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.

So Just How do we “Test the Spirits?”

Gal 1:8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.

2Co 11:3-4 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. (4) 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….2Co 11:14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.

1John 4:1-2 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. (2) By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God,

We are seeing claims of late that Jesus Christ has appeared as a so-called “light man.” The claim made is that since the Bible says God is light and Christ is the Light of the world and so on, then if someone reports that “the light man” appeared to them and said he was Jesus bringing them salvation, we must at minimum believe that such a claim is possibly valid. Even if it is made by a woman who claims to have been molested as a child by Billy Graham, Richard Nixon, and other notables who were all part of a secret conglomeration conspiracy organization consisting of the CIA, the Masons, the Roman Catholic Church, and others. The woman insists that at the age of six she was held in a cage with other children in subterranean levels of an army base and these children told her that they used to get visited by “the light man”.  When asked during an interview what does that mean, the woman said,  “they (the other children) described him and I said to them, “oh yeah, I know him.  That’s Jesus Christ.’”

And now we are being told that if we don’t believe these reports then we are denying the ways that Christ works today, that we are refusing to help abuse victims, and worse.  But this is not Christ. Nope. It is not, and I will tell you why.

Continue reading “So Just How do we “Test the Spirits?””

Covering Up the Evils of the Wicked is Forbidden by the Lord

Deu 13:8 you shall not yield to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him, nor shall you conceal him.

I wanted to talk some more in this post about this remarkable passage of Scripture found here in Deuteronomy 13.

We know that “cover up” is all around us. We see it in the news constantly.

  • The Roman Catholics cover up for pedophile priests
  • Protestant leaders cover up for pedophiles and abusive church leaders
  • The crimes of celebrity figures are covered up

Cover up. Pull the covers over the thing. Get it out of sight. Conceal the crime.

Now, in the setting of Deuteronomy 13, the Lord (through Moses) is commanding the Israelites on how they are required to respond when someone tries to lead them into idolatry. Never mind if the transgressor is:

your brother, the son of your mother, or your son or your daughter or the wife you embrace or your friend who is as your own soul…

…their evil is not to be concealed. There it is. Cover up. Covering up evil, hiding the wickedness of the lawbreaker is forbidden by the Lord.

We have seen a clear example of this concealing in the recent case of Tom Chantry whose trial for assault and sexual molestation of children just came to a conclusion (for now at least. He is going to be tried again on several charges). In the course of this trial, the leaders of ARBCA were revealed as concealers of Chantry’s evil. They covered for him. For many years.

Co-dependent relationships are still another example of cover up. A parent excuses, rescues, hides, protects a wicked child from the consequences of their wickedness. Local churches refuse to expose an evil-doer among them (as in 1 Corinthians 5), covering up the guilty entirely or minimizing the crime.

Why? Why the cover up? You can understand a wicked person concealing his/her own crime in order to escape punishment. But why do other people cover for the wicked? Refuse to call the police. Tell the victim to never speak of such things again. Twist and pervert the idea of “forgiveness” and thereby announce “it’s all been taken care of,” and then behaving as if the crime never happened. You know how this goes.

The Lord gives us some explanations, including this one:

“nor shall your eye pity him”

Misguided pity. Feeling sorry for the wicked. Yielding to his “crocodile tears” and feigned repentance. So his evil is covered up. Poor fellow. He said he is sorry you know. A sociopath/narcissist loves this stuff. He goes away laughing at those fools who let him off the hook. They yielded to him. They pitied him. They disobeyed God’s command!

And I think that there is another reason for the cover up. Look at this last verse in the account of Ananias and Sapphira in the early church:

Act 5:11 And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.

The fear of the Lord is a necessary mark of the genuine Christian. We fear Him with reverential awe. We know that our God is a consuming fire who is not mocked. Ananias and his wife did not fear the Lord. But the Lord exposed their secret sin. The cover up was short-lived and the result was that all greatly feared the Holy One of Israel. It turns out that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The New Covenant in Christ had not changed God’s holiness.

Counterfeit Christians do not like a God who is to be feared. And so they introduce grace on steroids. Mercy. Love. Forgiveness. No need to fear. That is the thing they want. A “church” where you can sin without repentance, habitually,  and still have your on the way to heaven ticked punched.

And so, the cover up. Churches that cover for the wicked are not churches at all. They are gatherings of whitewashed tombs who cover up their own evil by covering up the evil of others. They persecute those who truly do hunger and thirst for righteousness and cast them out.

Christ’s command to us has not changed:

Eph 5:11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.