Many refer to the Christian Church in its earthly form as the ‘Church militant’.
The Church sadly, has often been less engaged in conflict with its greatest enemies of ‘sin, the flesh and the devil’ but more often with different factions and shades of opinion within its self.
It not only has to do with open enemies but also those who are, when measured by Scripture found to be ‘false teachers’. Still further the Church must deal with those who err from aspects of the truth without departing from the faith.
This is leading to a great deal of online discussion, even more so with the passing of Dr. Billy Graham.
Some would be tempted to ignore the controversies of the times and others would sail in ‘sword waving’.
To me it seems that the great need of the times is for us all to seek a well balanced and proportioned Christianity.
It is unlikely that the majority of Christians will harmonize on many things pertaining to theology and practice. So whatever our persuasion or perspective it behooves us all to endeavour to avoid the pitfalls on the one side while keeping clear of the quagmire on the other.
At the very least this involves us in coming to an understanding of Scripture as a whole and not grasping at one teaching of Scripture at the expense of another.
Also it is necessary to place no more weight and emphasis on a portion of Scripture than it can reasonably bear.
It is also dangerous to take many portions of Scripture out of their context and historical setting.
We have seen in the past the tendency to spiritualize scriptures that were meant to be taken literally and contra wise take literally scriptures that were meant to be taken spiritually. How much discernment is required to decide which is which?
So many it seems have their own axe to grind and therefore see the entire of the Word of God in a certain light and live their Christianity accordingly.
Ultimately it is an over confidence in our own wisdom and abilities that prevents us from realizing our own utter inability and instead seeking wisdom from on high to help us to come to a true and proper understanding of what God says to us in His Word and live our Christian lives accordingly.
Our crying need is for true Christ-like living balanced with true Scriptural knowledge tempered by true Christian humility and love.
The ‘Westland Whirlwind’
was a British twin engine fighter built during World War Two.
The prolonged development problems with its Rolls Royce ‘Peregrine’ engines and its tendency for engine power to fade at altitude caused it to be limited to low altitude ground attacks, in this it was very effective.
Likewise, many Christians find it difficult to aspire to the Spiritual heights that others may reach. Yet rather than wait idly for some exalted revelation or experience they must serve Christ to the best of their ability in the more pedestrian and mundane areas of Christian service.
As Christ teaches us in the Parable it is the one who contents Him or herself with the humblest place that receives the call to “Come up higher‘!
The Marble Man!
Someone described Robert E. Lee as the “Marble man” because he was such a fine and noble man that it was hard to find fault with him, despite being blamed by many ‘Northerners’ for lengthening the war even when it was clearly lost by the South.
There are very few if any who can go throughout the entire lives without truly or falsely having criticism laid against them.
Whether it is the fact of mud always sticking or genuine criticism of obvious error, the Christian must be in constant vigilance to be fair and just as well as loving and compassionate in all their judgments and assessments of people and ideas.
We can set people so high in our esteem that we are purblind to their failings and faults while with others we are always on the lookout for any failing and fall.
Naturally we would like to appear as those who are forever seeing the best in people but the truth is we are more prone to look for the worst.
We have in this country something called ‘the tall poppy’ syndrome. It is where we build some one up to the skies and then later take much pleasure in tearing them down again.
Such a spirit and attitude is very far from a Christian one.
Our Lord Jesus Christ knew, even while on earth what was in men’s hearts, finally and ultimately He alone can judge the depth and reality of our faith and obedience.
We would do far better if we left the Final Judgment to Him alone.
To some of you we say, Go forward rather than pray. Think not that we would, as these words might imply, cast discredit on prayer. But, beloved our hearts are deceitful, and although we should at every moment have an upward eye and a thirsting heart for the guidance and the presence of the living God, still there are times and circumstances when it becomes almost a sin to pray. Sometimes it is unbelief that makes us pray, or rather seem to pray, else what does that word mean, ”Why criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel that they go forward.'”(Ex 14:15) — William C. Burns
This is a title of one of the puritan Thomas Brook’ s books published in 1666.
The Old Testament story of Noah is rather a relevant one at the moment, at least in my opinion. The circumstances that provoke God’s judgment on mankind then, are certainly similar to the immorality, violence and rebellion against God we see at work today.
While most, even in the church attribute mythical features to this occurrence, I for one, have no difficulty in believing in a great flood even a universal one.
