It is a Great Error to Assume that Even the Devil is Open to Negotiation

You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (Joh 8:44)

We who genuinely know and love Christ desire good. In the end, every Christian longs for peace, for right relationships, and for reconciliation.

The wicked are not so. And when we think that our enemy and his servants desire the things we desire, we err greatly and we err dangerously. Christian, Satan does not long for the things you long for. He does not desire the good that you desire. He longs ONLY for death, for destruction, and for the utter annihilation of the Lord Himself. Always. Only. He longs for these things. And so it is with his servants.

Listen to William Manchester (I am still reading the biography of Winston Churchill, The Last Lion by Manchester) describe this kind of insane and horribly destructive thinking. In 1936 as Hitler continued to militarize Germany in open defiance of the treaty of Versaille, Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin….

Called for his fiddlers three – Samuel Hoare (now first Lord of the Admiralty), Lord Halifax (lord privy seal), and Neville Chamberlain (Exchequer) – and moved toward what they thought was firmer ground.

It was quicksand. Their new mantra was diplomacy — negotiation as a sensible alternative to war. Britain’s honor, they told the public, would be preserved; the negotiating table, not the battlefield, was where differences between England and Germany would be resolved. They were convinced that Hitler had his price. Some of them believed this even after all their assumptions, and much of London, lay in ruins. Devoted to peace, they could not understand that the ruler of Nazi Germany disdained negotiations, enjoyed bloodshed — including the shedding of German blood — and therefore preferred military conquest. [The Last Lion, Volume 1, pp 205-06]

This is precisely where much busyness (no, I didn’t misspell it) we do in the church goes so wrong. Consider “Biblical Counseling” for instance. The mass of those propelling this movement insist that there is “redemption” for everyone. That through counseling, through reasoning, and thus through “negotiation” with even the most vile and wicked person, redemption will draw nigh. Like Baldwin and his fiddlers three, they are viewed by the wicked as fools – and indeed, fools they are.

Like Hitler, there are many, many people around us today who are not at all interested in “negotiation” or listening to “reason.” They have no conscience. They only desire to kill and destroy and oppress. Secular psychology knows this full well. Such people are called sociopaths or psychopaths. We meet them in the church as they parade behind a facade of “saintliness” while in reality they are domestic abusers or sexual predators or simply people who would be like “The Most High.”

Largely, local churches and pastors and “biblical counselors” are handling such evil ones in the same manner Baldwin and his puppets tried to deal with Hitler. Rather than standing up and using the overwhelming military might they and the allies still possessed at that early date, they plunged the world into a virtual apocalypse that slaughtered 60 million people all over the globe.

Appease the evil one? Reason and negotiate with him? How is that going for you? Look around the visible, professing church today and you will have your answer. Do you hear the victims crying out?

 

 

The Bible Emphasizes “Being” – We Must not be Satisfied with “Doing”

Eph 4:20-24 But that is not the way you learned Christ!– (21) assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, (22) to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, (23) and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, (24) and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Consistently the New Testament reminds the Christian that he/she is a new creation and therefore is to live consistently as that new creation. Be who you are. That is the Bible’s instruction to us. Realize who you now are and don’t live like the person you used to be. Being, you see. Not just external doing.

The false Pharisaical religion of course was all about doing. Do this. Don’t do that. The heart remains hard and unchanged, desiring evil but man-made religion says “I know that is what you really want down in your heart, but don’t do it. Do this instead, even though you would rather not.”

It is this second false religion that is characterizes most professing Christians today, and that is a main reason they turn out to be dens of evil.  And most churches are satisfied with it. Let me give you an example.

Let’s say a local church decides steps should be taken to prevent pedophiles from molesting the children. That’s a good thing to do. Yes it is. Background checks are required for volunteers in various ministries. Windows are installed in classroom doors. More than one adult is required to be present in a class. Staff is trained in these procedures. All well and good.

The problem is, everyone is satisfied. “There, we have placed constraints in our programs so that molesters cannot harm our children.”

Or, another example. To help ensure that adulteries and fornications don’t flame up among church members, certain rules are put in place. Some formal and written. Some unwritten and informal. A man is never to be along with a woman not his wife. A woman is never to be alone with a man who is not her husband. Husbands and wives are to have full access to one another’s email accounts. Computer software is to be installed that will prevent going online at a porn site. Women are to dress in a certain way. The “six-inch” rule of no touching is taught and enforced among the youth.

