Volume 21 Issue 9
I am less naive now. At times I catch myself thinking nostalgically, even wishing, as it were, for some idealistic past. I used to think that a good sermon, a passionate lecture, a loving rebuke, a word of caution could and would take care of most any crisis. You know, right the sinking ship, overcome the roaring winds, slay the devil, so to speak, and even bring home the wandering sheep.
Today I resist any such notions. My recent re-reading of the apostle Paul’s epistles, which account for almost half of the new testament, has awakened me to the perils, struggles, and deceptions that attacked the primitive church and how those battles so perfectly parallel our present time. It is a startling and disconcerting comparison. Those who came home from that “upper room” conference faced unimaginable struggles. And not only at the first, but as the Book of Acts and Paul’s letters reveal, into the next decades and beyond did the “heathen rage” as they do even now. The parallels to our day should be obvious. It is uncontestable that they were confronted with secular opposition and in quick succession, internally-promoted false doctrine.
The unbelievers, humanists, secular rulers, pagans, prophets, and priests of all persuasions wasted no time in diluting the faith, persecuting the righteous and setting in motion philosophy, secular wisdom, and political power, which was purposefully intended to destroy the influence of the divine anointing which had mysteriously rushed in on that eventful New Testament Pentecost. The first generation Pentecostals were in for a bumpy and difficult time. Thankfully, the disciples resisted with their own blood, and thereby we stand on “that” foundation which was “once delivered to the saints.” But the demon’s battle against this Holy thing, this Holy wind, this Holy Spirit, rages still.
If the Apostle Paul was in a life and death battle for truth, for the survival of the church so close to its very birth, and if his enemies had already formulated a strategy against its propagation, then any naiveté about how serious the battle is today must, I believe, be laid aside at once. Playing church, posturing, candle lighting, wearing new clerical garments, is not going to impress the devil or his prophets. Gal. 1:6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: He “marveled” and that’s what I am talking about. But a little small response, a nod, a grin, a wink, an occasional sermon, a pretty homily, or a nice discussion is not likely to provide much push back. Let believers come forth.
Speak. Make clear our intentions: to resist. Gal. 1:8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. A spirit of deception is working within Christianity at large and even among we Apostolics, I believe. Minister after minister, church after church, member after member is being seduced by deliberate intent. How? By challenging long-accepted doctrine and meanings, creating doubt about reliable Bible translation, marginalizing apostolic ministry through psychology, academic credentials, exclusive schisms (separatism), tolerating homosexuality, denying absolutes, mocking moral lifestyles, resisting the clear holiness teaching of Scripture, forsaking the apostles’ doctrine, blind ecumenism, and fashioning the church after the world and not after Christ. We must not sleep or be deceived. The enemy has no intention of surrender.
The world is gluttonous for the blood of Christians. The de-Christianization (Nihilism) of America is in full swing. And this deadly experiment is aided and abetted by the church itself. Lack of courage and loss of love for the truth, plays into the hand of the devil. Don’t be naive. An occasional mention of the good old days does not inspire enough passion for a counter-revolution or a passion for defending apostolic doctrine. Our children and youth deserve to hear the truth, and they deserve our honesty about the Bible’s call to repentance and our guidance toward receiving true baptism of the Holy Ghost. And let’s acknowledge that a sweeping influential Christian Revival in North America is going to cost us our lives. May we have the courage to cut our losses, shake the dust off our shoes, press the trumpet to our lips, and lift Jesus up again. The Spirit is willing, however weak the flesh.