When one considers that seven tenths of the Earth is already covered in water it is quite conceivable that under the hand of God the dry land could be covered with water as well.
The “Ark” is more problematical but the Bible merely states what God commanded and that Noah obeyed, it does not offer explanations or tell us the storage arrangements.
Many of the nations in ancient times had similar stories in their history, although they may have differed in detail.
Some would say that the writer of Genesis borrowed this story from other nations but again it seems to me that the plain and unvarnished and matter of fact story of Noah is unlike anything the pagan nations with their wild excesses and grotesque deities would likely produce.
Believing the truth of this portion of Scripture, one can only wonder how you or I would respond to this command of God given to Noah.
It is not for nothing that the famous believers of the Old Testament are set forth by the writers of the New as great examples of faith and examples to be followed.
With less light than we have and only rudimentary knowledge of the purposes of God they achieved things which still astonish us and leave us dumbfounded.
To build the ark and collect the animals together was a daunting work in itself but considering it was accomplished under the stares of a jeering and scoffing mankind is incredible.
Also that Noah found time to be “preacher of Righteousness” to his sin enslaved neighbors adds to the amazement.
It is very evocative to imagine Noah and his family standing upon a renovated Earth. (For us Science fiction fans it would be akin to colonizing a new planet.)
Mankind indeed got a new start but unfortunately sin went with him into the new world and because of this it was not long before it again reigned unto death and mankind reveled in wickedness.
Noah fled into the Ark to escape the wrath to come and we all must flee to Christ to escape the wrath that is to come on the “children of disobedience”.
One of the many tragic occurrences in war is the accidental targeting , firing and injuring or killing people who are fighting on your side or not involved at all.
It is obvious to anyone that has been involve in Church leadership and organization that conflict and personal differences and misunderstandings are common and a source of turmoil in many churches.
Sinful lapses by prominent members confront the whole congregation with the need to find a correct course of action. This is made harder when feelings run high.
Sadly , as in the case of family break up there is the all to human tendency to take one side over the other and not see both sides of the problem.
Often the way these situations are handled and dealt with is less than ideal and fall far short of the love motivated ideal taught and exemplified by Christ and his Apostles.
Bitter feelings, disappointment and broken relationships mar the fellowship of the Church and hamstring its Christ given task in the world.
In the heat of the moment we say and do things as individuals that we cannot unsay or undo no matter how much we regret it.
As leaders in the Church, we can enact pronouncements and make judgments in a way that contradicts a loving Christian spirit and does more harm than good.
Our zealous and proper endeavour to combat sin in our midst can quite easily descend into a Pharisee- like “stoning “of the sinner, when our proper aim should be the restoring to spiritual health and fellowship the erring and the wayward.
The adage that “christians” are the only ones “who shoot their own wounded”, whether true or not, is a popular source of mud thrown by Satan and the World at the Church, especially in light of the many denominations, splits and factions that exist in Christianity.
Christian love and graciousness is never indeed to be a cloak for sinful practices or a blind eye shown to false doctrine. Rather it is to be seen in applying Christ’s truth and love to any problem and situation that confronts us, not only to preserve and maintain our harmony with one another but as a part of our witness to the World and unsaved around us.
Media, friend or foe?
There is no doubt that “media” has always been a force for either good or ill.
Today the airwaves and cable networks are a battleground between ideologies and world views, truth and error, with an influence on millions.
“Christian” groups have not been backwards in coming forwards to utilize the “media” to help spread their particular conception of the Christian “message” ,tragically some of the foremost and most skillful availers of this medium, when weighed in the balances of scriptural truth are found wanting and erroneous, deluded and deluding.
It is no longer, at least for the undiscerning, the choice between wearing a white or black hat it is rather become a choice between many shades of grey with the consequences seemingly being of little eternal but much temporal importance.
When our only focus is the satiating of our carnal needs and desires, it is no wonder then that the glib and gaudy promises and man exalting and pleasing teachings of these “gurus” in Christian guise are greedily grasped at and accepted. The promise of Health, wealth and heaven as well, is surely too good to pass up.
It is only when we look back at the Spirit inspired Word of God and diligently hear what it has to say, that the true nature of God, good and evil, sin and holiness and the true way of Salvation and Christian living are clearly revealed. This Word alone reveals to us the “Gospel worthy of all acceptation” and the way to God and holiness.
