Any news about the persecution of Christians is sure to catch the attention of the church. In Iran a Christian pastor is under the death sentence. Seventy percent of Christians murdered in 2012 were killed in Nigeria. A recent report said that two churches in Sri Lanka are closed due to opposition by Buddhist monks. Much more is happening around the world that goes unreported by the media.
In a way the killing of Christians is an admission of failure by the various religions. They can’t handle the competition; it is like breaking another runner’s leg to win. It is a compliment! (This however does not mean that our hearts do not go out to our suffering brothers and sisters around the world.)
But as Martin Luther, in the hymn “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”, says:
“The body they may kill;
God’s truth abideth still;
His kingdom is forever.”
These attacks will not harm the church. They can kill the messengers but not the message.
The real danger to the church is in wholesale rejection within the church of the authority of the Bible. The foundation is under attack not by gun wielding non-Christian zealots but by smooth talking wolves in sheepskin from within the church. As it has been said, the most dangerous animal that Noah took into the ark was the woodpecker…
One pastor said, “I rather have heresy in my church than schism.” Yeah? Hear what Elijah said to the people on Mount Carmel: “Elijah went before the people and said, ‘How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.’ But the people said nothing.”
What this pastor is saying is that the Word of God is not important – heresies are not founded on the Word of God – but peace. Jeremiah says, “They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace.” (Jeremiah 8:11)
“They are from the world; therefore they speak as from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God; he who knows God listens to us; he who is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” (1 John 4:5, 6)
“If we compare what the Apostle John said with what a famous Church Growth advocate says, we encounter a problem. John says that the world will not listen to a true, unsullied Christian message. Rick Warren says that anybody can be won to Christ if we discover a message that will interest them through promising to meet their felt needs. The Church Growth idea is that we must study man (using the latest sociological, psychological, and anthropological insights) to determine how to create a church that will grow and a message that will be popular through appealing to a target audience. These concepts are contradictory. The Biblical idea is that we must speak God’s unchanging message of the gospel whether the world hates us or not: ‘If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you’ (John 15:19). Someone is wrong here and I do not think it is the inspired Apostle John.” Bob DeWaay
Paul tells Timothy, “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” (2 Timothy 4:3)
But God is not interested in what we want to hear rather in what he wants us to hear. Look at the Schema, Deuteronomy 6:4-9:
“HEAR O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words, which I command you this day, shall be in your heart …”
If somebody advocates a method that will work if followed closely, then God is not needed any more, because it is the method that brings the results. If a closely followed method will turn us into a saint where is the need for the Holy Spirit? Is sanctification the result of following a method or abandoning our lives to God, to Christ? Are we turning into spiritual Pavlovian dogs?
The failure in such method-oriented growth program promises is that God, whose name is tagged on to show it is Christian, will not cooperate; He will not show up. The Almighty will not be manipulated.
We must preach the whole counsel of God. It behooves us to listen carefully to what is prayed, what is sung and what is preached; is it Biblical?
If we water down the Gospel to please all, then to paraphrase Paul, “In that case the offense of the cross has been removed” (Galatians 5:11).
Martin Luther says that, “When the cross is abolished, and the rage of tyrants and heretics ceases on the one side, and all things are in peace, this is a sure token that the pure doctrine of God’s Word is taken away.”