Friday, October 10, 2014

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Loving the World and the Transformation of the Church

          The topic under scrutiny herein has nothing to do with politics.  However, I am reminded of President Obama’s promise to transform America.  As a correlation, I can see that a similar and even more serious transformation is taking place within the church of today.  Here I am again mulling over the significance of being rooted and grounded in the word that we may not be led into deception.  Every time I think I am finished with this subject, somehow the Lord leads me back to study and ponder upon it once again.  There must be something deeper that He wants me to discover and understand. Or perhaps, it is merely intended to be another ringing of the alarm to call attention to the very soon coming of the death of the Christian Church as we know it.   I believe it must be related to the increasing deception that is creeping, or should I say flooding, into the body of Christ, leading it farther astray from the truth of Jesus and His Word.  Spiritual warfare is raging against the truth of God, and believers often seem to be quite oblivious of the cancer that is growing and destroying the foundations of the faith.  It’s as if there is this mind set that, if we just ignore the disease, surely it will just give up and go away.  I don’t know of any cancer that, untreated, will just go away of its own accord, unless it occurs as a miraculous work of the Lord.  While we believers go about our daily lives in a state of ignorance or pure apathy, the enemy is busily at work breaking down the foundations.  They are just about ready to collapse and bring down every part of the structure, till there is nothing left but rubble.  It reminds me of the scene at ground Zero after the destruction of the Twin Towers in New York.  No wonder, in the latter days, the Church is going to have a “form of godliness, but denying the power thereof…” (II Tim. 3:5)


          It is so ironic, and even sick, how the voices of the radical Islamists are probably the loudest and most forceful of the day.  It seems that so few are willing to stand up, speak out and fight against the poison of the hate, terror, and reign of death that they are attempting to spread around the whole globe.  Oh no, we mustn’t speak out against Islam, for then you are labeled an Islamaphobic.  Islam is ‘protected’ and acclaimed to be a religion of peace.  Yet, thousands of Christians and Jews, and even other Muslims are being slaughtered by radical Islamists.  Where is the outcry from the people?  Why aren’t the people pouring into the streets by the millions to protest against atrocities?  Where is the outcry from the media?  However, no one must say anything derogatory about the Muslim faith or their Koran; but at the same time Jesus, the Bible, the God of the Bible, and the believer in Christianity are open game to every form of derision, ridicule, and persecution.  It’s almost as if the time, when Christians were being sacrificed to the lions in the arena for sport, has once again returned.  I don’t mean to imply that Muslims are to be hated, for we know that we are to love and pray for our enemies that they too may be saved. 

          How has this come to be?  Of course, Jesus told us it would be like this in the latter days.  Does that mean we must be a part of the force that is rushing those times farther along, as if we were not supposed to stand against the fiery darts of the enemy?  Is it because we no longer, as a body, stand strong in defense of our faith, but sit silently by, or even contribute to our own demise by allowing the truth to be conformed to the secular beliefs of the world?  It’s not unusual today to pick up newer translations of the Bible and find parts that have deleted, added to and completely changed.  Man seems to think that the Holy Spirit must have simply made mistakes, and that surely He would agree with the “corrections” that we have made in His word in order to make things more right, fair, and relevant to modern times.  This decadence is all related to the process that the church is undergoing as a result of forgetting God, and a growing willingness to conform to the world.  This is the process of the developing apostate church, one that exhibits an increasing love of the world and its ways, rather than a love for the Lord and His ways.  Because we want to ‘fit in’ with the rest of the world, and don’t want to stick out as ‘different,’ we have ‘adapted’ our faith so as to come in line with the philosophies of social justice, tolerance, and relativism.  In pride, the idols of intellectualism, reasoning, and logic have been allowed to raise their ugly heads in outright rebellion and disobedience against the truth of the word, not just among unbelievers, but among those who profess to belong to the faith of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  And yet, we shake our heads in wonder, and do not seem to understand how or why our entire nation is being shaken to its very roots, as we willingly choose to go our own way and push God and His ways farther and farther from our hearts, minds, and souls.  We exalt the wisdom of man while we steadily demean God and His word.  In the exaltation of our own wisdom, how absolutely foolish we have become.  In our own pride, we act as though we are the Creator, and God is the creature created by our own hands.  We have definitely returned to the times as in the days of Noah, when man had become so utterly wicked that only eight out of all of humanity were deemed as worthy of the chance to enter the ark, and escape the wrath of the Lord poured out as a flood upon all the earth.

