Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Disunity in Christ's Church and Persecution in Our Time

This post is in response to an article entitled, "How do you implement Socialism with Christians in your way?"

I've been thinking a lot lately about the abysmal disunity in the Christian Church – particularly due to reading so many calls to unity in the Church in Philippians. I am convinced that this disunity is one of the most devastating devices that Satan has implemented as an attempt to neuter Christ's Church on earth. Thankfully, as someone who takes God's Word on its promises to grow His Church throughout the ages, I see this only as a temporary setback. That being the case, though, it doesn't mean that we should sit around and do nothing about the current situation. Every true Christian believer should be utterly filled with shame at the current state in which our forefathers and WE have put the Church of Christ. It is a disgrace and an abomination to the blessings that God has bestowed upon His children.

The following article speaks of the many ways that Christians are persecuted within the United States of America. “Persecuted?” you ask. Yes, persecuted. The Christian faith is under assault at nearly every corner. No, we aren't being thrown into jails on Sunday as we go to worship; no our Bibles aren't being confiscated and burned; no we aren't being slaughtered as the Jews were in WWII. However, our heritage is systematically being attacked, and those doing this are trying to rewrite history in a way that denies the heritage even existed in the first place. Our rights, which are deemed as "inalienable" in the Constitution, are being stripped from us. In place of those religious rights, new "rights" are asserted and supersede those "inalienable" rights that are defined by our Constitution, though these new “rights” are nowhere defined or set aside in the Constitution.

So why the point about the divisions that exist within Christ's Church Universal? Why call one's attention to the various different Protestant denominations? As a Protestant, I am appalled at the state that we have permitted ourselves to fraction the Church of Christ. It directly contradicts God's Word, and all of us should be weeping in prayer daily -- several times per day, really -- pleading to our Heavenly Father to have mercy on us and to bring us into the unity of the faith. It is pathetic. It is shameful. It is uncalled for.

It is immoral; indeed, immoral and evil.

As a very quick (hopefully) aside, realize that I IN NO WAY advocate for some lowest-common-denominator version of Christianity; a form of Christianity that stands for so little that it essentially stands for nothing at all. Here are a few questions to every Protestant brother and sister out there. Is it possible that your theology is not 100% correct? Are you willing to spend the hours and hours and hours it would take to reconcile your beliefs with the Church as a whole, so the Body of Christ can attain unity? Really...are you prepared to do that? Are you prepared to drop your moniker of "Presbyterian," of "Baptist," of "Methodist," of "Full Gospel," of "Pentecostal," of "non-denominational" or whatever flavor of the week with which you adorn yourself, in favor of "I belong to the one and only Church that Christ Jesus put into the hands of the Apostles the He Himself selected (and no, I won't get into the abhorrent aberration of so-called modern day "apostles")? Are you an Arminian? A Calvinist? A Campbellite? Are you of Apollos or Paul? Sound like a familiar problem that Paul himself (and hence God) rejected even in the early Church? I, by no means, want to suggest that we should ignore those who have come before us. When those allegiances overshadow our commitment to unity, though, which is a direct command from God's Word, maybe some wisdom should be exercised to avoid such quarrels.

Now back to the main point. The disunity of the Christian Church weakens the Church. The Church is the Body of Christ. When one part of that Body strives against another, the whole Body suffers. Right now, Protestantism is at war with itself. While we are at war with ourselves, how can we expect to have the knowledge, the energy, the focus, and the necessary unity to defeat the evils that plague our society (such as those in this article)? Now, I would be the first to admit that there are some incredibly heretical churches out there. Humanism and liberalism has infected the Church like a rabid cancer (some of these “Christian churches” are clearly synagogues of Satan). Discernment and wisdom would have to be paramount when striving to unify the Church, but that doesn't mean it cannot be done. We can do all things through Christ Who strengthens us.

Seriously, brothers and sisters...would you fight a UFC Champion with one eye swollen shut, a broken arm in a sling, hands with broken fingers, a hyper-extended knee, a strained back, and a twisted ankle, all while sitting in a wheel chair, hooked up to oxygen, constrained by a colostomy bag, and hungry because you can't eat due to your teeth rotting? With far too many different denominations fighting against each other, that's the picture of the Protestant Church trying to fight the spiritual battle that Satan has waged against us through secularism, humanism, and liberalism.