And again, the problem is, everyone is satisfied. “There, that should do it.”

But it won’t. In fact, if the power of sin is the law (as Paul told the Corinthians) then these kinds of rules often simply dump gasoline on the fire.

So what is the biblical way of handling such things? Be who you are. This is who the Bible says you now are, Christian. Be that person. Be led by the Spirit. Put to death the deeds of the flesh, by the Spirit. Any other means of “mortifying” the flesh simply feeds the flesh.

This requires, therefore, a congregation of Spirit indwelt people. In other words, a church where the people are actually Christians!! Pretty radical, huh? But that is NOT the case in most local churches. No. Someone is a Christian if they say a prayer and get baptized, either as an infant or adult. No matter really how they are living the days of their lives (none of us are perfect, after all) or whether they show any spiritual growth or not. They are pronounced Christians. But you’ve just got to keep these “christians” in tow – and thus the rules like the ones I mentioned above. John may be an adulterer at heart (well, in his “flesh” as they say) but as long as we make John follow the rules, he won’t adulterize. If he does slip, well, we are a forgiving bunch here, you know.

And the child molester? The rules. Make everyone follow the rules and all will be well – they say. But, let me ask – “just how well is that working for you all?”  Answer: It isn’t. Why? Because your “church” is full of people who aren’t saved at all – they don’t know Christ and He does not know them. They are still slaves to sin and Satan.

And this is why I am always highly suspicious of local churches that seem to grow in numbers so easily. What this most always means is that the unsaved are being pronounced saved, welcomed into the church, and held to a very low standard of holiness in the name of “love and grace and forgiveness.”

The proper course? The biblical one? People who claim to be Christians must evidence they are Christians if they are going to be in the local church. Well, there is one other category that is welcome – those who openly confess they do not know Christ but are seeking Him. NO third category of person is to be in the church!! Have your rules for children’s ministry and so on, but if anyone thinks that the key to Christ-honoring local churches is “be sure everyone follows the rules,” you are grievously mistaken.

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.”

“But,” you say, “that will mean that local churches will be quite small in number.”

Yep. They will be. They should be. That, in fact, is what you consistently see in Scripture. A body of believers that is called, “the remnant.”

 

“Propriety” and “Protocol” are Often Used to Protect Evildoers

Then the disciples came and said to him, “Do you know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?” He answered, “Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be rooted up. Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” (Mat 15:12-14)

Evildoers and those who protect them often create “protocols” in order to silence anyone who would seek to expose wickedness. As we work to shine light upon evil that is hiding in churches, we see this tactic very frequently.

As you can see in the verses above, Jesus smashed through the niceties of the day and confronted the wicked in broad daylight. The Pharisees were the “clergy” of the day. The exalted church leaders claiming God’s authority, yet they did not know Him at all. They misused God’s Word to keep people in bondage and to exalt themselves. Power and self-glory were their goal.

And he called the people to him and said to them, “Hear and understand: it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person.” (Mat 15:10-11)

He called the people to him. He told them publicly. So that not only the people, but the Pharisees could hear. He said that the theology and doctrines of the Pharisees were bunk. And everyone knew exactly who he was talking about.

The disciples, bound to some degree by the evil-protecting etiquette of the day, cautioned Jesus that he had offended these holy ones. “Too bad. Forget about them. They are destroying people along with themselves.” That was Jesus’ reaction to “protocol.”

We have the same false, binding, evil-protecting rules laid upon us today. For example:

  • Oh my goodness, you said these men who are our brothers in Christ covered up for a child molester. Yes, I see there is a possibility they did, but it just isn’t right for you to say so where everyone can hear.
  • You must not speak of your husband that way. Sure, what he is doing is wrong, but a wife must obey her husband.
  • It is wrong (Bill Gothardism here) to “take up an offense of someone else.” You must not speak of a sin or crime committed against another person besides yourself.
  • A Christian must never, ever say something negative about a fellow Christian. Especially in public.
  • That man is a great, holy Christian who has accomplished magnificent deeds for the Lord. And YOU dare criticize him?
  • Ok, ok, he did that. But now is not the proper time to say so. What you say may be true, but I don’t like the way you are telling it.
  • In response to a news article about a wicked man who claimed to be a Christian, charged with murdering his wife and two children, one commenter said: “There isn’t enough information to even tell if he’s guilty or not. It shouldn’t be guilty before being proven innocent. There are no details at all about the crime and why they think that he is guilty.” So we must not speak of it, you see.

