Monday, November 17, 2014

Amused, Entertained, Seduced

S. Houghton

The fact is that theatrical performances, in order to be paying propositions, must pander to the baser passions in unregenerate men and women. They must be a reflector of the world—the world that lies in the Wicked One. This, say some, is their merit—they are a mirror of life, and as life includes the foul and the sordid, so too must the theater.

We grant that the playwright sets out to mirror life. So too does Holy Scripture. No book is so revealing as to human nature! No book better portrays human sin! But if the theater and the Book do one and the same thing, then wherein lies the vast difference between them? And why may not one be the handmaid of the other?

For a variety of reasons; but principally for this—that, whereas the Book shows . . .
  sin in its true evil colors,
  sin in its devilish origin,
  sin in its downward course,
  sin in its dreadful wages,
  sin in its awful and eternal consequences;
on the other hand the theater displays sin that men may be amused, entertained, and alas, all too often seduced! The Book smites the conscience and leads a man to say, "Woe is me, for I am undone, for I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips, for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty!" It causes him to cry, "God be merciful to me a sinner!"

But the theater tends in another direction altogether. As it sets out to entertain, so also it blurs a man's sight of that which is truly spiritual and divinely holy; as it aims to amuse, it dulls a man's ability to examine himself in the pure light of revealed truth.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

One of the Broadest Avenues That Lead To Destruction

Hannah More, 1745-1833

I do not hesitate for a moment to pronounce the theater to be one of the broadest avenues that lead to destruction! Fascinating no doubt it is, but on that account the more delusive and the more dangerous. Let a young man once acquire a taste for this species of entertainment, and yield himself up to its gratification, and he is in great danger of becoming a lost character, rushing upon his ruin. All the evils that can . . .
  corrupt his morals,
  blast his reputation,
  embitter his life,
  and destroy his soul—
lurk in the purlieus of the theater! Vice in every form lives and moves and has its being there. Myriads have cursed the hour when they first exposed themselves to the contamination of the theater. 

Light and darkness are not more opposed to each other, than the Bible and the theater. If the one is good, then the other must be evil. If the Scriptures are to be obeyed, then the theater must be avoided. The only way to justify the theater, as it is, as it has ever been and is ever likely to be, is to condemn the Bible—the same individual can not defend both!

(Editor's note: Hannah More's words have certainly come true in our generation. Our American "entertainment" has perhaps done more to corrupt our society than anything else. We Christians would do well to evaluate our entertainment choices by God's Word.)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

If the World Loves Us, Smiles On Us, and Speaks Well of Us

by James Smith (1891)

The concern of Jesus for the safety and happiness of His people, is both great and astonishing! He had watched over His disciples while He was with them, and being about to leave them He would make them the special care and charge of His Father, and thus He prays, "I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to You. Holy Father, KEEP through Your own name, those whom You have given Me!" John 17:11

Notice the circumstances in which we are placed: "They are still in the world." They are chosen out of it, are raised above it—and yet are left in it, for holy and important purposes.

The world to the believer, is a place of trial. Every principle he has, as well as the profession he makes, will be tried here.
Storms will arise, and often suddenly and unexpectedly.
Labors have to be performed, and self-denying labors too.
Persecutions must be endured, and at times these are fiery and long-continued.

This world is . . .
   a treacherous environment,
   a field of labor,
   a weary land,
   an enemy's country!

The world to the Christian is a place of DANGER. He has foes both within and without. From some he must escape by fleeing, and from some by resisting.

"The corruption in the world caused by evil desires" (2 Peter 1:4) is defiling, debasing, and disturbing! It must be overcome; we must cleanse ourselves from it, and escape from its contagion!

Then we have to do battle with . . .
   the god of this world—the prince of the power of the air;
   the powers of the world—or ungodly, persecuting men in authority;
   the men of the world—or the masses surrounding us;
   the things of the world, especially . . .
     the lust of the flesh,
     the lust of the eye,
     and the pride of life!

In such a world, surrounded by such evil elements and diabolic agents, we must be in danger, and shall be severely tried!!

Hence Jesus pleads with His Father; He fixes on the holiness of His nature and character, and cries, "Holy Father!" His grace, or His mercy, or His pity, more generally attracts us, because we feel unworthy, or miserable, or weak. But His holiness fixes the eye on His obedient Son, and our great High Priest!

He prays for their preservation: "Holy Father, KEEP through Your own name, those whom You have given Me." Keep through Your own name, that is, keep them . . .
   in the knowledge of Yourself and of Your truth;
   by Your power, mercy, and providence;
   to show forth Your truth, Your mercy, and Your love.
The Lord's people, therefore, will be kept by God's power through faith unto salvation.

Beloved, if Jesus thus prayed for us, then our preservation is certain, and our perseverance is sure. We shall be kept, in answer to the prayer of our great High Priest . . .
   to His gratification,
   for His honor, and
   to the Almighty Keeper's glory!

Whatever storms may arise,
whatever foes may assail us,
whatever trials may come upon us,
our Heavenly Father will keep us, in honor of His Son.

Kept by the all-seeing eye and all-powerful hand of Jehovah we shall persevere, though . . .
   the road is rough and treacherous,
   the journey is long and dangerous,
   and our strength is but small.

Let us in every season of danger . . .
   when foes and fears beset us,
   when our hearts misgive us, and
   the cross lies heavy upon us,
then let us hear Jesus praying for us, "Keep through Your own name those whom You have given Me!"

Reader! Are you OF the world or are you one of Christ's redeemed people IN the world? Saints in the world are like . . .
   pure lilies among stinging thorns,
   precious diamonds among filthy pebbles,
   harmless sheep among ravenous wolves!

If the world loves us, smiles on us, and speaks well of us, then we are certainly OF it! And if of the world, we shall certainly be damned along with it.

But if the world is to us a place of trial, and a place of danger; if we feel that we are not at home in it; if we are longing and preparing to leave it, that we may go home and dwell with Jesus in His Father's house forever, then all is well with us, and will be well forever!