All we see and hear must be measured and judged by what God has clearly revealed to us in His Word.
Also we are hearken to what the most faithful and true followers of Christ have preached, believed and professed as illumined by the light of Scripture.
Otherwise we will find ourselves deluded and deceived and without hope here or hereafter.
When one looks back at the trends that promised to take the Church and Christianity by storm and start a World –changing revival, we can only marvels how many of them departed as quickly as they came.
Those who seek to debunk and de-construct the Gospel and thereby the Church, find at last that they have nothing real and substantial to offer in its place.
Others who seek to embellish Christianity with devices that amount to gimmicks and lures, discover that the crowds which throng their meetings come only for a cheap thrill and leave when they are bored , seeking fresh excitement elsewhere.
Genuine Christianity is not appealing to the unconverted sinner and the self satisfied man of the World, it never was. The things of God are above and beyond their understanding and do not appeal to their predilections and desires.
Yes, they would like to think that they will go to some nice place when they die they find the way of Salvation too humbling and the cost of following Christ to expensive in self denial and sacrifice.
The gospel promises great things to come for those who believe and persevere in the faith but the fact remains that despite the promises of “prosperity” gospel-lers, to be a follower of Christ is not easy and often galling to flesh and blood.
It is only when a person is “born again” that they can begin to find the strength and peace in Christ necessary to counter ,endure and yes even rejoice in the midst of the trials and tribulation which beset the people of God for Christ’s sake.
Anyone can put up their hand or sign a card or go up the front.
This may be enough for many of our local churches and denominations because it swells their membership books and adds to their offerings but only those who show in themselves the work of the Spirit by newness of life are those whom God counts as being His people.
When we have sifted through all the googols , gimmicks and gimcracks of past and all the “nine day wonders” and finding them barren .wanting and false, we are left solely with the proclamation of the old gospel of “Christ and Him crucified “ as the power of God unto salvation Romans 1:16.
Amiability, no proof of Christianity
We often meet people who, in the old parlance would be referred to as “nature’s gentleman” or generally as the “salt of the earth”.
These people by their speech and behavior engender all that is best and admirable in human nature. Like the rich young ruler they are loveable, greatly admired and sought after as friends.
I myself have many numerous people who would fall readily into this category.
These “paragons” of virtue often have many of the characteristics’ of Christians yet do not regard themselves as such or at least do not associate themselves with the visible body of Christ.
Others do indeed pass current in the local church and are universally accepted as Christians of legal tender.
In our tender heartedness we tell ourselves that God Himself must have a soft spot for these upright and humanitarian people. At least we can hope that if not actual Christians yet they are not far away from the “kingdom of heaven”.
These “rough diamonds” in the church may be accepted by all as genuine believers and born again Christians. It is not our place to judge anyone’s heart and the complete knowledge of anyone’s spiritual state is only truly known to God.
However we often find with these wonderful people that come to our churches and sit in our pews come to a point in their profession of faith that is a spiritual “bridge too far”.
They are taught what the Bible says about renouncing our own righteousness and clothing ourselves in the righteousness of Christ and seeing ourselves as God sees us as lost sinners, clothed in rags and it “ sticks in their craw”.
Whatever the trigger may be they find that the reality of Christian teaching and practice are more than mere “flesh and blood “can take.
In many ways the “good” person is further away from belief in the gospel than the unpretentious sinner. Jesus said himself said that He came not too called the “righteous” or rather those who viewed themselves as such but sinners to repentance.
However never let it be said anyone is beyond the reach of the power of God in Salvation.
The “rich young ruler” found, in himself something lacking spiritually, but when Jesus put his finger on the problem he was unwilling to receive the cure.
Others under the invisible work of the convicting Spirit, would humble themselves and take it.
The world may be a better place for lives of the great public benefactors and “good sorts” but the true Christian is one who has been lifted up to a higher and heavenly plane.
True, he may not always be what he or she should be and many times the amiable and worthy “non Christian” may exceed them in good works , generosity and kindness, but if they are grounded on the foundation of Christ and indwelled by Him, they will grow in righteousness and holiness, for they are truly the “salt of the earth”.
No one likes being told how to order and run their life.
Especially so in this “anything-arian” age when most lifestyles and indulgences are tolerated and even applauded.
