Every now and then, the Lord so orders happenings into our lives for the purpose of giving us clarity and perspective. These events unfold in such a way that the studious onlooker should immediately gain clarity and perspective on such things as law and order, the faithfulness and obedience of the Church, the humility or tyranny of government, and the predominant ideology that pervades society, Church, and government.
At present, Covid-19 is one such happening. It has certainly brought things into a stark reality; but more of that in a different article. At this point the focus will fall upon the “prequel” to Covid-19, known colloquially as the “Israel Falou saga”!
When our Mighty and Gracious God acts to bring us to an awakening of our sins and our parting from His ways and the reckless abandonment of His law, He rarely goes directly to lightning bolts, plagues and pestilence, or the sword wielding enemy. The history of Israel shows that there were always gentle reminders as well as stern warnings before the ultimate state of calamity unfolded upon the people.
In the Israel Falou saga, we had one of these gentle proddings. It should have awoken the Church from its stupor and, if nothing else, alerted us to the great divide and lack of unity that is current in Christianity; and that is to say nothing about the Church’s lack of credibility in the World’s eyes.
The time is April, 2019. Israel Falou uses social media to push back against certain pernicious evils that have been growing stronger throughout the land over the previous decades. His communiqué is a basic quotation of 1 Corinthians 6:9-10:
Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
Immediately, there was a hue and cry. The clamorous hoards broke out their repertoire of pejoratives and began to recite the prescribed mantras outlined for them by the high priests of Humanism. Now, the response from this quarter was banal to the extreme, went on ad nauseum – please pass the bucket – and was hackneyed by any estimation or appraisal. It said nothing new. It simply resorted to the bullying and harassment tactics that have become the stock and trade of this movement.
Much noise was made. Many things were said. All sorts of people opined based upon their subjective experiences or feelings. Absent from the chorus was the one important question, given the statement made by Israel, namely, “Is this what God has truly said?”
At this juncture, we intend to narrow the focus in looking at the response to this Biblical passage. Of course, non-believers and god-haters are going to come out and object to these passages in the most vehement terms. That is to be expected. The proclamation of God’s law in the sinner’s ear reminds him of his accountability to God and of his rebellion against God, so naturally he is going to demand that the voices are silenced so that he can return to his untroubled rebellion.
It was even expected that the Liberal elements that claim to be part of the Church of Christ, and are not, would come forth and sprout their baptised Humanism, in which they preach love, light, and tolerance without any real reference to Scripture and the Holy God therein revealed.
What was not expected was the response from the so-called “Conservative” wing of the Church. Now, some clarification is needed here, of course. Not all Conservatives remained silent. Not all Conservatives are known to us. This said, however, it was a source of amazement that so many seemed to look for an excuse and a reason to duck for cover and to remain silent on this issue. It was sad, indeed, to see some scrambling to find uncommon ground so that one could safely distance themselves from the man and his comments.
In one example, the minister of a so-called “Reformed” denomination chose to preach about this particular issue. He tentatively paid his respects to the idea that Scripture is our standard and that we should not back away from its message. So far, so good – or so it seemed! Then came all the caveats. These were simply a bowing to Humanism and they, in effect, negated anything heretofore said. We were told, in essence, that this quotation of scripture by Israel had brought the name of Jesus into disrepute. In typical psychobabble, this was couched in and around the popular phrase, ‘it’s not what he said, but how he said it!”
Now, for those who may be unaware, this term has been gathering popular momentum as the ultimate reason to deny a truth that is obvious. Imagine this scenario. An average Aussie, with the language of an average Aussie, say, a truck driver, is on his way home. Suddenly he is confronted by the sight of a home being engulfed by flames. Risking all, he kicks in the door, makes his way to a back room where he finds a man oblivious to what is happening. In first class Ocker, the truck driver outlines the situation with expletives, relays the imminent danger, again with a random scattering of expletives, and then urges upon the occupant of the house the somewhat dire need of the aforesaid to ‘get his scrawny butt moving!’ He does not respond.