People who expose injustice know that if they “play by the rules,” nothing is going to change. They are not going to be heard. Because “the rules” are most typically loaded in favor of the wicked. Of those holding abusive power. Think for example of the civil rights movement. Protocol said that a black person was not to drink from a “whites only” water fountain, or sit in a whites only seat on a bus and so on. These were the very things that civil rights workers did. It got some of them killed. But it was right. The protocol was what was evil and wrong. Or think of the women’s suffrage movement which sought to get the vote for women. They did not always concern themselves with “propriety” so as “not to offend.” Because the propriety was what was wrong in the first place. It silenced the righteous.

And so it is in the church today, just as it was in Jesus’ day. If we are going to expose domestic abusers hiding in the church, or pedophiles creeping in among us, or power and control junkies like Diotrephes (see 3 John), then we cannot “play by the rules.” Like Jesus, we must be willing to be hated by the powers that be and press right on in announcing that they are leading people into a pit.

But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” (Act 4:17-20)

When a Church Becomes a Man’s World it has Strayed from Christ’s Model, And from His Blessing

I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a servant of the church at Cenchreae, that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints, and help her in whatever she may need from you, for she has been a patron of many and of myself as well. Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well. Greet also the church in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in Asia. Greet Mary, who has worked hard for you. (Rom 16:1-6)

but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. (Joh 19:25)

Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s household manager, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their means. (Luk 8:1-3)

I suppose that in some ways this is one of the most important articles I have ever written. It is the result of realizing something that is so pervasive in the church, so much the air which we breathe in typical Christianity today, that we cannot see the log right in our eye. Let me explain.

I recently watched the memorial service at St. Andrews Chapel for R.C. Sproul. I wanted to watch because Sproul taught me so much, even though I never met him personally. I absorbed his teaching tapes some 30 years ago and still have them all in our church library. I have steered many people to them over the years.

But as I wrote in last week’s post, published at A Cry for Justice, addressing the fact that Sproul changed his view on abuse as a grounds for divorce, I did not always agree with him. He taught, you might recall, that domestic abuse was not a biblical grounds for divorce. We documented for you all that he in fact changed that position at least by 2012, but never publicly announced that correction.

This morning, I listened to the Ligonier broadcast of Renewing Your Mind, entitled Spiritual Father: Remembering R.C.  It was very interesting and I appreciated the testimonies given by two of his long time friends who were led to Christ by his ministry.

But something really struck me as I listened. What I am about to say, I do not say in a critical way, but simply as an observation of what I would call “the obvious log” that so many churches and church leaders have in their eye – the one they do not see. Here it is:

Conservative, evangelical churches and organizations, pastors and elders and church members, often (even typically) become so male oriented that they almost forget about women. Women become secondary, even to be seen and not heard. The men lead. The men hold office. The men are the theologians. The men serve the Lord’s supper. The men preach and teach. The men are even told that they are the priests of their homes. The men, the men, the men.

I am not here proposing that women are to be pastors and elders in the church. That is not a subject I even want to address here. But what I am stating is that men in the church so typically develop a mindset in that climate of trivializing their sisters in Christ. You will notice from just the Scriptures quoted above that women were very, very active and prominent in the ministries of Jesus, of Paul, and of the New Testament church. In fact, Scripture records for us that sometimes when the men bailed, the women stayed.

What does this have to do with my viewing of R.C.’s funeral and listening to Renewing Your Mind today? Well, if you watched the funeral (you still can see it on YouTube), what you saw was:

  • Men who were friends of R.C. giving eulogies
  • John MacArthur, Jr. gave a eulogy as well, which I very much appreciated
  • Robert Godfrey, a theologian and I believe current President of Ligonier, spoke
  • At least two men, pastors I assume, offered prayers
  • The primary message from Isaiah 6 (the basis of R.C.’s great book The Holiness of God) was delivered by Sinclair Ferguson, pastor and theologian.
  • Both the choir and the congregational singing were directed by men

And then you have the Renewing Your Mind program for today (Dec 22, 2017) which focused on R.C. as a personal evangelist. Two of his long time friends told how they were led to Christ through his ministry. Both of them were men. Furthermore, as they related their stories, they described how they met R.C. at the golf course and especially at the locker room where R.C. spent time almost daily writing and studying after a round of golf. They told about all the other men that R.C. influenced in that place over the years.

