by Mike Ratliff
32 “ Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it. Deuteronomy 12:32 (NASB)
We live in a very strange time. Perhaps earlier men lived in times that were just as perilous and even as spiritually dark as ours, but to me, being in my mid-sixties and a Christian for over 31 years, what is happening to the Church seems unprecedented. I know this is nothing new, and the Church has gone through apostasy before and that is why God wrought the Protestant Reformation. However, since the latter part of the 19th Century, liberalism and its various forms have invaded the Church in many ways. If we read the Reformers such as Tyndale, Luther, and Calvin, etc. and the Puritans such as Owen, Bunyan, Watson, Love, and Brooks, etc. up to Spurgeon and Broadus, etc. then compare their understanding of the Gospel and how it is preached and why that is what we are to be about then compare that to what we have now with the likes of Joel Osteen or Stephen Furtick then we must understand that a great downgrade has taken place.
Why did Jesus come?
8 Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.” 9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke 19:8-10 (NASB)
If you listen to Brian McLaren and those who follow and defend him they will tell you that Jesus came to make life better or to show us how to live to make the world a better place. They say that the very words of Jesus from Luke 19:10 cannot be understood to say what he plainly said, which is, “Jesus came to seek and save the lost.” His life and death on the cross was that tremendous victory that redeemed those whom the Father chose before the foundation of the world.
Why do they attack the veracity of the Word of God as they do? John MacArthur has said that their approach to the Word of God is non-Christian. I agree with him. If a person is not regenerate they also don’t have the Holy Spirit and, therefore, they aren’t really Christians at all. I don’t care how many doctorates or degrees in theology a person has. If they don’t have the Spirit they aren’t Christians. However, in our “Church” environment, we have untold multitudes of people claiming to be Christians simply because they are part of some “church” or “movement” that says it’s Christian when those “institutions” are simply forms of man-made religion. They attack the veracity of the Word of God because they don’t like what it says. They don’t want to stop doing what the Word says is sin. They also don’t want to do what the Word says a Christian must do. They don’t want to obey God’s commands so they attack His Word.
I believe we are seeing an unprecedented move into apostasy. I believe the Great Apostasy is well under way. However, apostasy is nothing new. Neither is it new that non-Christians want to be called Christian, but refuse to obey God’s commandments. Even in Luther’s day this was so. Luther wrote the following addressing the passage in Genesis 19:24-25.
24 Then the Lord rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven, 25 and He overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground. Genesis 19:24-25 (NASB)
“The story of Sodom and Gomorrah shows God’s fierce anger being poured out on sinful people. Reflecting and meditating on this story is an unsettling experience. That’s why I am deeply moved whenever I read or speak about it. Even though I am often furious at wicked people who refuse to change their ways, the terrible suffering and agony that took place at Sodom upsets me. I also feel the mental anguish that Abraham suffered when he interceded with God. Though the wicked people of Sodom refused to change, Abraham sincerely hoped that disaster wouldn’t fall on them.
Today, some people want to de-emphasize God’s commands. They think that people should be treated only with love and tolerance and shouldn’t be frightened by examples of God’s anger. Paul says quite the opposite. In the letter to the Corinthians, he tells many stories about God’s anger against sinners. Then he states, “Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did” (1 Corinthians 10:6).
Arrogant and stubborn people despise the Word of God and laugh at well-intentioned words of caution. They feel so good about themselves that whenever anyone tells them about the extent of God’s mercy and grace, it only leaves them worse off than they were before. This is what happens when people try to get rid of God’s commands. We must guard against this false teaching. It’s not enough for these people to bring destruction on themselves. They intend to drag us down with them. Like the people of Sodom, they don’t realize that their sins will soon be punished.” – Martin Luther.
I have a book in my library by A.W. Pink. The title of it is The Sovereignty of God. He wrote it in 1918 right after World War I. Pink gave the purpose of the book in the introduction where he said, “Who is regulating affairs on this earth today—God, or the Devil? That God reigns supreme in Heaven, is generally conceded; that He does so over this world, is almost universally denied—if not directly, then indirectly. More and more are men in the philosophizing and theorizing, regulating God to the background….But who is regulating affairs on this earth today—God, or the Devil? Attempt to take a serious and comprehensive view of the world. What a scene of confusion and chaos confronts us on every side!”
That was in 1918! Pink wrote this powerful book to address the sad state of affairs of the Church of his day. How far have we moved away from the truth in the 21st Century?
What should we do? We must pray. We must obey God. We must continue to tell the truth no matter how loud the apostates voices get or how well accepted they are to the masses. We must obey God. Therefore, until God takes us home, we must continue to stand firm on the foundation of God’s Word and our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ who came to seek and save the lost. If you are one of those whom He has saved then your role is to learn all you can from His Word, apply it to your life, and work with God in your sanctification. If we do this then we must not be surprised or dismayed when God calls on us to stand in the gap against what appears to be overwhelming forces of evil. We must not fear them. Instead, we fear God and obey Him and we know what to obey because we have His commands in His Word.
Soli Deo Gloria!