The Secularization of the Church
It seems unreasonable that anyone would argue against the idea that the Church is to be separate and distinct from the rest of the world. Yet so many see no reason for the church to remain an entity within itself rather there has been an effort on the part of many to move the church more from God and closer to the world. It is not certain that this is the thing that God had in mind when he gave rise to the idea that the Church should be separate and apart from the world in every aspect.
Moreover God has always required that His people be distinct from all others. One clear evidence of this can be found in Leviticus chapter eleven. While much of the discussion in Leviticus has to do with priestly ceremonial law it is certain that God wanted His people to be different from others even in what they ate. Now, there no suggestion as to what should be eaten by the Christian noted here as that is not the point of this missive. Rather it is important that the people of God not give in to secular ideologies which seek only to distance the people of God from a most holy God.
But like Israel Christians have pulled away from the truth of God’s Word. Instead of being separated from that which displeased God there is a welcoming of secularism in Houses of Worship. Take for instance the idea of shacking up. It is certain that God does not condone fornication even while He honours marriage. Some in the church have decided that it is acceptable for a man a woman to live together without being married so long as the couple is committed one to another. This very notion flies against the standards of God while welcoming the secular idea that a mere piece of paper does not determine love.
Marriage is not the only issue at hand even while some “church” members purport the honour of same-sex marriages. The idea that there are acceptable alternatives to what the world does further erodes the standards of the Church. One such idea is that the young people of the church are taught that it is wrong to go to clubs and like venues. And while there is considerable truth to this pulling away from ungodliness the same people teaching the fallacy of clubbing have introduced club-like atmospheres in local bodies. This dichotomy is not only unacceptable but has created a double standard and hypocrisy in the lives of those involved. Further, it has become increasingly difficult, in some cases, to tell the difference between the Church and secular venues.
Romans chapter one provides clear insight into some to the issues taking place during the time Paul addressed problems that were going on not just in the secular world but also in the Church. Versus twenty-four through thirty two show some of the issues at hand:
Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.
These very things are taking place in the Church today and God is not pleased. The people of God were called out to be separate and apart from the world. After all that is what “church” really means taken from the Greek “ekklasia” which means the called out ones. And while there is a bit more to the definition it is certain that Christians are called out from the world to please God. As such matters such as whispering, backbiting and disobedience must be removed from the church even as homosexuality, adultery and other sex sin should not be named even once among the people of God.
Yes, there has been a secularization of the Church yet it is high time the people of God referred back to the standards of God in order to be that shining light in and for this untoward generation.
Setting the Record Straight
The cry has been made time and time again. As soon as a preacher begins to point out the truths of the Scripture someone is bound to take offense as soon as the matter of sin is brought to the forefront. The offended one quickly blurts out that the preacher has no right to judge him or anyone else. The problem is multifaceted in nature but the heart of the problem is usually that the offended one does not want to conform to the Word of God. The fact of the matter is that anyone proclaiming the Gospel is not judging rather is doing the work ordained by God. In this the record is to be set straight in respect to judgment.
A causal reading of I Corinthians 6:9-11 shows that there are certain that will not see Heaven. The text reads, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” These acts are clearly displeasing to God and thus sin by that very reason.
It is the job of the preacher (prophet) to warn the people of impending danger (Ezekiel 3:17-21). This warning is not judgment rather it is providing notice that actions deleterious to God’s Word will meet sure and sudden consequences. With this in mind it is evident that the one claiming to be offended by the preachers warning is ignorant of the meaning of “judge” as it is reflected in Matthew 7:1. Simply put “judge” as being discussed in Matthew has to do with condemning others. This is likely a legal term but to discuss etymology at this juncture would be fruitless. Still the fact is that judgment as Jesus was presenting it had to do with the condemning of others which was common practice of the Pharisees.
Setting the record straight means that those that proclaim the Gospel in keeping with its purpose are not condemning others rather seeking to prevent eternal damnation to their audiences. Remember the Word of God is an offense to some (Matthew 24:10) but offense and condemnation are far from the same. With this preachers are encouraged to be bold and be strong because the Lord our God is with you. We are charged to preach and teach the Gospel truths even without condemnation. Warning is necessary and has nothing to do with judgment.
There are just some things that have to be taken personally. For instance, when one goes on to marry another it is not for the benefit of the population at large rather marriage is a matter that is personally relative to those involved. Marriage is a matter of personal relationship and dedication between one man and one woman. It is a matter of personal choice to which both parties should be diametrically opposed to interference from any and all other forces. This is much like the relationship between Christ and the Church.
The relationship between Christ and the Church becomes even more personal considering the relationship between Christ and the individuals that make up the Church. It is a choice made by the individuals and Christ. It is a matter of personal choice. Yet there seem to be many that would like to intrude on the relational aspects enjoyed by Christians with Christ. With this, I must make it personal because I am diametrically opposed to those that choose to tell me how I should celebrate my Saviour and those that think it OK that I should condone things that are clearly challenges to my relationship with Christ.
