by Mike Ratliff
Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. (James 5:7,8 ESV)
The confidence of the true Christian cannot be in men or the faithfulness of their so-called Christian leaders. No, no matter how well known or published or how solid his reputation is, he is still a sinful man. The Christian’s faith and trust and confidence is not in any other Christian, or in any earthly institution. No, it is in Christ our rock. The false teachers have always known this and that is why they always teach “another Jesus” that is more like the pagan gods of other religions or even more like just one of us than the perfect Son of Man who we learn of in the Word of God. We who really know Jesus as our Lord and Saviour are new creations and have faith that believes God and even when it is under heavy attack, as it seems to be continually nowadays, God has provided us a way to rest in Him and finding peace and joy that the unregenerate cannot understand.
I got this link today from some friends. The post at the end of that link by my friend Ken Silva was actually being discussed in another post at another site. The title of the second post, asking the rhetorical question, “Are Tim Keller & John Piper Even Christian?”, really struck a chord with me. Why? Either we believe God or not. If we are in the mode of picking and choosing to believe what is true that God says is true then we are in unbelief and that means we are being revealed as unbelievers. Sorry, but that is what that means. I have had this “conversation” many times in many contexts. When God says something is true, the believing heart, the one that is regenerate and indwelt by the Holy Spirit, believes Him. Those who insist on filtering everything that God says is truth according to their own set of values that are revealed to be “of this world” instead of “of God,” are proving that that regenerate heart does not reside in them, or, if it does, it has become hardened over by repeated instances of disobedience so that every act of deliberate unbelief is now seen by them as what is true and right. In either case, they have been deceived. I personally doubt that either of the men mentioned in those articles are of the latter condition, but are of the first, which means that God has given them over to the hardness of the heart and there is not one thing any of us can do for them unless He is merciful and breaks through that hardness to allow them to hear the truth and repent.
What is extremely sad on top of this is that this is just an example of what is becoming rampant throughout “evangelicalism.” There is one “mega-church” that I occasionally visit that was originally like a cookie cutter of Saddleback Valley. One of the associate pastors tried to dress like Rob Bell and preached out of his books continually. However, the main pastor was pretty solid and that is why I went. I just could not understand the disconnect. About 2 years ago or so there was a major reorganization done at that church. The resemblance to Saddleback Valley went away for the most part. The small groups remained. The Rob Bell lookalike associate pastor left though. The rock show stuff on stage all went away along with the light shows. However, the last couple of times I visited that stuff was starting to creep back in. The pastor still preached his solid messages, but the rest of the church seemed to be right out of the Purpose Driven Church with a little Rob Bell thrown in. I could go on, but the point is that when I go there I am not encouraged in the Lord, but attention is continually put on us to become part of a group to be part of some relationship instead of the focus being on strictly our relationship with the Lord. That is why I never leave there with any sense of peace or joy.
On the other hand, when I am at home on weekends, I do get to go to a church here in our city that has not compromised. I love the pastor and the gospel has not been messed with or edited or subordinated in any way. The focus there is Christ and what He has done and what our responsibility is because of that.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4-7 ESV)
Despite the ugly compromises going on around us, we must not allow our enemy to discourage us in them. Instead, we are called to have joy that is not a happiness that depends on circumstances, but a deep contentment that is in our Lord, based on trust in the sovereign, living God. Because of this, this joy is always available to us no matter what the world and our enemy throws at us. Notice also that we are not called to be radical zealots, but to a level of reasonableness for maintaining community. This is an attitude that seeks what is best for everyone and not just for oneself. Our focus must be eternal, not temporal. If we live this way then we will not be tied to the things that cause such heartache and stress in those who are temporally focused. If we are eternally focused then we will see the Lord’s return as imminent. We know that when He returns that it will be for His Church and as judge of those outside of it. These will be held responsible for their deeds.
I saw a comment today on Facebook that went something like this, “Being a Christian is something we are, not something we do.” I would like to add to that, that it is something we are that causes us to do right (Ephesians 2:10). Think about that as you meditate on these pastors and Christian leaders making light of God’s truth as they pick a choose what to believe as true based on their own sense of what is true instead of believing God.
Soli Deo Gloria!