Thursday, April 03, 2008

Same Decision, Different Century

In light of recent news of compromise and "political correctness" invading the professing church, here's a decision that should be revisited on a daily basis. From Joshua 24:14, 15.

"Now, therefore, fear the LORD and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD.

If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."

Each of us, like those to whom this was originally addressed, has a decision to make. Will we bow down to the idols of this world or will we stand separate to the Lord? The decision will never get easier, only more difficult. The pressure is on to cave in. To be popular. To be accepted by the world and those who seek to be "relevant" to its depravity. I mean, who doesn't want to "get along"? Anyone in their right mind does, of course. It's only natural.

I was speaking about the Dobson issue with someone earlier today. I mentioned the "Let's stay safe" mentality. The response? "Well, you do have to be careful". Careful? About what? Telling the truth? Nope. I don't think so. See, it's not about "our safety". It's about what we have been commissioned to do. That is, spread the Gospel. And spreading the Gospel involves speaking of sin, the righteousness of God, judgment, repentance and faith. Nothing less -- leave the message of sin and the need for repentance out and you will be sharing a half-truth. And that is a "Gospel" that damns.

The first words out of Jesus' mouth at the very beginning of His public ministry were "Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand". This message remained constant, at least in principle. It was also repeated by the Apostles. And Paul wrote to the Galatians 1 saying "If anyone preaches another Gospel...let him be accursed." But the contemporary church can't tolerate that because it so wants to be accepted. Some have even gone so far as to claim that "Jesus never mentioned repentance".

Accepted by the world? Wow! Jesus said that anyone who lives Godly in this world will be persecuted!

Remember how I said that anyone in their right mind wants to get along with others and that "it is only natural"? Well, therein lies the problem. We aren't called to a natural life. The natural life leads to spiritual death. We are called to live supernaturally. "Whomever finds his life will lose it adn whomever loses his life for My sake will find it".

Now, what do I mean by that? Weird experiences? Mysticism? No. That's dangerous because no experience is self-authenticating. But we are called to a supernatural life. In other words, a trust in God that transcends circumstances, including the derision of those who dispise us.

Look at Hebrews 11. The faith "Hall of Fame". These are those who were justified by faith. They showed their trust. And while it wasn't a universal experience, many of them were persecuted to the point of death. Isaiah, for example, was sawn in two. What for? His life and what it screamed to the world by how he lived it.

But he trusted God.

And read of the others. Why should we be different?

As I've mentioned before on this blog, the world has said "American Christians had better prepare to be unpopular". And I say, the American church will be sifted as wheat. It'll get easier to tell the true believers from the false as the heat is turned up. The line will be darker and bolder and the differences will be obvious.

There was a study done years ago that demonstrated that only 2 percent of professing American Christians share their faith. And that is in a "friendly" environment! No one is threatened with stonings, crucifixions (contemporary Sudanese Christians can tell you it is going on today) or imprisonment (which happens in China for posessing a page of the Scriptures!) yet they keep their mouths shut.

No, my friends, it won't get easier, only more difficult. And if you melt in the mild weather like a "chocolate soldier" (all sweet and nice to look at), what'll happen when the heat is turned up? What if the authorities come to your door and say "Renounce Christ or Die"? It happens in other countries. What if the police come to your door and say "You've offended someone by talking about sin and the Bible. Either shut up or we'll arrest you". What would you do? What if another professing Christian (whom you consider to be a good friend) challenged your stand? Which would be more precious to you? Your friendship or being faithful to God? Be honest before God. It may reveal your true state before Him.

So we all have a decision to make. Whom will we serve? Whom will you serve? Are you a tare -- a Judas? Or are you wheat?

Jesus warned in Matthew 7 that "on that day, many will say to me "Lord, Lord" but I will say to them "depart from me, you who practice lawlessness" (disobedience, literally "acting as if I never gave you the law") You can make a profession, but that doesn't equal posession. And there is an eternity of difference.

Paul said in Philippians that "He Who has begun a good work in you will continue to perform it until the Day of Christ Jesus". How's your walk? Are you maturing in your faith? Have you grown since last year? If not, you might want to, as Paul said, "examine yourself to see if you are in the faith".

You say "Wow! You sure are being pretty stiff about this! You must really think you've arrived!" No, beloved. I haven't. I ask myself the same things every day. Self-examination, like repentance, is ongoing and sometimes very uncomfortable. But the stakes are way too high not to do it.

Others, no doubt, would say "You're being a tad legalistic aren't you?". Well, if simply seeking to obey God is legalism then I wear the badge of "legalist" with honor. Remember, Jesus said that the ones he will turn away are professing to know Him but really never did. . .and their disobedience proved it. No, they weren't legalistic -- but they will be shown as presumptuous; to their eternal loss.

So, as Joshua said, choose this day whom you will serve. It's either going to be the god of acceptance and tolerance or it'll be the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob Who sent His Son to die for us.

Let us make the right decision and fear the One who can destroy the body and send the soul to Hell, rather than those who can only destroy our bodies and after that do nothing.


carla said...

This is good. I was actually thinking along these same lines all day but haven't had a chance to write it down.

I think you are right, the time is coming when we will have to make a costly choice who we will serve.

We can learn so much from David, who didn't worry about being 'careful' or 'popular'- because His trust was in the Lord (Psalm 56 is a good one).

"In God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid.
What can man do to me?"
Psalm 56:11

Jeff said...

The sermon given this Easter Sunday at our church was horrible. It was a truncated, carefully sanitized re-packaging of the Gospel that deliberately omitted: (1) any reference to divine judgment; (2) any explanation of the fact that we are all sinners by nature and that we are therefore under the just wrath of an omnipotent God; (3) any reference to the Atonement or why it was necessary; (4) any valid Scriptural explanation for why Jesus had to die; and (5) any valid Scriptural explanation for why Jesus was raised from the dead. This presentation (I hesitate to call it a sermon) was not even on speaking terms with the true Gospel.

This is cause for weeping and righteous indignation. To soft-pedal the offense of the Gospel in this manner is wrong. What is worse, the leadership of this church, which has a history of faithful preaching and teaching, should know it is wrong. Apparently they either do not know or do not care.