Under the British constitution the king or queen reigns but does not rule.
It seems to me that there are many in the Church today who would be glad to be able to say the same of God. They would have the blessings and glory of his reign but not be under his rule and law as to obedience. They would be glad to be able to live as they list and indulge in sin and yet still be able to call on an indulgent and unexacting Heavenly Father.
They would be glad to welcome anyone and everyone into the Church and yet not have to tell them about their sin and the Holy God they have offended.
They would by all means avoid the necessity of teaching them that their lifestyle or vices are displeasing to God and must be cast aside and striven against.
They would gladly clothe them in the righteousness of Christ, but as to telling them that they themselves must turn away from greed, lust and covetousness, this is to distasteful to the modern “Easy believe-ism” teacher , they would rather let God handle that task, instead of faithfully telling them the truth from God’s inspired Word.
Regardless of the wishes of these well meaning but sorely deluded people God does both reign and rule and He is not mocked “As a man sows so shall He reap” Galatians 6:7. Whether claiming to be a Christian or not “without holiness, no man shall see the Lord”Hebrews12:14.
Edom: the peril of false brethren
If Babylon typifies the Christian hating world it is the nation of Edom that typifies the brother who ultimately proves false and is in many ways worse.
The people of Edom were the descendants of Isaac as well as Jacob. While Esau came to a certain amount of reconciliation with his brother Jacob , his later descendants although treated respectfully and kindly by Israel, proved at last to be hateful ,vindictive and cruel to Israel in there extremity. This is shown by the Old Testament prophecy of Obadiah.
Seemingly secure in its mountain strongholds Edom did not seek to help its kinsman, Israel when besieged and conquered nor did it merely content itself with non-interference and simply looking on. These people forgetting their common routes seized the opportunity of Israel’s weakness and peril and proceeded to plunder, killing and turning in the refugees of their fallen brother.
As Obadiah prophesied this would not be forgotten by Israel’s God. While fallen Israel would rise again and endure, Edom would receive upon themselves the wrath of God and fall to rise no more.
Again I am compelled to say that there are many so called Christians who are playing this part in the Church today. These people prove at last that they are false brethren in that they deny the Bible as the Word of God, reject the scriptural means of God’s salvation through Christ’s atoning and satisfaction for our sins and seek to call those things good which God in his Word calls evil.
If some do not go so far as these apostates they still seek the name of Christian and “evangelical” yet still attempt to proclaim the gospel yet shaved of anything offensive to sinful man or those things which are contradicted by modern science .They also make sinful concessions to worldly trends and “New Age” morality , thus in their attempt to re-package the gospel for the modern man they present instead a message which ignores God’s just demands and makes man’s sensibilities the end of all they do.
In the end these false brethren will find themselves worse off than the World which never owned God in the first place.
Feeding the Sheep or amusing the Goats?
There is no question in my mind but that any gospel ministry that abdicates parts of it responsibility for any reason is failing in its God appointed duty.
The minister who sees his own role as exclusively dealing with the new comers in the congregation may be just as derelict as the one who deals solely with the job of building up believers and then delegate’s evangelism to specialists or task groups. The Church is the body of Christ. While we call and invite all to come to Christ, it is as the body of Christ that they meet sunday by sunday, not as “seekers” merely but as heares of the Word of God.
Like a steward in a large household the minister of Christ is to portion out every person their due.
The Apostle Paul, while his ministry was not limited to a single church or area, laid down an example by teaching the doctrines to be preached and declaring the role and functions to be perform by the shepherd’s of the flock who he appointed to succeed him. This he did by virtue of apostolic authority. No minister today can truly lay claim to this sort of authority rather they have their “marching orders” and must obey them with all faithfulness and diligence.
It is by failing to obey and live up to this ideal of ministry of the Pauline stamp that explains the sorry state of many churches and church groups regardless of large attendances and worldwide notoriety.
The leaders of these groups may lay claim to apostolic authority to command and dictate to their followers: They may abrogate this or that and excommunicate the people who will not get with the program, Christians though they be: Yet when it comes down to reality it is more about the cult of personality than the Word of God.
These people are far from the New Testament ideal of the self effacing and sacrificing servant and minister of the body of Christ.
When Paul came among the people he was not regarded as a great speaker. He says of himself that his “presence” was base and timid among the Corinthians (2Cor 10:1). What a contrast this is to some of the bombastic and loud mouthed preachers of today. How much arrogance of attitude is seen amidst the gaudy lights, loud music and night clubbish accoutrements of the modern place of “worship”?
It is all calculated to attract the interest of worldly and excitement seeking sinners looking to add a “spiritual” dimension to their shallow lives.
God forbid that we who name ourselves Christians should follow the undiscerning multitude in whoring after the Beast posing as a minster of the gospel which is in fact not the gospel at all.
The Diminishing Gospel!
We are often confronted with the reduction of product amount and size while continuing to increase the price. Sometimes this is done in a very clever way by the redesigning of packaging to make it look the same as previously yet containing incrementally less product.(Example from Britain)
Biscuits or cookies as the Americans call them that were as big as your hand 10 years ago are now only one or two bites.
Blocks of chocolate which were sold in great slabs are now one third the size. This trend is likely to be ongoing.
While this may not be as bad as adulterating good products with cheap substitutes it still savours of cynicism and leaves people feeling cheated.
I wonder whether we are seeing this type of design in the preaching of the Word. How little depth we see in Bible teaching and preaching? How little exhortation to practice Christian behavior and living?
The little weight and value of modern preaching is little regarded by moderns because they give very little thought to whole counsel of God given in Scripture. They are more interested in the lively worship and the excitement generated by loud music.
The modern makes a profession of faith so called in Christ but have no real understanding of sin, salvation and holy living and are allowed to remain in their ignorance because modern minister shun the need to expound scripture in any great depth for fear of offending the newcomer.
A low view of Scripture, preaching, and the role of the Church explains the short weight and low value of the fruit and decline in grace we see in a great deal of its activities despite the much vaunted growth in numbers.
The sad thing is that people who have gone to church in better days are content to receive short weight and deficient scriptural teaching and not question it at all.