The Reformed Bible Church
In Suffolk County and Central Virginia
PO Box 2397 Appomattox,Virginia 24522
This Issue: The Assessment of the Situation and the Problems at hand concerning Church Apostasy.
"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of Knowledge: But fools despise Wisdom and Instruction." Proverbs 1:7
"Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor of thirst for water, but of hearing the Word of the LORD." Amos 8:11
In the Community of Christendom, we face an epidemic of incredible proportions. This malady is both spiritual and practical. It stems from the first and gives evidence in the last. The healthy visible Church is all but lost. Oh yes, there exist churches upon just about every street corner, yet, for the most part, they are whited tombs. They have the appearance of life, but inwardly are filled with dead menís bones. In the churches today there is much talk of Righteousness and Justice, but these are but vague concepts, which when tested in the realm of life, are found to be void of wisdom and practical application. It is true that among many of the visible churches gross heresy and error exist, but these particular problems are beyond the scope of this discussion, and it is not my desire to address them at this time.
Question: What is Apostasy? Apostasy is the falling away or departure from Truth. It may be viewed as the abandonment or total desertion of the Christian profession and practice. By definition an apostate is a traitor and false witness. Apostasy, therefore, is only found within those churches who have held the Truth of the Gospel, yet no longer manifest the purity of profession or practice. Thus they have changed the Truth of God for a lie and have exchanged the Glory of God for the foolishness of men.
Churches which have never known truth cannot fall away into perdition. They are already in perdition and were, ever since their inception. This narrows the scope to "faithful" (Reformed) churches by eliminating the many who hold another gospel other than Salvation by Grace Alone. It is my purpose to address only those visible congregations who have been given the Truth of the doctrines of Grace by God, so as to have only the Word of God as their Standard. Therefore, when we examine these churches, we must sadly conclude (although doctrinally faithful) that they too, are void of practical efficacy.
One sure proof of this lies in the churchís toleration of the blatant decadence and corruption in the nation around us, let alone within its own walls. One of the distinguishing characteristics of the True Church is its diligence to address sin and chasten those who are in blatant opposition against God and His precepts. Whether that sin is manifested in the home, the church or the nation ,the mark of the True Church is to exercise diligent authority in order to bring the sin to its demise. This Commission of Authority, by the Church, through its Elders and Deacons, extends into both the Christian Community as well as the national community. As Moses, Aaron, Nathan and Elijah give us the precedence, so must we then conform to their example.
A Careful Examination
When we carefully examine the community of these churches, we immediately observe that there is a loss of presence and power. Faithful pastors are despised and their authority rejected. Many members of the church begin to follow an autonomous agenda twisting the scriptures to solidify their warped argument. There is little talk of excommunication, as if this Biblical Precept, itself was sinful or barbaric. Faithful practicing of Church discipline is rather a marked evidence of the True Church and not a departure from it. Contemporary Church members mock the legitimate Ecclesiastical Authority and have no fear of the discipline of the church. Excommunication is an antiquated joke. In response, the churches have taken an unprecedented position of silence, and sinful toleration of sin and rebellion, both within their own walls and within the community around them. Counsel meetings are regarded as a waste of time and unimportant, despite the Scriptural mandates and examples in Holy Scripture.
Because of this terrible neglect of responsibility and submission to legitimate Godly rule, the church is suffering the chastening hand of God. Church officials, as well as members, have optioned for the pursuit of comforts rather than the pursuit of Holiness. They dishonor both Christís Kingdom and His Law. There has been a "choking out" of the saints by the cares and temptations of this world. The Divine office of each church member as Priest and King is no longer internalized. There is merely an outward conformity to Biblical standards without the inward transformation of heart, mind, and life.
Instead of Christianity being at the center of the lives of the professing Christian, it is an added ornament of religion. Thus, these self deceived "play church", with little more than head-knowledge, never lifting one finger in self sacrifice to serve the Living Christ. The Commission of the church by the Lord Jesus, therefore, is hid under a bushel. The City which has been commissioned to set itself upon a hill, has fallen into the carnal ease of Moab and has settled upon its lees. Instead of treading upon serpents and scorpions, the church has been trodden under foot by the wickedness of men and the philosophies of humanism. Consequently, the church has lost its savor, and the Gospel no longer is preached with the conviction and power to engage the culture.
Today, Christianity is set forth in a vacuum and not as a true commission from God in the real world. Escapism, isolationism and neutrality are the doctrines of the day, thereby becoming the practice of the church as a whole. The visible church wags the head at sins in the community and nation, yet is unwilling to do something about it. Even when sin is present in the walls of the church, the community of saints do little, if anything, to bring that sin to account and reconciliation of the sinner.
Amidst the pious singing of Sabbath- morning hymns, slander and whisperings are common place, and everyone is patiently awaiting the Rapture. The external church has fallen into the sleep of denial and complacency, forgetting that God is Holy, and that He is a God who never sleeps nor tolerates disobedience. The execution of Biblical Ethics and Practical Truths are no longer regarded as important because it deprives the individual of worldly comforts and social ease. Contrary to the Scriptures, calling both the church and the individual to "take up the cross of affliction and service", the pressures of the wicked majority scream to be pacified at all costs. "Speak no more in that Name" say they. "Cause the Holy One of Israel to cease before our eyes." "We will have no king but Caesar!"
