A Sure Sign a Church’s Claim to be a Friend of Abuse Victims is False

Currently, we are seeing churches and organizations jumping on the band wagon of supposedly exposing domestic and sexual abusers in the church and coming to the aid of their victims. Occasionally these claims are genuine, but most frequently they are false efforts to “cover the bases” and preserve the institution. After all, there is an increasing outcry against evildoers hiding in and even leading churches and supposedly Christian organizations. The Southern Baptists, for example, are under the gun and rightly so.

So in such a climate you can expect that the guilty will start trembling a bit. They have plenty of skeletons in the closet in which they have enabled abusers and disregarded the pleas of abuse victims, so they do what I call a “pre-emptive strike.” They hold conferences on abuse. They make announcements about how they are the defenders of the abused. And they do so without repentance. By that, I mean they do not come humbly broken, confessing their many sins and wrongs they have dealt to the innocent, confessing that they are ignorant of these evils and have been duped by the wicked. Oh no. Suddenly THEY are experts to whom we are all to go now for help and aid. 

Recently I received just such a claim. It comes from Faith Bible Church in Spokane, Washington. This is a John MacArthur, Jr. church in that the pastor was trained at The Master’s Seminary and teaches at a TMS satellite. If you have followed A Cry for Justice (blog) or read my books, you know that John MacArthur has consistently taught that divorce for abuse is forbidden by God.

Below are the outline points of two messages given by the lead pastor of Faith Bible Church, Dan Jarms, and his associate, Brian Sayers. Following these two outlines I have included the Faith Bible Church Doctrinal Elder Paper on marriage, divorce, and remarriage. I could go on and on pointing out to you how these two sermon outlines and doctrinal paper evidence clearly that Faith Bible Church’s claim to be a friend to abuse victims is false and that in fact, this church has not truly changed its positions at all. Don’t be naive. The claims here that divorce is permitted for abuse are going to be practically (in practice) denied when it comes right down to a victim divorcing her abuser.

Rather than, as I said, going on at length regarding my criticisms of these things, I have simply bold-faced one major, plain evidence of falsehood that is repeated throughout the outlines and paper. This one persistent demand made by this church is all we need to know to be able to conclude that the church is in no way truly repentant of past wrongs to victims and that in fact its supposed “change” is feigned and false. As you will see, this single demand is that abuse victims are required to place themselves under the authority of the pastor and elders and are not to proceed with divorce, separation, or any other action without the church’s authorization. I can tell you that anyone who does this is going to find themselves further oppressed and wrongly controlled by church leaders who arrogantly claim this privilege for themselves but who are ignorant of the evils which oppress the victim.

THIS is the most certain proof that a church like this and pastors and elders like these men have not fundamentally changed at all. That is to say, they are continuing to demand that abuse victims place themselves under their authority, never acknowledging the history (as is easily found in MacArthur’s teaching and practice) of dealing out injustice to victims and enabling the wicked. They are not humbled in other words. They remain arrogant. This is plain Pharisaism.

I will also underscore several other portions of these documents that I am convinced demonstrate that these men in this church do something else absolutely unbiblical and damaging. Namely, they treat the abuser as a Christian. Thus they proceed with the idea that they are going to rescue the marriage, fix the abuser, and all that this requires is their counseling and that the victim “gut it out” in the abuse “for the glory of God.” All Christians, you know, (say these pastors) can be abusers and an abuser can be a Christian who simply needs to “make war on entitlement mentality.” Absolutely false teaching.

Of course I know they will deny these charges and say I don’t know what I am talking about. Well, so be it. I do know what I am talking about. You are never going to instruct, teach, disciple an abuser who has been faking it as a Christian all along into a godly, loving spouse. Not gonna happen!  And yet you will notice the total absence of any of that truth here in these documents, with no mention at all of God’s plain command that we put such counterfeits out of the church (see 1 Cor 5).

Dr. Dan Jarms is teaching pastor and team leader at Faith Bible Church in Spokane Washington, as well as associate dean at TMS Spokane….  He earned his B.A. in English at the Master’s College, B. Ed. at Eastern Washington University , MDiv and DMin in Expository Preaching at The Master’s Seminary.

