The Church of the Lord Jesus Christ is in crisis and the enemy is gaining force. The biblical foundation of our faith has been ruptured by a secular assault, the likes of which, we have not seen. And while victory is assured and even the “gates of Hades” will not overpower Christ’s Church (Matt 16:18); the wall is broken down and believers are being devoured (1 Pet 5:8). We need soldiers who will “contend earnestly for the faith” (Jude 1:3).
The Book of Nehemiah provides a historical reference from which to draw. When Hanani and his fellow countrymen came into Susa, they gave Nehemiah the following report concerning the status of the Holy City of God:
“The remnant there in the province who survived the captivity are in great distress and reproach, and the wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates are burned with fire” (Neh 1:3).
With the wall of Jerusalem “broken down” there was no longer protection from the enemy. God’s people were without refuge, stricken of hope. The rampart, which divided them from the world, had been breached. The Bible records Nehemiah’s response:
“When I heard these words, I sat down and wept and mourned for days; and I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven” (Neh 1:4).
The news we are receiving today is much the same. The Body of Christ has been overtaken with a brutal onslaught. The walls and foundation of our faith are falling under the powerful attack of the enemy and I submit it is time for mourning, repentance, fasting, and prayer “before the God of heaven!”
The weapons of the enemy include emotion, experience, intellectualism, and bias, each challenging the veracity of Scripture as the foundation for life and eternity. Christians are dropping and surrendering in alarming numbers, yielding to secular pressures and the demands of unbelievers.
Recently we see two prominent issues taking center stage in the church: mental illness/suicide and the homosexual agenda. The church is being bombarded with pressure calling for the abandonment of scriptural order and the acceptance of public opinion. Increasingly the church is chided as lacking compassion whenever it references scriptural teachings in these areas. And regrettably the assault has weakened our stance and is eroding the boundaries of truth.
Case in point: Exodus International, a ministry devoted to the salvation and restoration of homosexual men and women, is closing operations after 37 years. Its former president, Alan Chambers, has resigned and now is extending a public apology for the “trauma” he and the organization might have caused the “gay community.”
“I cannot apologize for my deeply held biblical beliefs about the boundaries I see in scripture surrounding sex, but I will exercise my beliefs with great care and respect for those who do not share them,” Chambers said in his apology. “I cannot apologize for my beliefs about marriage. But I do not have any desire to fight you on your beliefs or the rights that you seek. My beliefs about these things will never again interfere with God’s command to love my neighbor as I love myself” (quoted in Shapario, 2013).
Can’t you hear the mortar cracking and the walls coming down? Chambers fails to recognize that his beliefs are irrelevant. Furthermore he offers an attitude of acceptance and endorsement for any “beliefs or the rights” others may seek. I am reminded of the mantra of the 1970’s: “I’m OK, You’re Ok…” The trouble is, we are not Ok! (Rom 3:23).
This universalist theology defies the integrity of the Bible, and leaves all matters to the judgment and desires of a debased human mind. Without Scripture as our defining guide, anything is acceptable. And since we desire to go our “own way” (Is 53:6), anything that restricts our movement, is by nature offensive to human sensibility.
But Christians should be talking about what is offensive to a Holy God! Failure to demonstrate God’s divine requirements and righteous judgment is tantamount to evangelical malpractice. The remedy for blatant sin is not “great care and respect” as Chambers suggests, but rather a transformational encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ!
How can one recognize sin without hearing God’s commandments? And how can one be born-again until he/she acknowledges the need for salvation that can only come through the awareness of sin? And yet we are shocked to find that God’s Word draws some while provoking others to still greater rebellion.
Have we forgotten “the gate is small and the way is narrow”(Matt 7:14)? The love of Christ is unquestioned, yet He knew the truth would not bring comfort but rather conflict. Jesus said:
“Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matt 10:34).
The truth of Scripture divides. The world crucified the holiest man who ever lived! How can we expect the world to get along with His true followers? Hatred, prejudice, and condemnation have no place in evangelism; but “truth in love” is the mandate of God (Eph 4:15). True love desires salvation for the lost, and salvation does not come through agreement with sin and the compromise of God’s law.
What is loving about the endorsement of unregenerate “belief” that yields no evidence of transformation. How does one become born-again if there is no confession of sin? John wrote:
If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us (1 Jn 1:8-10).
The notion of “live and let live” cannot exist in Christ’s church. To accept and have fellowship with false believers while endorsing the continuance of willful, repetitive sin is blasphemous! Paul wrote:
But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler -not even to eat with such a one (1 Cor 5:11).
It seems we have lowered the standard of faith to the point that even the most tepid profession brings agreement. When we drop the wall of Scripture, the Body will be overtaken by unbelievers who will soon define the standards of the organized church and dictate its goals and direction.
Organizations like the Gay Christian Network are insisting upon inclusion and acceptance within the traditional church. Its founder Justin Lees states, “We believe there’s room in the church for a disagreement about the morality of gay sex” (quoted from gaychristian.net). Really? What will such unity yield if in the end all are in disagreement with God?
I understand all humans are sinful (Rom 3:23). I acknowledge that God is impartial (Rom 2:11) and that homosexual sex is no more sinful than lying. In fact God states both of the following:
“You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination” (Lev 18:22).
“Lying lips are an abomination to the LORD…” (Prov 12:22a).
The difference is this: There is no organized group of liars seeking endorsement for their abominable sin! Likewise fornicators and idolaters are not petitioning an exception to scriptural truth so they can rest comfortably within the Body without obedience and change. In fact true followers of Christ divide from their previous definition:
Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God (1 Cor 6:9-11).
“Such were some of you…” Born-again believers are “washed” and “sanctified”; they are transformed into new creatures (2 Cor 5:17). How can the church allow the world to overrun these truths and provide temporal relief for those who utterly refuse to repent and submit to God’s authority?
I pray we take up the cause and rebuild the wall that honors the Lord and protects His Church. Christians have a duty to call the lost to salvation, but we also bear the burden of defending the truth and protecting the Body from heresy. Let’s follow Nehemiah’s example:
“You see the bad situation we are in, that Jerusalem is desolate and its gates burned by fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem so that we will no longer be a reproach.” I told them how the hand of my God had been favorable to me and also about the king’s words which he had spoken to me. Then they said, “Let us arise and build.” So they put their hands to the good work (Neh 3:17-18).
Scripture is the cement that holds the wall together and sets us apart as a distinguished people (Ex 33:16). The wall will never keep true seekers out. There is a door through which any may enter. Jesus taught:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep” (Jn 10:1-2).
Anyone who comes into the church by “some other way” (a hole in the wall), is a “thief and a robber.” One cannot bulldoze his/her way into the Kingdom! But the Word draws us to the Truth of Christ:
“I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (Jn 10:9-10).
Don’t surrender to the pressures of the secular progressives who beg for inclusion when the spiritual intent is to destroy. Remember Paul encouragement:
Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you (2 Tim 1:13-14).