Famine in the Land:
A Passionate Call for Expository Preaching
by Steven J. Lawson
Foreword by John MacArthur
Small-group expositional Bible Study in southern New Hampshire. Serious, fundamental, uncompromising.
Famine in the Land:
A Passionate Call for Expository Preaching
by Steven J. Lawson
Foreword by John MacArthur
Samaritan’s Purse is a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world. Since 1970, Samaritan’s Purse has helped meet needs of people who are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and famine with the purpose of sharing God’s love through His Son, Jesus Christ. The organization serves the Church worldwide to promote the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
There is a popular Christian song with the title, "The Reckless Love of God". But is God's love "reckless"?!
In one word, "No!" After all He's done for us it's an insult to Him to even suggest such a thing!
Some major Christian leaders have recently voiced their concern about some worship songs that have been written that do not agree with Scripture, that do not correctly portray who God is, and that some worship leaders are too immature to be able to serve properly in that role.
Let's look at this song more closely in the light of God's Word, the Bible, and only the Bible; there are 3 things that should be addressed.
First, let's look at the definition of "reckless":
"reckless" = (adjective) Acting or done with a lack of care or caution; careless or irresponsible. (The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition)
Metaphorically speaking, God is not a reckless driver, He is not irresponsible with His money, He does not behave irresponsibly! God's love was, and is still very deliberate and precise! Here are some examples:
Romans 5:8 (NKJV)
"But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
John 3:16 (NKJV)
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."
1 John 4:9-10 (NKJV)
"In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins."
2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV)
"For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."
We must not think that we may take "poetic license" with the Word of God! This is another example of the "watering-down" of Scripture and discounting who God is. This demonstrates a distinct lack of understanding, a demonstration of failing with the Word of God.
2 Timothy 2:15 (NKJV)
"Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
How far would we be allowed to have poetic license with the Word of God, all the way to include His gift of salvation?! Satan certainly wants you to think so!
The second problem has to do with the statement, "it chases me down, fights 'til I'm found". Also included in the criticism is the refrain,
"There's no shadow You won't light up
"Mountain You won't climb up
"Coming after me
"There's no wall You won't kick down
"Lie You won't tear down
"Coming after me"
It is definitely true that, "I couldn't earn it, and I don't deserve it, still, You give Yourself away", but to say that He will continue indefinitely until "I'm found" is definitely contrary to Scripture. It also denies the concept of free-will. Presumption is very dangerous!
The Bible clearly demonstrates that if He is constantly rejected, there is a point when the Lord may leave that person, that church, that society, or that nation alone.
If a person continues to hide in the shadows, runs away into the mountains, builds walls, and deliberately believes lies, then He will eventually leave them alone to their choices.
Something as simple as a door will keep Jesus out:
Revelation 3:20 (NKJV)
"Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me."
This has nothing to do with eternal security. This has nothing to do with His infinite love and willingness to show mercy. But God will not violate our sovereignty! We have free will. He will not force us to love and serve Him. If the Holy Spirit is constantly being grieved, rejected, and quenched, He will go elsewhere. Simply put, at a certain point in time judgment must come; God must judge sin.
Consider these examples:
Isaiah 55:6 (NKJV)
"Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near."
(So there is obviously a time when He cannot be found!)
Luke 13:25 (NKJV)
"When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, 'Lord, Lord, open for us,' and He will answer and say to you, 'I do not know you...'"
Sin leads to a downward progression: Romans 1:18-32
In the future God will send a strong delusion upon those "who did not believe the truth" (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12)
Zechariah 7:11-13 (NKJV)
"'But they refused to heed, shrugged their shoulders, and stopped their ears so that they could not hear. Yes, they made their hearts like flint, refusing to hear the law and the words which the LORD of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets. Thus great wrath came from the LORD of hosts. Therefore it happened, that just as He proclaimed and they would not hear, so they called out and I would not listen,' says the LORD of hosts."
Proverbs 1:20-33 (the personification of wisdom)
"Surely I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you..."
"I have called and you refused..."
"they would have none of my counsel..."
"they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord..."
"Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; they will seek me diligently, but they will not find me.": Proverbs 1:28
The message of God through Jeremiah: "It's too late!"