And that is why this all struck me today. I know that the funeral service and the RYM program cannot and did not present a comprehensive view of the entire ministry of R.C. But nevertheless, what struck me is that in such a world that R.C. ministered in, in such a church and in his professional contacts, and at Ligonier, at the seminaries and Bible College, the climate appears to me to have been one of male….what? Male leadership. Male emphasis. Male ministry. Men of God. Brothers.

And where does such an atmosphere leave the women?

Oh yes, I have no doubt there are some kinds of women’s ministries at St. Andrews. We know that men and women both attended the Ligonier conferences. And yet as we pointed out in our article last week, when it came down to dealing with men who are hypocrites, men who abuse women, men who are church members but who cruelly oppress their wives, R.C. taught that a woman cannot divorce an abusive husband. In addition, even after he changed that view (or at least “broadened” his opinion on it as he wrote to me), R.C. never did make it a priority to publicly correct his error. Why? Why did he not feel the burden of those many victims in Christian churches, including his own? Why did he seemingly just blow off our pleas to announce his changed position? Why?

Well, think about it. If you live and move and have your being in a structure that is so male dominated, a place where elder meetings and presbytery meetings and General Assembly board meetings consist pretty much solely of men, just how likely is it that such men are inevitably going to end up rather deaf to the needs and pleas and talents of their sisters in the Lord? How do such men view a woman, for instance, who comes into their office asking for help?

Compare this with Jesus and Paul. Look at their writings and the accounts of  their dealings in the New Testament in ministry. What do you see? You see men called as Apostles, but you see women mixing it up right in there with them. You see a church where women’s names in the registries are as prominent as those of the men. You see stories of women clinging to Jesus when men abandoned Him. You see Jesus coming to a screeching stop in order to heal a poor woman who dared touch His robe. You see Jesus nailing the male hypocrite clergy of the day with a pronouncement of divine woes!

And I submit to you that all of this male-emphasis not only had an effect on R.C. Sproul, but it has had a significant effect upon all of us in the church today as well.

And that effect has not been a good one.

You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry, (Exo 22:22-23)

 

Most Local Churches Today are Dominated by a Plague of Legalism and Taught by Legalists

Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions. Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted. (1Ti 1:6-11)

Most local churches, though they speak much of things like mercy and grace and forgiveness, in actual practice betray the fact that they are legalists. How can we say this? Because all you need to do is watch how they deal with people who are oppressed by the wicked – domestic abusers, sexual abusers, and so on. Let me show you.

Most of you know what happens when the victim of domestic abuse goes to her pastor or church leaders for help. So often her abuser spouse is a member “in good standing” in her church. She is not believed or the wickedness against her is minimized….you know the old sick story. And what is she told? LAW (that really isn’t God’s law at all) –

  • Divorce is forbidden. You shall not divorce
  • You shall forgive your abuser
  • You shall reconcile with your abuser
  • You shall look at your own sin as a cause of this abuse
  • You shall not speak to others about the abuse
  • You shall not call the police
  • You shall…
  • You shall not….
  • And if you do not abide by these laws, you will be cursed

See it? This is law, not gospel. This is treating the victim as if she were an ungodly, lawless, disobedient, unholy, profane person rather than the spiritual new creation in Christ that she actually is. A person with God’s Law written upon her heart, indwelt by the Spirit, guided and directed, taught and led by Christ. Such pastors and church leaders and even individual members who claim to be Christians preaching the gospel are in fact, right out legalists preaching another gospel with the intent of enslaving people.

This, says Paul, is what is at the root of this evil:

desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions

I say again, most churches are actually driven by law, not by Christ and the Spirit. They believe, like the Pharisees, that unless law is brought to bear upon Christians, all hell will break loose. Everyone will run to sin. Open the floodgates and the divorce rate will skyrocket. Their remedy? Law. They treat Christians like unbelieving pagans and they handle unbelieving pagans like Christians! The latter error is carried out when such churches tell the abuser “Yes, you have sinned. But Jesus will forgive you.” Understand – the typical abuser hiding in a church is anything but repentant! No matter. He is promised divine forgiveness anyway.

