Bible Ballistics: Vol. 10 No.19 Church Wanted: Selling Or Standing???
On our recent travels, I saw a sign that absolutely pricked my heart and soul in a way that I wasn’t expecting. We passed by a little church and this was the sign that was posted across the door: “Church for Sale”! Now, in and of itself, a ‘For Sale’ sign in front of a building, regardless of what it once was, isn’t particularly unusual, but it struck me to my soul, as I read that sign, that many churches today have already put a “for sale” sign on their doors, and they’ve sold out to the world pretty cheaply!
I don’t mean to be harsh, but we are living in a culture that has so invaded the church of Jesus Christ, that it is often difficult to tell the difference between the church and the world—creating an imitation church, if you would. And there are imitation ‘churches’, just as there are imitation ‘Christians’—always have been always will be.
“Enter ye in at the strait gate:
for wide is the gate,
and broad is the way,
that leadeth to destruction,
and many there be
which go in thereat:
14 Because strait is the gate,
and narrow is the way,
which leadeth unto life,
and few there be
that find it.
15 Beware of false prophets,
which come to you in sheep’s clothing,
but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
16 Ye shall know them
by their fruits.
Do men gather grapes of thorns,
or figs of thistles?” Matthew 7:13-16
Jesus made it clear in His preaching that there is only One Way to God, and He is that way. It is a “strait gate” and yet it is not the only gate open to people: there is a “wide” gate, a “broad” way, but its end is “destruction”! And just as importantly, it is the most popular gate, “many there be which go in thereat”—and we need to recognize the fact that the draw of the world is great –but Jesus has called us to be faithful to proclaim HIS truth, and the reality that “narrow is the way”, and a way which we are not to attempt to “widen” or compromise the Word of God, regardless of how “few” believe our message!
“There is a way that seemeth right unto a man,
but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Proverbs 16:25
The church has never been called to a smooth/easy way, or to try to make the way of Jesus an appealing one; we are called to lift up the cross and the hope that it brings through the blood of Jesus Christ alone.
“And as Moses lifted up the serpent
in the wilderness,
even so must the Son of man
be lifted up:
15 That whosoever believeth in him
should not perish,
but have eternal life.
16 For God so loved the world,
that he gave
his only begotten Son,
that whosoever believeth in him
should not perish,
but have everlasting life.
17 For God sent not his Son
into the world
to condemn the world;
but that the world
might be saved.
18 He that believeth on him
is not condemned:
but he that believeth not
is condemned already,
because he hath not believed
in the name of the only begotten
Son of God.
19 And this is the condemnation,
that light is come into the world,
and men loved darkness
rather than light,
because their deeds were evil.” John 3:14-19
Jesus came to save those who will believe in His work at Calvary. He knew that was His destination even as He spoke to Nicodemus, and He declared, even before the cross, that His atoning death was the only answer—before, during and after! And the salvation that He offers is the only thing that saves people “from their sins”, but those who reject Him will die in their sins! Men still love “darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil”, and we will never win the world by conforming the church to align with the evil that men love. We must call people to repentance and faith in Jesus—to turn from their “sin”, not to make them feel at home in their “sin”! And I’m afraid that much of what is purported to be “church” is simply trying to make sinners comfortable in their sin—don’t ever make anyone feel uncomfortable. But my dear friends, the conviction of sin that the Holy Spirit brings, is the only thing that will bring people to the cross. Without the power of God, no one will ever come to the cross, and making sin look good will never bring anyone to the cross!
“No man can come to me,
except the Father
which hath sent me
and I will raise him up
at the last day.
45 It is written in the prophets,
And they shall be all taught of God.
Every man therefore that hath heard,
and hath learned of the Father,
cometh unto me.” John 6:44-45
The church is called to preach the truth and call people to it—not compromise the truth and let people believe they can relish sin while claiming the name of Jesus! Christ’s church isn’t called to be like the world, but to call the world to the cross! It’s the only “Gospel” that saves and transforms lives—and it’s the message that we must cling to! May we ever join with Paul and “preach Christ crucified”—never “selling out” to the world for numbers, popularity, wealth, ease, political correctness or prominence!
“For it is written,
I will destroy the wisdom
of the wise,
and will bring to nothing
the understanding of the prudent.
20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world?
hath not God made foolish
the wisdom of this world?
21 For after that in the wisdom of God
the world by wisdom knew not God,
it pleased God
by the foolishness of preaching
to save them that believe.
22 For the Jews require a sign,
and the Greeks seek after wisdom:
23 But we preach Christ crucified,
unto the Jews a stumblingblock,
and unto the Greeks foolishness;
24 But unto them which are called,
Christ the power of God,
and the wisdom of God.
25 Because the foolishness
is wiser than men;
and the weakness
is stronger than men.” 1 Corinthians 1:19-25
Preaching the cross of Jesus and “Christ crucified” is the only message that we have—and it has always been seen by the world as a “stumblingblock” and “foolishness”; but we must never abandon the truth for compromise. We must never sell out for signs, wonders, and worldly illusions. We must never believe the deceit of the enemy and fall for the lies that Satan is spreading throughout western Christendom today, that being like the world will win the world!