The Jews rejected God's first attempt to deliver them through Moses (Exodus 2:14 + Acts 7:25, 35), so God cleaned out that generation by waiting 40 years (Acts 7:30), and then sent Moses to them a second time (Exodus 2:23-4:17).
Then again, the Jews were afraid to go into the Promised Land, so He cleaned out that generation, too, by waiting 38 more years for a total of 40 years since leaving Egypt (Numbers 14:22-24; Psalm 95:7-11; Hebrews 3:8-19).
To demonstrate His power, and to punish Pharaoh and Egypt, God hardened Pharaoh's heart (Exodus 4:21; 7:3, 13-14, 22; 8:19; 9:7, 12, 35; 10:1, 20, 27; 11:10; 14:4, 8, 17). But at times they hardened their own hearts, too (Exodus 8:15, 32; 9:34-35; 1 Samuel 6:6).
A lesson for us is, if we don't consider His Word important enough, or of enough value, the Lord may take it away from us...
Amos 8:11-12 (NKJV)
"'Behold, the days are coming,' says the Lord God, 'That I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord, but shall not find it.'"
The third problem with this song has to do with the claim that He "leaves the ninety-nine". What is it doing here, and what is the author trying to say? Seems to be inappropriate and quite disjointed.
This is apparently referring to one of Jesus' parables, the one about the lost sheep or the 100 sheep (Luke 15:1-7). Be very careful not to take it out of context, but read the whole account; don't just read verses 4-6, but consider the entire message, verses 1-7 to see what Jesus was saying and why.
Jesus was responding to the criticism from the hypocritical, self-righteous, religious leaders, those who thought they didn't need Jesus' message, who thought they were "just persons who need no repentance" (Luke 15:7b). They are represented as the 99 sheep left behind "in the wilderness". Jesus very clearly made Himself known to them, proved to them who He was, but they chose to be abandoned.
The believers in Jesus are represented by the 1 sheep that heaven was rejoicing over. Because the Jews were going to reject Him as their Messiah, Jesus would instead give birth to the "Church" (also known as the "Body of Christ" and the "Bride of Christ"), and would see it to completion.
God is searching for sinners who will repent, leaving everyone else behind, leaving them with their own choice to be "in the wilderness". The parable of the lost sheep is a dire warning and not some sort of "feel good" story!
This agrees with what Jesus said about the narrow and broad gate:
Matthew 7:13-14 (NKJV)
"Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it."
The 99 sheep would represent those going the broad way to eternal death; the 1 sheep would represent those going the narrow way to eternal life. (See also Luke 13:24.)
Ironically, using this parable in the song actually helps prove my previous point, that there is a danger of being left behind if we don't choose His gift of redemption.
Following the parable of the lost sheep is the parable of the lost coin (Luke 15:8-10). Again, God is searching for sinners because they are of great value. Again, He would see the birth of the "Church" to completion, He would not give up until the plan of redemption was completed.
Following that is the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). Again, God is watching for and accepting sinners who will repent. This also emphasizes that there is an action on our part that is necessary: repentance.
Luke 19:10 (NKJV)
"for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost."
He's doing all the work! He should get all the credit!
Hebrews 3:7-8 (NKJV)
"Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: 'Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts...' "
It is not my motivation to be too critical, but there is just so much wrong in this "theological train wreck" of a song that it really needs to be addressed, there needs to be correction and accuracy maintained. This song is propagating misinformation.
Such is the condition of modern Christianity: there is often a lack of zeal about knowing the Word of God precisely and accurately. There is too much weak, "feel good" messages when the facts about sin and the dire warnings need to be proclaimed.
Do we really care enough about God that we earnestly want to do everything right in His sight (Colossians 3), handle His Word carefully and correctly (2 Timothy 2:15), and be good ambassadors for Him (2 Corinthians 5:20)?
As a Bible teacher I know that I need to be as precise and accurate as possible because I will be judged more severely (James 3:1). I definitely think that those who write songs are subject to the same scrutiny by God and be subject to the same reward system.
Here is another dire warning, it's about being a watchman:
Ezekiel 3:16-21; 33:1-9
John 14:6 (NKJV)
"Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'"