In a World of Violence,
My Hope Is in Christ
L. R. Shelton, Sr.
We are living in a World of violence, "And as it was in the days of Noe (Noah), so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man" (Luke 17:26). Let's turn to God's Word and read His description of the days of Noah, and we will be better able to understand our present-day situation as we unfold it to you in our study today. In Gen. 6:11, 12 we have the history of that age summed up in two words: "corrupt" and "violence."
Now before we look at these verses, which set forth a violent and corrupt society, let's turn to II Tim. 3:1-8; 4:1-4 and see the condition of the church in the last days before the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The aged Apostle Paul, shortly before his martyrdom, wrote to young preacher Timothy, his "dearly beloved son" in the ministry, giving him a most solemn charge in the face of apostasy that had already set in:
If you will read the full description given in II Tim. 3, you will note that each characteristic mentioned is a description of a people filled with violence. No wonder he called them "perilous times," which means troublous, dangerous, and hard to bear. This is a description of human nature left to itself, unrestrained by the grace of God, and therefore it is a description of a world on fire of lust, the lust of the flesh, self enthroned and grasping after the desires of the flesh and of the mind an the pride of life (I John 2:15-17). As in the days of Noah, they were "eating and drinking, marrying and divorcing and swapping wives," (Luke 17:27), so today the slogan is, "Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die," and the whole world is one gluttonous, drunken and sex-mad society, or mass fornication aflame with lust.
Along with the lust of the flesh is the covetousness of greed and gain, grasping for everything for self regardless of who suffers. A national magazine recently carried a picture of looters over-running and wrecking private property with the following quotation from the lips of the covetous hearts: "We're getting what we want." And they were doing it in the name of religion and Christianity! Before our very eyes we are seeing the prophecy of the Apostle Paul fulfilled: "Men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, unthankful, false accusers, incontinent (lack of self-control), fierce (savage), despisers of those that are good, heady (rushing headlong)" to get what they want. Then Paul said they would be "highminded," which means puffed up with pride and self-importance, because they "have a form of godliness," that is, they profess Christianity without Christ, for they are "lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God." They seek to gain the pre-eminence at any cost, and they glorify themselves – who they are, what they are, what they know, what they think, and what they can do, which is pride personified. Paul said: "From such turn away...but they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men." Yes, the whole earth is filled with violence, which means cruelty, injustice, unrighteousness, oppression, and the fire of lust, covetousness, and pride. The result is that we are in a reign of fear without love, which if not halted will result in a reign of terror, and which will grip the world and prepare it for the coming Antichrist and plunge the world into the Great Tribulation.
Standing in the midst of all this spirit of violence, when "men's hearts (are) failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth" (Luke 21:26), I have a blessed hope, for my hope is in Christ. That is what I want to talk to you about today, "In a World of Violence, My Hope Is in Christ." Is He yours? Not only is He my Lord and my Saviour, but He is my Fortress and my high Tower, my Rock in whom I trust; and He is that to every individual who knows Him as your Lord. He is the only hope that any individual can have and stand steadfast and unafraid in an hour like this. He is my hope of deliverance from the sin and violence of the present day, for He is coming to deliver me from this present evil world and take me to be with Him.
Now let's go back to our text in Genesis 6:11-12, and we'll read it first in the King James Version and then in the Amplified Version:
One of the best studies of God's Word is a good dictionary that gives the various shades of meaning of the key words of the Bible, and the Amplified Bible gives one of the best full translations of the Scriptures from the Hebrew that I have found. Let's read it and see what God meant when He used the words, "corrupt," and "violence."
The Hebrew word translated "corrupt" means depraved and putrid. We turn to the English dictionary and find that "depraved" means morally bad or debased, evil; that is, there was no goodness there, as God said in Gen. 6:5, "Every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually." Not one good thought, no, not one; not ever at any time was there one good thought. That is man by nature, and here in Noah's day God had given man up to his own way and his own nature. "Putrid" means rotten, stinking, corrupt. the whole earth had become one stinking mass of corruption in God's nostrils, because mankind was rotting on the inside. That is exactly what is happening to America today: she rotting on the inside. Pick up any of your national magazines, papers (religious or secular), and you will read statements the reveal our weakness as a nation, that is, America is rotting on the inside. Read the history of every great nation of the past, and you will find that when they became corrupt and rotten morally on the inside, God's judgment fell upon that nation, and its greatness ceased. One of two things face us today: either a national revival of old-time religion, that is, Christ living among us again, or a depression that will lead to a greater revolution. We are now in the midst of a civil revolt against law and order, which is war and revolution.