Martin Luther wrote much about law and grace and how vital it is that we understand their realms and purposes. In particular, he emphasized that every person who believes they are called by God to serve the church as a preacher, must be absolutely certain of that calling. Because if a man is not called to preach or teach God’s people, if his “calling” is one of his own imagination, the inevitable result will be that his preaching will kill and destroy, not give life and build. He will enslave Christians because he does not know the proper use of the Law, and he will enable the wicked because they love to hear how they can in themselves merit God’s acceptance.

I submit to you that a primary, foundational reason local churches are abusing victims of domestic and sexual abusers and enabling the wicked is because they are teachers of law, not of gospel. Furthermore, I maintain that a chief reason for this evil is that many, many pastors and preachers and elders are not called by Christ to those positions.

So what does the gospel look like in such situations? I can tell you. When we are dealing with, for example, a Christian wife who is oppressed and abused by an evil husband, the gospel approaches her as a new creation in Christ. A person indwelt and led by the Holy Spirit. A person who has been taught by Jesus and who possesses therefore the ability to discern righteousness from unrighteousness. We do not thunder laws to her and command her to obey, “or else.” That is Sinai, not the New Jerusalem:

For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
(Heb 12:18-24)

We do not fear that she will run to evil if we do not bind her with the Law. Why? Because she is a new creation. Because grace in the believer does not promote sin. In fact, it is the LAW that is the power of sin! So we pray with her. We tell her she has the right to separate from and divorce her abuser. We stand with her and tell her that we will support her in her decision. We stand ready to bring the Law of God and the law of the civil authorities to bear upon her abuser when it can be done so without violating her safety. In other words, in accordance with Scripture, we give her the freedom that is hers in Christ to heed His leading in her life. And then we pronounce God’s blessing, not his curse, upon her.

 

 

Evil is Darkness – It Always Pressures Us to be Quiet

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. (John 3:19)

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. (1 John 1:5-6)

This post is about a subject that most all of you have experienced if you are a true Christian and have worked to expose evil, particularly evil hiding within a church under a “christian” disguise. This is still another tactic that is so commonly evidenced by wicked hypocrites because it proceeds from the very Prince of darkness himself. It is no surprise that his servants reflect it as well. Here is our topic:

Servants of our enemy, so often parading as servants of Christ, always work to silence those who would expose evil. You’ve heard it all before I bet, and certainly if you have seen wickedness masquerading as a saint in your church:

  • You need to be quiet. It isn’t “christian” to say such things about a brother in Christ.
  • You need to stop saying such things. You are trashing Christ’s church.
  • That is gossip.
  • All church members are required to never talk to the media about what has happened in our church.
  • Stop being so arrogant. We are all sinners.
  • The church leadership did not tell the members about Fred molesting his children because there is no need for everyone to know. So you be quiet about it and if you don’t we will discipline you.
  • No, we didn’t report this to the police and you must not either. Jesus wants us to handle this within His church and not get the state involved.

And on and on the list goes. You could easily add many more such wicked statements all designed to silence the light of truth.

Now, what we all need to do is totally blow off such intimidating threats (and that is precisely what these bullying tactics are – threats) and shout out the truth with even more clarity. We must have confidence, knowing that we are doing what Christ would do. “Woe to you, scribes, Pharisees, hypocrites!!” Jesus commands us to call out evil that has crept into His church and put it out from among us. See 1 Corinthians 5 on that as a clear example.

And here is something to add to our confidence. We can know with certainty that anyone who is working to expand and maintain the darkness rather than exposing evil with the light of Christ’s truth, does not know Him nor belong to Him. Oh sure, we might initially (in the days of our naivete) be confused and uncertain and wonder if we are to speak out or not. But if you are a Christian then the Spirit of Truth indwells you and He is going to turn on the lights for us and guide us into all truth. The truth in these cases is, “here is an evil person hiding in the church, claiming to be a Christian, but in fact his deeds reveal that he is still in darkness and is actively working to remain in that darkness. He has crept in among us. He is to be exposed and put out.”

Just read the verses quoted above once more. Pull out your Bible and read 1 John for instance. You either ARE or you AREN’T in Christ. And if you love the darkness rather than the light then I know everything about you that I need to know.

Our little church here in Oregon knows these things are true. We have, by the Lord’s gracious leading, exposed darkness and evil numerous times. As a result we are a small band. We are hated by many who claim to belong to Christ, and the fellowship of churches we used to belong to detests us for speaking out. Lo and behold one of their own “pastors,” Tom Chantry, was subsequently arrested on multiple felony charges and yet they still insist we must all defend him. We parted company with them years ago. And we can see that their persistence in walking in darkness and protecting others who do evidences exactly who they are.