(Of course this is only up to a certain and ever receding point where peoples scruples and sensibilities are offended.)
History teaches us that people veer from listening to nobody, to listening to anybody, no matter how wrong.
There are always those who never ask for or take advice and follow guidance. Indeed this is often seen as a mark of strength and independence.
These people follow their own whims and desires and “woe betides: anyone who gets in their way.
Contra- wise at the other extreme, there are many people who are suggestible and pliable and will jump on someone’s bandwagon, and in their blind adulation take onboard everything they do and say.
In proof of this we can only ask why so many seemingly reasonable and decent people followed Adolph Hitler to their destruction and caused a holocaust of unspeakable suffering.
Our sinful and self sufficient tendency is not to listen or even welcome advice from those who are wiser than ourselves, sometimes we even resent it.
When we do seek guidance we turn to those whose advice will forward our own carnal ,sinful desires and ends even if it means using dubious and “dodgy “ means.
Fundamentally we look to our own ideas and instincts to lead us forward and are slow to admit that we are not always sufficient of ourselves to cope with the problems and perplexities of life…
It is blatantly obvious from our own experience and our observations of the ungodly people around us, that the last place we, without Divine help, will seek for guidance and wisdom is the Word of God and by prayer.
When we finally come to the end of ourselves and look for fulfillment and the meaning of it all, there are a great many “Worldly –wise men” who will volunteer to show us the way to happiness and to the achievement of all we desire.
They may have a great deal of seeming wisdom and common human experience on their side but the motives they act from and the guaranteed results they promise prove false and delusions.
When we are finally led to the scriptures and read them with an open heart and mind we find truth that speaks to and answers our fundamental problem and shows us the means to cure our spiritual bankruptcy.
We find the solution to the questions of “why we are here” and “what has gone wrong”. We also discover that Christ has paid our debt and blazed a trail for us that leads us to eternal joy and peace. It is only for us to believe and obediently follow Him.
While the “scales” of sin are upon our eyes, we remain blind to this answer to all our needs and questions. It is only by the power of God in giving sight to the spiritually blind that we can see the gate of salvation opened before us.
Even on the more mundane level of day to day existence, the Bible gives guidance and simple common sense advice for all our dealings with people, money and those in authority over us.
In the Wisdom writings of the Old Testament as reinforced by the New, we find out that how we treat others often dictates how they react to us and treat us.
We discover that while money may seem to “answer all things” it is not to be an end in itself.
Rather, it is to be saved and used in ways that benefit the welfare of others as well as us.
Indeed we are given a sense of urgency for the generous use of our money and riches for good purposes because our wealth is only lent to us by the Lord and of themselves have wings to fly away.
Our family relations are not neglected by the Word and were the guidance given more widely followed many marriages and families would have stay intact and not splinter apart.
All this is laid upon the foundation of our restored relationship to God.
Our reconciliation with Him is the spur and impetus to seek reconciliation with others and they, in turn to find peace with God.
The Scripture are full of great advice and wisdom freely offered and we should gladly receive it because it comes from the ever wise and loving God.
One of the great advantages that the Germans had in World War 2 was the high quality optical equipment they produced.
It meant they could see and engage targets at great distance and with great accuracy.
In spiritual matters to it is vital necessary to see things clearly and as they are.
It is our inherent blindness and lack of perception which causes us to see things different from the way they actually are and often leads us into Spiritual danger.
We all need to pray that God will gives us eyes to see the truth that he shows us in His Word and to differentiate it from the “ miasma” of lies and distortions which surround us.
The Puritans often refer to the ancient anecdote about a philosopher called Bias.
As I recall it he was shipboard during a violent storm at sea.
While observing the panic and frantic prayers to the “gods” by his otherwise profligate and pagan-istic fellow passengers, he bade them cease their prayers.
He told them that prayers in the ears of the “gods”, coming from such people would only remind the “deities” of their (i.e. the passengers and crew) many sins and wicked deeds and provoke their hoped for saviours to increase their affliction and peril and possibly destroy them.
So when we feel the need to pray, it is often the reminder of past and present sins that makes us reluctant to come before our holy God.
This is the reason why we need to keep short account of our sins and be ever seeking their forgiveness , our cleansing from all unrighteousness and grace for a ever holier life.
This should also make us ever thankful to Jesus Christ who is our great intercessor with the Father and an ever present help in time of trouble.