There are two overall problems facing the visible church. One places the brunt of the problem upon the members while the other places blame upon the pastors. It seems as if there is a secret conspiracy of those in the church. Subconsciously church folk have silently agreed to tolerate only a portion from the charge of the Gospelís call to war. When that toleration is brought to the limit by a faithful pastor, the individual either moves to a new church, where they can hide from the challenge of the Truth, or begins to rebel against pastoral authority. Instead of using the Divine institution of Godís visible church as a platform to speak out against all atrocities against Righteousness, the professors of religion use the church to hide in, like Adam among the trees, in the Garden of God. The ultimate consent is to have no king but self. Thus there is an action of rebellion against faithful preachers in the attempt to thrust them from the ministration of Godís Word.
Like Jesus being brought to the brow of the hill, so too are men of God being brought to the slaughter by those of their own church household. These sons of Achan strive to live their lives in comfort and ease among the "goodly Babylonian garments", in the hope of being transported, without affliction, to glory. The directives of the True Church exercises too much authority and requires too much obedience for these Pharisees of self righteousness and good self opinions. And for all this the church lies desolate. Because sloth rules the day, whenever the boldness of the Spirit of God moves a pastor to assault the household of wickedness, they are labeled heretics and tyrants. When the anger of God becomes rage and manifests itself through the preacher against the wickedness of His people, the make-believing Christian charges the pastor with contention, severity and debate. They are not afraid to openly and vehemently assault the Lordís anointed. Little do they realize that this rebuke was from the LORD. Knowledge is taken for grace and personal piety is mistaken for active service unto the Lord. "Happy sermons" are exalted and the smooth things of humanistic religion is applauded. The result finds the church as nothing more than a community social club of cowardly, lying hypocrites, with Christianity as its external banner. And when these "sons of Korah" find themselves under the scrutiny of God and the Faithful preaching of His Word, they divert attention to trivial matters, "straining a gnat to swallow a camel". Infighting among church members is often purposefully applied in order to take the focus from the Covenant Commission from being realized.
We are living in a day where the honor of the Gospel and the duty it entrusts to the Christian is lightly esteemed. It is a day where success is measured in monetary wealth and worldly possessions, rather than treasures of Godly character and sacrificial service. Even in the area of education, the Community of Christians has made it a graven image, worshiping statanistic education principles rather than the principles set forth in Holy Scripture.
Christian Home Education has been largely perverted by Christian parents, who are training their Covenant Children to "be somebody" in the world of business, art, or science, when they ought to train them to be Christians. To these educators, Biblical logic and Biblical thinking is secondary to the worldís arts and sciences.
There is a large population of Home-schooling parents who have entirely missed the Biblical ideology behind Home Education, and are simply living their lives through their children, so as to be a success, according to the worldís standards. These parents have missed the mark, and sadly, so will their children. It is painfully obvious that the Standard of Biblical Reality is simply a vague notion of right and wrong in the minds of so many so-called Christian folk. Applied Theology is a forgotten virtue and any reminder of it is viewed with contempt.
And what of the marriage institution and the family unit? Are professing Christian men living in accordance with Holy Writ in the matters of marriage? Is there a spirit of benevolence toward their wives? Is there an open line of communication, prayer and devotion one toward another. Do men labor to love their wives even as Christ has loved His Church and gave Himself for her? Have the church leaders emphasized these areas of Truth? Has there been a focus upon the family to have the basic precepts of Scripture applied?
In my years of pastoring, I have seen the destruction of marriages initiated by so called "knowledgeable Christian Men". These men thought themselves to be something because of their good works or their astute knowledge of Godís Word. Yet, when in the privacy of their own homes, they acted as poorly, if not worse than, the un-churched with no regard to Biblical Commandments. Furthermore, whenever pastoral counsel was offered, these men became enraged and unruly even to the point of slander and hatred against the shepherds of the people.
And what of the wives? Are they living in piety and humble submission to the oracles of God? Or are they about the things of this world? Is their focus on the future of their inheritance or on what they can have today. Are they consumed with murmuring and whispering? Or are they about the things that become sound doctrine?
Ultimately, all these individual and family sins seep into the Community of the Church and bring havoc. The principle here is painfully simple and I pray very obvious. Personal sins will become marital sins, which will result in family sins, which will escalate into ecclesiastical sins. If an individual is out of order in his heart, he is out of order in his home, there fore he will be out of order in the church. Ultimately, it is destruction.
God is not silent in these matters. Whatsoever a man sows, that shall he reap. If one labors to sow to the flesh, of the flesh he shall reap.
God is presently bringing disciplinary sanctions upon the church and still we have not harkened to the Word of God nor have we understood the time in which we live.
The visible church sits as the Whore of Babylon, thinking herself rich, wise and clothed, yet she is poor, ignorant and naked. Those in the church can also be likened to the Pharisee that thanks God that he is not like every other man, especially those sinners "out there", yet is found to be despised in Godís eyes. This good opinion of self is a smoke in the nose of the Almighty and an offence to His Sovereign Power.
The reason for all the decay falls squarely upon the Church and its members. Each and every individual is to be held accountable for the irresponsibility they have practiced over so many years. We must be about the Fatherís business in the Church and in the nation. We must cease from endless debate on theological frames and notions, and focus upon Christian response in the "real world". We must also cease from investigating the many specs in our brethrenís eye, and remove the beam which is in our own. Only then will we function with Gospel Mercy, Wisdom and Power. The time has come to expose these sins for what they are, and to take deliberate and direct action for the Kingdom of Christ. If we dare do less than this, we will be laying the foundations of destruction for our children and the generations to come.
The Reformed Witness is a Ministry of the Reformed Bible Church
c/o PO Box 2397 Appomattox Virginia 24522
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Additional issues of "The Reformed Witness"
The Reformed Analysis
Other articles by Pastor Paul Michael Raymond