Sermon Notes (Dan Jarms)

1. Cultivate Love

Colossians 3:19 Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.

Titus 2:4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children.

1 John 4:7-11

  • Keep the love of Christ in constant view.
  • Become a Romans 12 friend/spouse.
  • Make war on an entitlement mentality.
  • Put “cherish my friend/spouse” on your daily to do list.’

2. Cultivate Christlikeness

Ephesians 4:15 Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

Colossians 1:28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

  • Get the log out of your own eye first (Matthew 7:3-5)
  • Pray for specific Christlike qualities
  • Husbands convey warning and teaching with a servant’s heart
  • Wives convey warning and teaching with a respectful heart

 

Brian Sayers is the Pastor of Discipleship and Counseling at Faith Bible Church.

Sermon Notes (Brian Sayers)

  • How should we define abuse?
  • Individuals should put themselves under the care and counsel of godly shepherds
  • Church leadership must understand and respond properly to abuse
    • Scripture requires God’s people to protect the innocent sufferer, and to seek justice toward the oppressor (Psa. 82:3-4; Psa. 10)
    • God-given authorities exist to bring justice where it is needed (Rom. 13:1-4)
    • Discernment must be used to measure and apply principles of repentance, confession, forgiveness, and accountability
  • Victims must understand and respond properly to abuse
    • To not “cry out” ignores God’s desire for justice, and neglects God’s provision and protection for you and others
    • The abused must overcome fear, and entrust themselves to God and those called to protect and care for them

FAITH BIBLE CHURCH DOCTRINAL ELDER PAPER:

Marriage, Divorce & Remarriage
Prerequisites for Marriage
1. God’s design is for one man to be married to one woman, for life.
Gen. 1:27 …male and female He created them. Gen. 2:24 & Eph 5:31 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
2. The foundational requirement for Christian marriage is that a believer should not marry an unbeliever. 2 Cor. 6:14-18 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness?
3. A couple must have a pure relationship if they desire to know God’s will about marriage.
1 Thess. 4:3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality.
4. Those preparing for marriage should also be mature and responsible so that they can meet the appropriate biblical expectations of the partners in marriage.
Eph. 5:22-33 wives, be subject… Husbands, love your wives…
1 Tim. 5:8 But if any one does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith, and is worse that an unbeliever.

Foundational Principles of Marriage, Divorce &
Remarriage
1. Marriage was established by God to be a life-long, intimate, covenantal relationship between one man and one woman (Genesis 2:18, 24; Malachi 2:14; Proverbs 2:17). Jesus issued a general guideline that what God joins together, man should not separate (Matthew 19:6; Mark 10:9).
2. Christians must exhaust all biblical means to preserve their marriage. Permanence in the marriage relationship has been, and always will be, God’s ideal and intention.
3. While every divorce involves sin, not every divorce is sinful (Jeremiah 3:6-10; cf. 1 Corinthians 7:15; Jeremiah 31:31-32; Deuteronomy 24:1-4).
4. This pursuit of permanence may involve enduring a marriage that is less than God’s ideal (1 Corinthians 7:12-14, 16; 1 Peter 3:1-2). The desire for God’s glory must supersede one’s desire for comfort or happiness. This principle would not require someone to indefinitely endure unrepentant acts that constitute biblical grounds for divorce (see biblical grounds below). Decisions must be made under the spiritual care, counsel, and authority of the elders.
5. Divorce may be permissible, but is never commanded. Two believers should always be willing to pursue repentance and reconciliation as part of a life seeking to honor God.
6. Biblically allowed divorce implies the right before God to pursue biblical remarriage. They must seek the counsel and care of church leadership in this process.
7. In cases where Christians come to Faith Bible Church having already participated in unbiblical divorce or remarriage situations, the church will strive to provide compassionate counsel that will lead to
personal understanding of these biblical principles, and a careful repentance for all involved.

Biblical Grounds for Divorce
Divorce is allowed for two reasons. Below are
explanations of those two broad biblical categories.