“The term is most often used in cases where program material comes to an unexpected halt, either through operator error or for technical reasons. Among professional broadcasters, dead air is considered one of the worst things that can occur. Moreover, having dead air during commercial segments or sponsor announcements can cost networks considerable revenue.”(Quoted from Wiki)
It must be said that our media broadcasters are not the only ones who hate “dead air”.
In the workplace, at the gym and in many other places people cannot stand to be without music or a television going. It is almost as if people today cannot stand peace and quiet and to be alone with their thoughts.
For myself personally I love peace and quiet and to hear the birds singing in the trees and the sound of the breeze in the trees.
One wonders to see this in the worship of the church in the noise and activity that swells our services. Quiet for contemplation and meditation is seldom seen in today’s worship.
I wonder how much the voice of God is drowned out by all this noise if He is speaking to us can we separate his voice from the racket that daily besets us.
The media sees silence as a waste and a loss of income. Some people avoid silence because it highlights their own vacuity and emptiness so they fill the air with anything and everything.
To listen is the main way to hear and for the Christian more than anyone else we need to listen to the voice of God.
Unfortunately the modern Church is awash with voices claiming to speak for God. It is only by measuring them against the “straight edge’ of Scripture that we will know the voice of God when we hear it.
The Bluebells which have always grown in masses throughout England during the spring are part of the countryside’s charm.
Unfortunately this pleasure of nature is under threat through the intrusion of a less colourful, less prolifically flowering and only faintly scented invader from Spain.
The Spanish bluebell breeds with the native flower and creates a hybrid which takes over and between them and the invader it will make native bluebells and the wondrous carpet they make every year very rare indeed.
There are a lot people in the Churches today that play the part of these Foreign plants .They may look something like the real thing but they are wishy washy in their colouring and they have no “savour” or fragrance of Christ about them.
Those outside the Church who encounter them are left with a less than encouraging impression of Christians and Christianity.
Worse still these imitators unless they repent and believe the gospel may find a place among those whom Christ will place on his left hand on the Day of Judgment.
The Pax Romana?
One of the early Britons after being conquered was recorded to have said that the Romans created desolation and then called it peace.
In the Church there always have been people ,who in the name of progress and modernization discard and deny great tracts of Scriptural doctrine and Christian practice and yet believe they have made Christianity and the Church more relevant to the World and the non Christian.
In fact they have created“desolation” and the “peace” they have sought is based on falsehood and ignorance.
A recent survey said that the majority of people questioned saw no benefit from being religious.
This is despite the increase of violence in society, drug use, immorality and selfish greed. They do not draw the conclusion that even from a mere moral point of view when Christianity was at least nominally professed these social evils was less prevalent and more vigorously fought opposed.
So for the so called modern reformer by seeking to modify Christianity to appeal to modern man actually destroy the true basis and power of the Gospel and reduce it to an empty shell requiring constant hype and excitement to make up the shortfall.
God save us from these well meaning but misguided people and let us hold on to the tried and true Gospel and the inspired Scriptures as the Word of God.
Said the Warrior of Bunyan’s”Pilgrim’s Progress” when sword in hand he entered the battle to overcome sin and adversity and attain the glorious reward of God.
I fear we today are of a more pacifist spirit when it comes to our Christianity. We want to lay back and enjoy the sweet things of Christ but will endure no pains to support His work and cause.
As the spirit of this world becomes more hostile to Christian morality and purity of life, the line will be drawn between those who will prevaricate and compromise and those who will pay the inevitable price of loyalty to Christ and His revealed commandments.
Many will stumble and fall before Satan’s onslaught, yet some will fall to rise again and others will fall to rise no more.
We can all suspect that we succumb to the temptation to flee Christ’s banner for fear of loss and suffering. When it comes to the choice of “Fight or flight” most would imitate Peter. Let us hope they would imitate him in his sorrow and repentance.
Let us all pray for grace to be given when it is most needed. We can none of us hope to stand without empowerment from the Spirit of God.
While we seek grace to maintain our faith in trying times we must also seek that courage which not only resists the wiles and attacks of the adversary but we must also seek for the fighting spirit to fight for God’s truth and the salvation of sinful men in the midst of hostile satanically inspire persecution and ridicule.
The soldier is not solely expected to stand in defense but to vigorously to attack the enemy’s strongholds.
