Skip to comments.Why Aren’t Christian Leaders More Discerning?
Posted on 01/22/2014 5:49:08 PM PST by HarleyD
Ive been all over the world, as you know, and have had lots of discussions with lots of Christian leaders and Ive read lots of things about the church and the history of the church and the theology of the church. Ive been all over everywhere and I can just tell you this. Right now in this day, and its been this way for a long time through this twentieth century, THE biggest problem in the church is its inability and unwillingness to distinguish true Christians from false. Its its literally killing the church.
You go all over the world, and you see people who claim to be Christians. Ive been in the eastern Europe and Ive seen the orthodox church which is by its own definition a Christian church. They believe theyre the only true Christians in eastern Europe. And then you go into western Europe, and earlier this year in France and then in the last couple of weeks in Italy and there is this massive monolithic system called Roman Catholicism which believes itself to be the only true Christian Church on the planet. Its one thing for them to believe it, its something else for Billy Graham to say the Pope is a fine, outstanding Christian. Something else for him to hold an evangelistic meeting and invite all the Catholics to cooperate. Its something else for Bill Bright to say that the Pope is a fine, outstanding Christian. Its something else for people in the ECT, the people who are in Christian leadership in America to embrace the Roman Catholics and say we all love the same Christ, we all serve the same God in the same way. And these are all our Christian brothers and sisters. Its one thing for these institutions to exist, its something else for those people who are Christians to embrace them as if theyre all true Christians. This obliterates the line of clarity and invites the enemy into the camp and just devastates the church.
You can turn on your television and watch TBN. Everybody that comes on is embraced as a Christian, even though its just just filled with false teachers and people who obviously havent been delivered Its the idea that anybody who believes in Jesus is a Christian. And if you want to push the point beyond that, youre somehow a problem and youre divisive and schismatic Liberal Anglicanism in England back in the 60′s was in its heyday and there were some evangelicals in the Anglican church and they thought Well, we need to move in to the Anglican church and get a hold of this thing and partner up with these brothers, theyre our brothers. We cant let things divide us, were all one church.
And it was David Martyn Lloyd-Jones who stood up and said this is wrong. Youve got to separate. And he was vilified and he was marginalized and he was pushed out, but he was right as time has proven because whatever evangelicalism was there has succumb to the power of liberalism and the pollution of the church.
You can look at the American denominations the historic denominations of the Presbyterians, and the Methodists and the Episcopalians and even largely the Lutherans and others and you can see the tremendous slide. And it goes back. They invited people into their schools, in their seminaries to teach. They said they were Christians but they were wrong and they came in and they stole the institutions and sent them right down the drain. This is deadly stuff. And now you even have evangelical churches that are designing their churches to make unbelievers comfortable.
This is frightening stuff. And I guess I feel at this point, Ive got nothing to lose anyway, I need to I have to be accountable to the Lord, its just time to stand up and say this this has got to be brought to the test of Scripture. You can have a thing called Amsterdam 2000, you can have 5,000 so-called evangelists and celebrate all this unity, but whos finding out whether these people are Christians? They come from Catholicism and orthodox groups and fringe groups and all kinds of strange groups and even some cults. I talked to a man even this week who said he thinks theres going to be many Mormons in heaven. This is continuing to escalate.
And I guess its time to just stand up and say there has to be a line drawn. The issue of who is truly a Christian is at the very center of the churchs life and ministry. This has to be protected. There isnt any fellowship between light and darkness, is there, 2 Corinthians 6? There isnt any concord between Christ and Satan. Two cant walk together unless they be what? agreed. You have to come out from among them and be ye separate and touch not the unclean thing.
And here is the church absorbing all of this. And now its so confusing that the church itself doesnt even know whos a Christian and frankly I dont think they particularly care as long as you say you believe in Jesus. A friend, Iain Murray who is a gifted theologian and a great biographer, [who] wrote the massive two-volume biography of Martyn Lloyd-Jones has also written on Jonathan Edwards and many others. He is a very esteemed Englishman and has been here many times, weve spent many hours together, has written a new book called Evangelicalism Divided in which I read it, just devoured it over the last few weeks while I was in Italy in the plane, in the back of the bus, in the room, everywhere because it just consumed me. Murray is tracking the twentieth century decline of evangelicalism and its a book of history that is very, very revealing. And Murray says, and I think hes absolutely right, he says, the inability of the evangelical church to distinguish between a Christian and a non-Christian is quote: The greatest failure of professing Christianity in the English-speaking world in the twentieth century, end quote.
He understands the implications. If you redefine non-Christians as Christians you obliterate the distinctiveness of the church and you therefore create an environment in which you have to tolerate error because these people represent error. He further writes, this is very important and insightful, The health of the church, and hes speaking as a historian here, having tracked it very carefully, the health of the church has always been in proportion to the extent to which the difference between Christian and non-Christian has been kept sharp and clear. Absolutely right. The starting point for the church is to be absolutely clear about who is saved and who is not. If were not clear about that, then we dont know whos on our side and we dont know who we really need to reach.