1. Divorce is allowed in cases of unrepentant sexual immorality (Matthew 5:31-32; 19:8-9).
• The “sexual immorality” referenced (Greek, porneia), is broader than adultery, and would include the litany of sexual sins listed in the Old Testament (specifically Leviticus 20:10-21).
• This provision may also include other violations not specifically mentioned, but which are similar in nature. To constitute biblical grounds for divorce, the sexually deviant behavior of this kind must be continual and unrepentant.
• Evaluations and decisions must be made under the spiritual care, counsel, and authority of the local church elders.

2. Divorce is allowed when an unbelieving spouse abandons the marriage covenant (“unbelieving” may be determined by their profession, or through the application of church discipline).
• The unbeliever leaves. First Corinthians 7:12-15 clearly teaches that when an unbelieving spouse “consents to live with” the believer, then the believer should remain married to them. When the unbelieving spouse separates/leaves, however, the believer is not bound to the marriage covenant.
• The unbeliever says they want to, or are going to leave, but will not. An unbelieving spouse’s unwillingness to remain married (1 Corinthians 7:13-15) may be broader than physical separation or
leaving. Repeated expression of resolve and/or desire to divorce, while not pursuing the good will of a mutually beneficial and healthy marriage, may also be not “consenting to live with.”
• The unbeliever does not threaten leaving in any way, but live as though they have abandoned the
marriage. There may be other extreme cases where church leaders determine that the unbelieving
spouse has “effectively abandoned” the marriage covenant, although they do not pursue or express a
desire to separate or divorce.
Evaluations and decisions must be made under the spiritual care, counsel, and authority of the local church elders.

The Reason Churches Protect Abusers and Cast Out Victims is that they do not Fear a Holy God

Most all of you know the sickening pattern. Wicked, evil person hiding in the church behind a disguise of “saint.” He victimizes the innocent who then cry out for justice. Victims are marginalized, disbelieved, silenced, and even thrown out of the assembly. The evil one? He is not only allowed to remain in the church, but he is often coddled, pitied, and even put into a ministry position?

Why? Why this same evil mantra pattern? Over and over it happens. Why?

Let me tell you. I believe I know the answer. First, read the following account of two deceivers in the early church – Ananias and his wife Sapphira.

Act 5:1-11 But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, (2) and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

(3) But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? (4) While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.” (5) When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last.

And great fear came upon all who heard of it.

(6) The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him. (7) After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. (8) And Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” (9) But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.”

(10) Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband.

(11) And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.

I am not sure where to begin, so I will simply begin. Over a decade ago, a great evil occurred in our church. Initially, as it was the first time most of us had had to deal with such a thing, it took some sorting out. Immediately we informed the perpetrator he could no longer be present in our church (for the protection of the victim). We reported the matter to the police. He and his family left our church.

Subsequently, I studied this matter of abuse (in its multiple forms) and eventually preached a 22 sermon series on the specific subject of domestic abusers hiding in churches, exposing not only them but the typical ways local churches and pastors covered for the wicked and oppressed the victims. That sermon series is still available at sermonaudio.com/crc. And ultimately I wrote my first book on the same subject, A Cry for Justice.

What was the outcome? Justice for the perpetrator. Validation for the victim. All’s well that ends well, right? Not so fast.

Ultimately many people left us. Our church now has about 30 people in it. One or two people became so hostile that we did not “forgive and forget” the whole matter that they became antagonistic and divisive and eventually had to be put out of the church. We are labeled. Unforgiving. Mean-spirited. Made a mountain out of a mole hill.

In other words, standing for righteousness proved to be quite costly.

But only in the short term. On that Day it will not be those who stand for victims of oppression who are going to pay the real price.

Now, back to our original question. Why is it that people – church members, pastors – normally champion the cause of the evil man and not that of the victim? Why is it the victim that is so typically oppressed, silenced, and put out of the church? I said I know the answer, and here it is:

Professing Christians in large part do not fear the Holy, Holy, Holy God. They look upon sin quite lightly and convince themselves that God does as well. They think, in the end, that Ananias and Sapphira got a rather raw deal, and that their case was not the norm.

