THE HISTORICAL DISASTER
THE HISTORICAL DISASTER
From: The Mainspring Copyright Š 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
It appears that the Catholic Church emphasizes its rites and the Protestant churches stress the grace of forgiveness. In neither case is a transformed moral personality shown to be the purpose of the Divine redemption. In many instances righteous behavior is held to be desirable but not the necessary outcome of the Christian salvation. We Christians have suffered and the world has suffered because of our lack of righteous, godly behavior.
THE HISTORICAL DISASTER
After two thousand years of Christianity the sin in the world is unbelievable. If the purpose of the Gospel of Christ is to turn the nations to righteousness it certainly has had limited success.
The Christian religion from the beginning has been practiced in Europe and since then has spread to many parts of the world. Yet today in many nations boys and girls are sold into sexual slavery to satisfy the lusts of adults. Pornography is widespread.
In the United States of America, a nominally Christian nation, abominations abound. Some public schools at every grade level are seeking to create a favorable attitude toward homosexual behavior, a practice condemned by both the Old and New Testaments. Innocent people are shot dead in the streets. Children are mutilated. Christian values increasingly are despised. Sorcery is accepted in place of the Scriptures. Christians are near to social ostracism and penalties.
The Muslims, who constitute a large fraction of the world’s population, hate the United States of America. Why? Because the moral practices of the United States are an abomination to Islam.
Why are the moral practices of the United States an abomination to Islam? Because the Christian influence in the United States has not resulted in a nation of people who live in righteousness, holiness, and the fear of God.
Why has the Christian influence in the United States of America not resulted in a nation of people who live in righteousness, holiness, and the fear of God? Why do the Muslims and Buddhists emphasize and strive for principles of morality and American Christians often do not? Why do Muslims fall on their face and pray publicly several times a day, seeking the approval of Allah, while in the United States such behavior would be a cause for mockery or considered illegal? It is because of the teaching of lawless grace, of forgiveness apart from righteous behavior, that has dominated Christian thinking throughout the centuries.
If The Christian churches taught and practiced the laws of the Kingdom of God as presented in the Judaic and Christian Scriptures, if the light of "good works" were shining, it is possible that some of the members of Islam and other major religions of the world would be favorably impressed. They then might take a different attitude toward the Lord Jesus.
The Christian religion—at least in our day—often does not insist on righteous behavior as essential to salvation. We may stress the provisions and truths of the Divine redemption, such as belief in the Lord Jesus, the blood atonement, the bodily resurrection of the Lord, forgiveness of sin, but we often do not present righteous behavior as an important aspect of redemption, protesting that righteous works are "legalism."
It appears that the Catholic Church emphasizes its rites, including confession of sins, and the Protestant churches stress the grace of forgiveness and God’s love and mercy. In neither case is a transformed moral personality shown to be the purpose of the Divine redemption.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 5:6)
In many instances the believers view righteous, holy behavior as desirable but not the necessary outcome of the Christian salvation, and sometimes consider attempts to live righteously as pharisaism.
We Christians have suffered and the world has suffered because of our lack of righteous behavior.
The Russians, the Arabs, the Jews, the Chinese, and other governments and races have rejected the Christian salvation, not because such nations do not desire the approval of God but because of the foolish, immoral, self-seeking behavior of the Christians and the competition among their denominations.
Yet, Christ and His Apostles stressed righteous behavior and commanded us to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.
Let us think for a moment about what has gone wrong with the mainspring of the Christian religion, what has paralyzed and destroyed the Christian witness in so many instances.
Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. (Acts 2:36)
Peter’s words proclaim the foundation of the Christian faith. God has made Jesus, whom men crucified, both Lord and Christ. This is the foundation of our faith and other aspects of our theology are built on this rock.
Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. (Acts 5:31)
God’s plan of redemption includes forgiveness of sins for whoever will believe and receive the blood atonement made on the cross of Calvary. Forgiveness of sins through Christ is part of the provisions and truths of the Christian faith and is a major message of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.
Forgiveness depends on repentance, on a change of behavior, as we notice in the above verse.
The provisions and truths of the Christian faith are the only means of converting sinful man into the moral image of Christ so he will behave righteously. While the Divine provisions and truths offered in the Christian faith, such as forgiveness through the blood atonement, are not the Kingdom laws of righteous behavior, they must result in righteous behavior or else God’s intention in providing them is aborted.
