by Mike Ratliff
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” Matthew 7:15 ESV)
We live in dangerous times. Yes, there is terrorism and wars and rumors of wars and natural disasters left and right seemingly everywhere all at the same time. I live in the Kansas City area. A few weeks ago an 18-year-old recent graduate from a local High School went to a Target Store not far from where I work to buy a gift for her boyfriend. They have surveillance video of her both entering the store and leaving. They also have video of a young man following her into the store and back out. There is also video of the young lady being forced into her car then the car racing away. Her body was found a few days later. The video of the young man was so clear that they have located and arrested him. I am sure that the young lady had no idea that the parking lot of a very busy shopping area in broad daylight would be a dangerous place to be alone, but there was a young man who wanted something and would not be denied. He cared not for her wants and desires or that of her parents, relatives and friends. Instead, he wanted what he wanted and he took it. He used his anonymity to hide in plain sight so he could stalk and snatch his prey.
False prophets have infiltrated the Church since the very beginning. Also, disingenuous professors have always plagued churches. There has not been a time when the church has been free from enemies within. However, in our time the church is the sickest it has ever been. False prophets beget false doctrine, the doctrine of demons, for the false believers that flock to them. Sound Doctrine is no longer tolerated. Expository preaching and teaching is ignored or shouted down. This is happening not between Christians and non-Christians, but between professing Christians in the “name” of Christ. The Church has become polluted with the ways of the world, which demands no offense to anyone. If doctrinal disagreements happen, the resultant “debate” soon resembles some sort of all out gang war. Those holding sound doctrine will often be condemned and threatened and pressured to abjure to their opponents view using every imaginable tactic. When he or she refuses to give in to the onslaught then those on attack will escalate it to something like this, “either you ‘repent’ and apologize publicly for this (not giving in) or I will ruin you. I will warn everyone about you.” Of course those other ravenous wolves demanding that he or she give in are chiming in with all sorts of threats such as, “either you … or I will pull my support for your ministry” Again, what was their crime? They held a doctrine and presented it as the truth. Those in disagreement did all they could to silence the offender for good. They did not try to understand the point of the accused even when it was given plainly. The fact that he or she would not cave in to the pressure made them a target. Interestingly, the only and best way to end this is to simply do the Christlike thing, end the discussion and walk away. Of course, then they will be accused of being spiritually proud, etc. However, didn’t our Lord get accused of much worse than that?
No folks, these are not non-Christians doing this but supposed Christians doing this to other Christians. We can no longer disagree on anything. If we do, then we will have the thought police down upon us to make sure we knuckle under to their will. How did we get here? How did the Church become full of factious war with hit squads and secret police?
16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And
“If the righteous is scarcely saved,
what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”
19 Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. (1 Peter 4:16-19 ESV)
Is God judging the Church? I believe He is. I believe that the Church is lurching forward toward the culmination of a couple of centuries of bad doctrine and compromise with the World. The sick Church we have now is the product of the downgrade that began in the 19th Century. Some may even go back to the compromises that came upon the Church after the Puritan era. In any case, it is full of false prophets and false professors who will not endure sound doctrine or those who hold it and teach it. Why would God allow this to happen to the Church?
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. (Romans 1:18 ESV)
This is the key. Unrighteousness suppresses the truth. Why? The ungodly cannot endure the truth. They hate it. What does this tell us then? The Church has many ungodly in it who suppress the truth. Many are leaders. Many have ministries. Many have been in the ministry a very long time and looked great and wonderful for decades, but now their apostasy is being revealed for all to see. God always judges unrighteousness. Since the Church is being ravaged then we must believe that God is allowing this to happen for His purposes. He is judging the Church.
However, I have good news. God always works with a Remnant. There is always the invisible True Church within the visible Church that has the godly and ungodly side by side in it. The Remnant of godly believers will be the targets of the thought police who are Satan’s seed being used by God to cleanse the bride of Christ. When the attacks come upon them because they hold to sound doctrine, they must not lose heart, but keep their eyes fixed upon their Lord while continuing to run the race set before them by God.
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV)
Persecution will come. We must not lose heart, but simply continue to obey our Lord in all that we do. Soli Deo Gloria.
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