One such matter is that of abortion. The Word of God clearly states that there should be no taking of innocent life (Proverbs 6:16-17; Deuteronomy 5:17). How much more innocent can anyone be than the unborn? I am diametrically opposed to the murder of those that never had the opportunity to defend themselves yet they are continually being snuffed out. Yes, I have heard all the arguments even while Planned Parenthood and like agencies really should be renamed Murder on Demand.
I know that my opposition to abortion may get some feathers ruffled so I might as well continue to ruffle feathers. My stance against sexual immorality is just as strong. I could outline a number of sex sins such as premarital sex, extra-marital sex, gender reassignment, and pedophilia but I will limit this discussion to the hot button issue of the day which is same-sex marriage. While I have absolutely no agreement with homosexual interactions I am diametrically opposed to the very notion of same-sex marriage. The very term is a paradox but that is an issue for another essay.
Yes, I have heard the bleeding hearts say things along the lines of a person’s inability to choose who they love. While I could easily take issue with that very statement I will further this discussion by saying that just because you love a person does not mean that you have to have sex with them. Nor does it mean that you have to marry them. The fact of the matter is that the Word of God clearly provides instructions stating, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). It is interesting that at no point is there a suggestion that people of the same gender should marry. Further, I Corinthians 7:2 further advises “to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.” I am diametrically opposed to same-sex marriage because it tears at the very heart of Christianity. It tears at the very relational aspect of marriage between Christ and the Church.
But these are not the only contemporary matters to which I am diametrically opposed. There are some, even some so-called “Christians,” that think it OK to lie as long as it is for a good reason. Yet the Word clearly shows that “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8). And the list of things to which I am diametrically opposed goes on right to the idea that all “religions” are basically the same as long as you believe in some abstract “god.” Well, once again there must be a simple reading of the Word of God which shows that there is “One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all” (Ephesians 4:5-6). Additionally, Jesus stated, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).
The thing is that I am growing weary of what some would like to see as an “anything goes” Christianity. There are some remarking that they have evolved into believing that wrong is right while right has become wrong. Others declare that the Christian, standing on the Word of God, has no compassion even though compassion is rooted in the truths of the Word of God. It is these truths to which I lay my allegiance and causes me to be diametrically opposed to anything that positions itself against the Word.
The Danger of the Fringes
Have you ever noticed that at camp fires the best place to be is close to the fire? This is because the closer you are to the fire the warmer you become. In fact if you are so close to the fire that you are able to stoke it not only do you become warm but you will actually become hot by reason of the fire. And if you are not careful you can be burned by the flames. With this good reason dictates that the further you are from the fire the cooler you become. In fact you can be so far from the fire that you become cold. Yet you can be close enough to the fire to see the flames yet far enough away that it has no immediate impact on you. This is living on the fringes. You can see and appreciate the fire but the desire to be close to it is evasive.
Such is the case with many in and around the church. Some are the first to get to church because they have been taught to come to church from their youth. Yet there is no commitment to the things of God and no desire to serve Him. These are on the fringes because they see the hand of God working in the lives of others with great appreciation but there is no time for them to dedicate their lives to the things of God. You see there are some things that are more important such as the Sunday football games. So, these that are the first to get to church are also the first to leave because the dinner might burn and the kickoff cannot be missed. The fact is that these are the people that have been around the church so much that they have all the moves down and know all the right words. The problem is that they are lukewarm having a form of godliness while denying the power thereof (II Timothy 3:5).
And then there are others on the fringe. Consider for a moment some that work in the church. Some drive the church van. Others are deacons or ushers while even more sing on the choir or run the sound booth. While they perform many great works that is all that some of these do. Yes, they dress well and have the mannerisms of Christendom down perfectly. But the problem is that there is no love for God. Some of the workers not only lack salvation but the pretense is some evident that it literally reeks from their beings. That is they drink, smoke and even indulge in illicit drugs. Even more they live lifestyles that are far from godly expecting that their works will be sufficient to get them into the Kingdom. These fringe livers have fooled themselves because they are aware of the consequences of hypocrisy but that they rely on their works for salvific purposes (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Even while these are obvious people living on the fringes there are many others. For instance there are those that think it OK to interpret the Word of God based upon their own ideologies. Then those that think OK to lie without consequences. Others live contrary lives under the guises that God knows their hearts. Well, they are right because God does know their hearts. He knows that with their mouths they worship Him but their worship is for show only (Ezekiel 33:31; Matthew 15:8). These fringe loving people do not realize their destinies if they do not turn from their contrary ways.
So then, the danger of living on the fringes is that this life is not pleasing to God. He would rather that you be hot or cold. Those that are lukewarm will be regurgitated from His mouth (Revelation 3:16). You see living on the fringes is an affront to Christianity. Even more it is smacking God in the face. It is to say the sacrificial death Jesus is not good enough and that it is not necessary for redemption. Living on the fringes is a nullification of the Word of God not out of ignorance but out of choice and free will. To know the love of God and ignore it is to say that God’s love is not worth having. Living on the fringes is saying the fire is good for those that can feel it but not good enough for the rest.
