An Appearance of Godliness: Case Studies in Evil (Part 13)

2 Kings 6:15-17 ESV  When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?”  (16)  He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”  (17)  Then Elisha prayed and said, “O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

What if the Lord opened our eyes as He did those of this young man? That is, what if we could see people and events as they really are? The Apostle John exhorts us to “test the spirits” because many false prophets are around us claiming to speak for the Lord. We are to compare what they are saying and doing with the light of God’s Word. But what if we could literally see people for who they really are? I suspect this is going to happen when Christ comes again and judges the world. We will see who people really are. I mean, even their appearance will cease to be deceptive to our eyes. What will they look like? I think of a horde of evil beings gnashing their teeth energized by pure evil.

Well, what I would like to do in this article is to describe for you some people who are typical church members. Professing Christians who fill the pews each Sunday. Some are “pillars” of their churches. Others preach and teach. Still others are the busy bees buzzing around in the various committee meetings and “ministries.” What do they look like to the Lord? What would they look like if we could see them as they truly are?

Continue reading “An Appearance of Godliness: Case Studies in Evil (Part 13)”

The Secrecy of Evil

Act 26:16-18  But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you,  (17)  delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you  (18)  to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

Satan’s kingdom is very often depicted in the Bible as “darkness.” A place where people are blind and lost. The realm of death. Satan is in the business of keeping people blind to the glory of Christ (see 2 Cor 4:3-4).

And with this darkness comes secrecy. The darkness covers up. It hides things. It lies and deceives to keep its secrets. And evil is highly successful at all this secrecy business. For now anyway:

Luk 8:17  For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light.

Continue reading “The Secrecy of Evil”

This Should be Happening if a Local Church is a True Church

1John 2:19-21 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. (20) But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. (21) I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth.

Church growth. What is it? Well, “church” growth necessarily requires a “church.” A real church. Otherwise any increase might be “growth,” but it won’t be “church growth.” Still with me?

A real church is a local group of people who truly and genuinely know the Lord Jesus Christ, gathered together to serve and worship Him. A body, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, growing together into the image of Christ. John is addressing just such a church here in his First Epistle. He tells the believers there that they are anointed and taught by the Holy One. They know and believe the truth of Christ.

But there had been some other kind of people present there as well. They were people who were not, as John puts it, “of us.” They claimed to be Christians, but when faced with the truth of Christ, they rejected it and left. They were false sheep whom Christ did not know.

John presents this in terms that are meant to encourage the real Christians in that church. It is always a bit disheartening when a group of people who claimed to be your brethren in Christ, say “adios.” More often it isn’t “adios” (which means “God bless”) but something more akin to a curse! I have seen such people literally take their shoes off as they went out the church door and shake the “dust” out of them so as to say, “you are filthy and I don’t want even the smallest dust particle of you clinging to me.” Oh yeah. That’s a lot of fun.

But John tells them not to be discouraged. In fact, he explains the thing as something that needed to happen and therefore is actually encouraging. It is a sign that the church is real. That Christ really does dwell there. That is the reason these counterfeits left, you see. They don’t want to be in the presence of Christ.

Now, think this through. This means that we must not think of “church growth” as something that always results in bigger numbers. Just as a healthy human body is healed when an infection leaves, so it is in the church. Christ and anti-christ are incompatible. And therefore, if such a departure, a going of separate ways, never occurs in a local church, we must ask some hard questions. Why is it that the church down the road is just growing and growing and growing? How is it that the building program can’t even keep pace with the numbers? Why does “everyone” seem to be so happy and content there?

One final application. I deal in my ministry with Christians who have been or are victims of domestic abusers who most often pose as fine “Christians” in the local church. Let me ask an obvious question. How is it that such an abuser can continue in “fellowship” in a local church and be quite comfortable – even enabled and comforted? He is clearly of the spirit of anti-christ, so why doesn’t the true church dynamic John writes about (they went out from us but were not of us) kick in when it comes to this abuser? Why is darkness comfortable among people who claim to be “sons of light”?

I think the answers to these questions are rather obvious.