So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:18-20)

Nope, not going to shut up. Do your worst.

 

 

Clear Signs that Pharisees are Controlling Many (most?) Churches

The more I read about the Pharisees in Scripture, the more certain I am that many, many local churches, seminaries, and other “christian” entities are controlled by them today. In fact I conclude that the Pharisees (along with their libertine anti-types) have been controlling the evangelical church for quite some time. Just read the following Scriptures. I noted (bracketed) what specific evil quality each Scripture identifies:

Matthew 16:12 Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. [They do not teach the true gospel and doctrine of Christ that sets people free. Their teaching enslaves]

Matthew 23:23 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. [When a victim of injustice and oppression comes before them, they do not deal out mercy and kindness. Their emphasis is on the letter of their law]

Mark 7:5 And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” [They teach traditions made by man, claiming it has the authority of God’s Word]

Luke 11:43 Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. [They crave praise and glory and worship for themselves]

Luke 16:14 The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. [Like Balaam, they are motivated by greed. The are not teachable and they ridicule the true Word of God]

Matthew 12:14 But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him. [They actually hate Christ and His servants. His Word is light that exposes their evil, so they desire to destroy a true Christian]

Matthew 15:14 Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” [Once again, they teach darkness, they do not desire to see light, they are not teachable]

Luke 11:46 And he said, “Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers.  [They seize unlawful authority over God’s people that the Lord has not given them, even when they disagree among themselves about the point they are enforcing]

Alright then, there is not much more that needs to be said by way of application, is there? These descriptors of Pharisees match the so-called “christianity” being taught in so many churches, and they match the habits and characteristics we see in so many of the leaders of those churches.

Let me give you an example. For years now through the A Cry for Justice ministry, pastors and seminary professors and other “notable” leaders in the visible church have been called to repent of the injustices dealt to victims of domestic violence abusers in the church. And what is the most common response received? Hard heartedness. Arrogance. Refusal to learn. Even hatred for Christ’s truth put before them. And then they have continued right on dealing out their oppression to victims and enablements to the wicked.

If that does not describe a Pharisee, I do not know what does.

Another example is how so many churches and church leaders seize for themselves unlawful authority over Christ’s people. You need not look very hard to find examples. Who, for instance, ever gave churches the authority to say yea or nay to a divorce? Certainly churches are to exercise Christ’s authority over unrepentant, ongoing, flagrant sin in the church, but where did this notion come from that the Christian must seek permission from their church to divorce a wicked, abusing spouse? Yet that is common practice today,

And one more example. Pharisees never agree among themselves. They set up their own peculiar systems of nuanced legal interpretations, like the rabbinic schools in Jesus’ day. Once more, you don’t have to think very hard to see that this is the exact situation we are in today in the visible church. How many positions, for instance, are we ordered to follow in regard to marriage, divorce, and remarriage? This confusion is another typical trait of the Pharisees, yet they insist that people must obey their particular take on Scripture.

If this be the case, if in fact as I am suggesting you that many if not most local churches and Christian entities are controlled by Pharisees, then the fact is that the mass of professing Christians today are enslaved to a false gospel, led by false shepherds, reading false books, and worshiping a false God. Yes, the situation is indeed that serious. Just as serious as it was in the dark days before the Reformation.

Ezekiel 34:1-4 The word of the LORD came to me: (2) “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord GOD: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? (3) You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. (4) The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them.

If We are to Walk in the Light, We Must See the Darkness

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:5-7)

Christ is the Light of the world and the truth of His Word is the lamp that guides our feet along the path He calls us to follow – the way of faith in and obedience to Him.

Light illumines the darkness so we can see what is lurking in it. Peter says we are to give careful attention to Christ’s Word as if it were a flashlight shining in a dark cave:

And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, (2 Peter 1:19)

A Day is coming when Christ’s Light will be gloriously unveiled in all creation. His truth will shine fully in our hearts and minds. But right now, in this dark world, we must take care to pay close attention to His Word. Most people who claim to be Christians are not. So they are stumbling around in the darkness, blind to the enemy’s lies and unable to discern truth from error. Are they even Christians?

