Blunt Observation of the 21st Century Body of Christ
Those of you who have followed my writings on this website for the past year have read of struggles, praise, anxiety, concern, and criticism regarding the issues pertaining to the conditions we are experiencing in this world as the return of our Lord Jesus Christ draws ever near with each passing day.
I have observed them based upon the journey I have taken as a minister of the Gospel as well as the foundation of Holy Scripture. I have shared with you as friends and brethren those things that have caused me to question what I have done in my life for the glory of Christ, as well as the call to pray for me as I have struggled with varied illnesses that have kept me out of the game for a period.
From the responses I have received this past year, it seems that what I have shared has produced a number of believers to be comforted in the fact that what they have seen in the downward spiral of human history is in agreement with what I have written. I have also received some criticism of which I have taken the time to respond to and helped them see where I am coming from based upon Scripture and study. This has settled a lot of concerns and has brought up the reality that we can politely disagree on some secondary issues without coming to verbal blows that could ruin our familial relationship as brothers and sisters in Christ.
The last thing I want is conflict, especially when it is becoming more obvious that we’d better unite as one family in the body of Christ under His Lordship and bear one another’s burdens, or we literally hang with one another, ignorant of what the LORD may have done in our respective lives that have brought glory to Him even in the darkest of times and days.
I want to bring a phrase to your attention that we as the remnant church use when we are trying to live as we should, and it is the phrase, “the Lordship of Jesus Christ.” That is the prime focus of those of us who take our walk with Him seriously, avoiding the fads and trends of the modern church that seem more and more to emphasize social justice, advocacy of certain groups, acceptance of lifestyles in the name of “tolerance,” and the overall belief by some that to be a Christian is to adopt the attitude of what I saw in books, and in some congregations that we are to behave as “King’s Kids.”
This mindset is, quite frankly, an exercise in self-worth, and to expect the continuing favor and blessing of God without the discipline of duty, obedience, responsibility, and necessity of occasional discipline to remind us that He is the King who is in charge and we are to be His loyal subjects in line with His will and direction, despite how we feel or think.
What I have seen in the years I have served as a minister is the loss of the fact that the God who we profess to serve is sovereign and has the absolute power to do to us as He pleases without our input or advice. I believe that this concept is missing in what passes for church activities and ministries today. While claiming a belief in God, we chaff when it comes to the blunt fact that He demands a few things from us in exchange for His merciful gift of salvation that He didn’t have to give us in the first place. To believe and confess in the Lordship of Jesus Christ, we need to examine the terms and conditions of this fact of the sovereignty of God.
If memory and back-up files remind me of anything, it is that I have touched upon this subject in an earlier column, but I believe that this topic is worth repeating if for nothing more than to get us to be quiet and meditate on His glory, grandeur, mercy, goodness, and rule over the affairs of this universe. It should be obvious by now that I believe this is what is missing from the modern church and how, by recognizing this fact, we can renew our strength and get busy with being useful in advancing the truths of the gospel before the time of His coming to take us to heaven, which I don’t think will be that long off.
It’s one thing to sit back and criticize the state of the church without bringing forth that counsel based upon the love I have for Christ’s body and a sincere desire to see it come back to its purpose and be used to glorify Him. Real care for an issue or individual is to make them see where they have strayed, and then to direct them back to the old paths that led to the love of our great Almighty God.
I’d like to give you examples of what is meant by “the Lordship of Jesus Christ” and the “Sovereignty of God” that is, for the most part, missing from the work of the 21st century church.
Sovereignty means absolute allegiance and devotion to God and His Leadership without question. We have made the mistake of thinking that whatever is done in the church today has to be blessed by God because it sounds like a good idea. We tend to think that new ideas and teachings from famous figures are an acceptable substitute for getting on our knees and asking the King what He wants us to do, whether it be popular or not. Pastors and church leaders need to quit asking what people want and to seek what the LORD wants, which may not be what we think needs to be done. It is in our best interest as well to shut off everything and get alone with our Creator and Ruler and seek His counsel. He may just knock us on our backsides in order to get our attention.
Sovereignty means to adhere to the laws and standards by which the King demands His subjects are to obey and enact. Our LORD gave us His inerrant, all-sufficient, all-powerful Word to teach, guide, and convict us, as well as give us the structure of how a true church should operate.
When a church starts to doubt the accuracy of the Word, they start substituting their own opinions and beliefs for Divine direction, open themselves up to compromise with the world in the name of “tolerance,” and begin inviting people in to join without the expectation to change and come under the rule of Christ. They start ignoring the Scriptures and develop ideas and teachings foreign to its authority, and will soon become ineffective and useless as a means of presenting the truth.
Sovereignty means that we don’t get our own way; it doesn’t mean that the church belongs to us to do with as we wish. I have seen this drama play out in too many churches where the deacons, families, or the pastor refer to it as “my church,” or declare “my granddaddy built this church” and challenge anyone to change it, or split because someone got mad over the carpet color, or music, or a host of other things. Churches like this will die and do the cause of Christ a big favor. The church belongs to Jesus Christ and Him alone, and the sooner some of these folks get it, they can start acting like it.