And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee. (Acts 24:25)
Paul did not discuss with Governor Felix going to Heaven and the "rapture," as would be done today. Paul reasoned of righteousness, temperance (self-control), and the Divine judgment that will fall on all who practice wickedness.
The Christian churches, when their advice is sought, should reason with the leaders of government concerning righteous behavior, self-control, and the Day of Judgment, and not offer a cheap grace that requires no change of behavior.
But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance [appropriate to repentance] (Acts 26:20)
"Repent and turn to God, and do works." "And do works."
There is far too much emphasis on "free grace" today and not nearly enough on works of righteousness. Turning toward God in repentance and works of righteousness are a major part of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, being on the same level of importance as forgiveness through faith in the blood of the Lamb. Today we seldom emphasize repentance and righteous behavior with the same seriousness as we do grace and forgiveness.
The principal message of the Apostles, as recorded in the Book of Acts was repentance, that is, a change of behavior. Forgiveness was preached only in association with repentance. This is not true today, and the result of our unscriptural preaching is the moral horrors that are filling the earth.
Christian people are becoming upset with what is taking place in the secular governments, and indeed they should be upset! But the fault lies in the churches. God is dealing today with the lack of repentance on the part of the believers in Christ.
The major subjects of the Book of Acts appear to be the proclaiming of the mysteries of the provisions and truths of the Divine redemption including the forgiveness of sins, repentance from the sinful behavior of the world, and a righteous life lived in faith toward God.
During the Christian Era the original preaching has been altered. The alteration has largely destroyed the effectiveness of the Christian witness.
There has been a removal of the emphasis upon repentance and righteous behavior in the Kingdom of God as a necessary part of redemption.
An abstract grace virtually unrelated to behavior (accompanied by a flight to Heaven of the fleshly believers) appears to be the primary emphasis of the Christian teaching and efforts of today. Yet such an emphasis cannot be found in the Book of Acts.
In many instances we have succeeded in creating churches and denominations. But it seems we have not been nearly as successful in producing disciples and teaching them to keep the New Testament commandments.
We have departed from the Word of God!
The almost exclusive emphasis on a warped presentation of the provisions and truths of salvation rather than the creation of righteous people has succeeded in removing the lampstand of testimony from numerous Christian efforts.
The fundamentalist churches of today alternate between raging against the practices of the secular governments and proclaiming the imminent departure of the believers to live in golden mansions in the spirit realm. They are missing God on both counts.
The secular governments are reflecting the moral weakness and confusion of the churches.
The Christian churches have failed the Lord and the world by presenting Divine grace as an alternative to godly behavior in place of teaching the commandments of Christ to the nations of the earth, thus ignoring the directive of Christ in the Great Commission.
The presentation of Divine grace as an abstraction that operates independently of the behavior of the believer dates back to the first century of the Christian Era. One can take certain verses from Paul’s arguments against the Judaizers and construct a "salvation" that is a mental position rather than a new righteous creation.
By stressing the forgiveness included in the Divine redemption, while not emphasizing a change of behavior to the same extent as the accepting of forgiveness, the Gospel message of today has destroyed the Divine testimony, the testimony of righteous works. It is the righteous behavior of individuals whom the Gospel has transformed that is the moral light, and the only possible moral light, of the secular nations.
By emphasizing eternal residence in Heaven as the goal of redemption, and adding to this the pre-tribulation "rapture" doctrine, the role of the churches has been changed from that of the moral light of the world to a Heaven-oriented special kingdom which, as we have stated, either rages against the moral abominations of today’s large nations or else looks with hope toward an immediate evacuation of the believers (in their untransformed state) to the spirit realm.
We might add that the contemporary "Reconstruction" movement is an expression of outraged Christians who hope to tear down the secular government and replace it with a government more in line with Christian moral values. While the frustration of believers is understandable, this movement is doomed to failure because it depends on the efforts of the sinful, self-willed adamic nature to accomplish that which only the Spirit of God can bring to pass. It attempts to use carnal rather than spiritual weapons. The efforts of adamic flesh to force Christian moral values on unregenerate people may result in the persecution of all Christians.