Of course we mean this in a spiritual and Christian sense yet the victory obtained is far more real and substantial than that obtained in earthly war.
One only needs to look at a person like John Knox to see Christian courage and fortitude in the face of powerful opposition. Such was his courage that the Earl of Morton regent of Scotland said over his grave, “Here lies one who never feared any flesh”.
Some would say he lived in different times and may have exceeded his purview as a minister of the gospel, yet many of the religious freedoms and civil liberties we now enjoy were won by people such as Knox.
Yet Knox was not a religious zealot or mere fanatic, his zeal for God and the reformation of the church was tempered by compassion and tenderness. He knew when to wield the Sword of the Spirit and when to be conciliatory.
While many would smudge Christianity so that it is more in accord with worldly trends, people like Knox knew that compromising God’s revealed commands and the pure Gospel of Christ would invariably lead to wholesale apostasy.
Are we not seeing the results of this in the “latinitudinarian” spirit in the visible Church? I mean by this the allowance of anything and everything in the Church regardless of its appropriateness or being based on scripture .
In harmony with Worldly trends we hold to no fundamental doctrines or truths or at least fail to preach and teach them. No wonder we see our young people rudderless when it comes to Christian truth.
Those who point out this trend in the Church are met with the same accusations that come from the “god-less” World, you are unloving, judgmental and “troublers of Israel”.
Departure from the faith starts in small steps and with few noticing but the “end of the way is death”.
As I have pointed out before many of those who seek to make Christianity relevant to a post modern world have a tendency to turn away from plain and historic teaching God in His Word and look anywhere and everywhere else for guidance and opinions and input to apply to the teaching and practice of Christians and churches.
The first Christians and the Apostles did no such thing. They received the message straight from God and delivered it to mankind without fear or favour and with no consultation with “flesh and blood”.
The completeness of scripture precludes the need for consultation with the theories and practices of the times. It makes no difference whether it is re-clothed in the garb of direct divine revelation in other words “God told me so”.
Again we see this wreaking havoc and uncertainty in the modern Church.
For many ministers and Christian leaders they more concerned with the feelings and rights of those they would reach for Christ and therefore they promise welcome to all regardless.
Christ indeed welcomes all who came to Him but when did He ever condone or encourage them in their sin. We all come to Christ as sinners yet how many come to a profession of Christianity and instead of obeying the call to repent and walk in holiness of life are remaining not only worldly but willfully engaging in sinful lifestyles.
They even call for acceptance of the ongoing sinful practice by talking about the love of God and Jesus accepting sinners.
This is where we have arrived by divesting the Church of a teaching and preaching role regarding scriptural truth or by re-interpreting the Bible in terms alien from our historic understanding.
The triumph of sin and sinful men in the church is not so much their victory but the “Church’s surrender”.
“There are some that are apt to think , that if an angel should come from heaven and reveal God’s will to them, it would work more upon them than the written word; but I would have these men study the conference between Abraham and Dives, (Luke 16:27-31) “They have Moses and the prophets;” if they will not profit by them, neither would they profit by any that should come out of hell, or down from heaven to them; for it is the same God that speaks to them by the written word, and by a voice from heaven. The difference is only in the outward clothing; therefore if God’s speaking by writing will not amend us no more will God’s speaking by a voice.O bless God exceedingly for the written Word! Let us cleave close to it, and not expect any revelations of new truths, but say with the Apostle ,as in Galatians 1:8-9
“8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!” N.I.V. ;
From aSermon “The Godly man’s Ark ” by Edmund Calamy the elder
Victor Mature: (January 29, 1913 – August 4, 1999
Is one of my favourite actors.
He does not readily fall into the Hollywood stereo-typical image yet was a staple of Epic films and a variety of film genres.
He was notorious for not taking his acting career seriously as he regarded it as merely a means to an end and a source of income.
He said himself that “he was pretty proud of fifty percent of his movies”. (wiki)
He appeared in some of the “Biblical epics” that were popular “box office” draws at the time. These were “spectacular “ dramatizations of Bible and religious stories with their meanings reduced to a sub Christian message of peace among men and human liberty surrounded by action and special effects.
One of the great failings we have as human beings is that we take ourselves so seriously and yet take God and His Word so casually.