In the midst of such a national condition, what is your hope, my friend? My hope is Christ. He is my Light, and He is my Salvation. Matthew said, "She shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins." My dear sinner-friend, you who are struggling hard with sin and you who think you are under conviction: salvation is not a question of being saved from hell: it is a question of being delivered from sin. It is a deliverance from the penalty of sin, from the power of sin, and also from the presence of sin. So my hope is Christ, who will also deliver me from the presence of sin in this wicked, evil world, because He has paid the penalty of my guilt, broken the power of my sin, and therefore sin has become exceeding sinful; and my hope is Christ who shall deliver me from the presence of the hated thing that crucified my Lord. The reason our nation is in the awful condition it is in is because she has indulged in sin of every sort and description and has sought by every means to silence the accusing voice of conscience, thereby repressing their guilt, until they have come to the place of projecting that guilt to someone else. As a result, they are rising up in violence to take vengeance on everyone else for their guilt that has been made light of, cried down, and drowned in pleasures. Only Christ can deliver us, and He can deliver us only by Holy Spirit conviction that will open wicked hearts and wicked minds to see themselves as they are, guilty, and grant them repentance to acknowledge it and come to Christ, who has borne all their sin and guilt in His own body for every repenting, believing sinner! Therefore, like old Jonah who went running up and down the streets of Nineveh crying, "Repent! Repent! Forty days and Nineveh shall be destroyed," I am crying to you to repent as individuals, and as a nation. Oh, that we had a national voice that could be heard across this nation, crying to America to "Repent! Repent! or this nation will be destroyed, and that soon."
Look at the next phrase of our text, "The land was filled with violence (desecraton, infringement, outrage, assault, and lust for power)." Now, I want to call to your attention that the word for "violence" in the original language means to tear away violently, be vehement, fierce, moved with great energy, fury, rage, and strong emotional force to oppress by unlawful means or intimidate by threat of personal injury. It is closely related to a word meaning heat, passionate desire for self-gratification, whether another's possessions, or sexual or sadistic compulsions. In other words, in the days of the Flood, men were moved by what is known in medical language as manical compulsion arising from one's abnormal state of mind. This is lawlessness, which cannot be held in check by human restraints, because the restraining power of the Holy Spirit is removed. Isn't that an awful age in which we live!
Let's look at each of the above words translated, "violence" – (desecration, infringement, outrage, assault, and lust for power). Desecration is the utter disregard for sacred things. A man on fire of lust has no regard for the sacredness of the marriage vow; therefore, many homes are broken, children are suffering emotionally and materially, wives and mothers are letting the children run the streets while they entertain strangers. The name of the Lord is taken in vain and profained, and houses of worship are practically deserted (or filled with pretenders playing church). Sacred things are sneered at and made a joke of, until our people, as a whole, do not know what is right or wrong, and the difference between truth and error. Again, violence means infringement on the other fellow's rights. The man who is always clamoring for his rights and talks about peace and non-violence means, "Now, don't you rise up and try to stop me from getting what I want and doing what I please." He doesn't know where his rights end and the other fellow's begin; he wants his freedom to walk all over the other individual as it pleases him. Violence means outrage, or the furious outbreak of a smoldering hatred and murder that has been stored up in that heart for years, usually because he thinks he has been mistreated. This is a full-blown case of paranoia, which is known as the persecution complex, and it is the opposite of metanoia, which is repentance. In other words, this is the picture of an impenitent individual given over to a reprobate mind and with the restraint of the Holy Spirit withdrawn from his heart and life. Finally, we see that violence is assault, which means to attack with or without weapons, or a threat to do so. This produces fear, intimidation, panic, and terror, or that sense of dread, fright, and horror in the presence of danger or a threat of danger. Therefore, we might say that violence is motivated by a lust for power, or lust aflame in a human heart that has been seared and has no conscience It is becoming more prevalent worldwide today, and will increase as the world goes into the Tribulation Period.
In the light of this picture of violence in which we live today, let's note that it is a spirit that motivates the human race which is over and beyond the human nature. It is the moving of a Satanic influence upon the whole world setting the stage for the rise of the Antichrist, which will be Satan incarnate, who will take over the reins of government of the one-world political organization. You will see a pattern of operation, which is peculiar to Satan's method, following the lust for power, that causes nation to lift up sword against nation, or groups within nations, or individuals within nations who lift up their hands to try to lay hold of the power of the government. Let's bring it down to our everyday life: it may be an individual, or a group in a community who has laid hold of that entire community and is wielding the sceptre of power to satisfy his lust, his covetousness, and his pride. Therefore, let's notice how Satan works to put over his program. God's Word warns us of his methods, which he has used in every age, and poor deceived man will fall under his power in the same way today and tomorrow as he has in the ages past.
