by Mike Ratliff
16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:16-17 ESV)
My friend Josh at Truth Matters and I had a good conversation via email this morning. He has a heart for the purity of the Gospel and it is broken over the state of the church in his state. In the process of creating a link to his blog, I decided to watch the YouTube video there with John MacArthur speaking at a conference last year. The topic was on his feelings on the future of the church. I suggest you watch it. Here is the direct link to the video. As I watched this video, I was struck by his confidence in the fact that our God is Sovereign and is still committed to building His Church. The tragic thing is how the Church has basically lost the last three generations of spiritual leaders who should have been trained in proper Bible Study and how to properly do ministry. Instead, they have been trained to minister as if the Church was a business.
As John got to the crux of his statement I was struck again by his point that God is calling those who do know the truth to replace those who have corrupted themselves by becoming part of the Compromised Church. Who is that can take up the slack, to step up to the plate, speak the truth in love to all those whom God directs to listen? Well, there are many good pastors out there. There are many good spiritual leaders out there. The dividing line between those ministries and those of the Compromised Church are clearly defined and so we we can find them. However, there are so many of God’s people who have been chased out of their PDC churches because they wouldn’t put up with the apostasy there. There are many people God is drawing to Himself that need to hear the truth. Who is going to speak it to them?
11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (Romans 10:11-15 ESV)
Is God calling you to be one of those whom He will send into the battle? As I heard John MacArthur speak today in that video it was as if the Holy Spirit said to me, “and you too!” Well, I am no pastor or evangelist, however, I can teach and I can present the gospel. However, If God sent me to do those other things I may not think I could do, it makes no difference because I know that I must go and that He would make it work for His glory.
I believe the greatest need in our 21st Century Church are church leaders who will not compromise the truth, who will preach the whole gospel without trying to make it appealing to the flesh, and will disciple their disciples. Also, I am convinced that God is raising up a group of people in these last days who will be used by Him in an extraordinary way for the Kingdom of God. The Christian Research Network is a good example. Our team is very varied. We are all unique, but God is using this ministry in a very powerful way and I believe it is only beginning. However, since I became a team member, I have found many others out there who all seem to be responding to the call to “take up the slack” and help as many people as they can to find the truth. It has blessed my heart to read their comments, visit their blogs and websites, fellowship with them and find our common ground of sorrow for the state of the Church in our time. This sorrow, I believe, is from the Holy Spirit grieving for the rampant apostasy and outright heresy passing for Christianity today.
I agree with John MacArthur. God is Sovereign and He loves His Church and will never stop building it until it is complete. In the meantime, get ready because He will not stand for the corruption we are witnessing now to continue unabated forever. Perhaps those He is raising up to “take up the slack” will have to minister in an environment that is anything but safe. Look at how Christians are treated in China, North Korea, India, Sudan, and all Muslim countries. Didn’t Jesus say that we should expect to be persecuted for Righteousness sake? He was persecuted for it and all who follow Him will be persecuted. If we desire to live godly lives in obedience to our Lord then we will be persecuted. (2 Timothy 3:12) Even so, we must not shrink from the call and we won’t if our hope is in heaven instead of here in the temporal.
The state of the Church in our time can cause us to despair if we take our eyes off of our Lord. However, as long as we have breath we must proclaim the truth to this lost and dying world. We must never stop rebuking those who try to pass their apostasy off as Christianity, but at the same time, we must do so in love from the motivation of healing and restoration. Our responses to them must be spoken from a humble heart that is bound to the truth of God’s word. We have hope because our treasure is in Heaven, not here. Our faith is in our Lord, not some religious system. Our walk before the face of our Lord, our Coram Deo, must be one of devotion to our Lord keyed by spending time in His Word and in secret prayer. We must not look at our faith as being tied to religion. Instead it must be bound to our Lord and we must serve Him in building His Church in the power of the Holy Spirit for His glory alone.
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