One would have thought that the threat of an eternal hell and the hope of free salvation would have people frantically poring over the scriptures and gratefully taking by faith the salvation so expensively won by Christ on the cross.
Instead like Samson (also played by Mature) in the hands of the Philistines, the gospel message is laughed at; it is distorted, watered down or rejected wholesale.
Others turn Christianity into a religion of superstition and holy objects as we see portrayed in the film “the Robe”
We may take many things in life lightly but we should never fail to take seriously God and His Word , eternity depends upon it.
In this country the current trend is to build “ring roads “and “By-passes” around our regional towns and cities so that travelers are not delayed by slower municipal speeds and “round-abouts” or traffic lights.
It is coming to the point where you can travel right round the country and not arrive anywhere.
I wonder if the same could be said about the current trends in Christianity “so called”.
Firstly, there seems to be a fundamental desire and flagrant attempt to detour around the Cross of Christ and the problem of sin and the need for repentance and change of life.
The old gospel and message of Salvation is skipped or hurried over so that people can get their hands on the “New life” and the promised abundant blessings of Christianity, though there is a still ongoing discussion about exactly what form they will take.
Worse still and I hope I am wrong, I feel there is also a move a-foot to bypass our Lord Jesus Christ completely and proceed directly to the Holy Spirit and the promised manifestations of His power.
A charismatic “preacher” on a visit to a former eastern bloc country told questioners that the crowds were not coming to hear him preach the Gospel of Christ but rather to witness and experience the power and working of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
Since when does the Spirit of Christ work apart from the Word of Christ and the message of the Gospel?
Yes there may be some lip service paid to Christ but people want the promised gifts of healing etc. like Children, they cannot wait to open their presents at Christmas time, no matter who gave the gift in the first place.
They crave excitement and exhilaration to lift them out of the mundane tedium and inescapable stress of daily life.
They have no time for the hearing of teaching from Scripture and the necessity of meditation upon the Word of God that is the only real way to stand firm in the Gospel and united to Christ against the tidal wave of falsehoods and distortions heading our way.
So many today are unwilling to cast over board sin and self interest and therefore grasp eagerly and wholeheartedly the easy believe-ism that passes current in modern preaching. We are all out for what we can get at the lowest price and for the least effort.
The sufferings of the first Christians and subsequently in many times and countries is just their bad luck. To us moderns, persecution is no longer the necessary price for following Jesus.
We just want to get the good things we have and enjoy the good times.
How many plausible voices are out there revising people’s understanding of Scripture so they can hold their heads up and stay relevant and acceptable to a godless and perverted society?
These are the time in which we live, if nothing else they will separate between those who will cling to the truth of Christ and the Gospel from them from those who will be found at last with a “ship-wrecked “faith.
“Many profess to admire the milder beams of the sun of righteousness, but burn with rebellion against its more flaming radiance: so it ought not to be: we are bound to praise a terrible, God and worship him who casts the wicked down to hell. Did not Israel praise him “who overthrew Pharaoh and his hosts in the Red Sea, for his mercy endureth for ever.” The terrible Avenger is to be praised, as well as the loving Redeemer. Against this the sympathy of man’s evil heart with sin rebels; it cries out for an effeminate God in whom pity has strangled justice. The well-instructed servants of Jehovah praise him in all the aspects of his character, whether terrible or tender.” Spurgeon’s “Treasury of David” on Psalm 99 verse 3
Chips Rafferty: real name John William Pilbean Goffage : (26 March 1909 – 27 May 1971)was regarded and cast as such in many films as the quintessential “Aussie”.
He invariably played a “Tall, laconic, bushman type”.
In both Britain and the U.S. during the forties up till the seventies he was the first choice if you wanted a real Australian character and flavor for your film.
Although his type of Australian is becoming a rarity, it is still the way many in the world perceive us.
The way the people of this world perceive Christians varies greatly.
We are either “holier than thou” hypocrite or may be anachronistic throw backs to more superstitious times.
Either way your average Christian is out of step with the progress of mankind and if they do not get out of the way they will be trodden underfoot.
Hence the push for the re –thinking of Christianity and all the embarrassment caused by the Bible’s condemnation of the popular sins now calling for acceptance and even applause.
Despite the world’s sin inflicted blindness to right and wrong they will never be fooled by the ploy made by the compromisers of truth to blend in and buddy up to them.