Now, here is a very important example of the Light of Christ illuminating evil hiding among us. If this all is starting to sound familiar to you, well then, very good! I have written about it before and will keep doing so. Alright, listen to this:

These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved. For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption.

For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.” (2 Peter 2:17-22)

This Scripture is having a very powerful effect on me lately and I hope that it will do the same to and for you. Do you grasp what Peter is telling us here about the false prophets (the creeps who creep in among us, see Jude 1:4)? It is rather incredible actually and reveals the amazing deceptive abilities our enemy has. These are people who:

  • Claim to be servants of Christ
  • Say they are teachers of Christ’s Word
  • Actually demonstrated apparent “new birth” through a repentant and reformed life
  • Have “known” Christ in some way
  • But have then turned away from Christ’s truth, denied the Master who bought them (see 2 Peter 2:1)
  • Who, it turns out, were never really regenerate at all and have now once again embraced evil, preaching a sensual, flesh-pleasing false gospel, deceiving many

Now get a firm grip on all of this and its implications. Peter is telling us that there are people among us in the visible church who even appear to have had remarkable and powerful “conversion experiences.” People who left off their old evils and appeared to become zealous servants of Christ. But, eventually, if you watch them, these ones who “washed” themselves “clean” like a pig in water always return to the muck and mud. Turns out they were never changed at all. But they keep right on teaching and preaching, all the while wearing the holy disguise.

What does this mean for us? It means that the Light of God’s Word is shining upon a great evil that we all must be on careful guard against. It means we must all STOP listening to the false gospel of our day that is telling us the lie that it is wrong for us to judge anyone. It means that we must be skeptics when we hear of some notorious and even famous sinner “getting saved” and the masses in the visible church start calling for that person to go on a speaking and conference and book writing tour.

Because Peter is carefully and plainly warning us that the enemy is quite capable of amazing caricatures of saintliness. Listen to him again:

For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. (2 Peter 2:20)

I can tell you from years of personal, firsthand experience with these evil ones and in speaking with their victims, there are many of these in the visible church today. In fact, I suggest very pointedly to you that the darkness of their evil is continuing to increase rapidly and as a result the counterfeit “church” is very much on the rise.

If we are to walk in the Light of Christ, then we must necessarily acknowledge that darkness and evil exist, always working to creep in among Christ’s people. Don’t look for “spirits.” Evil always comes to us embodied. With a face and a name. Looking, always looking and sounding, ever so pious and “Christian.”

Fail here and the darkness will sweep over you and your church. Christ will depart and you will become Ichabod.

 

 

What About Bob? – He’s a Really Nice Guy, Right?

Of course the title of this post is a reference to the movie in which Bill Murray played the agoraphobic, manipulative narcissist – Bob Wiley. The movie was a comedy.

In real life, there is nothing funny about Bob. So, what about him?

If you focus some attention on Dr. Leo Marvin’s wife, daughter, and son, I suggest to you that you will have a pretty accurate portrayal of the average professing Christian today when it comes to being duped by evil. Here is Mrs. Marvin, the kind, warm, loving type person that most people think a Christian should be.

In contrast to her judgmental psychiatrist husband, Mrs. Marvin is accepting of Bob. She invites him into her home, sits him down for dinner, and even permits him to sleep in her son’s bedroom with her son!  When Leo tries his best to show her that Wiley is a manipulating, conniving, sociopath working to take over her family, she simply will not hear it. Bob is a good person.

And so it is in most every local church today if you pop in for a visit and take a look. Their doctrinal statements speak of the depravity of man, of sin, of coming judgment in the Day of the Lord, but that stuff has just about become archaic in practice. Church signs read “Everyone Welcome” – and they really are. Everyone. If a newcomer says they believe in Jesus, well, they can become a member right away and before you know it they are teaching the kids’ Sunday School class or working in the youth group. Nicest people you ever met, you know.

But, what about Bob? In real life I mean. Scripture paints a far more somber and serious picture:

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. (2 Peter 2:1-3)

Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. (1 John 2:18)

But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. (2 Corinthians 11:3-4)

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds. (2 Corinthians 11:13-15)

In future posts we will look more closely at these Scriptures and at many others like them. This is just a small sampling of the mountain of warnings the Lord has given us about the “Bob’s” who come along with Bible in hand, smile on face, ready to serve,  speaking of Jesus – “just the godliest people you could ever want to meet.” Right.