“But what I do, that I will do, that I may cut off occasion from them which desire occasion; that wherein they glory, they may be found even as we.
13 For such are false apostles,
into the apostles of Christ.
14 And no marvel;
for Satan himself
is transformed into an angel of light.
15 Therefore it is no great thing
if his ministers
also be transformed
as the ministers of righteousness;
whose end shall be
according to their works.” 2 Corinthians 11:12-15
Satan often deceives people by pretending to be “an angel of light”—and he has no qualms about telling half-truths, which in reality are lies—just plain lies! And his demon assistants and followers do the same. Remember that saying so doesn’t make it so! Jesus Himself told us the same thing as He warned that not everyone who claims to be His really is His!
“Not every one that saith unto me,
shall enter into the kingdom of heaven;
but he that doeth the will of my Father
which is in heaven.
22 Many will say to me in that day,
have we not prophesied in thy name?
and in thy name have cast out devils?
and in thy name done many
23 And then will I profess unto them,
I never knew you:
depart from me,
ye that work iniquity.” Matthew 7:21-23
Jesus reminds us that just ‘saying so’ isn’t enough; we must know Him in salvation, through repentance and faith in the blood that He shed for SIN! Even doing what appears to be “great” things before the world isn’t necessarily proof of belonging to Jesus. Remember the “angel of light”! Satan is busy imitating real believers, and the day is coming when he will even try to imitate the Son of God! We must be sure that we are sharing, preaching and teaching God’s truth as the Bible tells it! Paul warned the Ephesian church that there would be false teachers and leaders from among their own flock. Just being “in” the church doesn’t mean that we “are” the church.
“And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. 18 And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons……………22 And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there………24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God...…27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.
28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves,
and to all the flock,
over the which the Holy Ghost
hath made you overseers,
to feed the church of God,
which he hath purchased
with his own blood.
29 For I know this, that after my departing
shall grievous wolves enter in among you,
not sparing the flock.
30 Also of your own selves shall men arise,
speaking perverse things,
to draw away disciples
31 Therefore watch, and remember…..
32 And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified.” Portions of Acts 20:17-32
Paul knew, even then, that there were those who were self-motivated in their work, not genuinely following Jesus—and the same is still true today. That is why it is imperative that we know the Word of God, so we can discern truth from deceit! And dear friends, there is a lot of deceit going around today, and so many are being misled and deceived because they don’t know the Word of God! What about you?
Are we more concerned with avoiding conflict and not suffering for our faith, or are we following Jesus with our whole hearts, not selling out to the world, regardless of the cost? Jesus said a lot about the cost of following HIM!
“And he said unto them,
Ye are from beneath;
I am from above:
ye are of this world;
I am not of this world.
24 I said therefore unto you,
that ye shall die in your sins:
for if ye believe not that I am he,
ye shall die in your sins.” John 8:23-24
“If the world hate you,
ye know that it hated me
before it hated you.
19 If ye were of the world,
the world would love his own:
but because ye are not of the world,
but I have chosen you
out of the world,
therefore the world hateth you.” John 15:18-19
“These things I have spoken unto you,
that in me ye might have peace.
In the world ye shall have tribulation:
but be of good cheer;
I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Paul also prepared Timothy for the cost of following Jesus!
“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” 2 Timothy 3:12
Jesus prayed for us, and we also need to pray for wisdom and courage to “stand fast in the evil day”—and my friends, we are there. We must be ready to hold on to the truth and not sell out to the world! It’s the difference between life and death. The gospel and its good news are the reason that we have been left in this world.
“I have given them thy word;
and the world hath hated them,
because they are not of the world,
even as I am not of the world.
15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them
out of the world,
but that thou shouldest keep them
from the evil.
16 They are not of the world,
even as I am not of the world.
17 Sanctify them through thy truth:
thy word is truth.
18 As thou hast sent me
into the world,
even so have I also sent them
into the world.” John 17:14-18
God has only One Way-Jesus! God has only One Message-Jesus and His cross, and it is the message that we must stand on—without apology and without compromise. We must not sell out to the world; we must follow the way that God has laid out, and that is the Gospel. Salvation in Christ alone, by faith alone—transforming grace!
“For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God,
it pleased God
by the foolishness of preaching
to save them that believe…..
27 But God hath chosen the foolish things
of the world to confound the wise;
and God hath chosen the weak things
of the world to confound
the things which are mighty;
28 And base things of the world,
and things which are despised,
hath God chosen,
yea, and things which are not,
to bring to nought things that are:
29 That no flesh should glory in his presence. 30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: 31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:21 & 27-31
Many today don’t want to suffer with or for Jesus, but when we compromise to avoid conflict and opposition, we forget that people were continually in conflict with Jesus, and the religious people of His day were often in 180-degree opposition to HIM! So, will we stand with our Lord, or sell out to the world for the sake of ease? The world is invading the church, and has caused many churches to so conform to the world that there’s more of the world in the church than of the church in the world. Think on these things and we may continue this train of thought later. Blessings on your week as you stand fast, pressing on with our Lord Jesus– knowing and trusting HIM and HIS Word! Sell or stand?