The spirit of Satan operates in two ways: first, by intimidation and, second, by imitation. Let's read I Pet. 5:8,
This is God's description of Satan's method of intimidation: he produces fear that paralyzes man into subservience until he is afraid to take a stand and speak out against Satan's threats, for fear he will be harmed or destroyed. Satan's second tactic, as set forth in God's Word, is found in II Cor. 11:13-15, where the Apostle Paul warned the church that Satan works as an "angel of light":
In other words, as soon as Satan produces a widespread hysteria of fear and perplexity (Luke 21:26), with each other turned on one another, he quietly rises up from the troubled sea of mankind and so sweetly offers himself in the name of Christianity as an "angel of light" leader to lead them out of the chaos, which he himself has stirred up. You wiatch Satan using this strategy today to prepare the world for his great takeover during the Great Tribulation. In the midst of such local and world conditions, my friend, what is your hope? My hope is Christ, because He is the Rock of my salvation, my Redeemer who bought me with His own precious blood.
Look at Gen.6:12, "And God looked upon the world and saw how degenerate, debased and vicious it was; for all humanity had corrupted their way upon the earth and lost their true direction" (The Amplified Bible).
If we could only see things through the eyes of the Lord God of Heaven, how differently they would look. God saw the earth, that it was degenerate: a-moral. This means that the individual does not know anything about morals: he does not know the difference between morality and immorality. Everything that he, or she, does is all right in their own eyes. In Noah's day the earth had so degenerated until it was a-moral; it had no morals. Then the Scripture says that God saw that it was debased; that is, it has been reduced from a higher to a lower state in dignity, purity, and character. Purity had been destroyed, because of the moral deterioration by sin, largely through sexual indulgences. When God looked upon the earth, He saw that it was vicious, given over to vice, immorality, wickedness, impurity, depravity. It was diametrically opposed to "virtuous." My friend, has it ever dawned upon you that this is the condition of the world today? Or, do you stick your head in the sand like an ostrich and refuse to look the facts in the face? Jesus said, "As it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days (of the coming) of the Son of man" (Luke 17:26). I have used the same words to describe the present-day condition as God used to describe the days of Noah before the Flood judgment. That being true, do you see how near we are to the coming of our Lord, and God's judgment is about to fall upon a Christ-rejecting world? May friend, look as far down the road of time as you can see, and what is your hope? If Christ should come today, are you ready? Are you looking for His coming? I am. He said, "Be ye ready for ye know not what hour I may come," and "Occupy till I come." Yes, I'm looking for Him; if He doesn't come today, I'll look for Him tomorrow as the two messengers He sent back to Mt. Olivet when He returned to His Father said, "This same Jesus... shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven" (Acts 1:11).
Then look at the expression, "All humanity had corrupted their way upon the earth." This does not mean that God looked down and saw a mass of corrupt humanity, but He saw that each one had corrupted his own way morally and spiritually, so that he could not find his way back to God; therefore, God said, "There is none that doeth good, no, not one." The word "corrupt," means destroy, and "way refers to a path, a journey, a course of life, or mode of worshipping God; therefore, the human race had completely destroyed the true worship of Jehovah, which was instituted at the birth of Seth's son, Enos (meaning, flesh) "Then began men to call upon the name of the LORD" (Gen. 4:26). Let's note the fact that the knowledge of the true God, Jehovah, was so completely trampled upon and destroyed, and lost by that generation before the Flood, that historical fragments cannot be pieced together in any fashion that resembles the truth as revealed by God's Word. The altar at the east of the Garden of Eden was forgotten; blood redemption was denied, or rather, perverted by pagan sacrifices, incense, and libations, which come down to us as a body of mythgiolocal conglomeration. No longer did they look for the promised Messiah, but they jeered at Enoch when he preached, "Behold, the Lord cometh... to execute judgment upon all... that are ungodly" (Jude 14 & 15), and shouted, "Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation" (II Pet. 3:4). All those great old precious doctrines that comforted the hearts of the antediluvian patriarchs were lost upon deaf ears, except Noah's, and he believed to the saving of his household. Every man went his own way, which is sin, because he had lost his direction. That is true practically worldwide today, because the apostasy, or falling away from Divine truth, has set in, which is the counterpart of the ignorance of God that prevailed in Noah's day of the true worship of Jehovah.