However dead the unbelieving World‘s consciences may be, they know that their beloved sin is wrong and displeasing to God. This may not stop them in the hardihood of their sinning: they may wish that those who tell them that God is all mercy and indulgent are telling the truth but they know in their heart of hearts that this is not the truth about God or Christianity.
However the people of this world despise the faithful Bible believing Christian they still have a grudging respect for those who stand against the tide of sin and Satan’s deceptions.
Michah 6:2 “ If the foundations be destroyed what can the righteous do ?” When there is no law for lewd or loose men . what can the righteous do but glorify God by mourning for the things which they cannot mend, and yet comforting themselves with this: verse 5 “The Lord is in His holy temple, and hath his throne in heaven,” q.d. though all be in confusion, and we can see no help on earth, yet we will look unto God for aid, who sees and considers the sorrows of His people, and can and will help them, when man will not.” Thomas Hall “The beauties of the Magistracy”
The writer of the Book of Chronicles is seldom squeamish about laying the blame for the consequences of transgression and sin. In chapter 10:13-14 speaking of the tragic fall and death of King Saul, he says this “3 So Saul died for his unfaithfulness which he had committed against the Lord, because he did not keep the word of the Lord, and also because he consulted a medium for guidance. 14 But he did not inquire of the Lord; therefore He killed him, and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse”.
To many modern eyes this sort of statement is “judgmental” and “unloving”.
He does this again in 2 Chronicles 36:15-21 speaking of the deportation of the Jews to Babylon as a consequence of their idolatry and disobedience of the Lord.
Some today would consign this to the lost cause of the “Old Testament”, yet there is no lesser emphasis on the consequences of un-repented sin in the New Testament to anyone with eyes to see it.
Where does this refusal to see sin in its true light by the modern church come from, what is its source?
“For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot”. Romans 8:7
Even among professing Christians their remains to varying degrees this carnal mind in seeking to blunt and water down God’s holy law and commandments.
People want the benefits of being the people of God yet disregard the necessity for genuine holiness of life imparted as well as imputed. This does not happen without striving, rejecting and mortifying of sin upon our part.
It is this that is the unpopular part of Christianity which has gone by the board in much of the Church.
The demand for us to believe lies today is becoming more violent and outspoken and in the future will separate the sheep from the goats among us.
A High Hand!
In the descriptive language of the past presumptuous sin was described as sinning with a “high hand”.
It is always dangerous to measure one sin against another and deciding which is more or less heinous.
All sin is displeasing to God and falls under His righteous judgment. Yet to commit it willfully and persistently adds immensely to the guilt of sin .
The terrible consequence of the redefining of sin in this age has added the dimension of calling what God has called wicked and sinful as acceptable , innocent and good.
This as the prophet Isaiah spoke of his times as the great sin of many in calling evil good and good evil. ” Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” Isaiah 5:20
Many professing christian are falling into line with the “mores” and “zeit-geist” of the age and compromising and re-interpreting the plain teaching of God’s word. They are in fact if not in intention departing from the uniform belief and teaching of the Christian Church as well as an unbiased and plain understanding of Scripture teaching.
Popularity at a price!
In all the effort to re-interpret and popularize Christianity in the World the fundamental difficulty is that rightly understood Jesus Christ and the gospel message of Salvation has never been popular.
Christianity runs counter to everything that man by fallen nature is.
Today we see many who under the name of the love of Jesus attempt to cloak and allow the very sin that He died to save mankind from.
To what lengths they will go is astounding, either to the re-interpreting what the Bible says to make it speak to something different altogether or disregard the teaching and authority of Scripture and thereby God altogether.
We are finding ourselves in the midst of a spiritual quagmire unsure of where the solid ground is and indeed if there is any place for a firm footing at all.
There is no doubt that in the Church, not to speak of the God denying world, standing upon the truth and teaching of the Bible as the Word of God is going to become more difficult and cost a great deal more.
Jesus experienced the fleeting popularity that continues current in the world. The Jews of Jesus’ time were willing to accept Jesus as the Messiah as long as He conformed to their political and carnal desires, but when He proved to be a Messiah of a different kind the popularity with the multitudes fizzled and led to the Cross.
Are we not seeing in the call to understand Christianity in modern Worldly and psychological terms and attempt to rob it of its demands for repentance and self denial as a seeking for popularity at the expense of truth?