You see, if we deal with sin in the church as Christ has commanded us to do, if we do not even eat with a person who says they are a Christian but lives like the devil (1 Cor 5) then suddenly sin rattles our world. Old Mr. Smith the deacon who, it turns out, has been abusing his wife for years, is suddenly put out of the fellowship and his evil exposed. The business is scary. Earth-shaking. Uncomfortable. Why, if I do what he did, I just might be the next to be expelled.

That is how it was when this young man decided he could treat God as no more than a man:

Jos 7:19-20 Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the LORD God of Israel and give praise to him. And tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me.” (20) And Achan answered Joshua, “Truly I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and this is what I did:

Jos 7:24-25 And Joshua and all Israel with him took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver and the cloak and the bar of gold, and his sons and daughters and his oxen and donkeys and sheep and his tent and all that he had. And they brought them up to the Valley of Achor. (25) And Joshua said, “Why did you bring trouble on us? The LORD brings trouble on you today.” And all Israel stoned him with stones. They burned them with fire and stoned them with stones.

Whoa! Poor Achan. Man, he said he was sorry. Today (you know this was Old Testament stuff) we hug Achan and tell him everything is ok. We tell him he is forgiven and no one is to ever mention what he did again. Grace that is greater than all our sin, you know. Makes us feel really warm and fuzzy and good.

But then there is that troublesome account of Ananias and Saphhira. Hmmmm….book of Acts. I think that is in the New Testament. Maybe things haven’t changed quite as much as so many professing Christians would like?

And that is exactly right. God has not changed. God is holy, holy, holy today and always. Do not be deceived, God is not mocked. Whatsoever a man sows, that he shall also reap.

Professing Christians today (and I say “professing” purposely because far more who claim to be Christians are in fact unconverted) do not fear the holy God. That is why they want to treat even the most evil sins in the ranks of the church so lightly. It is why they want to forgive and restore a pastor who has been involved in shocking or even criminal sin. Because if in fact we are required by God to tell such people they should fear God’s wrath, if we seriously hear the Apostle Paul tell the Corinthians that a number of them are weak and sick and some are DEAD! for mocking the Lord’s table, then – well, hold on just a minute….

Heb 10:26-31 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, (27) but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. (28) Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. (29) How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? (30) For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” (31) It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Most professing Christians do not believe this. This is not their god. They have no fear of the Holy One.

And THAT is why they will not act in holy obedience to the Lord when an Achan or an Ananias or a Sapphira crops up in their midst. Like the Corinthians whom Paul chastised, they arrogantly boast of their “graciousness,” embrace the wicked man, tell the victim to embrace him too or leave, and everyone sings another chorus of Jesus Paid it All.

 

A Vital Sermon to Hear – What is Wrong with the Visible Church Today?

I delivered the following sermon yesterday here at Christ Reformation Church as part of our ongoing series in the Gospel of Matthew, specifically the Sermon on the Mount.

You can read or listen to the sermon HERE

Do you wonder if the true church even exists anymore today? Of course we know it does, but where is it? Why is it that local churches are so commonly havens for the wicked? How is it that the righteous are cast out? Well, it turns out that the very same conditions existed in the days when Christ was here on this earth.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus identifies what a true citizen of His kingdom looks like (the Beatitudes) and then he exposes the phonies. In His day those were the Scribes and Pharisees and their crowd.

They are still with us today and in many, many cases local churches are in fact those dens of robbers and synagogues of Satan that all through church history have paraded as Christ’s church. They are not. And unless we know these things thoroughly, believe them, and are wise, then we are going to grow weary and discouraged. Our faith will be assaulted.

So read or listen to my sermon (click on the link above) and see just what “having a form of godliness but denying its power” means.

Watch Out for People Who are Running to the Head of the Table

Luk 14:10-11 But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. (11) For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

I am suspicious and pessimistic when it comes to jumping up and down for joy when some Christian leader announces that the lights have come on for them and they are launching into efforts to expose abuse in the church. We see this fairly regularly of late. The “nouthetic counselors” (now the ACBC) are suddenly hosting conferences on dealing with domestic abusers, calling us all to come to them to learn. We will see similar actions among the Southern Baptists now, and we have seen it before in the CCEF crowd.