From the time that God began to form a people for Himself, Satan endeavored to intrude. From the time that the demons cohabitated with the with the daughters of men in Genesis 6, Satan has been trying to pollute and mix all the way down to sowing tares among the wheat. And its really true. Murray says, The most insidious opposition to the gospel has come from within worldly churches.
Ill say this as simply as I can. The gospel is more often attacked on TBN than it is on NBC. This has been the legacy of liberalism which has been embraced by quote/unquote evangelicals. This has been the legacy of Charismaticism where theology and Im not speaking about all the people but for the most part where the Movement tolerates anybodys view. This has been the legacy of the seeker-friendly pragmatic movement. This has been the legacy of evangelical ecumenism which wants to re-embrace orthodoxy and Catholicism and everybody else. And the confusion goes from the grass roots right on up to the top. Ive talked to the evangelical brain trust, if you will, and they arent even willing to commit to whos a Christian. Even my conversation with J.I. Packer, so capable and gifted a theologian and writer, when I asked him what is the line by which you determine a true Christian? All he could say was, Thats a good question.
For most of the last part of the twentieth century, the last 50 years, there has been a sustained effort to invent and promote a popular definition of Christianity, which is neither biblical nor legitimate and to fill the church with non-Christians. . .
Satan always wants to get the church confused about whos saved, then he can infiltrate and take over, as hes done in so many institutions and denominations.
Iain Murray again writes, When churches have recovered from apostasy, historically, such as at the time of the Reformation and the eighteenth century evangelical revival it has always been by a return to such discriminating preaching and practice. What he means is when theres ever a recovery from a time of apostasy, it has come when preaching has become discriminating.
What does it mean to discriminate? If you say you discriminate, what does it mean? If you say you hear people say, be a discriminating buyer, what does that mean? It means that you can choose the best out of the lot, right? You know how to discriminate. It means to discern. The only hope for the church is discriminating, discerning preaching. I dont think theres any organizational answer. I dont think we need more meetings, more seminars. We need preachers who will stand up and preach discriminating messages.
And Murray says, Given the great decline in the English-speaking churches of the twentieth century, the chief need again was the reassertion of the meaning of being a Christian. Wow! The chief hope for the church is discriminating preaching primarily directed at the issue of who is a Christian.
I dont care how widely known you are as an evangelical leader, to say that Roman Catholics and the Pope are wonderful Christians is not discriminating, he questions somebodys faculties of discernment. And sometimes I wonder if those who cant discern the true church cant discern it because theyre not part of it. I know people who arent a part of it cant discern it because the natural man understands not the things of God. I dont expect non-Christians to be discerning about the church, but I do expect Christians to be discerning about the church. And yet you have people who have risen to prominence in evangelicalism who have defined evangelicalism on a large scale who lack that discernment. And what we need is exactly what Murray says, we have to have some discriminating preaching. Its time its time to draw the line again and that means to be unpopular, I hate to say.
And people ask me why do people do this? Why do they compromise? Why arent they discriminating? Why dont they say what needs to be said? Why dont they say this is not a Christian institution, these people are not Christians? Why dont they make a clear-cut line? Why dont do they do that?
And the only answer I can come up with and I think its a general one and Murray in his book agrees with me on this, the fear of being alienated. Its the fear of man, its the desire for popularity. Its the desire for the widest possible acceptance. Its the desire for a reputation. Its the desire not to be marginalized and pushed off into a corner. Its a desire to be tolerable and tolerant because it affords you some level of popularity. Because it lets you move up the social strata in the world of Christianity. And so they seek the approval of man. And its amazing how they can seek the approval of man at the expense of the approval of the Lord of the church.
Dr. MacArthur's article on Deliverance is an expanded version of this article and very insightful.
Why? Because they serve another Master.
It’s sad anyone believes a man can be saved without being a Christian. Then again, nothing really surprises me. We know “narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Most people live and die without ever understanding the way of salvation, even people on church roles.
I understand his point and I agree. I will read the larger article. This excerpt read somewhat like a rant. Truly an important rant however.
You can turn on your television and watch TBN. Everybody that comes on is embraced as a Christian, even though its just just filled with false teachers and people who obviously havent been delivered
Really? He knows who’s a Christian and who’s not! When did God give him that power to determine who’s saved!!
**Its sad anyone believes a man can be saved without being a Christian.**
What about Elijah?
What about Moses?
Both appeared with Christ at the Transfiguration.
What about Enoch, whom the Bible says “Walked with the Lord”?
What about all the souls from the Old Testament who awoke from their graveyard sites and roamed around Jerusalem, visible to the believers? They were waiting for Christ to enter heaven after three days!
Would you please post the follow up article? I would like to read the next one. Thanks!