When God says that He will spew the lukewarm out of His mouth He means that He wants nothing to do with them. It is much like a person sick to the stomach and that thing which has irritated the organ is forced out through his mouth. The waste that is rejected by the body is not to return because it has proven vile and no good for the body. Such are those that walk on the fringes of holiness. They will be rejected by Jesus (Matthew 7:22-23) thereby being rejected by the entire Godhead.
It is my prayer that those on the fringes get close to the fire. Don’t let hypocrisy ruin your chances of eternal life with God. The only other choice is eternal damnation. This is a choice that is unacceptable so in this New Year please get close to the fire. No, get so close that the fire burns you because eternal life was made for you.
Get Right With God
The past couple days of been somewhat somber for me. A family that I mentor and advise spiritually lost the lady of the house. The most immediate impact of her untimely demise is to her husband of thirteen years and four young children from the ages of seven to eleven. While I can delve into the hurt and pain associated with losing a loved one the thing that came immediately to my mind was the old song “Get Right With God.”
Yes, there is mourning taking place. Even I expect to see her sitting in her favourite spot when I enter the family home. It simply does not seem real because she was taken out by a sudden massive heart attack. But I am reminded of the fact that when Christ returns to collect His Church He will come quickly and without warning. He has provided us with warning after warning of His soon and sudden return. Preachers having been warning for years that the return of Christ will be as a thief in the night as the Church is suddenly taken from the present world. Just look at the present situation in the United States alone.
It is accepted by many to tell lies of the lie is harmless. Yet Scripture teaches that all liars will have their place in the lake that burns with fire. Yet even those holding positions in church choose to lie. But lying is part of the problem. Many continually entertain unclean thoughts. The vast array of unclean thoughts will not be addressed here but one can easily surmise that when thoughts are not taken captive according to the Word of God any number of things can happen. Unclean thoughts are part of the reason that many are living with the idea that altering their minds with marijuana, alcohol and other illicit drugs are OK so long as no one else is being harmed.
And the evil thoughts continue in so many ways such as the increase of immorality on every front. Said differently, this nation has succumbed to the disease of sin. Sin is what pulls away from God and sin will be the cause of eternal damnation. You see in the Book of Numbers God provided His people specific instructions. If they adhered to God’s Word they would find themselves walking in God’s blessings. Yet if they disobeyed Numbers 32:23 clearly indicates that “But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out.”
I certainly mourn the untimely death of this forty-six year old lady even while I wonder how many people die without making things right with God. How many die knowing that God is there for them yet they figure that they have the rest of their lives while the numbering of their days is at hand? And then what about those on the fringes of the church walking around with a form of godliness but denying the very power thereof? And then you have those that work as though their very services are the means to get into the Kingdom.
It is high time that this nation return to its roots of trusting in God. We have left our first love and need to fall on our faces in repentance. No, just a verbal acknowledgement of shortcomings but rather actions turning away from those things that turn from the holiness of God. It means that those on the fringes will submit to the Cloud that covers and protects while allowing the Holy Spirit to not only indwell but also to guide and comfort. It is time that we, collectively and individually, get right with God and do it now!
Have Some Confidence
There is much talk today about faith. People are starting groups entitled “Faith” and others suggest that their faith in God is immovable. Preachers are slamming their fists on pulpits to make the point of the necessity of faith. Yet many people still have no idea what faith really is nor are they sure how to employ it. Despite this the matter of faith is a rather simple one and one that even a baby can employ in his life.
The fact is that faith, at its simplest level, is nothing more than absolute assurance that God is true to His Word. It is the realization that God cannot and will not lie to the extent that the Word of God has never failed. Faith is knowing that no matter how long and difficult the journey God will bring it to a successful end. He has to because God has promised man that He would never leave nor forsake him. And If God will never leave man then His Word is true and has to stand on its own.
This being the case why do so many Christians live defeated lives? Why is there not only discouragement on a large scale but many Christians seem not to understand the very fundamentals of faith as laid out here? Perhaps the answer is found in Romans 14:23, “And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” Hereby we see the problem, doubt which sin is. But the question must be answered as to what doubt is. Specific to Romans 14:23 doubt is “to be at variance with one’s self, hesitate, doubt.”
The picture of doubt here is an internal struggle. The fight is whether or not to trust God. And if God is trusted is it feasible to depend on Him? And if there is a dependency on God will He do what He says? Is what God says for me? And the questions go on and on. It is for this reason that doubt becomes strong thereby eradicating faith. The fact is that doubt is sin and God cannot operate where there is sin. This is the reason when doubt raises its head God is forced to withdraw His hand. Even so the tables can just as easily be turned.
Let not faith be a word of convenience rather it should be part of the Christian lifestyle. Faith recognizes that God is faithful that promised (Hebrews 10:23) and will do just what He says. So don’t waver because the winds blow. Instead pull your coat closer, bow your head toward the wind in prayer and continue to move toward the promise. It is there and waiting for you. Just don’t doubt. No, don’t give in and let God pull from you because of the sin of doubt. No, hold on to the promise of God and let God bring it to pass.
 Blue Letter Bible. “Dictionary and Word Search for diakrinō (Strong’s 1252)“. Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2012. 28 Nov 2012. < http:// www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G1252&t=KJV