One lady stated it very, very wisely and precisely recently on a website I visited. She said, regarding a Christian celeb type leader who has launched into the issue of abusers in the church,

He is looking which way the parade is going and jumping in front. So he appears to lead. A farce.

Bingo! Nailed it. Rather than going to the back of the line, humbling himself, admitting that in his ignorance he has added to the oppression of victims and enabled abusers, suddenly here he is in the lead! An expert, you know. But our Lord told us plainly – go to the back of the line. Don’t seek to be first, else you will find yourself humiliated.

So here for many, many years, we have had Christian counseling organizations, Christian authors, pastors, seminaries and mega/happening churches, in their ignorance and arrogance (and far too often in their willful allying with evil) refusing to hear us. By “us,” I mean the few authors and blog writers and a pastor here and there (and of course the victims themselves) who have been speaking out like voices crying in the wilderness, only to be dismissed as ignorant theological hicks who know nothing. Now, these very same groups who have refused to listen and who have hardened themselves against the pleas of the victims for so long, suddenly, here they are jumping into the head of the parade!! Why? We are quite justified in questioning their motives. Frankly, I think most of them have been caught with their hand in the cookie jar of abuser-enabling and victim-oppressing, and they are suddenly acting as if they have been experts “in the know” all along.

I suppose to some extent we should acknowledge the Apostle Paul’s take on such things:

Php 1:14-18 And most of the brothers, having become confident in the Lord by my imprisonment, are much more bold to speak the word without fear. (15) Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. (16) The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. (17) The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. (18) What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice,

Yes, we rejoice that the issue of abuse in all its evil forms hiding in the church is increasingly being addressed. But like the Apostle Paul, we still can realize that some of these sudden “experts” are motivated by selfish, self-glorifying, ambition. And to that extent, I do not and will not trust them.

Shunning is Not Always Wrong

Many times I have heard people criticize churches and Christians for “shunning” someone. And in many of those cases the criticism is valid because the person being shunned is in fact a victim of some evil which the church refused to confront. Instead, they blamed the victim and threw them under the bus.

Somehow the idea of “shunning” someone has become something that is thought to be always evil and wrong. But that is not so. The Bible is quite plain that there are people with whom we are to have nothing to do. People we are to shun. Here are some scriptural examples:

1Co 5:11-13 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler–not even to eat with such a one. (12) For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? (13) God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

Rom 16:17-18 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. (18) For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.

2Th 3:6 Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us.

I could go on citing more, but this certainly should suffice to prove that the Christian is to keep away from, avoid, and not even eat with certain people. Namely and especially, people who claim to be Christians but who are walking in evil and therefore are servants of the devil.

This idea that shunning is always wrong and evil in itself is something that is often used to justify keeping the wicked in the church, enabling them in their evil. But to do so is to refuse to obey the clear commands of the Lord. For myself, I simply cannot understand why any real Christian would want to continue in fellowship with a counterfeit believer who has crept in among the brethren to destroy and harm. We are light in the Lord. Why would we want to associate and be bound together with darkness?

Notice once again (you see it in the verses quoted above) that it is not the average, normal unbeliever that is the most serious threat to the church, though of course we are not to be intimately connected with them either. I count numbers of unsaved people as my friends. But I wouldn’t marry one. I socialize with them (as Jesus ate with sinners) but I realize that we are not at all on the same page when it comes to ultimate truths of God’s Word. Nevertheless, the greatest evil, the most wicked and dangerous person, comes to us disguised as a sheep, yet is a ravenous wolf. If someone claims to be a brother in Christ but in fact bears evil fruit as a regular pattern of his life, then that is the person to shun.

So, yes, I shun certain people. Our church shuns certain people. And in doing so we are obeying our Lord’s command.

The True Christian Forgives as Jesus Forgives – True, and False

This past week my wife and I were driving up the interstate when we saw a large billboard that said:

Real Christians Forgive Like Jesus

The sign also included a Scripture reference,

Luke 23:34 And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.