Sovereignty means that we will be held accountable for what we did and didn’t do for the Lord Jesus. Kings expect their subjects to do their appointed duty and give an account of what they did to make sure that what is commanded will be carried out without hesitancy or excuse.
Scripture plainly teaches that those of us who have confessed Christ as Lord and Savior will have to answer for our words and actions at His judgment seat. This is not to judge our salvation, but to receive those rewards and admonitions for what was and wasn’t done. For some, there will be crowns, and there will be those whose works will burn up and end up smelling like smoke. We do and say some outlandish and fleshly things during our time here, and we shouldn’t let any time pass between what was done and said and to ask for forgiveness and a renewed desire to obey the LORD.
Sovereignty means to be merciful to the subject in spite of that subject’s deliberate rebellion and disobedience, and to not give him or her what they really deserve. We ought to be on our knees day and night thanking God that He chose to save those who, before being redeemed by His sovereign grace and salvation, hated and didn’t want anything to do with Him.
The Scriptures teach that, before we were divinely rescued, we were the enemies of God. When we read the Scriptures, we come to the cold hard fact that we rebelled against His authority and walked away from Him. He could have let us go on to our just punishment in eternal hell, and He would have been perfectly just and within His will as God to do so.
He really owes us nothing when you think about it. Why should He? Despite what some preachers say, we are not “champions,” “winners,” “blessed and highly favored,” or whatever the catch phrase is today. The blunt truth is that we are filthy, degraded, godless, barbaric, heartless, hell-bound scoundrels who, by His mercy, have received Divine pardon for our crimes through the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross.
Sovereignty means that, despite what we do or say, the King has the final word and will bring all things under His dominion and control to do with as He wishes, despite what we might do or say. Everything belongs to Him, and we have no right to say otherwise. What He gives us can also be taken away if need be, and it’s for our own good if that occurs.
I tremble for these religious hucksters who teach that God must keep us healthy, wealthy, and that we somehow have the audacity to tell Him how to run things. There is no talk of humility, subservience, holiness, obedience, evangelism, or bowing before Him. I can guarantee beyond the shadow of a doubt that if God took everything away from these wolves, they would curse Him to His face. We tend to forget that we can gain the world, but lose our soul in the process.
The Scriptures tell us that this world and the universe will be destroyed by fire and remade in the plan of God. For those who dare to question and argue, just remember that He holds your life in His hands, and can take you out whenever He wishes. Jets, houses, and cars turn to junk. Our souls are priceless.
Sovereignty means that our character and lifestyle need to be in line with what the King demands of us as His subjects, and to act as such despite what the world thinks, says, or does. Our devotion to the Lordship of Christ means to never compromise our character.
We are to not let the world and its systems decide how we should behave, or be forced to embrace something that is totally against the standards of what we are expected to be as subjects of the King.
The Scriptures plainly tell us that we are in the world, but we are not of the world. A friend of the world is an enemy of God. Why?
Because if we play along with the world’s games, we are in essence telling the LORD that His standards and expectations aren’t sufficient, and that man’s corrupted interpretations are the way to live. We have the audacity to say that God isn’t good enough to meet our needs or help us develop what authentic character and morality is supposed to represent. If we do fall into this mindset and afterwards seek His forgiveness, He will do so, according to His Word. Our Lord Jesus said that He will never leave or forsake us, that we are in His hands, and no one can take us away from Him if we are truly His.
Sovereignty means that this world as we know it will not go on much longer, and that the evil we see and experience will be met with justice and due punishment for those who have rebelled against the King’s authority. The Word tells us that the evil that is present will come to an end. Wrongs will be made right. The innocent will see their perpetrators punished for the harm they have caused. Every abuse will be avenged, and every murderer who thought he or she got away with it will be brought before the bar of God’s justice and given the due punishment. No one will be exempt or forgotten who have brought harm to God’s people. Each rebel will be tried and convicted by the evidence of his or her own life apart from God’s plan and direction that they could have chosen, but it will be too late to repent.
The Scriptures tell us that the Lake of Fire will be the eternal prison for the unjust throughout history, and the final battle between The LORD and Satan will be settled.
Sovereignty means that God has chosen to reward His people with the glory of a new heaven and new earth where there will be nothing bad or sordid to pollute the beauty of the new creation. There will be no more tears or sorrow; and I believe that in His mercy, when He wipes away our tears, He will also remove from our memory those whom we knew and who chose instead to rebel against the LORD and His authority who are now in the Lake of Fire.
All of the evil we have faced in this present life will be forgotten and removed from us. We will enjoy eternal bliss and meaningful labor as we serve the King in all His glory for all time. We will have fellowship with each other and with our LORD for all eternity, which is far better than what we deserve. The book of Revelation ends with this scene and the blessed truth and hope that He is coming soon.
Last of all, sovereignty means that the Lord Jesus desires to have you in His kingdom but on His terms. He bids us to come to Him with a broken and contrite heart, sorry for the sins we have committed, and to surrender everything and all that we are to His Lordship and saving grace.
We cannot come to God with a deal or bargain. Salvation is His alone, and there is no other way to heaven and the Father except through Jesus. Take it or leave it. You’re not on the throne. You will bow to Him one day, either as Lord or Judge.
Church of the 21st century, what is your answer?