Over the many years we have served the Lord here in Oregon at Christ Reformation Church, we all have learned some hard lessons. One of those lessons is this: “not everyone who says they are a Christian, is.” While most people would say “yeah, duh” to that statement, in practice they do not believe it. They energetically deny that anyone is “all that bad” and all the while mouth the horrid mantra, “but we are all sinners, you know.” So the sociopath, the narcissist, the pedophile, the domestic abuser looking for a target finds a warm welcome in the very place that is supposed to be, well, this:

if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth. (1 Timothy 3:15)

The very foundation of Christ’s truth is to be evidenced in and supported by every local church. That is not the common scenario today however. What about Bob? Bob is soon an elder in the church, welcomed with open arms, the finest Christian anyone has ever met.

And Bob’s master is very pleased.

The Light is Dim in Goshen

I have selected the name for this blog very purposefully. It is my judgment that the evangelical church of our present day has a bad eye and that therefore our Lord’s words apply directly:

Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. (Luke 11:34)

Many professing Christians will disagree with my assessment. They will accuse me of overstatement and exaggeration. “It’s not that bad” they will insist. But I insist as well. The lights are very dim in the land of Goshen when that is the very place Christ’s light of truth should be shining most brightly.

So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was pitch darkness in all the land of Egypt three days. They did not see one another, nor did anyone rise from his place for three days, but all the people of Israel had light where they lived. (Exodus 10:22-23)

By Goshen, of course, I mean the visible, local church. This is the darkness of which I speak. Spiritual blindness to the truth of God’s Word, varying from pitch black in some cases to a partial eclipse at noonday in others, all designed by the Prince of Darkness to obscure the glory of Jesus Christ.

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. (2 Corinthians 4:3-4)

The Apostle Paul of course was speaking of unbelievers and yet because of creeps creeping in among us, the false teachers Jude warns us about, the light of the glory of Christ has grown very, very dim in the church as well.

For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (Jude 1:4)

The articles I plan to publish here are primarily written then for people who claim to be Christians. No, I will be more specific than that. They are written for people who are real, genuine Christians, for people who are Christ’s sheep and who hear His voice and yet they are in bondage to wicked ones who put themselves forward as pastors or elders or “eminent saints” and yet whose greed and lust for self-glory leads them to savage the flock of Christ, driving that flock further and further from Jesus the Good Shepherd. If some unsaved folks happen to come along and the Lord uses the articles here to open their eyes to Christ, that will be wonderful as well.

Who I am not writing for are the creeps themselves (I take that name from Jude 1:4 above). That is to say, I am not writing to correct them. These kind never receive correction. I write in respect to them only to expose them, and thus my title, Light for Dark Times.

How do I know? Where is my evidence that the darkness in the church today is really this prevalent? My evidence has been gathered these past 34 years in which I have served Christ’s church as a pastor. In addition, I have spent the last six years, as some of you know, dealing with a specific kind of evil that is hiding in the spiritual darkness of local churches – domestic abusers. I have written two books on this subject. I have spoken to and corresponded with scores (if not hundreds) of Christians who were the targets of these kind of abusers and I have heard their stories of how their pastors and church leaders and fellow Christians treated them. The level of blindness in churches to such evil is remarkable.

Therefore, it is now my purpose to broaden the subject of my writing. While I will still refer to domestic abusers on occasion in order to illustrate evil and the blinding darkness it casts over churches, I want to address this subject of evil more broadly. I want to shed light, the Light of Jesus Christ, on it and thereby dispel the darkness and help Christ’s people see clearly once again. The portrait painted by the sentimental old hymn is a facade behind which evil is lurking and darkness prevailing:

There’s a church in the valley by the wildwood
No lovelier spot in the dale
No place is so dear to my childhood
As the little brown church in the vale.

Light for Dark Times. For dark times in the church. May the Lord bless His truth and use our labors to bring such a blazing of His glory among us that evil will simply not be able to remain, the eyes of our minds and hearts will be enlightened, and we might once again be taught by the Spirit of Jesus to discern His perfect will. Here is our prayer:

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. (Colossians 1:9-10)

NOTE: You can follow this blog by clicking on the follow button at the lower right of the home page. Some readers have said that they are having some difficulty signing up to follow. We are looking into that feature and will see about providing clearer instructions on signing up.  Otherwise, just check the blog every Wednesday morning (Pacific time). That is the publishing schedule I plan to follow.