Maybe Protestants can learn something from the Orthodox Church. Where is the authority of the Church in Protestantism? Where is it? And please don’t waste your breath (or your fingers) trying to convince me that we have some core set of beliefs upon which we agree, and that’s all that matters. OK, Mr. Sola Scriptura, support that argument with Scripture alone. Good luck. Instead of striving for unity, if I disagree with my denomination -- or my church, if not part of a larger organization – I just go to another church that I like better (at least for now)...or I go start another denomination that meets my own desires. It's truly pathetic. Church discipline goes as far as the doors to the church to which one belongs. Get to the point of excommunication for an unrepentant member, and he'll just go down the street to another church. It'll be uncomfortable for a little while, but he'll get over it, all the while continuing in his unrepentant sinful state.

This makes a mockery out of God's Word, and it dishonors His Holy Name! So let's just keep on going, rationalizing our divisions, making more excuses as to why it's OK for us to ignore God's call to unity.

Why is the Church being persecuted? Maybe God is enacting a little temporal judgment to wake us up from our state of being lukewarm – wallowing in our state of unrepentant disunity. Maybe the world sees our hypocrisy and laughs at our calls to repentance because many times we ignore those calls to repentance in our own lives. Our disunity is certainly a clear sign of our own hypocrisy, that’s for sure. Maybe if the Church were actually in a position to exact righteous discipline upon unrepentant members due to it being a unified Church, maybe then the world would take notice. Imagine that! Imagine if Christians actually cleaned up their own house before telling the lost to clean up their own!

Do I expect us to attain perfection? No, I don't -- not this side of heaven. That, though, is neither a license for mediocrity, nor is it a license for laziness in striving to be perfect and holy...especially when Scripture clearly calls us to be perfect, as our Father is perfect. (Matt. 5:48) (And yes, I realize that this perfection before God ultimately only comes through the imputed righteousness of Christ, not of my own works.)

I urge any brother or sister in Christ who reads this to add to your prayer list to pray for the unity of Christ’s Church, the Bride of Christ, who will be presented to Him without spot or blemish when Christ hands over His Kingdom to God our Father on the Last Day. May our Father in heaven hear our pleas, grant us repentance, and draw us together as we once were in the early Church. Have mercy on us Father! Heal Your Church to glorify Your magnificent Name! In Christ Jesus. Amen.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Ron Paul's Statement of Faith

I'm sure that being in politics is an incredibly difficult line of work. In many, many ways I support the ideas that Ron Paul has set forth. However, after reading his statement of faith, I wish he would pick up the book "Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths" by Gary DeMar and consider the wisdom Gary puts forth on so-called "private faith."

Why? In his statement of faith Ron Paul states, "My faith is a deeply private issue to me, and I don’t speak on it in great detail during my speeches because I want to avoid any appearance of exploiting it for political gain."

Notice that first phrase, "My faith is a deeply private issue to me." Yes, I read what he said after that, and I can certainly empathize with that. The forefathers with whom he strives to walk in stride, however -- based on what I have read, anyway -- did not hesitate to give glory to God, to praise Him, to thank Him, and to humble themselves before Him in the political arena.

Scripture does not instruct us to keep our faith private. In fact it tells us to do the exact opposite of that. We are to be the salt and light of the world. That light is not to be covered under a bushel basket (i.e., keeping it private).

Read Ephesians 5:6-14 --

"[6] Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. [7] Therefore do not be partakers with them; [8] for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light [9] (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), [10] trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. [11] Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; [12] for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. [13] But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. [14] For this reason it says,"

“Awake, sleeper,
And arise from the dead,
And Christ will shine on you.”

Maybe if politicians at every level would start shining the light of Christ on the darkness that has overcome the political arena, that darkness would be overcome and removed from what is now the holy grail of darkness: politics.

Imagine that...maybe God's Word (Who is Christ Jesus) would actually redeem the political arena to the Glory of God, if we who proclaim our allegiance to Him would simply fight the good fight and stop being such cowards!

Like I said, can I empathize with his desire to avoid the exploitation of his faith (or even the appearance thereof) for personal or political gain? Of course. However, I think mature Christians have enough discernment to know the difference between a politician of true and humble faith versus one of fake, superficial, and self-centered pseudo-faith.

None of this is to take away from Ron Paul's other statements, which were strong, bold, and unabashed. I applaud him for such boldness! My point is to echo DeMar's thoughts in his book (mentioned above) that Christian faith was never intended to be "deeply private." That idea is the very antithesis of how Christians should think and live.

It would be wonderful if he would change his stance on this, revise his statement, and show other Christians in the public sphere that it is entirely possible (and eminently biblical) to openly share one's faith while not exploiting it for selfish ungodly gain.

Soli Deo Gloria!