by Mike Ratliff
13 Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. 14 Let all that you do be done in love. (1 Corinthians 16:13-14 NASB)
The sad state of the visible Church is both the product of the famine of hearing solid preaching of the Word of God and the cause of it. When the Word of God is seldom heard or read or taught then it’s purifying power is muted. The world and its ways now coexist with the visible Church. Genuine believers are new creations, God’s workmanship, and because they are new creations they now crave the pure milk of the Word of God. It is necessary for their Spiritual Growth and their new character craves it. This is not an attribute of the natural man. The unregenerate have no desire to know the Word of God and really don’t like to hear it preached to them. Therefore, the genuine believers in those churches which are apostatizing by neglecting the Word are leaving to find church homes that still preach it, teach it, and hold it as the revealed Word of God.
I hear quite a bit from dear brothers and sisters in Christ who are unable to find a local church in their area that has not been compromised. It is quite sad and can be quite depressing. We find ourselves cut off and seemingly alone. We miss the fellowship we once had at our old churches, but God has opened the door and shoved us out thereby separating us from those who are now compromised. We hunger for the fellowship and the Word. God is good though. At least for now, we can still teach and preach the Word online.
In any case, the visible Church is becoming more and more compromised seemingly every day. The famine of hearing God’s Word preached will only get worse I fear. Religious freedom is already a precious commodity in much of the world, why would we believe we would be exempt here in the United States? There are also some very dangerous precedents taking place as I type this where certain so-called Christian leaders are attempting to use legal action to silence those who reveal their apostasy and expose their bad fruit.
The more we define what true Christian Orthodoxy is, the more those who are bent on redefining Christianity for their own purposes will hate us and will do all they can to silence us. Things are only going to get rougher. If this was all we had my brethren then things would look pretty bleak for us wouldn’t it? Well, God is still on the throne. He loves His Church and will not allow it to be destroyed by our enemy.
15 He *said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. (Matthew 16:15-18 NASB)
The rock upon which Christ is building His church was not Peter but the faith that all regenerate believers have. Are you in Christ? If so then you have this faith. No matter what our enemy attempts to do to silence the truth or kill all those who are genuinely Christ’s, our Lord’s promise that hell shall not prevail against His church still stands. Oh, we may be persecuted and deprived of our local churches, but we have the Holy Spirit and our Bibles and God will provide us heavenly food from places and people that He designates. Therefore, stand firm my brethren.
13 But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. 14 It was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth or by letter from us. (2 Thessalonians 2:13-15 NASB)
Please carefully read this passage. All who are truly in Christ are the chosen of God. He chose them as the first fruits to be saved through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. My brethren, we are truly blessed for we have been cleansed by the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit because the Father chose us before the foundation of the world. That being so, we must stand firm and hold to the traditions that we have learned by hearing the Word of God preached and taught.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5 He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight 9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him 11 also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12 to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. 13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory. (Ephesians 1:3-14 NASB)
Praise the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit! Yes, we are truly blessed and none of us deserve it. All sin must be judged by the guilty suffering in hell for eternity. However, those who were chosen before the foundation of the world and have believed in him had their sins paid for by Christ on the Cross. Yes, praise Him!
16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, 17 comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word. (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 NASB)
My brethren, our focus must be on our Lord Jesus Christ not the mess of the visible Church. We must run the race set before us by God the Father with our eyes firmly fixed on our Lord. (Hebrews 12:1-2) This is how God progressively sanctifies us, reshaping our character unto Christlikeness. Our part is to abide in Christ as we run this race.
1 “ I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. 9 Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. 11 These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. (John 15:1-11 NASB)
In v4 the word “Abide” translates the Greek verb μεινατε or meinate, the Finite, 2nd Person, Plural, Aorist, Imperative, Active case of μένω or menō. It means to remain, endure, or dwell. As we stand firm in Christ we are abiding. In our faithfulness we endure as the Father prunes us. In this wonderful word picture given to us the night before He was crucified, our Lord is telling us that those who abide in Him are totally dependent on Him. In this dependence, they commune with Him and then follow through with obedience to Him. This is how Christians become fruitful for Christ. Only Christ can provide the grace and provision of the needs of life for the Christian. Thus, we must remain faithful in our service for the Lord as we live in Sacred Scripture in order to bear godly fruit. This is why the current famine of the Word of God is so tragic.
The eternal reward for those who stand firm will be well worth any discomfort, pain, trial, or persecution. We must remember that the promises of what awaits us in eternity are true because they were made by one who cannot lie. Therefore, let us stand firm no matter how difficult it becomes to do so. The Eschaton is the true reality my brethren, this is just a moment in comparison to eternity. Any bad thing our enemy can do to us will be nothing more than momentary, light affliction in light of our blessed hope.
Get into the Word of God and refuse to listen to those who preach or teach anything contrary to what the Word says. Pray for those who do feed you the truth from God’s Word for they are in desperate need of it.
Soli Deo Gloria!