship in the privacy of our Lord's Day services with the full and certain knowledge that when the church is at worship, Herod trembles.


As these were the things said by the religious elite at the time of Christ, so they are the things said by the rich Christians who preside over Westminster, Reformed, Southern, Wheaton, Calvin, Taylor, and every rich church today. And they have the audacity to say them at the same time they claim the mantles of Elijah, Jesus, John, and Paul.

These are their justifications for opposing preaching like Pastor Nelson's today as their rich fathers opposed John the Baptist's preaching 2,000 years ago.

Truth is, as in the days of John and Jesus, the church today is led by soft men who, as the Holy Spirit warns us in 1 Corinthians 6:9, "will not inherit the Kingdom of God." And soft men can't help themselves; whether in secret or publicly, they must despise the violent men who take God's Kingdom by force.

Read or listen to Pastor Nelson's sermon about the kairos, the critical moment we face in our nation, today. Although I'd differ with some small details, his holy passion for righteousness that prophesies against the wicked is profoundly Biblical, although few of us have been acclimated to his zeal, boldness, and violence by the effeminate preachers we pay to scratch out ears.

Whether or not you vote for Donald Trump isn't the large point of the sermon. Rather, it is a logical response to Pastor Nelson's large point (although he'd say voting against the Democratic Party Platform by voting for the Republican Party Platform is his subordinate point).

Pastor Nelson's main point is that God's people must stand up against the terrible wickedness that is rotting our nation to the core, and that voting for the Repubican Party Platform is one way to do so.

I would add that those soft men who try to tamp down Pastor Nelson's zeal by saying "we all just need to repent (ourselves) and preach (privately) and pray (silently) because our present circumstances are spiritual and only a spiritual solution will do" should be left to their large churches and rich pastors.

The kingdom of man imprisons and kills its prophets while the Kingdom of God opens its doors and welcomes them with those most-wonderful of all words:

Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master. (Matthew 25:21)

Recently, a friend and I were talking. He was telling me about a conference he'd been at where he had listened to some rich men who had prospered from their preaching. My friend said each of these Reformed preachers made the same claim—that the Apostle Paul was their "hero."

He was silent for a couple seconds, continuing, "none of these men have ministries that look like the Apostle Paul's in Corinth."

Rich pastors and seminary profs know nothing about having made the people of God into a stench in the eyes of Pharaoh. They haven't had the children of Israel crying for their death. They haven't been plotted against by publishers in cahoots with seminary professors. They haven't been hustled out of the city in a basket hanging at the end of a rope. All men speak well of them—especially rich elders and their wives. No one has ever complained they have the stench of death.

Sure, each of these men has stories to tell of having someone yell at them in an elders or congregational meeting. But honestly, is that the level of persecution Moses or Jeremiah or John the Baptist or Jesus or the Apostle Paul or Augustine or Peter Waldo or Luther or Calvin or Knox or Edwards or J. Oliver Buswell or Martyn Lloyd-Jones suffered?

And if Moses, Jeremiah, John the Baptist, Jesus, the Apostle Paul, and the rest of these men are indeed our heroes, where is our family resemblance?

Speaking for myself, I thank God for Pastor Nelson and all the other zealous, bold, and violent servants of God who are calling for Christians to be salt with savor. To be light out there, uncovered, where it will be seen. To be deacons, elders, and pastors who do the work necessary to fulfill the church's calling to be "the pillar and foundation of God's truth."

God bless Pastor Nelson. May his tribe increase!

  • 1. Calvin comments: "But in the second clause is added this restriction, that "the violent take it by force." The greater part of men were no more excited than if the Prophets had never uttered a word about Christ, or if John had never appeared as his witness; and therefore Christ reminds them, that the violence, of which he had spoken, existed only in men of a particular class. The meaning therefore is, A vast assembly of men is now collected, as if men were rushing violently forward to seize the kingdom of God; for, aroused by the voice of one man, they come together in crowds, and receive, not only with eagerness, but with vehement impetuosity, the grace which is offered to them. Although very many are asleep, and are no more affected than if John in the wilderness were acting a play which had no reference to them, yet many flock to him with ardent zeal. The tendency of our Lord’s statement is to show, that those who pass by in a contemptuous manner, and as it were with closed eyes, the power of God, which manifestly appears both in the teacher and in the hearers, are inexcusable. Let us also learn from these words, what is the true nature and operation of faith. It leads men not only to give, cold and indifferent assent when God speaks, but to cherish warm affection towards Him, and to rush forward as it were with a violent struggle.
  • 2. See, for instance, this perfect specimen by Michael Horton that manages to abuse the writings and sufferings of a number of church fathers in service of his own peculiar brand of Southern California escapism.
Tim Bayly

Tim serves Clearnote Church, Bloomington, Indiana. He and Mary Lee have five children and big lots of grandchildren.

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