This is an example of not only misusing Scripture, but of dealing simplistically with a Bible doctrine that requires far more than a mere five words on a sign. And it is not harmless! Great damage is done by these kinds of foolish statements thrown out at people like cannon shots.

The pessimistic realist that I am, I suggest to you that I know what the message is that these sign preachers are throwing at us. “You don’t forgive like Jesus forgives. If you are a real Christian, then you must love your enemies (true). And this means that you must not seek justice for wrongs they have done you, you must strive to maintain relationship with them, and if you don’t do these things then you are not forgiving as Jesus forgives and it is doubtful you are a Christian at all.

Yes, Jesus prayed that His Father would forgive those who crucified Him. But a short time before He was put on the cross (see John 17) Jesus specifically said that He was praying for those the Father had given to Him, not for the whole world. Jesus knows His elect. And Jesus’ death on the cross at the hands of these people was an act of redemption and atonement for His own. Jesus, in other words, was unique. To make an across the board simplistic application of Jesus’ prayer for His enemies there on the cross to every single Christian in every single case subsequent to the cross is foolish.

But there is more.

How does Jesus forgive? Does He forgive everyone? Of course not. Check this out:

2Th 1:5-10 This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering– (6) since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, (7) and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels (8) in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. (9) They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, (10) when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.

We could go on and on. The Lord does not forgive everyone. And yet these signboard preachers throw distortions of Bible truth at car after car motoring up the freeway, insisting that a real Christian forgives everyone no matter what. Offers the worst of them warm hugs and kisses. I ask you, is this what we see Jesus doing in the Gospels? Is this what the Apostles preached and practiced as recorded in The Acts and the Epistles? Of course not.

One final point (though I could go on and on).

Unsaved people see signs like this and do you know what they conclude? I know unsaved people. I know lots of them. Many are my friends. I know what they would have said if they were in my car when I went past that sign. “Christians are idiots and fools.” And you know what? People who claim to be Christians but who distort and pervert the Word of God like this are fools indeed!

Christians, true Christians, really do forgive as Jesus did. And more. We pray for God’s holy wrath and justice to break out upon the wicked and destroy them for their oppression of the widow and orphan. Yep –

Psa 139:21-22 Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? (22) I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies.

You Cannot Appease Evil – It Will Just Grow Stronger

Pro 22:10 Drive out a scoffer, and strife will go out, and quarreling and abuse will cease.

A widespread, common, and dangerous fallacy rampant among Christians is that if victims of evil just submit to it, if they work harder at not provoking it, if they look within themselves and try to see that they have a share in the blame for the abuse, then eventually the evil oppressor will be satisfied and back off. Appeasement is the word for all this. Appeasement of evil by giving it what it wants.

If you study the buildup in the 1930’s to the second world war and watch the policy of appeasement toward Hitler and the Nazis at work, you will have a real lesson in wisdom. The leaders of Britain, with very few exceptions, embraced the policy of appeasement by giving Hitler what he wanted time after time. Even France held back at critical times when they should have been preparing for war because they didn’t want to make Hitler mad. Chamberlain and others embracing this fantasyland philosophy of appeasement sold out Czechoslovakia, Poland, and other countries all with the goal of giving Hitler what he wanted to appease him. Eventually, they insisted, he would be satisfied with what he had and his aggression would cease.

Wrong. WWII. Near destruction of all democracy in Europe if not in the world.

You cannot appease evil. You must not appease evil. Evil sees appeasement as weakness. Hitler viewed Chamberlain and his crowd was wimps and fools, which actually they were.

The same kind of appeasement policy is being pushed for by today’s political liberals. Don’t do anything to upset the tyrants. Give them piles of money. Promise to stay out of their business. Wear the blame for all that is wrong in the world. Believe their promises. And all the while they continue to secretly arm themselves for world domination. Hitler, you know, had specific plans for invasion of England and it included rounding up all males of age and shipping them into Europe to serve the Nazis as slaves. It very nearly happened. And then he planned to come for us here in the U.S.

