Saturday, September 19, 2009

Epistle to the True Church

Michael, a teacher of the Scriptures regarding the true Faith in Jesus of Nazareth; to the Church in America, the true sheep who are capable of hearing the voice of our Good Shepherd and flock to Him but flee from strange voices (John 10:4-5), greetings in Christ Jesus, our LORD – the only Sovereign authority in our lives pertaining to spiritual things – and grace and peace be upon you in this ever darkening hour.

I write to you this day for I see the Scripture unfolding all around me and want to encourage you to take seriously the call to follow our God down the path of godliness. Remember Jesus’ own words and be concerned: “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matt 7:13-14). I grew up and became a believer in the mid to late nineties. I only experienced Church in the context of a seeker-sensitive orientation. My friends, I am becoming more convinced by the day that this drive to fashion our faith in an attractive way is grossly missing the mark, for it shows that those who adopt such practices have no faith in the power of the Gospel to save. Paul said in Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” and in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5:

And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.

When we put on rock shows for Jesus for a Sunday gathering, we appeal more to the ways of Man than we do the ways of God. And when this fatal error is made, I fear it proves that most churches do not know the God they claim to serve. Rather, they have fashioned an image of God that is altogether like their depraved selves, taking upon their lips the statutes of God and twisting the Holy Word for their purposes. If you are truly of the elect, I trust you sense the error of these ways lest you are deceived beyond rescue. Read Psalm 50 and tremble in repentance lest you be torn to pieces one day. Such goats think you serve God, but they serve their idol of God, a god most concerned with the salvation of mankind. Thinking the faith needs to be attractive to a lost and blind world, they make their faith man-pleasing. They prove they have no concept of the Spirit of God as essential for the revealing of truth (John 16:13). What about you, do you lack the Spirit yourselves? Pray as King David did in the Psalm 51, especially verse 11: “Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.” I, of course, have to ask whether you have the Spirit because so many claim they do but show know fruit of it. Remember, the fruit of the Spirit is first and foremost Love – love for God with all your being (Gal 5:22; Deut 6:5).

Because of the ways in which you, the Church have conducted yourselves, I am deeply concerned that you are ignorant of the vital doctrine of regeneration. This is in part that I perceive many to be in the Church are either false teachers, deceived goats perfectly satisfied with any garbage to eat, or deceived sheep not knowing any better for they have not heard the voice of the Shepherd yet to lead them to greener pastures. Please read the Word! Romans 8 speaks of the distinction between true saints and the lost. The mindset (“set your mind”) spoken of is so much more than an intellectual, cognitive bent toward the things of God. In the Greek, this word has a connotation of the entire self including thoughts, attitudes, emotions, will… Those that walk according to the Spirit have a radically different orientation toward the things of God. Fellow sheep, if you are dissatisfied with what comes from your pulpit, and feel malnourished, start now: pick up your Bibles and enjoy the pure milk of the Word (1 Peter 2:2). Meditate day and night on the richness of His Glory that is found on those pages, working out your salvation with fear and trembling (Phil 2:12). Perhaps then, as by hearing the Word you believe, passages like 2 Cor 3:18 and 2 Peter 1:3-10 will come to life to you and you will feel compelled to bear the worthwhile burden of remaining rooted to Christ, proving that you are being regenerated, “making your call and election sure.” This sacrifice to endure is our joy and strength, for those who have the Spirit and count all things loss (excrement, really) compared to knowing Christ “and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings” (Phil 3:10).

Beloved Brethren, do not be so deceived to think the wrath of God is satisfied for all time by Christ on the Cross. Of course, Jesus’ sacrifice earns Him the right to possess all authority in Heaven and on earth. He will rightly intercede on behalf of those who place their trust in Him (Hebrews 7:25). I warn against the impending wrath because it is foolishness to find security in Christ against the wrath to come when in fact many of you are indeed not “in Christ” (Romans 8:1). You need look no farther than the Revelation of Jesus Christ to see that there are stern warnings to the churches of their lack of diligence and wisdom and will be outside Christ’s protection lest they “be zealous and repent” (Rev 3:19).

As far as those who contend for the true faith, and I trust you know who you are: be ever diligent in keeping centered to the proper expression of our faith. Yes, speak out against false teachers, willing to go to the grave for the integrity of the Faith. But I urge you, do not become embittered and resentful for the state of the Church and of those who tarnish the Name of God (for honestly, who can overstep the Sovereign and thwart His intentions with their wickedness?). Above all else, clothe yourselves in love, finding the balance of speaking truth and loving enemies. I am finding it easiest to bear with great patience these vessels of wrath (Romans 9:22) by taking the yoke Jesus offers; Love God. Share with the world how much you treasure His infinite worth, for He is, apart from what He has done for us, greatly majestic and perfect in glory. What benefit we have (salvation to those who believe) is icing on the cake. When we love Him with our whole being, we will be good stewards of the faith allotted to us, and the world will see Him. This will also prevent us from thinking of ourselves more highly than we ought (Romans 12:3), where we recall from how deep Christ is pulling us up from our depravity in light of His benevolence.

There is a heaviness in the air, Beloved, and I pray earnestly that Christ return soon to take those who are prepared (Matt 25:1-13). Are you prepared? Are you watchful for the return of our Lord? I finish writing this letter during Rosh Hashanah, the Feast of Trumpets, the Coronation of the Messiah, when He likely will return (for He fulfilled so many of the Jewish Feasts on His first coming on their actual observances). Of course, I speculate and have no way of knowing. But again I beg you: prepare yourselves by turning to God. Repent and believe the gospel since His Kingdom has come and will be fully realized when He returns in glory.

I fear those who are not ready for His return may be left to endure the tribulation, without the aid of the Holy Spirit. Pray and ask God to spare you this ordeal by showing you mercy and grace. And so I end with the Word from the apostle Peter:

Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. (2 Peter 3:4-18)

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