As I view the world situation today in the light of the days that preceded the Flood, I see a world drifting deeper and deeper into the night of sin, with the storm clouds of God's fierce judgment about to burst upon a sleeping race of sinners. Then I look up, because I am expecting my Lord to burst forth from the hidden ramparts of the clouds with the shout of the Bridegroom, coming for me, His beloved, How lovely He is: the Lily of the Valley, the Rose of Sharon, my Beloved, I am His, and He is mine. In the times of the storms of life in which we live, He is my fortress, my Covert, my Hiding Place from the tempest. He is my God. "There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (I Tim. 2:5). Therefore, He is my Mediator, my Living High Priest who intercedes for me within the veil of the Heavenly Tabernacle.
Then because He is my Lord, my Saviour, my Redeemer, and my Mediator, let me say again that He is my Hope, and this hope is a Living Hope. It is Christ in me, the hope of glory (Col.1:27). The oil of grace (which is the Holy Spirit's anointing, or His indwelling presence) keeps it living. I never cease to praise Him for that hope, no matter how dark things seem to be. It doesn't matter how the world is reeling and rocking in sin and lust and violence, my Lord lives, and as He lives, I live, because He lives in me (Gal.2:20). Then that hope is a godly hope, a perfect hope, a purifying hope. God gave it to me in Christ when he saved me. As a result of this godly hope, there is not a time that I cannot turn to Him and get an audience with Him, and make known all my needs and my burdens and cares and joys, because when he lifted me out of the miry clay, He put me my feet upon the solid Rock, which is Christ, and put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise, as Paul tells us in Eph. 5:19, 20,
How wonderful and glorious is my Lord! Is He yours? Do you know Christ? Are you rejoicing in Him? Does your hope rest in Him? What does Christ mean to your heart anyway? He is my strength in hours like this to stand for the truth of God's eternal Word, if it means a martyr's death. Oh, that you knew Him in these hours!
In the midst of this world of violence, not only do I have a living, godly hope, but I have a glorious and blessed hope, according to Tit. 2:13, "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ," who shall raise the dead in Christ first, and then we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall be changed like unto Him, and we shall all meet the Lord in the air, and be forever with Him, according to I Thess. 4:13-18. One beautiful afternoon last week when the sun was shining brightly through the drifts of fleecy white clouds, and the spring was breaking forth in young verdure on trees and fields, the flowers bursting in bloom and the birds singing praises unto their Creator, I visited the grave of my dear wife, who went to be with her Lord some time ago. As I stood there and looked at the inscription on the tombstone – "She Died in the Lord" – (Rev. 14:13, "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord"), I broke into tears and shouted, "Praise the Lord, He is 'the resurrection and the life' "! (John 11:25). He is my Resurrection! He is her Resurrection because she died "in the Lord." Rom. 8:1 says, "There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus" You will find that expression, "in Christ," or "in Christ Jesus," or "in Him" more than 250 times in the Bible, showing the relationship of the believer to Christ. We are united to Christ, bone of His bone, flesh of His flesh (Eph. 5:30). Since there is "no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus," then, according to Rev. 14:13, "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord" Now why are they blessed? Listen!
Turn with me to I Thess. 4:13, and we have the prophecy of the believer's resurrection as given by the Apostle Paul. For years I have been studying God's prophetic Word, and I have known and preached what God says is coming upon the world before our Lord comes, and the things concerning His return to earth again. Listen.
Yes, I praise the Lord that he saved my companion of 48 years, and when Christ comes yonder in mid-air with the shout of victory, the trump of God, and the voice of the archangel, that grave cannot hold that body! She'll come forth in the likeness of our blessed Lord, according to I John 3:2, which says, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." Won't that be the most glorious day we've ever had, when we shall rise from the dead and be translated into the likeness of the Son of God and behold Him as He is, and be forever with the Lord, who loved us and gave Himself for us, except that we will not wear the scars in the hands and feet, or the sword-riven side and the thorn-crowned brow! What grace bestowed upon poor sinners like me! Knowing that we are facing in the last days, I am not looking for death (nowhere are we told in God's Word to look for death), but I am looking for the return of my blessed Lord, for He said, "Look up... for your redemption draweth nigh." Watch for the coming of the Lord, wait for His coming. That's my hope: it is Christ. He's my Resurrection, because He resurrected me from the grave of sin, made me a new creature in Christ Jesus my Lord. And I am looking upward for His coming; I'm listening for that shout that will waken the dead in Christ, bring them forth from their graves, and change the believers that remain alive.
My friend, what is your hope? Do you have a hope I wish I could sit down by your side and tell you how God saved this poor sinner, and tell you that God will save you for Christ's sake, tell you what happiness and joy you will find in Him that you will never find anywhere else. Oh, that you may know Him, be found in Him, and have His sustaining and comforting grace while you wait for that "blessed hope and glorious appearing" of our Lord Jesus Christ from heaven!"
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