          I wish to make it clear that I do not expect the world of unbelievers to live according to the teachings of the word of our Lord.  It is the change within the body of Christ itself that I am focused upon.  That is why the changes that are happening are so much more alarming.  It is this body that is supposed to have the truth and therefore be obedient to the One God who has given us the truth.  It makes me sick at heart as I see the corruption that we are being subjected to and affected by; I weep and mourn for those that are being deceived and led astray by the teaching of this “new and improved” gospel.  As I hear all the arguments and debates that uplift ideas of the acceptance of homosexuality, equality of gay marriage, and general acceptance of sexual immorality, whether it be of the homosexual or heterosexual brand, and that is only scratching the surface of the depths of wickedness and depravity that we are apparently willing to sink to with absolutely no shame, remorse, or sense of need to repent and seek forgiveness.  One only has to turn on the TV to be engulfed in the ‘pleasure’ of hearing and seeing every form of profanity and debauchery.  The real lives that we are living are just as sinful, or even more so, than the ones that are being depicted on the screen. 

          The following is an excerpt from the book, “The Mystery of the Shemitah,” by Jonathan Cahn. (pgs. 59, 60)  It is a description of what befell Israel as a result of forgetting God; however, it is just as relevant to what is presently occurring within the body, and, as a result, within America as a nation.  Both Israel and America stemmed from the original purpose of furthering the kingdom of God and His word on earth.  Hopefully, this excerpt will provide a deeper understanding as to how the church itself is being corrupted from within.  Again, the change is rooted in the increasing willingness of the church itself to push God and His ways out as a result of a growing preference for the philosophies and love for the ways of the world:


          Israel was unique among the nations of the world.  No nation had ever been brought into existence so directly connected to the purposes and promises of God.  No nation had ever been given a divine revelation as that which was given to Israel on Mount Sinai.  No nation had ever seen the hand of God so directly affecting its course as had Israel.  And no nation had ever been joined to God in a national covenant. 

          But at the peak of its blessings a metamorphosis began.  The nation started turning away from the God of their foundation.  The change was subtle at first but, in time, grew more and more blatant and brazen.  Whether by conscious intent or unconscious abandonment, the people began driving God out of their lives, out of their culture, out of their government, and out of their instruction of their children.  In His place they brought in idols and foreign gods, and in place of His ways they now followed the ways of the pagan nations that surrounded them.

          They redefined what was right and wrong.  They created a new morality to replace the old.  They called evil “good,” and good “evil.”  What they had once celebrated, they now reviled.  On the other hand, what they had once condemned, they now celebrated, and what they had once reviled, they now worshipped.  They grew increasingly carnal, materialistic, sexually immoral, and self indulgent, and their culture, likewise, grew increasingly coarse and vulgar.  And then, as did the nations surrounding them, they began to lift up their children as sacrifices on the altars of their new gods.

          As for those in their midst who refused to go along with their moral and spiritual apostasy, those who remained faithful to God and His ways, they were now marginalized, mocked, vilified, and, finally, persecuted,  The nation that had been brought into existence to be a vessel of God’s purposes had now transformed into its very opposite – a civilization turned in upon itself, at war against its own foundations, and at war with God.”


