Have you noticed the faithful growing fewer and fewer? With every trend, every heresy, every twisted Gospel message, more and more go. It is like we “Christians” are standing on the seashore and every wave takes a few (and, many times, much more than a few) from our midst and out to the sea of the world. Some were just standing too close to the shore, but many dive right in in their quest to better their life here on earth.
I use quotes because, obviously, most of these were never saved at all (according to scripture), but simply used the name of “Christian”. Many of these cling to the term “Christian” so that Christianity, as the world knows it, has become a hodge podge of social justice*, mysticism, ritualism, and selfish greed.
Thankfully, all is not lost if an unexpected wave tosses us into deception for a month or a year or five years. God continues to save His own from the ocean of spiritual chaos and confusion and return them safely to shore. Just as the Good Shepherd saves the lost sheep (Matthew 18:12-14) so, too, does God rescue His own.
In the midst of all the wickedness and deception, there remains a remnant who still cling to God’s Word and desire to live out biblical Christianity. However, have you taken a look around recently? Those who choose to submit to God and believe in His literal Word are few. The shore, once overflowing with professing Christians, grows more and more sparse with each passing day.
We’d best stand back from the water as far as we can. Deception is growing increasingly stronger and more and more subtle. We knew this would happen because Paul told us, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, in 2 Timothy 3:13.
Along with this defection comes an immense increase in sin and worldliness. Let me explain.
The Bible is an amazing book. Even if you aren’t saved but choose to live by its principles, you will be spared much heartache and grief. Those who choose to live according to the ten commandments and the other laws found in this book lead much more successful, peaceful, and happy lives, as a rule. But as they jump into the waves of apostasy, they toss away the Book. And when that happens, an explosion of sin and worldly living isn’t far behind.
America is a great example of this. While it was never a Christian nation, per se, there was, historically, a large portion of the people who lived by the Bible. This has been eroding for many years now and we are currently watching the results of this erosion.
Think about this nation and what is happening. Not only is sin and worldliness abounding, but so-called Christians are participating and condoning it!
As I have been thinking about this a bit recently, I was remembering the exiles of Israel. The northern kingdom (Israel) was exiled to Assyria and then, later, the southern kingdom (Judah) to Babylon. Their lives were completely upended. Whether they went or were one of the few that stayed in the land, life was never the same for these Jews again. They were experiencing the wrath of God for their disobedience.
And we know that this also included the faithful few.
Israel was not without a few faithful followers of God. And, yet, they were exiled along with everybody else.
I have really been convicted recently of my “American” way of thinking. Sometimes things seep into our brains and we don’t even realize it is happening**.
We (I) have become so self-focused. I quickly fall into the thought pattern that this life is about me and my experience. Even though I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that this is not true and what my duty is here on earth, I find myself in a battle with myself almost daily.
Many of us can see what is coming. Without a change in direction, and soon, things are going to get bad. And our flesh cries “NO”. Please God, spare us. We deserve to be spared. We have been faithful! Oh, God, please remember this.
And, yet, when we look at scripture and then at history, we see that the faithful are rarely spared. In fact, they are often singled out and persecuted and even martyred. Oftentimes, this brings about a tremendous growth in the true church because this persecution and a true Christian’s reaction to it show the world that Jesus Christ is real!
One of our best examples of this is Paul. He is an amazing inspiration to me as I read his epistles. He wrote with such love, joy, and hope from prison! He knew that he would probably die for his faith and yet he continued to be faithful, encouraging, and inspiring to Christians. Instead of complaining or caving into despair, he rose above his circumstances.
This is no clearer than in Philippians 4:11-13, where we read–
Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to [d]be abased, and I know how to [e]abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through [f]Christ who strengthens me.
Dear readers, most of us have learned how to abound and how to be full. We have lived lives that, heretofore, were unheard of in their access to medical care, the peace and safety in our communities, and the abundance of material wealth. Even the poorest of the poor in America are many times richer than the richest poor person in other nations.
While I can’t know what’s ahead, I do wonder–and perhaps even expect–that we are all going to be learning how to be abased, to be hungry, and to suffer need. This world is changing and it is changing quickly.
We are reeling from the shock of it all and many of us (at least myself) are in deep mourning over what is happening. We realize that our lives are probably never going to be the same again.
Now is the time for us to grower deeper and stronger roots of faith. Now is the time to turn to God, which is the place we should have been turned to all along. Now is the time to examine our hearts for wrong motives, wrong places of trust, wrong desires. Now is the time to look to Jesus Christ and to reflect on eternal things.
I cannot predict what is in the future, for it is overwhelmingly uncertain right now. However, this can –and should– be a time of tremendous spiritual growth for us all.
God is not silent and we must remember that He loves us deeply. His hand is directing every minute of every day. We dare not grow discouraged. No matter what is ahead (and only God knows), may this time be one of looking to God for all we need. May it be a time of grounding us in the Faith. May it be a time of faithful study of the Word. And may it be a time of shining brighter and brighter, beckoning to people who are drowning in the ocean of deception to swim ashore while they still can.
I will close with this familiar and comforting passage from Romans 8 (verses 31f). No matter what is ahead we are deeply loved and we are more than conquerors in Christ–
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written:
“For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”
37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
*Social Justice is a communist term. It is nowhere in scripture. Search it out for yourself. The social gospel is a false gospel. I could provide lots and lots of verses and articles, but why not search this one out for yourself? It would be a great exercise.
**I am sharing my own personal journey here on the blog during this strange time. While I often know how I should act or what God says in His Word, I have a much more difficult time living it. I just want to be up front about that. This has been a time of great struggle and discouragement for me. I continue on the path, but, when I take my eyes off the Lord for even a second, a deep-seated trepidation overtakes my soul. As we navigate this time together, as siblings in Christ, I hope that these posts are an encouragement to you. I just wanted to be clear that I, too, am struggling to live out what I write. May we together be victorious and join with Paul in saying “To live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21)