The Beleaguered Church
This is the only way I can describe the church at the end of 2022. And yes, I know you think this is an overly pessimistic view but I don’t think any of us really understand how dire the situation is.
Churches, leaders, and believers are falling on every hand. The chaos of Charismania, its false prophets, and the many heresies of the past decades deceived and deluded many, and yet there was a remnant. Many of those who were not deceived by the myriad of heresies that came out of Charismania were caught by the elitism and dead formalism of Calvinism.
But then came Christian Nationalism and those we thought were standing began to fall, one after the other. This spawned a whole new doctrine which can only be described as replacement theology on steroids. It is one thing to say that the church has replaced Israel, it is heresy of another order of magnitude to say that a nation replaces both Israel and the Church. Before you tell me that you have never heard anyone say that, have you listened carefully what is now being preached from almost every pulpit in America? Scripture after Scripture that applies to Israel or the church is being applied to the nation. This is damnable heresy and yet, the most respected preachers in the land are preaching it. One example is the trend to preach that God is judging America. Listen more carefully and you will see how they are applying texts that speak to Israel and/or the church to the nation. America, and every other nation in the world, has always been under God’s judgment because none of this world and its systems has ever been saved or in a covenant with God, and “The whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.” (1John 5:19).
To suggest that God has suddenly begun to judge America as though it is a disobedient son is, what is commonly known as, universalism – that we are all children of God and that sonship is bestowed on people and nations because of their national status or something other than being born again. The Bible is clear that only those who have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ are the children of God. No nation, other than Israel, has ever been, nor will ever be, in such a relationship. In order for any nation be regarded as “Christian”, a majority of its citizens need to be born again and that has never happened and it is certainly further from reality now than ever before.
Here’s the problem. Those preachers and ministries that had set themselves up as watchmen and who were pointing out the error of Charismania, have one and all succumbed to the error of Nationalism. The fact that they did not see this coming and have themselves succumbed to it, shows that even they were not true watchmen. Nationalism left us with a remnant of the remnant.
And yet, that’s not the end. Those who escaped Charismania, fell to nationalism and those who survived nationalism have fallen to populism – the next wave of deception. Populism is the voice of the people, plural. It’s the entirety of the middle or lower class, speaking against, and combating, the elite. Or as Elon Musk recently reminded us Vox Populi, Vox Dei – The voice of the people is the voice of god! Thus in the world, the rabble rousers have stirred up the people against truth, facts, science, established norms, and authority.
What happens in the world should not affect the church, but it does. This spirit of mob-rule has invaded the churches and there has been a rebellion against and a rejection of godly men and God-appointed leaders, orthodox doctrine, and godly traditions. We have plunged headlong into the chaos of the book of Judges where every man did what was right in his own eyes (Judges 17:6). Every child has become the boss of their family and every dimwit knows more about doctrine than God-given teachers. The worldly, carnal, and immature have taken it upon themselves to run the gifted ministries out of town and to crown themselves as lords over God’s people. As a result, we are truly seeing a fulfillment of Proverbs 30:21-22: “For three things the earth is perturbed, Yes, for four it cannot bear up: For a servant when he reigns, A fool when he is filled with food, A hateful woman when she is married, And a maidservant who succeeds her mistress.” YouTube is glutted with videos by ignoramuses who have set themselves up as teachers, and by clever manipulation, have gathered a large following. There is no room left for humble, gifted and trained men of God. They are regarded as the elite who “by definition are evil” and must be ejected (2Timothy 4:3).
And yet it is not the end. Once the populace have control and have vented their frustrations on the leaders, they turn on one another. What Charismania did not devour, nationalism devoured, what survived nationalism succumbed to populism and the remnant of the remnant has finally begun to devour one another as individualism becomes the watchword. Personal rights trump responsibility to the Body of Christ as each one seeks his own good at the expense of the church. The idea of personal sacrifice is jettisoned as hedonism becomes the spirit of the age and of the church (Philippians 2:21).
Finally, the remnant of the remnant becomes the lukewarm church that Jesus found so revolting (Revelation 3:16). Yes, there is plenty of zeal for everything but for the Lord Jesus and the Gospel. Christians will wax eloquent about politics, conspiracy theories, sport, material things, celebrities, etc, but when it comes to prayer, witnessing and the Word, they are silent. They will binge watch the trash of the world for many hours but cannot read through the shortest books of the Bible in one go.
Yes, this is a fulfillment of Joel 1:4 “What the chewing locust left, the swarming locust has eaten; What the swarming locust left, the crawling locust has eaten; And what the crawling locust left, the consuming locust has eaten.”
And just as with Israel in Joel’s day, this is God’s judgment on the (visible) church. Indeed God is judging, but he is not judging the nation, he is judging the church “for the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1Peter 4:17). This is not the time to gloat but a time to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God.
We could easily despair that the church could possibly survive, were it not for the promise of the Founder of the church: “I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18). We must learn from Israel’s history that no matter how apostate the majority become, there will always be the few who remain faithful to the end. So what do we need to do if we want to be those who survive this present evil day?
First, we need to remain humble because “pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18) and “let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:12). There is no room for boasting that “we are the remnant”, the elect, or claim like Peter “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.” (Matthew 26:33).
Second, we need to rekindle a real and living relationship with the Lord. “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation.” (Matthew 26:41).
Third, we need to read, believe, and live the Bible. Many, if not most, of those who have been deceived by the above errors have fallen because they listened to the false preachers and accepted glibly their twisting of Scripture because they did not know the Word. But it is no good knowing the Bible, if we are not going to live it out in every aspect of our lives. Deception often catches people who, because of disobedience, have shut their ears to the truth. Forget about the prophetic updates, the latest “revelation”, and the popular preachers. Start reading the Bible with one intent – to hear the voice of the Shepherd direct your steps. Begin right now and put into practice the things that the Lord has been convicting you of through the Bible. Stop listening to the politicians and conspiracy theorists and get your heart tuned to the heartbeat of the Master.
Fourth, strengthen the bonds of fellowship. Get right with your brother. We need the Lord and we need one another. When Israel was in a similar spiritual state, “…those who feared the LORD spoke to one another, and the LORD listened and heard them; So a book of remembrance was written before Him For those who fear the LORD and who meditate on His name.” (Malachi 3:16).
The Lord, knowing the times in which we would live gave us very specific advice: “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25).
And, “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!” (Galatians 5:13-15).
The following text really sums up all the above:
“See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven, whose voice then shook the earth; but now He has promised, saying, “Yet once more I shake not only the earth, but also heaven.” Now this, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of those things that are being shaken, as of things that are made, that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear. For our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:25-29).
Anton Bosch – 16 December 2022