by Mike Ratliff
22 And He said to His disciples, “For this reason I say to you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; they have no storeroom nor barn, and yet God feeds them; how much more valuable you are than the birds! 25 And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span? 26 If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 28 But if God so clothes the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will He clothe you? You men of little faith! 29 And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. 30 For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. 31 But seek His kingdom, and these things will be added to you. 32 Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.
33 “Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:22-34 (NASB)
As this year, 2020, continues doesn’t it seem that the pressure is continually increasing from every direction to make us fearful? If we are not watchful, that is, careful and circumspect then we could very easily become angry and full of fear about what is going on. However, in doing this are we being faithful disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ or are we returning to our former lives in the darkness? If we fall into fear instead of being faithful then we will look at all the circumstances around us and start to believe the lie that everything is out of control. It may seem to some that is the case, but is it?
The passage I placed at the top of this post (Luke 12:22-34) is amazing. If you haven’t read it, please do so now. God’s people are called to be unworldly. Their unworldliness makes them very different than those who profess to be Christians, but who are simply religious. There is a huge push going on right now throughout the world to redefine Christianity. In the 1990’s and in the early 2000’s Rick Warren was the most visible proponent of the Church Growth movement. His Purpose Driven Church model, while professing to be Christian and Biblically based, was actually just a pragmatic model for church leaders to grasp and “franchise” at the local level. This model played down any emphases on God’s Wrath against sin against His Holy Law as well as repentance from that sin. Instead, all focus is on the decision to come to Jesus so He can improve your life. There is no talk of a Sovereign God. There were many of us who refused to be dragged into that deception and we should praise the Lord for opening our eyes. However, as we looked at the massive shift towards this pragmatism it did cause us to become anxious.
Now, here we are in 2020 and many of those who backed us in our battles against the PDC paradigm as well as the Emergent liberal church seemed to have fallen for another lie. It may very well be that these two forms of deception opened up the door for the Social Justice movement to introduce the corrupting influence of Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality into our churches. Many of the religious leaders who helped us in our earlier battles with their biblical stances on the truth against the lies of those false teachers are now whole-heartedly behind this false gospel. It is heart-breaking, but at the same time, we must remember who is really in control.
One of the things I find that makes me anxious is doubt about my ability to stand against these attacks on the Gospel by people who have “high-standing” in our denominations, seminaries, and colleges. However, as I shared in an earlier post, God seems to major in using “nobodies” to shine his light of truth into the darkness because it seems that those “leaders” who should be doing it are compromised and won’t do it. Perhaps I’m being too judgmental. Perhaps I should just watch and see instead of pointing out the troubling extra-biblical things coming from it. I confess, I do agonize over this sometimes. However, God always comes through and shows the truth from His word via one of His servants.
As we carefully read the passage above we see that our focus must be eternal. If it is then we will not treasure this world or anything in it. Instead we will seek to do the Lord’s will in all things. As we do this, we will find that we will believe God and not Man. Even though there are many “ministries” that call themselves Christian or even appear to be orthodox, that does not mean they are. When a ministry is subject to God’s sovereignty, it will not function according to Man’s Reason. Instead, it will be unworldly. It will not function along the world’s lines in any way. There will be no follow-the-leader, copy-cat, pragmatism in its methods. Instead, it will be truly faith-based. I know that term is thrown around a lot and has lost much of its meaning, but in this context we are saying that not all people and ministries that call themselves Christian actually are. Those that are will be different. How different?
They will not be concerned about numbers nor will they be concerned about popularity with the world. They will not be concerned about money. They will not be concerned about fame. They will not be concerned about image. Instead they will be based upon seeking the Lord’s will and doing it by His grace. Remember, in v32 above we see that Jesus calls the Church a “little flock.”
13 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. Matthew 7:13-14 (NASB)
In Matthew 7:13-14 Jesus tells us in His Sermon on the Mount that the way to salvation is not easy nor is it easy to find. In fact, the religious way that is made easy leads to destruction. Those who are saved are those who find the narrow gate that is hard to enter because it opens to a way of life that is not “easy” nor is it “wide.” In fact, when an unregenerate person looks at Jesus’ words about salvation, they will always reject them. However, many “evangelicals” have concocted a new message about a different Jesus that doesn’t make the way hard nor does it put any demands on anyone for repentance. Instead all that is called for is religion or a changed way of life. Never forget, the easy way that leads to destruction is made easy by religion. The way that leads to life is not a religious way at all. It is a response to the Gospel being preached in light of Man’s utter depravity and terrible sin against a Holy God who judges. When this gospel is preached those who are effectually called by the Holy Spirit will enter the narrow gate and take on the narrow and hard path because their regenerated hearts have found that life in Christ is everything and this world is nothing. They become pilgrims on the way to the Celestial City.
On the other hand, those who make us anxious with their apostate, pragmatic religion displacing so many of Christ’s sheep from their local churches are becoming ever more visible and popular. God is not mocked though. The following is a excerpt from the prologue of William Tyndale’s The Obedience of a Christian Man.
“Neverthelater in very deed, after the preaching of God’s word, because it is not truly received, God sendeth great trouble into the world: partly to avenge himself of the tyrants and persecutors of his word and partly to destroy those worldly people which make of God’s word nothing but a cloak of their fleshly liberty. They are not all good that follow the gospel. Christ (Matthew in the thirteenth chapter) likeneth the kingdom of heaven unto a net cast in the sea that catcheth fishes both good and bad. The kingdom of heaven is the preaching of the gospel, unto which come both good and bad. But the good are few. “Christ calleth them therefore a little flock (Luke 12). For they are ever few that come to the gospel of a true intent seeking therein nothing but the glory and praise of God and offering themselves freely and willingly to take adversity with Christ for the gospel’s sake and for bearing report unto the truth, that all men may hear it. The greatest number come and ever came and followed even Christ himself for a worldly purpose. As thou mayest well see (John 6) how that almost five thousand followed Christ and would also have made him a king, because he had well fed them. Whom he rebuked saying: ye seek me now, because ye saw the miracles, but because ye ate of the bread and were filled: and drove them away from him with hard preaching.”- William Tyndale
Tyndale published this book in 1528. If we modernized the English a little, wouldn’t it describe what we are seeing in the American Church today? Should we, then, be anxious about those false Christian leaders who seem to be “taking over the world?” No, we should not. Yes, we should pray for God to open the eyes of the deceived, but God’s will is being done. I say that we need to seek the Lord’s face and obey Him in all things. We must pray for those who have been blinded by all false religions that call themselves Christian. We must diligently preach and protect the gospel, never allowing it to become sullied and “religionized” or hijacked by the likes of the Social Justice movement. We must understand that the net of the Gospel draws in God’s people as well as those who are false professors. We must not compromise the gospel in any way to appease them. The truth must be preached hard no matter who it offends. Jesus’ flock is small. He is in control of it. Who are we to try to come up with solutions based on Man’s Reason to try bring into the flock those who are not His sheep?
We must not allow these trying times to make us anxious to the point of despair. Instead, let’s stay on the narrow way, preaching and teaching the gospel to everyone, but never compromising or adjusting it to make it palatable to fleshly people. The true Gospel slices, cuts, hacks and injures even unto death, but those who die are made alive again unto eternal life by grace through faith. That is why the way is hard and its gate is narrow. Man’s Reason rejects this.
God is allowing these apostate false professors to become seemingly powerful and famous. They seem to be drawing the vast majority of Christians to them. While we anxiously perceive this as tragic, we must simply take to heart Jesus’ words to trust Him and live our lives here and now with our treasure in Heaven where it does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.
Soli Deo Gloria!