God’s royal priesthood of today is bound with the chains of involvement in the world system, the lusts of the flesh, and self-will. The Holy Spirit of God is ready to judge the churches and the nations for their abominable practices, and also is calling out from the churches a warlike remnant and is judging and removing the chains of worldliness, sin, and self-will from the members of this remnant. The holy remnant will play an important role during the age of moral horrors that is appearing on the horizon.
God’s remnant of today (as has been true of the godly Christian remnants throughout history) understand the absolute necessity for seeking God’s Kingdom and His righteousness. They realize that repentance and righteous behavior play an equal role with forgiveness of sins, in the Christian salvation.
The bulk of Paul’s teaching has to do with righteous behavior, not imputed (ascribed) righteousness. This is true of all the books of the New Testament. The Divine redemption includes forgiveness as the first step toward transformation into the image of Christ and toward union with Christ. But to present Divine grace as an abstract, eternal amnesty unrelated to behavior is to abort the entire program of salvation. The Divine salvation is infinitely more than forgiveness of sins. Its main products are deliverance from sin and the forming of Christ in us.
By grace we obtain forgiveness. By deliverance and the formation of Christ in our inner nature we enter the Kingdom of God.
But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you. (Luke 11:20)
Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:21)
The greatest lie ever told, the lie being proclaimed over and over again, is that we will enter the Kingdom of God by grace even though we "do such things."
No one ever enters the Kingdom of God except by repenting, by forsaking his wicked practices and turning to God in newness of behavior. Christ enables us to do this. Christ does not serve as the Divine excuse for wicked behavior.
Let us think about the Great Commission.
And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach [make disciples of] all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. (Matthew 28:18-20)
Make disciples of all the nations.
Teach them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.
The commandment is to make disciples of all of God’s elect found in the nations, water baptism being part of the provisions and truths of the Divine salvation, and also to teach the elect to obey the commandments of the all-powerful Christ, which are the laws of the Kingdom of God.
And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. (Mark 16:15,16)
Both the Catholic Church and the Protestant churches have sought to go into all the world and preach the good news of forgiveness through the blood of Jesus, encouraging people to be converted through some form of baptism in water.
But teaching the members of the nations the righteous ways of the Lord, putting repentance and godly living on the same level of importance as forgiveness and the other provisions and truths of the Divine redemption, has not occurred in many instances in either the Catholic or Protestant organizations.
It appears that the perennial problem of all religions, including the Christian religion, is to assign more importance to the membership and mysteries of the religion than to transformed moral behavior. Thus abominations are performed under the cover of the religion, and the institutions become the cages of unclean spirits.
The historical record of the Catholic Church, with its torture and murder of dissidents and its building of cathedrals on the backs of the poor is hardly a credit to the name of the gentle Jesus of Nazareth. The Catholic Church appears to be nearly totally ignorant of the authoritative and powerful provisions God has made for personal transformation and of the absolute importance of such moral transformation in the Kingdom of God.
The historical record of the Protestant churches may be somewhat closer to the Nature of the Lord Jesus but not much closer. Many early groups, such as the first Methodists, stressed holy living. But today in the fundamentalist churches the accent seems to be almost entirely on the grace of forgiveness, mansions in Heaven, and a flight to Heaven so that today’s believers (unlike the Christians throughout the centuries as well as multitudes of today’s believers) will not suffer persecution.
It is not important at this time to delve into the interaction of the various popes and the kings of Europe. The interaction was political war and little else. We understand that there were numerous priests in humble parishes who taught righteous behavior to their flocks. But the denomination as a whole did not fulfill the Great Commission. It did not by example or precept teach the nations to obey the Sermon on the Mount. The government of the Catholic Church by its behavior did not bear a true witness of Jesus. It murdered, stole, and coveted wealth and power. Thus it did not fulfill the Great Commission, neither living nor teaching the commandments of the Lord.
The Protestant churches of today are not fulfilling the Great Commission as it is presented in the Scripture. In many instances they are enlisting believers but they are not teaching them to obey the commandments of the Lord. They also appear to understand little or nothing of the authoritative and powerful provisions God has made for the transformation of the believer or of the absolute necessity in the Kingdom of God for such transformation.
The message of the Christian churches, in addition to forgiveness through the blood of the cross and a few of the other Divine provisions and truths, is a mixture of humanism, capitalism, psychology, democracy, Gnosticism, antinomianism, and a ceaseless repetition of how much God loves us and at any moment is going to snatch up the untransformed believers into Paradise, there to be married to the righteous and holy Lamb of God on the basis of "grace."