          This same apostasy and falling away is more and more prevalent within the body of Christ, and thus our nation at large.  I have learned that debate and argument never led anyone to believe in the Lord, for as the scriptures tell us, they only stir up strife.  Yet more and more, you see and hear Christians involving themselves in such debates, unfortunately and increasingly on the side of the world instead of on the side of the Word.   Whether this is occurring out of ignorance and with good intentions, or out of a conscious turning away from the truth, it all leads to the result of undermining the truth of the faith that they say they believe in.   They will argue on the side that: abortion on demand is good and a reproductive right of the woman; homosexuals should have the right to marry whomever they want;  gay marriage is equal to heterosexual marriage and does not undermine the unit of the family;  the family consists of whatever blend or style that the consenting adults want it to; children should be taught acceptance of homosexuality and even change their own sex if they wish to do so, and on and on with all the lists of social justice themes that are evolving and becoming more numerous with each passing day.  I have not seen anywhere in the word that lying, cheating, homosexuality, immoral sexuality, etc. are no longer considered to be sin, or that we should not seek the Lord for forgiveness and depend upon His Holy Spirit to empower us to refrain from it.  Could it be that we are in the process of reclassifying the above sins, and more?  Whether this erosion is occurring out of a willful decision to pervert the word, or out of a misguided intention of wanting to be more tolerant (as if being tolerant was automatically equated with being more loving), either way the result is still the same – a falling away from God and His ways.  When we push God and His ways out, a vacuum is created.  Where there is a vacuum something will come in to fill up the space. If we are not diligent to fill the space with the truth of God, Satan and the world will gladly walk right in and fill every empty nook and cranny with all of their worldly philosophical lies, perversion, deception, and “doctrines of demons.”

          The church, from its highest echelons of leadership, has already begun in full measure to undermine its own foundations, exchanging them for the worldly philosophies of mankind.  We know that the scriptures are spirit, and as such, can only be discerned through the guidance of the Holy Spirit: “But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.  For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.  Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.  But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.  But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one.  For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.” (I Cor. 2: 10 – 16) “Let no man deceive himself.  If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.  For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.  And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.  Therefore let no man glory in men….” (I Cor. 3: 18- 21)  “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Prov. 14: 12)