In churches today, evil is being “dealt with” by a policy of this same kind of appeasement. “Don’t push his buttons,” abuse victims are told. “Submit even more and eventually he will change for the better.”  And we in the church, well, we are supposed to love, love, love the unrepentant evil man or woman with the same kind of insane foolhardiness that Chamberlain used on Hitler.

Evil is never appeased. Never. The devil never has enough slaves, never tires of working his wickedness. He is a murderer and the father of lies by nature, and so are his children (see John 8). We must stand up to evil. We must call it out. We must expose evildoers who are parading as Christians in our churches, and we must never, ever tell abuse victims that they must work to appease their abuser. That is spiritual malpractice. It is to ally with the wicked.

 

The Danger of Confusing Faith with Superstition

Heb 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Many non-Christians accuse Christians of being superstitious (and therefore foolish) people. Some of these accusations are correct. Let me show you why. First, some definitions:

Faith is trust in God. Superstition is trust in man.

Faith is reliance upon God’s Word. Superstition is reliance upon man’s word.

Faith has what is unseen as its object. Superstition’s focus is upon man’s visible, tangible actions.

Faith is reliance upon God’s actions. Superstition is reliance upon man’s actions.

We could continue making these contrasts, but this should be sufficient.

Now, why do I maintain that the “faith” of many professing Christians is actually superstition? Let me give you some examples.

  • I have been very good today. God will give me that new job.
  • If I just keep working harder and harder on submitting to my abuser husband, God will work a miracle and change him.
  • If I don’t go to church this Sunday, God will not bless me this week.
  • I am going to gather as many people together to pray and God will heal my friend. The more people we get to pray, the more likely God will hear us.
  • I faithfully tithe to my church. God will give me back more than I give.

Understand? Do you see that these common notions are all examples, not of real faith, but of superstition? It is pure myth that by my doings I can manipulate God. That is not Christianity. It is pagan magic. You see it in Rome. Say this many hail whatevers, crawl up so many stone steps, etc, etc, and God will act. But evangelicals have their own brand of chants, charms, and mantras.

If you are a victim of domestic abuse and if you are a Christian, there is a very high probability that you have been told/taught/indoctrinated with superstitions of this sort. And perhaps you are even still clinging to them. They need to go. To the dump. Right away.

Superstition has as its agenda man’s agenda. Faith trusts in God’s agenda. So to remain in an abusive marriage under the guise of “faith and obedience” as the path to the salvation of your abuser and the healing of your marriage is superstition. It is seeking your own agenda. Most often, God’s agenda is radically different than ours – and radically better. The one is fiction, the other is reality given and scripted by God alone.

Take a close look at yourself. How much of your “faith” could actually be superstition? And in what ways is that superstition working to keep you in bondage?

 

 

The Blindness of Seeing Only What we Want to See

Jer 6:14 They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace.

The Jews knew full well what the Law of God said. They also knew the promised blessings for obeying that Law and the certain curses for disobeying it. In addition, they knew that they had been doing anything but living in obedience to the Lord. Jeremiah’s preaching exposed their sin and announced coming judgment.

But they did not want judgment. They didn’t want to see it. So they didn’t. They embraced the message of “peace, peace.” Until the hammer fell.

So it was in France and England in May of 1940. The allies were “at war” and yet they did not believe there would be a Nazi invasion. Here is an example of this willful blindness taken from William Manchester’s biography of Winston Churchill (Volume 2, The Last Lion) –

One French pilot did see the [Nazi] buildup on the evening of the eighth of May. He was over the Ruhr, returning from a propaganda mission, dropping leaflets urging the German people to overthrow Hitler and thus bring peace. Above Dusseldorf he looked down and saw a 60 mile line of tanks and trucks headed for the Ardennes [where the Germans were going to pull off a surprise attack]. They were driving with their lights on. He reported his discovery. It was dismissed as not credible.

