“Let them both grow together until the harvest,”
Have you ever been struck by how many terrifying things Jesus says? I spent a couple years actively involved with the Episcopal church after first becoming a believer. I had a radical conversion, and I devoured the bible. You know when God had Ezekiel eat the words on the scroll? It was like that; and like Ezekiel, the words were as sweet as honey (Ezekiel 3:3). All of them, including the most difficult ones. Whether or not I understood them at the time, I knew they contained life.
Not so with my Episcopal friends. You see, I started bible studies and gathered the men together to talk about the word of God. They liked that until we hit on verses they didn’t like. It was interesting to see them stammer around and try to explain away the difficult verses. Sure, they would simply dismiss the entirety of the Old Testament because of its brutality and a culture that was long ago dead and gone. The sayings of Jesus were a little harder for them to twist into something they could live with.
It finally came to a head with a book I thought they would like, “Mere Christianity” by C.S. Lewis. You see, C.S. Lewis was Anglican, of the Church of England. Episcopalians are an offshoot of that. They are the American Anglicans, who had to break official ties with the ruler of the church, the King, during the American Revolution. It was too complicated to keep allegiance with the King when your countrymen were fighting against him.
Here’s the quote from him that stopped my fellow bible students dead in their tracks:
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on the level with the man who says he’s a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
You see, they often bragged about C.S. Lewis simply because of the shared denomination, but it was clear they had never read a word he wrote. Their worldview, and that of C.S. Lewis, were on opposite ends. In sixty years’ time, the Anglican and Episcopal churches, both, went from endorsing what he said to vehemently denying it. At the turn of the century, one was finding priests openly denying the exclusivity of Jesus as the only path to heaven. “It doesn’t matter who you pray to, as long as you pray,” was often spoken aloud from the pulpit. Certainly, most of the congregants felt this way. Today, the Episcopal church is so depraved in their thinking that they now have life-tenured bishops who are openly and avowed atheists. Yes, that’s right. Atheists are top-dog leaders of this “Christian” church.
It was then that I received “the lecture” at my last bible study. I was kindly, but firmly, told how God was like a mountain. Jesus was at the top, but you could access him by many paths up that mountain. Faith, or even knowledge, in Jesus was not necessary. You could believe in anything, or nothing, and still be OK with God come judgement day. It was YOUR choice, but God is fine with it all. Then and there, I disbanded the bible study. It was clear I was casting my pearls before swine (Matthew 7:6, Romans 1:32).
Probably one of the most terrifying things Jesus said was his description of the final judgment in Matthew 25. I won’t go into detail, but this is where he sorts the sheep from the goats. The sheep enter into eternal life, and the goats into eternal punishment. It’s my contention that the sorting is taking place right here on earth and has been all along. We don’t have to wait until that day to know what our judgement is. In fact, He wants us to be sure of our status now.
I John 5:13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.
How do we know? We have the bible to teach us, and the bible teaches us that our spirit will agree with the Holy Spirit if we are indeed saved. The bible is God-breathed, so it will agree with our spirit. We will accept is as truth. We may not understand it, but we’ll accept it. Furthermore, we are willing to do what it says. No more twisting the plain language of the bible to suit our particular way of thinking.
The bible commands us to search ourselves, to make sure of our election. Why is this necessary? It seems to me to serve many purposes, one of which is so that we know who we are among as we go through life. Are we associating with genuine believers or are we among those who aren’t? In the Parable of the Weeds, Jesus teaches that genuine believers will not be alone. Those whom belong to the devil will be mixed in with us. Jesus is instructing us that this is by design and there will come a day when all will get their just reward. Some will be thrown into the fiery furnace where “there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” The righteous “will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.” (Matthew 13:42-43)
Why is this important to know? Because truth will be fought against by lies. And there are more who are following The Father of Lies than who follow The Way, The Truth, and The Life. We can easily be misled by Satan’s children. That’s what they intend to do, whether they actually are aware of it or not. So, who you associate with – and how – are extremely important for you to know and understand, in light of scripture.
Folks, in a short time the Anglican church has gone down the toilet. Evangelicals are not immune to this problem. I’ve seen first-hand a hard-hitting bible church go soft as it grew. It compromised its message so as not to offend the new members. The same can happen anywhere. Let me ask you, do you feel like you can’t talk about the very, very hard topics of Jesus – as he intends them – in a way that’s open and supported by your church leaders and congregation? Or are dissenters allowed or even encouraged to voice their opinions and interpretations? A little of this will soon drastically change things. I don’t mean to say we should start a witch hunt; but know this, the gospel truth will drive out unbelievers. Which would you rather have, a church that teaches truth or one that is ashamed of it?
Galatians 1:6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel –
Jude 3-4 Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
This stuff is real, folks. In light of COVID-19, how will you change your behavior now that God is so intent to make himself known to the entire world?
Father, stir up your church! Amen.
Copyright © 2020 Scott Powers