Reversing Futile Thinking
Pastor Ray Lorthioir
Trinity Lutheran Church
W. Hempstead, NY
Reversing Futile Thinking
Looking at all the possible lessons and topics for today, it was hard to make a choice. For we have the national Thanksgiving holiday this week. In recent years here at Trinity we have celebrated the holiday on the Sunday before. So, one possible topic is God’s left hand in the world — government. The other is personal and corporate thanksgiving before our Creator God for all the provision He makes for our existence in this world.
But today is also the Last Sunday in the Church Year, the final Sunday after Pentecost. By some Christians it’s also called Christ the King Sunday. Thus, there are two possible sets of lessons for the day. Both proclaim the return of Messiah Jesus. Next Sunday is the first Sunday of the season of Advent. And Advent proclaims both the first coming and the second coming of Messiah. So, the glorious return of the Messiah is a great theme for today as well.
And wound around the return of Messiah is the great Day of Judgment and Yahweh’s justice when He will sentence all fallen angels and impenitent humans to the godless realm of hell that they crave. But something far greater is wound around the Day of Judgment — Yahweh’s mercy. By the death of Messiah on the cross, Yahweh’s justice has been satisfied. Therefore, on the Day of Judgment, Yahweh will mercifully forgive the sins of every penitent human on account of Messiah. Yahweh will sentence the forgiven to eternal life with Him in His Kingdom. He will reclothe the forgiven with resurrected, immortal human bodies, fully remade in His Image and as fully righteous as He. This will be Yahweh’s eternal, most gracious gift to us helpless sinners. True Christians hunger and thirst for the righteousness of their God and of His Messiah.
So, let’s start with the left hand of God. The great ancient king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar, announced in Daniel 4:17, “‘The decision is announced by messengers, the holy ones declare the verdict, so that the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of men.’”
The key in Daniel 4:17 is that it is Yahweh who sets rulers over nations. Indeed, He does that every election day with us. And if history is clear about one thing, Yahweh blesses nations by setting good rulers over them and He punishes nations by setting evil or poor rulers over them. And this is true not only in the highest, most visible offices. It’s true of all local offices, including school boards.
Covid lockdowns kept many parents home with their children. Learning became online learning through computers. Parents were, therefore, able to see what was actually being taught to their children. And they discovered alarming things. Although no school has a class named Critical Race Theory, they discovered that the Marxist race teachings of Critical Race Theory had wormed their way into the very fabric and language of many curriculums. Therefore, many school board meetings across the country have become contentious as parents seek to get this racist language and these godless concepts out of their children’s curriculums. They’re being opposed by school board members who believe in Marxist Critical Race Theory. How did these people get in power? Yahweh allowed them in as a punishment.
Now, from Washington more punishment is coming. Elections have consequences and when the wicked are elevated to power God uses them to punish unbelieving and rebellious nations. In early October the U.S. Attorney General sent out a letter threatening parents protesting at school board meetings with prosecution for being “domestic terrorists.” The Department of Justice and the FBI would do the investigating. This kind of intimidation is what totalitarian regimes do. And what is it that parents are protesting? It’s mostly having their children taught the new racism of Marxist Critical Race Theory and having school bathroom rules imposed on their kids according to the absurd doctrines of the LGBTQ movement.
So, now it has begun. According to a website called Worldview Weekend, “An FBI SWAT team raided the home of an activist mother of three in Colorado on . . . Nov. 16, knocking down her door, bursting into the house and handcuffing her while she was homeschooling her children. . . . They proceeded to search the entire house. Besides being a frequent attendee at her local school board meetings, [Sherona] Bishop has also been active in the voter integrity movement in her state and locality. She runs the website americasmom.net . . . . The agents would not tell her why they were searching her home. They did leave behind documents related to the search warrant, saying they entered her home because she was suspected of causing ‘intentional damage to a protected computer, wire fraud and conspiracy to cause damage to a protected computer.’ [Sherona said,] ‘I don’t know anything about this. They couldn’t explain any of this . . . .’ I will tell you why: they were at my home to intimidate me, to shut me up, because I was using my First Amendment rights to advocate for [Mesa County Clerk] Tina Peters on the issue of Dominion [voting machines] and the damage done in our election. And they’ll never be held accountable. Instead they will criminalize this woman who has stood up. . . . What happened is something I never imagined I would experience in America. . . . Bishop has been part of a group of parents that have been successful in fighting the teaching of critical race theory and school mask mandates.”
Parents as terrorists — this is something that only Marxists could think of. For they always accuse others of being what they actually are. The good news is that more and more people seem to be waking up to what’s going on. Both the recent elections and the polls tell us that. But that’s only politics. Americans need to wake up to the real source of the problem — their own godlessness.
St. Paul accurately described what happened to the ancient gentile nations when they abandoned the evidence before their eyes that this world has a Creator God by whose hand everything exists. He wrote in Romans 1:20-23, “20. . . since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.”
Now in the present time we have not yet made images of created things and called them gods. But for several generations now the public schools have been ordered not to teach that this universe has a Creator God. Because of this, Yahweh is no longer glorified as Creator. And people no longer give thanks to God. In our public schools children can no longer be taught the real meaning and purpose of a national Day of Thanksgiving to God. And as far as futile and foolish thinking goes, our universities are loaded with it — even some seminaries.