            Speaking of the time when there shall be a great falling away from the truth of God, the word says: "even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of 
unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the 
truth, that they might be saved.  For this cause God shall send them strong 
delusion, that they should believe a lie: that they might all be damned who 
believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.  (II Ths. 2: 9 - 12)
As I read this, at first glance, I thought that the delusions were only going to be sent to unbelievers.  Then I thought, could this ‘great delusion’ possibly be referring also to those who profess and think themselves to be Christians, yet they have accepted the philosophies of man, and have chosen, knowingly or unknowingly, to cast aside the truths of God’s word?  Thus, we can see that there are some who are true disciples and others who are false disciples, and both are found within the church itself, and not just in the world at large.  Could this not be the cause of their own demise as we hear the following words: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.  Many will say on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in thy name have cast out devils?  and in thy name done many wonderful works?  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matt. 7: 21-23)  I don’t know about you, but personally I don’t want to be among those who are false disciples, professing to be a disciple of Christ, “having an appearance of godliness,” but never really having Him in my heart as Lord and Savior.  
            I understand that we have all sinned, and I well know that I am just like Paul when he said: “For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.” (Romans 7: 19)  We know that, as long as we are in mortal bodies, there is a constant spiritual battle.  We must daily seek the power of the Holy Spirit, to gain the victory over our old nature, that we might become the person that God has planned and designed us to be.  So we understand that we are not to give into the ‘practice of sin,’ as if being saved meant that we are free to sin all the more.  We are to be diligent, if we truly love the Lord, to walk in obedience to Him.  We must take God seriously and live out our lives, not second guessing God, but understanding that God has said what He means, and means what He says.  We must stop playing these games of semantics which lead only to the perverting of the word; thereby, enabling man to do that which is convenient and right in his own eyes.  Through the use of semantics to change and question the truth of the word, we involve ourselves in the same tactics that Satan used to deceive Eve in the Garden of Eden when he asked her, “Hath God really said….?”  The ultimate question to each of us is, do we truly love God with a commitment to be faithful to Him in all our ways, or do we love ourselves and the world?  “Do not love the world or the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world- the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life- is not of the Father but is of the world.” (I John 2: 15, 16)  This scripture is not saying that we are not to love and appreciate the world, for the world is the handy work of God, our Creator.  Rather, it refers to loving not the things of the world in a way that distracts from the predominant kind of love that we are to hold in our hearts for the Lord and His ways, making our love for Him the first and foremost purpose of our lives.  When we put Him first, He then produces the right kind of love within us to be poured out towards others.  Love becomes a fruit of the spirit that He produces within us, so that we will be enabled to love others with the love that He has meant for us to live out in our lives, giving glory and honor to Him.
            As we consider our own condition as professing bible believers and followers of Christ, why is it we still allow ourselves to be manipulated into questioning the truth and absolute standards of right and wrong that our God has provided us for our own good?  Living in a world of such lawlessness, should we not all the more be diligent to stay rooted and grounded in his Word that we may not be deceived?  Yet, when we hear the world issuing such words as “isn’t it only right…; isn’t it only fair…; shouldn’t all be considered equal….; how would you feel if….; you’re being intolerant, narrow minded, a bigot, and a hater when…;” words that are meant to make you feel ‘different’ and unacceptable to every one else in the eyes of the world.  It’s at these times that an alarm should go off in your brain, heart and spirit to say “watch out, remember to stop and think; is your purpose to be faithful and obedient to God, or to be pleasing and acceptable in the eyes of man?”  The world and Satan are out to draw you away from the truth and adherence to the word of God.  They are continually trying to make you think that God did not really mean what He said, and somehow it’s all still open to discussion and negotiation.   God does not play the bait and switch game.  He doesn’t change just because culture and society have changed.  Remember that the true Christian is to be in the world, but not of or like the world.  We are not to be concerned with whether our ways are acceptable to the world at large or not.  Jesus forewarned us that as He was rejected and persecuted in the world, so too would we.  Nail your old nature to the cross daily, and strive by the power of the Holy Spirit to walk in the light of the Lord, and refuse to be sucked into, and manipulated by the darkness of the world.
            I really struggled, and did not want to delve into this subject once again.  I did not seek to approach it as one who is above it all, but as one who is well aware of my own sinfulness and vulnerability to fall into the pit of wanting to ‘fit in’ with the ‘popular and in-group.’  It’s not fun to be found in the group that is marginalized, ostracized, ridiculed, and persecuted, perhaps even by those near and dear to you.  Remember I am speaking to those who are striving to follow Christ, to be a doer and not just a hearer.  This world is but a temporary home, it is not our final destination.  Let us not be deceived into thinking that the popular social justice arguments of today have replaced the gospel.  Jesus did not come to make all things equal, just, fair, and right.  He came not to do away with the law, but to fulfill it.  He didn’t even come to do away with poverty, for he said the poor will always be with you; however, that is not to infer that neither He nor we were not to do all we can to give to and care for the poor.  We are not to confuse doing for others in the community organization sense of the word (as if we are saved through our own good deeds and work) with our first and foremost purpose- take the good news of Jesus Christ, dead, buried, and resurrected that the world might be saved through faith in what He has done.  Unless we want to be found among those who “fall away,” being false disciples instead of true disciples, we must stay true to the word and faithful in following the Lord, instead of jumping on the band wagon to follow the way of the world.  Choose to be a fool for Christ rather than being wise in the sight of the world.  If they will not believe you when you stand for the Lord and His word, don’t feel downhearted.  After all, many did not and still have not believed Jesus either.  In addition, remember, most of the apostles were martyred. 
            Fellow believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, let us remember that part of the function of the church is the disciplining of the body and confronting sin that it may be expunged before it contaminates and poisons the whole body.  We have let the world weaken the church once again through deception.  They have created a misguided view through misinformation of two entirely different principles of the word.  By leading us to think that the use of church discipline to confront sin is equated with being judgmental, they are succeeding in causing the church to shrink from its duty to discipline; thus, the body is allowed to get sicker and sicker, weaker and weaker until the body of Christ looks and acts more like the world and less like the image of Christ.  Out of fear of appearing intolerant or possibly offending others, we hear flattering lips saying “you’re okay, and I’m okay,” while in reality a cancer is devouring and killing our very souls.  We no longer want to be responsible for speaking truth in love to one another.  Jesus is tolerant in that He loves us even as sinners, but He is not tolerant of sin.  He corrects and instructs us through His word by the power of the Holy Spirit.  He tells us to “go and sin no more.”  When we know that something is contrary to the word of God, and we choose to practice to do that sin, we are living in open rebellion to His word; we have chosen to live in the darkness of the world, and His light is not in us.  We can not serve ourselves, the world, and God all at the same time.  Just as the family is being destroyed by parents who are more interested in being a friend to their children than they are in being a loving and caring parent who administers discipline in love, so too is the delinquent church who abandon’s its authority and duty to confront and discipline its members, choosing rather to allow sin to run rampant and unchecked.  Of course the first responsibility lies within the realm of each individual.  “Search me, O God, and know my heart: Try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139: 23, 24)  The church and the individual believer must practice to remain true to exercising its authority as disciplinarian for the spiritual well being, health and godly strength that contributes to the unity of the whole body, or else we are doomed to be that church that doesn’t even recognize that it is riddled with a growing cancer of sinfulness.  We will go on our path of ignorantly and willfully becoming the church of the latter days that has an “appearance of godliness, but lacking the power thereof.”  The doors to our hearts and our churches are increasingly opened to the love of the world and less opened to faithfulness, obedience, and the love of the Lord.  Instead of dying to ourselves, sin, and the world, we are living our lives as if the god of this world has replaced the love for the Lord our God.  The world used to look at Christians and say, “There’s something different about them.  I want what they have.”  Now the world often looks at us and says, “Hey, they are just like me.  They have nothing better that I should seek to learn or gain from them.”
            On the other hand, those within the body of Christ who refuse to be conformed to the ways of the world are going to be ostracized by the false disciples which are increasing in numbers within the body of Christ.  The ‘true believers’ will be the ones that will be persecuted and expelled from the church.  The new, improved, Church of Tolerance, Equality, and Universalism will force the true believers to go underground, for the exclusive faith in Jesus Christ, the truth of His word, His work on the Cross, and the witness of His resurrection as the proof that He is the Son of God, and one and only Savior of the world, will no longer be tolerated within the new Church of Tolerance.  Isn’t that ironic?  This false body of Christ will turn in against its own body to destroy the true church within.  When we refuse to learn from the past, we are doomed to repeat it.  We must guard our hearts against receiving any part of this new brand of the gospel.  “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1: 8)  As Israel forgot God, leading to its own destruction, the Church, and America as a nation, are repeating history and contributing to our own death and destruction.  The church is to confront sin; ignoring it, enables the sick to get sicker.  It is supposed to speak truth in love that the sick may be ministered to that they may be brought to repentance and a return to faithfulness to the One who has loved them first.  “Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing.  For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.” (II Cor. 7: 9, 10)   For emphasis, I refer back to a vivid description given through the words written by Jonathan Cahn:

          “They redefined what was right and wrong.  They created a new morality to replace the old.  They called evil “good,” and good “evil.”  What they had once celebrated, they now reviled.  On the other hand, what they had once condemned, they now celebrated, and what they had once reviled, they now worshipped.  They grew increasingly carnal, materialistic, sexually immoral, and self indulgent, and their culture, likewise, grew increasingly coarse and vulgar.  And then, as did the nations surrounding them, they began to lift up their children as sacrifices on the altars of their new gods.

          As for those in their midst who refused to go along with their moral and spiritual apostasy, those who remained faithful to God and His ways, they were now marginalized, mocked, vilified, and, finally, persecuted,  The nation that had been brought into existence to be a vessel of God’s purposes had now transformed into its very opposite – a civilization turned in upon itself, at war against its own foundations, and at war with God.” (The Mystery of the Shemitah

Pgs. 59, 60)
The following chart concerning church discipline is found in the Life Application Study Bible: (KJV)
Church Discipline:
The church at times must exercise discipline toward members who have sinned.  But church discipline must be handled carefully, straight-forwardly and lovingly.
Situations:                                                        Steps (Matt. 18: 15-17)
Unintentional error and/or private sin              1. Go to the brother or sister; 
                                                                             Show the fault to him or her
                                                                             in private.
Public sin and/or that done flagrantly               2.  If he/she does not listen, go 
and arrogantly                                                       with one or two witnesses.
                                                                         3.  If he/she refuses to listen, take         
                                                                              the matter before the church.
After these steps have been carried out, the next steps are:
1.     Remove the one in error from the fellowship (I Cor. 5: 2-13).
2.     The church gives united disapproval, but forgiveness and comfort are in order if he/she chooses to repent. (II Cor. 2: 5-8)
3.     Do not associate with the disobedient person; and if you must, speak to him/her as one who needs a warning. (II Thess. 3: 14, 15)
4.     After two warnings, reject the person from the fellowship. (Titus 3:10)
** I take this to be a possible guideline towards keeping the local church united
     as one in the Lord, for protection against the weapons of Satan and the
     world.  The key is that everything is to be done in love.


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