Fast forward. Fire fighters have entered the house and dragged the man out at the insistence of the truck driver. He is given medical care on scene, but he is beyond hope. Asked why he did not leave when warned by the truckie, he musters the last of his strength and his final lungful of air to explain, ‘Well, his tone was rough and, above all, he did not say “please”!’
Question time! In this scenario, who would criticise the truck driver? More later.
The second example, is, we admit, an amalgam. During this time, many conversations were entered into regarding this subject. We admit to deliberately steering conversations to this topic so as to be able to gauge the responses. What was evident, sadly, was the lack of solidarity and backbone amongst these “Conservatives”. On more than one occasion, responses like these were heard: ‘He belongs to … denomination’; ‘He does not believe … doctrine’; ‘I think he might believe … idea’; and the favourite, ‘Did he really quote Scripture?’
Seriously! Imagination time again. What if it wasn’t a rugby career on the line, but a man’s life? If this same quotation were to see a man incarcerated for a decade or, worse, his life forfeit, would such foolish and trite reasons still have been trotted forward? Would we have sermons denouncing the man or would the tone and direction of those sermons have changed?
Alright, time to make some statements and to pull some threads together.
First, there is no relationship with Israel and on this sojourn that is not likely. Second, there is most definitely disagreement with some aspects of his life and belief. Yet, none of that should have caused the reactions and the excuse-making it did. The Church was in the midst of its most crucial battle in years, if not decades. Indeed, it may well be the crucial battle of a lifetime. We lost! Why? For all the reasons outlined in this article!
We were too busy tracking through some pro forma checklist on orthodoxy attempting to assess whether Israel Falou was close enough to “our clan” to see whether or not he was worthy of support. All the while missing the most basic point – He is a blood-bought brother who took an accurate stand on Scripture precisely when it was most needed in the midst of a war. That stand deserved the Church’s support, if only as a conversation starter and a rallying point; but, no, we were too busy ticking boxes of orthodoxy or protecting our brand of evangelism to side with Biblically accurate commentary. We focussed on the messenger and not the message.
The Lord gave us a prodding to show us where we stood. The Lord shone light upon the Church and showed that the adoption of unbiblical ideas had led us off the path. Israel’s courage showed us that very point. Did we listen? Did we learn? No, we did not. We got rolled because a ‘house divided cannot stand!’
As Christ’s Church we have three main unifying points: Jesus, His Spirit, and His Word, Scripture. These are what should have been front and centre in our minds and nothing else.
Brothers and Sisters, please, let us learn the lesson.
There are additional points to be made, which may impinge upon how you view these happenings and this article.
First, what Israel quoted was Scripture. No doubt. If his quotation is disqualified, then we must disqualify several Biblical writers who do not quote texts verbatim. That the order is changed does not impact the message when it is simply a list. That some points are combined does not alter the message.
Second, Israel’s list contained eight sins that would disqualify form the Kingdom. How much did you hear about the seven that stood apart from homosexuality? I didn’t hear anything from the International Fraternity of Liars; nothing from AA – adulterers active; nothing from Animists for Idolatry. Anyway, you get the point. Homosexuality became the point of discussion precisely because it was the relevant point under discussion within our country at that time and it was the point being vehemently espoused by the radical God-haters. Again, the highlighting of this single point to the exclusion of all other points raised should have been a red flag to any Christian onlooker.
Third, did not Jesus, our Commander and Chief, tell us that we would be hated. The World did not accept the message from His lips, so It is going to raise a ruckus when It hears the same message from ours. Was Jesus not worthy of hearing when he preached condemnation?
Fourth, Israel has shown the courage to speak out or stand on a number of issues. During the fires, he drew attention to these being Judgement from God. Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, who should have known better, followed the party line and labelled the comments as “appallingly insensitive”. Was Jesus appallingly insensitive when he spoke of hell and judgement? Was Jesus appallingly insensitive when he warned the people to fear God, Who, after killing the body, had the power to cast into hell? Was Jesus appallingly insensitive when, in Luke 13, people address to Him the issue of Pilot murdering certain Galileans and He turns the issue on its head, addressing the living and not the dead, urging His hearers to consider their standing as sinners? This is important. If Jesus were judged by the evil, PC standards of our day, He would be condemned as a monger of hate-speech, intolerant, unloving, and one who failed the test of inclusivity!