The futile thinking of our day is Marxism. It pretends to be better than Christianity because it will supposedly fight — violently fight — for those it proclaims poor and oppressed. But after a hundred years of Marxism, we can clearly see that in reality it is nothing but a new form of feudalism. The communist masters luxuriate in their castles while the serfs till the land. And woe to you if you are a serf fed up with your communist toil.
The foundation of Marxism is godlessness and atheism. And it’s atheism that makes communism the monstrous evil that has slaughtered millions and tortured millions more. When people deny their righteous Creator and that He originally created humans in His Image, they eventually become murderous self-righteous fanatics. And that’s what Marxists are.
When it comes to Marxism, there’s a text that attracts my interest — a text that is pertinent for this last Sunday of the church year because it speaks of what must happen before the return of Jesus Christ. We read in 2 Thessalonians 2:8-12, “8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, 10 and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12 and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.”
Wickedness is an Old Testament word that is used to describe idolatry. Therefore, in Scripture, the wicked are those who deny the very existence of Yahweh, Creator of heaven and earth. Their behavior may or may not be evil by our standards. But Yahweh calls them wicked because they refuse to love the real truth about this world — that Yahweh is its Creator and Jesus is our Savior. And so they refuse to be saved from the wrath that Yahweh is revealing against them. In fact, Yahweh sends them wicked powerful delusions to confirm the lie they want to hear — namely that Yahweh doesn’t exist. Therefore, wickedness in biblical terms means atheism or godlessness.
So, is godless Marxism the final great delusion before Christ appears? Well, it’s clear that communism has performed no great miracles, signs and wonders as per our text from 2Thessalonians. So, it can’t be. Certainly Marxism is a delusion sent by God to deceive the wicked, but it’s not the great final delusion.
So, will Christ return soon? Not until the great counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders spoken of in 2Thessalonians are performed by someone. These will be real miracles, signs and wonders. They will be astonishing. But they will be counterfeit because their purpose will be to lead the whole world to deny Yahweh as the Creator of the heavens and the earth.
But, it’s clear Yahweh has not yet abandoned this world to the final great delusion prophesied in 2Thessalonians. Amazingly, proof of this can be found in, of all places, Russia. Christianity is being reestablished as the national religion of Russia. Russia may still be a land of Byzantine politics, but it is no longer the home of the atheist Marxist fanatics that attempted to build a godless utopia there and ruined that country in the process.
So, what happens when Yahweh graciously turns around the descent into paganism that St. Paul describes in Romans 1:18-32? To this I can give some personal testimony.
Under the power of a thoroughly secular education I never became an atheist. If I had, I never would have pursued the ministry. But I became uncertain of Yahweh’s existence, uncertain of Jesus’ existence and uncertain of Jesus’ resurrection. And my thinking became futile. Futile thinking leads to all kinds of corrupt practice. Oh. And a severe terror of death — you know, just ceasing to exist.
But then one day I was led into a sanctuary full of people who most obviously believed in Jesus Christ. That was a huge challenge. I was granted about 8 months with those people. As a result, there was a huge breakthrough. I came to know that God was real. I could glorify Him. I could give thanks to Him. Then about two years later a medical concern made me realize that I knew that when I die, Jesus will be there to greet me. I will not cease to exist.
But it took a much longer time for the futile thinking and foolish darkness to be extracted from my being. Indeed, the process is still going on. However, an important event occurred in the early years of my ministry here when I was shown that the same scientific evidence that is used to disprove God could just as easily be used to prove Him. The conflict is not in the scientific evidence itself, but in the philosophy — the religion — that is used to interpret the evidence. The supposed conflict of science versus religion, is a lie. It doesn’t exist. In reality, it’s the conflict of the religion of atheism versus the religion of theism. Therefore, I remember the day when I finally realized that the first eleven chapters of Genesis could in fact be the real history of planet earth. From that time forward I trusted Scripture as the inerrant and infallible Word of God. And I knew why many others before me had done so.
Now, after initially discovering the reality of God and His Word, plenty of self-examination and repentance remained to be done. That process goes on to this day. For the truth of God’s Law continuously digs deep into the secret crevices of our lives exposing our ugly rationalizations for what they are. Now, the work of the Law would lead us to nothing but despair were it not for powerful Gospel — the work of love and forgiveness that Jesus accomplished for our sake upon the cross.
Speaking of Jesus on the cross, I’ve recently come to learn that contrary to the lies we’ve been fed in the media, real scholarship has found that Jesus is one of the most provable figures of ancient history. He’s real. And real scholarship has found that there is no greater reliable news from ancient history than that Jesus of Nazareth was actually put to death on a Roman cross and appeared resurrected from the dead to a select group of people. And, therefore, we can say that Jesus fulfilled all the prophesies about Messiah made hundreds and thousands of years before He was born — everything written in the Old Testament.
So, if I repent of my unbelief, what do I have? As it is written in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” And purified with the righteousness of Messiah, what do I have? As it is written in 1 John 5:11-12, “. . . this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He who has the Son has life. . . .”
When nations and peoples come to believe these great truths, the menace of Marxism is seen for the lie from the pit of hell that it is. And so a sound national life can be restored. This is what’s happening in Russia. Let us pray that it also happens here. For then we will once again be able to give abundant thanks to Yahweh, our great God and King.
As it is written in Psalm 28:7-9, “7 The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song. 8 The LORD is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one. 9 Save your people and bless your inheritance; be their shepherd and carry them forever.” Oh Lord, do this for your people, the church, so that the tide may be turned not only in this land but in many others. Amen.
All Bible quotes are from the NIV.