by Mike Ratliff
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (Romans 8:37 ESV)
One of the worst things that has happened for the Church was the removal of official persecution by the Romans after Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. Prior to that, Christians were always just one step away from possible persecution and death. The Protestant Reformation was at its height during that period when European governments worked closely with the Roman Catholic Church to hunt down and martyr the reformers. Puritanism was also at its height when the Crown and the Church of England persecuted the Puritans. In any case, the point I am trying to make is that for the last 250 years or so, the church has been weakened by the lack of this sort of pressure. In this, combined with a predominantly easy-believism bent visible Church that has resulted from it, we find that the majority of churches and their members are very worldly, fleshly, unrepentant, and extremely weak doctrinally. They do not know their Bibles. Instead, they follow men.
This condition is not true of all believers though. God has His remnant that is on the narrow path, which they entered through the narrow, hard-to-find gate. God has them on the track of spiritual maturity. He has given them wisdom and discernment which He is growing and strengthening through many tests and trials and encounters with the false prophets of our day who will not listen to God’s Truth nor His rebuke. The abuse leveled at them can be very discouraging and the resultant persecution from those who hate the truth can distract them from their ministry of being God’s watchmen.
“Blessed is he that watcheth.”-Revelation 16:15
“We die daily,” said the apostle. This was the life of the early Christians; they went everywhere with their lives in their hands. We are not in this day called to pass through the same fearful persecutions: if we were, the Lord would give us grace to bear the test; but the tests of Christian life, at the present moment, though outwardly not so terrible, are yet more likely to overcome us than even those of the fiery age. We have to bear the sneer of the world-that is little; its blandishments, its soft words, its oily speeches, its fawning, its hypocrisy, are far worse. Our danger is lest we grow rich and become proud, lest we give ourselves up to the fashions of this present evil world, and lose our faith. Or if wealth be not the trial, worldly care is quite as mischievous. If we cannot be torn in pieces by the roaring lion, if we may be hugged to death by the bear, the devil little cares which it is, so long as he destroys our love to Christ, and our confidence in Him. I fear that the Christian church is far more likely to lose her integrity in these soft and silken days than in those rougher times. We must be awake now, for we traverse the enchanted ground, and are most likely to fall asleep to our own undoing, unless our faith in Jesus be a reality, and our love to Jesus a vehement flame. Many in these days of easy profession are likely to prove tares, and not wheat; hypocrites with fair masks on their faces, but not the true-born children of the living God. Christian, do not think that these are times in which you can dispense with watchfulness or with holy ardour; you need these things more than ever, and may God the eternal Spirit display His omnipotence in you, that you may be able to say, in all these softer things, as well as in the rougher, “We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.” C.H. Spurgeon
Spurgeon’s reference to the enchanted ground is from John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. This enchanted ground is near the end of the allegory. It is the part of the narrow path bordered by ground on each side which has an “atmosphere” that makes one naturally lethargic and sleepy. Christian and Hopeful are warned by the Shepherds not to fall asleep there, which they almost do. They keep themselves awake and alert by discussing the things of God and relating the details of their own salvation and walk. I confess that I did not at first understand what Bunyan was referring to in this, but it has become clear over time that the visible Church in our time is asleep on this enchanted ground. However, blessed be those who are alert and watching!
It was not that long ago that I became very discouraged over this. It seemed that the apostasy was growing ever deeper and expanding. However, God is good to those who love Him and His truth. He has brought many of us together who are not asleep. We are alert and are watching. We are not deceived by the lies. We see the truth very clearly while we watch the visible Church go down the drain of easy-believism and apostasy while elevating the words and teachings of men over the Word of God. Be encouraged my brethren, God is preserving His people and will continue to build His church until it is time for the end. Therefore, remain watchful and obedient. This is what God is using to keep us alert and watchful as we journey through the enchanted ground of the apostate Church in our time.
Soli Deo Gloria!