Nothing I said precludes Old Testament saints. The Old Testament saints were saved by the same free grace that saved me.
So are you dead too? You used a past tense “saved”. Made ne wonder....not!
You said nothing about Old Testament saints in your original post.
I didn’t need to.
**Its sad anyone believes a man can be saved without being a Christian.**
Even sadder when the pope believes it:
Sharing our experience in carrying that cross, to expel the illness within our hearts, which embitters our life: it is important that you do this in your meetings. Those that are Christian, with the Bible, and those that are Muslim, with the Quran. The faith that your parents instilled in you will always help you move on.
Since I suspect you don’t really care what I believe I’m not going to spend time giving a thoughtful answer. I thoroughly reject Rome’s teaching on assurance, just as I do most of her teaching.
For anyone struggling with assurance, Bishop Ryle’s short brief on assurance is worthwhile.
“We are always confident, knowing that whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord.” (2 Cor. 5:6)
While I agree with most everything MacArthur says, I would ask, what is the solution?
A doctrinal checklist that we have to sign off on before we can have fellowship? Who writes the list? How many issues are on it? 10? 100? 1,000? Who decides how many have to be checked “correctly” before one is accepted?
Or should evangelicals have their own “Inquisition”?
I remember a couple years after entering the ministry, I was in a restaurant eating breakfast studying my Bible. I thought a group next to me were believers by their talk, and sure enough, as they were leaving one came up to me. He began asking me questions: Did I believe in Jesus? His death, burial, resurrection? Ascension? Bodily return?
And so he went on through about 20 matters. He definitely was in an inquisition mode. He was stern. I was being interrogated. It troubled me.
Finally, when I had properly answered all of his questions correctly enough to satisfy him that I truly was a believer, he shouted, “Praise the Lord!”, gave a big smile and gave me a big hug.
That experience deeply troubled me, and for years I’ve used it as an example - of how we are NOT to have fellowship when we meet other believers.
I believe that when one says they are a Christian, we initially take them at their word, and seek to fellowship in the Lord. In time, we will find if they are truly believers. Then we can decide on our level of fellowship with them.
Another issue is that true believers in Christ do not all share the same doctrines - we all know this. What do we do here? At what point do we accept doctrinal differences, and at what point to we make it an issue of fellowship?
Paul said he preached “Jesus Christ and Him crucified...”, strongly implying that that was the foundation and focus of his ministry. Jesus Christ, His Person, and His work. The essentials of salvation.
What our dear brother has not addressed, at least in what I’ve read so far, is a solution to the problem. How do we join in fellowship with other true believers while in no way further dividing the already incredibly splintered body of Christ?
This is the elephant in the room. It is one thing to describe the problem.
And wholly another to provide a solution.
If so led, and if I have time, I may offer my thoughts on a solution at a later time.......
Let’s ponder for a moment what God ourFather may think. Let’s see, I accept my sons offer to go to the world to help those who are no more knowledgable than ants, they then kill him physically by their sins and deeds and cannot even visualize what is being said, then they say they worship me, I need no worship from ants who don’t know I am there..so after all of the heavenly effort they think I am an ego maniac...the truth is I live in all, if you love me, love me in all, you are but embryos in a galactic egg..I speak to you through your reality and from the outside so you may learn to hear my voice, to worship me, love me in all things.., since my son died for you, to not accept this divine gift which my beloved suffered so terribly for..i would suggest all on earth seek my favor and learn to heal the body, else i will pour my wrath out on the world....I spoke to you through the Aeons and continually call you to a supernatural reality, to not accept my son as the only reason you hear me at all and your saviour is to kick me in the teeth..at the coming my mercy will end...
So when we see christians we should see and confess we do not understand, it is not about how good we are, because we confess being christian and seek to repent we should be the first to display our humility..
Look at john the baptist, said to be the greatest man on earth, I am not worthy to tie his shoes, but this should give great joy to earth..we will always be seen as hypocritical..we are..but we have a king who is rightious and knows the Father, who sees the reality he has made for us. If the world cannot see in their hearts, the egg was not fertilized by the spirit of God..and will not be born in the heavenly kingdom.....as Jesus said, they will know you by your love for each other.
FAITH! in who? Yahweh Repentance...Obedience...Righteousness...Who is Yahweh...Elohim...plural godhead...Yahshua...his death, burial and resurrection...atonement...born again...Salvation.
All can be saved through Christ, none are worthy..not moses, or any prophet that appeared in the trasfiguration..they all have to know who God is, Christ is the only voice this world has ever heard, if we could turn creation backwards it would melt into Christ words, let there be light. There is no other way, all previous knowledge given through the ages is severed and unfulfilled...Rejoice, God has given us a just, knowledgable, king..make his path straight....smile..
So are you saying you can believe that you are saved, then go off and embezzle your employer, or kill your neighbor, and you will still get to heaven?
OSAS is a false doctrine.
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