God Would Raise Up New Generations of Fundamentalists
Rev. Cliff Cauthorne, Clintwood, VA
Preached at the 2019 ACCC Convention, Wednesday, October 23
Many have heard of Joshua Harris—the author of the Christian bestseller I Kissed Dating Goodbye. Before I got married, Harris’ book encouraged me to thank God for my singleness and wait patiently for the person God wanted me to marry.
Propelled to notoriety because of his writings, Harris went on to pastor a large evangelical church outside of Washington, DC at a relatively young age. Sadly, Harris recently separated from his wife and renounced his faith. This has led many to ask, “What happened?”
When our faith is founded upon people and culture rather than Christ and the Bible, it is easy for us to leave it. We see this truth illustrated in the life of King Joash.
Joash’s rise to the throne of Judah was an exciting one. When he was a very young child, his grandmother queen Athaliah tried to have him killed but his uncle, the Priest Jehoiada, hid him. When Joash turned seven, his uncle led an insurrection which saw Athaliah killed and Joash seated on the throne.
After the queen’s demise, Jehoiada led the people to obliterate idolatry and reinstitute the worship of God in Judah. He was a fervent servant of God! However, 2 Chronicles 24:2 foreshadows, “Joash did that which was right in the sight of the Lord all the days of Jehoiada the priest.”
Joash and Jehoiada worked together to raise money for the restoration of the Temple in Jerusalem. Then, verse 15 reports, “Jehoiada waxed old, and was full of days when he died; an hundred and thirty years old was he when he died.”
Verses 17 and 18 relate that after his uncle died, Joash began listening to the flattering “princes of Judah.” Then, “they left the house of the Lord God of their fathers, and served groves and idols.” We learn that cultural norms, heroes, friends, preachers, and even family members provide no substitute for Christ and the Bible.
The Prophet Zechariah, Jehoiada’s son, warned the king in verse 20, “Why transgress ye the commandments of the Lord, that ye cannot prosper? because ye have forsaken he Lord, he hath also forsaken you.”
How did Joash respond? He put Zechariah to death. Yet, the Prophet’s words came true. Joash fell sick, and then “his own servants conspired against him for the blood of the sons of Jehoiada the priest, and slew him on his bed, and he died.” (2 Chronicles 24:25)
1 John 2:19 explains what happened to Joshua Harris and Joash: “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.”
Alliance Defending Freedom CEO Mike Farris wrote this in an open letter to Harris: “You haven’t walked away from a relationship with Jesus. You have walked away from the culture you were raised in.” If your Christianity is based on anything less than Jesus and the Bible, it will not stand the tests of time and eternity. What is your Christianity based upon?
While his uncle Jehoiada the priest was alive, Joash lived a godly life. When Jehoiada died, Joash’s ungodly friends persuaded him to forsake his religious upbringing. When our faith is founded upon people and culture instead of Christ and the Bible, it is easy for us to turn away from it.
In 2 Chronicles 34, we meet someone with a similar background. Like Joash, King Josiah was proclaimed king of Judah at a very young age. Unlike Joash, Josiah remained faithful to God until his death. What made the difference?
2 Chronicles 34:3 notes that even at age 16, Josiah “began to seek after the God of David his father.” God promises in Jeremiah 29:13, “Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”
As we pursue God, He reveals Himself and His will to us. As we obey what He has shown us, He then gives us more instructions. In verses three through 13, Josiah began tearing down idolatry and repairing the Temple. As the men were fixing the Temple, verse 15 reports that they “found the book of the law in the house of the Lord.”
Is there any wonder why idolatry was rampant and the Temple was in disrepair? God’s people had lost their Bible! Why do godless priorities creep into our lives? Why are our lives a mess? When the Bible is missing, we fall away from God and His blessings.
Before we make any major decisions, we must bathe our hearts and minds in the Scriptures. When we do, God will show us the next step we ought to take.
In verse 18, Shaphan the scribe read the book of the law to the King. When he heard it, verse 19 states that Josiah tore his clothes – an act of repentance and sorrow.
The King ordered his advisors in verse 21, “Go, enquire of the Lord for me…concerning the words of the book that is found: for great is the wrath of the Lord that is poured out upon us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the Lord, to do after all that is written in this book.”
Here’s a warning: Reading the Bible reveals our sins and convinces us that we have rebelled against God. However, only then can the Scriptures show us the One who loved us so much that He paid the penalty for our sins on the Cross – the living Jesus.
Josiah went to the Temple in verse 30 and “read in [the people’s] ears all the words of the book of the covenant that was found in the house of the Lord.”
Josiah dedicated himself in verse 31 to “walk after the Lord, and to keep his commandments, and his testimonies, and his statutes, with all his heart, and with all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant which are written in the book.” His subjects followed suit in the next verse.
Verse 33 concludes, “All [Josiah’s] days they departed not from following the Lord, the God of their fathers.” As long as the Bible determines what we believe and how we live, we will remain faithful to God. Is your faith grounded in the Word of God or something less?
You can listen to this devotional here.