And again:

Five months earlier, as Europe slept away the winter, a German airplane carrying two staff officers was blown off course and forced to land in Belgium. The officers tried and failed to burn the papers they carried, which happened to contain the OKW’s [German High Command] revised operation orders for the invasion of the Low Countries (Belgium, Holland, etc) including a thrust through the Ardennes. British intelligence perused the captured papers. The high arts of deception and double cross being well practiced by both the Germans and the British, it was concluded that the papers were a plant, a ruse, and therefore, unbelievable.

But they weren’t. The Ardennes was precisely the point the Nazis would invade through, and the very point that the French military leaders insisted was an impenetrable maze that no army could ever come through.

The French and the British, in these cases, had hard facts and proof thrown right into their faces. Yet they disregarded those facts. Why? Because they did not want to believe what the facts proved. There would be no war. Or if it came, it would come at points that were well fortified and defended. The allies would soon pay a high, high price for their refusal to see what they did not want to see.

And so it is when the facts tell us that evil has come in among us. A mother and wife goes to her pastor and tells him about the horrific treatment she has been suffering at the hands of her upstanding, well-respected, “christian” husband. Church leaders and members see a man, a member of their church, energetically pursuing “ministry” with troubled young people or maintaining age-inappropriate relationships. They receive reports that this man is taking a few young people “camping.” But he is such a fine “servant of the Lord.” The most likable fellow you could ever meet. The facts point to the need for great caution and the establishment of firm boundaries. But no action is taken. Why? Because the church leaders and members do not want to see what the facts are pointing to. They do not want to consider that evil is sitting right there in the pew with them Sunday after Sunday, year after year.

Willful blindness is a sin. It enables evil. It oppresses the victims. It ignores the warnings and instructions of the Word of God. It is selfish. Rather than face up to the truth that the Nazis are coming, willful blindness chooses to embrace the fantasy even though millions are going to die as a result.

We Cannot be Careless About Who we Allow Our Children to be With

Mat 19:14 but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”

When I was a youngster I was put in many situations that could easily have resulted in me being victimized by a pedophile or some other abuser. I remember once when there was a record-breaking flood in Southern Oregon. We lived along the river and the water got into our house, so we had to stay with the neighbors. The mother was a very kind woman – she may even have been a Christian. Her husband was a foul-mouthed man and so were her two sons who were in their early 20’s.

One evening when the flood waters were receding a bit, just enough to permit driving on the highway into town, my parents let me accompany one of the sons to the grocery store with a list of things to pick up. He had a car and off we went. On the way, right out of the blue, he asks (I was only 12), “so Jeff, are you masturbating yet?” Needless to say I was taken aback because we didn’t talk about such subjects in our family. But he kept pressing for an answer. I don’t know what I said, I must have mumbled something. But then he proceeded to tell me how his first ______ was one of his high school teachers.

Now, here is my point. Even though nothing else happened, the fact is that my parents, in their naivete, allowed me to be placed in a dangerous and harmful situation. They did not know this young man really. Yet they carelessly assumed. And then they sent me off with him.

I could tell you many similar stories. I had an older relative who kept pornography in his room and my parents often left me there while they were on vacation. Oh, and this was a “Christian” family you know. His parents were very active in their church. He went on in life to embrace homosexuality. Then there was the female relative, a few years older than me, who as I look back on it now was certainly being sexually molested by her much older brother. Yet, again, my parents very often just turned me loose with these people, unsupervised.

Almost all of you, I suspect, could tell very similar stories of your childhood. Some if not many of you probably never told your parents about some molestation episode because, well, you never talked about such things in your family. Besides, would they believe you? Would they think it was really all that serious? Maybe they would be angry with you and tell you it was your fault. And, in your childhood thinking, maybe it was your fault?

Moms, dads, you cannot assume. You must not allow your children to be turned loosed to run unsupervised with the neighbor kids, with some classmate who wants them to spend the night, with those children of your  own siblings (ie, your children’s cousins), with coaches or teammates, school teachers – ANYONE! If you think that I am exaggerating the case, then I would tell you that you are naive and careless.

Evil lurks. Evil dwells in the heart of man. It is all around us.

And woe, woe, woe to the evil ones who cause the little ones to stumble.