Fifth, most recently, Israel refused to get down on his knee in support of a particular protest. Again, the clamorous hoard started up their evil ‘sinphony’ and condemned the man. This condemnation even states outright lies. On the Wikipedia entry for Israel Falou, we find reference to this incident and some commentary that concludes that the protest in question was a “symbol of solidarity against police brutality and racism.” Now, I know of no such protest. I am aware of a “Black Lives Matter” movement, but is that the same thing? Why would Wikipedia’s entry not say “BLM”? Why would it rather choose to imply that, in essence, Israel Falou is pro both police brutality and racism?
The point here is a call to unity.
Is God’s Law still relevant?
Does God judge sin here and now using nature and the like?
Will our culture survive, if we continue to provoke God to anger?
Why did Jesus say so much about Hell, if there is nothing to fear?
Why did Jesus preach repentance, if Man has not transgressed God’s moral code?
These questions must be answered. As the Church, we will continue to be “rolled” in the cultural debates of our day and into the future until we return to the unity that Christ commands – a unity found in His Person, His Word, and His Spirit.
Lastly, we need to return to the truckie. Would any reasonable person reading that story ever begin a “it’s not what he said but how he said it” type conversation?
Do you think that the ambulance officers and fire fighters, upon hearing the victim’s confession, would have begun to lambaste the truckie, demanding or at least strongly suggesting that he should think of attending ‘finishing school’? Do you think that the driver’s companions would have abandon him in droves and then begun to enumerate reasons such as, ‘he buys the wrong tyres’, ‘I never have liked the colour of his truck’, ‘he drives for … company’, and ‘did he really fill in his work diary correctly?’
We hear a lot about love today. The question that needs to be asked, though, is this: Are we loving sinful Man more than our Holy Father in heaven? You see, true love tells a man what he needs to hear, not what he wants to hear. Equally, sometimes that message can only be delivered with certain words and certain tones. Jesus was not appallingly insensitive. On the contrary, because He loved He spoke forth God’s warnings based on the truth and reality that all men will one day be called to give an account.
The current and errant view of love – an emotion that excuses and accepts all – and the adopting of the this “not what he said but how” gibberish is a pernicious evil. If you doubt this, simply look at the erosion of the Church’s doctrine over the years. We have been trying for years, to mellow the concepts of sin and hell in order to present them in a nice way – making the ‘how he said it’ acceptable to the rebellious sinner. What is the result? We have mellowed these doctrines so much that in many circles they no longer exist! We have sugar coated these doctrines so much today, that we simply preach jellybeans – all sugar with a pretty coloured coating, but no substance.
Before us, brethren, is the choice: Continue to turn the doctrines of Christ, one by one, into jellybeans or speak God’s truth, as hard as that may be at times, and allow the Holy Spirit to use the Word of Christ to glorify God.
It is the Gospel, full and unfettered, that is the power of God unto salvation – not nice words and jellybeans – and of this Gospel, full and unfettered, the true disciple of Christ Jesus should never be ashamed.
 Here, we do not mean the current attempt by the Church to curry favour with the World by capitulating to its demands, rather the words of Paul in 1 Timothy 3:7: And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church.
 Please note this well. In the current sorry state-of-affairs, those who are labelled as the “lefties” – an errant term to be corrected – do not engage in sound arguments. They simply shout louder and louder in an attempt to drown out their opposition or, worse still, they just do not allow them to speak. Over the years the people have been warned about the coming censorship associated with the PC Movement. Many scoffed. Look now at what the Tech Giants are doing, as just one example. They have appointed themselves as the arbiters of truth and they will shut you down for simply quoting facts that disagree with their agenda.
 We are aware that an online petition was circulated. We are aware that ACL set up a page to fund certain defences. We are aware that not every Christian turned their back. The point of this article is to focus upon the so-called “conservative wing”; those who were once the champions of Biblical doctrine, once the “unafraid”, once the “defenders of the faith”.
 One is yet to figure out how the reality, substance, and sheer horror of Hell can be accurately portrayed by slapstick!