In addition, there also is much foolishness and silliness practiced during the worship services.
The Protestant churches in many instances are not living according to the commandments of the Lord and His Apostles or directing the nations to perform the righteous works commanded by the Lord. When we do have the opportunity to bring what is supposed to be the good news of the Kingdom of God we stress forgiveness plus the mixture of humanism, capitalism, psychology and so forth that we mentioned previously. None of this teaching transforms the believer into the image of the Lord. Only the good corn of the Word of God builds up Christ in the believer. The extraordinary emphasis on "church growth" contributes to the everlasting babyhood of the believers.
Sometimes medical and psychologic treatment is necessary because of the wide range of physical, mental, and emotional disorders prevalent in our society. An individual in distress is not able to take up his or her cross and follow the Lord Jesus any more than a person with a broken leg can run a race. However, bringing the believer to a state of health is not the objective. The objective is to be transformed into the moral image of Christ and to enter untroubled rest in the Father through Christ.
There is a stress today on "wholeness," the wholeness of the adamic personality. Imagine the Lord Jesus or His Apostles emphasizing that we should use the Gospel to create a "whole" adamic personality! There is one place to assign the whole adamic personality, and that is the cross of Calvary.
As we have stated, this is not to deny the medical and psychologic assistance needed by the people of the large nations of today. There are factors in modern cultures that create suicidal depression, anger, fear, frustration, insecurity, and a host of other mental and emotional illnesses. The individual suffering from childhood molestation or some other emotional trauma is not always psychologically strong enough to take up his or her cross and follow Jesus. He or she must be healed first, in many instances.
We must make provision for the psychologic healing of numerous American Christians. We must also keep in mind that the Christian churches are not primarily hospitals but the moral light of the world. We are to bring people to health and then teach them to become disciples of Jesus. God is forming an army today. Armies always need hospitals but their purpose is to win wars.
The Great Commission commands us to make disciples of the nations. A disciple is someone who turns away from the world and his own life, takes up his personal cross, and follows the Lord Jesus wherever He goes. How many Christian churches in the United States of America are practicing and preaching discipleship according to the words of the Lord in the Gospel accounts?
If we are not practicing and preaching true discipleship then we ourselves are not obeying the Lord. If we are not obeying the Lord we are in no position to attack the secular nations because of moral behavior we find particularly distasteful.
No amount of proclaiming the pre-tribulation rapture of the believers can produce one molecule of growth of Christ in the hearer. In addition to our unscriptural message we emphasize the building of churches and the construction of denominational kingdoms. Some kind of structure may be necessary at times as we seek to fulfill the Great Commission, but we must always keep in mind that the organizing of Christians and the building of churches and denominations are not the stated efforts or goals of the Great Commission.
The desire to organize, to build, to govern, to exercise preeminence, to control, to compete, to excel, to accumulate power and wealth is not holy and is as powerful in the immature Christians as it is in the non-Christians.
Churches and organizations can serve a useful purpose. But the end of the matter is to know and love Jesus. The spirit of Babylon is the worship of churches.
If an individual is not walking in daily trust in the Lord and is not being transformed into the moral image of Jesus then his church membership will avail him nothing in the Day of the Lord.
After a century or two, once-fiery groups become mausoleums filled with relics. The Life and revelation of God are found in other places.
One can look back through the wilderness of history and see the road God has taken. The prior organizations are still in place, repeating activities that once had been inspired by the Spirit of God but now are little more than the religious striving of the fallen nature of man.
The Glory of the Lord, Moses, the priests, the Ark of the Covenant, so to speak, are far ahead moving toward the land of promise and it is up to the denominations and churches to see that they are moving with them. The shout of war is in the camp as the saints prepare themselves for the violent installation of the Kingdom of God upon the earth.
The Book of Acts shows how the Great Commission is to be carried out. The apostles and elders were concerned with the proper presentation of the Gospel to the Gentiles and sent forth apostles and teachers to bring the good news of forgiveness through the blood atonement, and also the necessity for godly behavior.
It was not as necessary to stress godly behavior to the Jews because they understood very well from the Law of Moses that God requires righteous behavior. But the Gentiles, having little understanding of the righteous, holy Nature of the true God, needed to be admonished to repent of their wickedness and to turn to God in righteous behavior.
Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (II Corinthians 7:1)
The interaction of Paul with Felix reveals the manner in which the Lord’s apostles are to approach the secular governments. We are to reason with the secular governments concerning righteous behavior, self-control, and the Divine judgment to come.
However, if the Christian are to reprove the secular powers regarding righteous behavior, then the Christians themselves will have to behave righteously. They will have to be filled with God's Spirit and holy in behavior.
The Christians guide the secular government by the testimony of their godly behavior, not by attempting to use fleshly means to compel the government. When fleshly means are employed the Christians are seen to be as full of guile and manipulation as is true of the unsaved. The Lord Jesus by His example of behavior toward the government of Rome shows us what our attitude should be.
The role of the Christian churches is to be the moral light of the world, the revelation of God, His prophet among men. The Christians are to be disciples of the Lord, walking in righteousness and always ready to teach God’s provision for forgiveness and His righteous commandments to whoever will listen.
It seems to us that every government, whether it be socialist, or Islamic, or Hindu in philosophy, would be more than willing to insist on principles of righteous living. Honesty, integrity, faithfulness, industry, moral purity on the part of its citizens are of benefit to any government. It is not often we hear of a government honoring its citizens for dishonesty, treachery, laziness, drunkenness, or fornication.
The principal difference between Christianity and other religions and philosophies is that through Christ a person receives forgiveness of sins and then has access to the tremendous authority and power of God in order to become truthful, faithful, honest, industrious, and morally pure. All governments profit when these virtues are practiced by the people, but only Christianity contains the power to produce consistently righteous behavior.
Perhaps we have not stressed repentance and righteous behavior to ourselves or our listeners. Perhaps we have diminished the demands of Christ.
Perhaps we do not realize that if we fill our building with people and then they do not turn away from the world, take up their personal cross, and follow the Lord Jesus, we have accomplished nothing of value in the Kingdom of God. Do we truly understand what a disciple is or that the outcome of the Christian redemption is a morally transformed personality?
Sometimes people do not draw on the Person of Jesus for the authority and power to overcome sin and self-will because of their belief that as long as we are in the world, Satan can force us to sin.
Do we have the wrong goals? Are we unaware of the power that is available to deliver us from Satan? Perhaps we have been ignorant of the Divine salvation, its goals and its program. It appears that the churches—and the world as a result—are in moral chaos. The Christian churches are the only moral light of the world, and the light of the churches has become darkness because of sin, and self-will.
Christ is coming to us today in fulfillment of the Old Testament observances of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and Tabernacles. These are the Jewish feasts that follow Pentecost (Leviticus, Chapter 23). A large number of Christian churches have been as far as Pentecost, to speak symbolically, and it is time to press forward in the Lord.
Christ is ready to wage war against the sin and self-will in the churches. He is prepared to reconcile a holy remnant to Himself. Christ intends to employ the holy remnant as a witness to every nation on earth in order to prepare the nations for the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth. This end-time "latter rain" revival is symbolized by the two witnesses of the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation.
Every valley must be exalted. Every mountain must be brought low. The rough places must be made smooth and the crooked straight. The entrance into the earth of the King of all kings is at hand.
He who has an ear to hear, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches. It is time for the moral light of the Kingdom of God to shine to every nation—not only the light of the provisions and truths of redemption but the light of righteous behavior as well.
For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth. (Isaiah 62:1)
"Until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness." This is not referring to imputed (ascribed) righteousness but actual righteousness of behavior.
Christian, Catholic or Protestant, the Lord Jesus is knocking at the door of your heart. Let Him enter and dine with you on His own body and blood. It is the Judge who is at the door. He is the Lord of Armies. Open the everlasting doors of your personality and permit Him to drive the enemy from your personality so that He and you may sit on the Father’s throne in your reborn inner nature.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)
Then shall the righteous shine as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. (Matthew 13:43)
Having your conversation [behavior] honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. (I Peter 2:12)
If you live a righteous life, the nation that rejects your message of salvation will acknowledge God’s glory in the Day of Judgment, having no evil thing to say of you. You will have borne a true witness of God.
When a nation is sick with sin, what are its Christian citizens to do?
They are to humble themselves. They are to pray. They are to seek God’s face. They are to turn (repent) from their own wicked ways.
What is God’s promise if they do this?
"I will hear from Heaven. I will forgive their sin. I will heal their land."