The battle rages on. The attempt to redefine the message of Acts 2:38 as non-essential has become the central front on which the war against the Apostolic movement is being waged. If we ever lose hold of this bulwark of our faith – baptism in Jesus’ name and the infilling of the Holy Spirit – if we separate that experience away from its biblically declared purpose as an essential universal spiritual path to Christ, and to salvation, we render it meaningless.
Shared meaning in a culture is vital. What can be re-defined from one generation to the next or on the whim of personal opinion is of little importance. Agreeing on the definitions, agreeing on what’s important to us, agreeing on our core beliefs is everything. We must be “settled” (Colossians 1:23). For example, take the issue of same-sex marriage and how it has blurred the foundational lines of our culture.
“We have come to a place of semantic insanity — where you can have male wives, female husbands, male mothers, and female fathers. Do people really think you can just turn the world upside down without having any adverse effects?” (Dr. Michael L. Brown, columnist).
Quite frankly, it appears that there are some who believe they can indeed turn the world upside down without consequences. We are seeing it everywhere, not only in America, but in most Christian nations. The definitions are changing. They are blurred into incomprehensibility. What was once thought of as secularization of Christianity has evolved into an openly declared de-Christianization of most of Western culture. This is no small matter. And, unfortunately, what makes it worse is that the last enemy of the Church is the church itself.
The Apostle Peter warned the saints that the “unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” That little word wrest means to “forcibly pull something from a person’s grasp” (Dictionary.com). Peter knew that the truth could be pulled from the hands of even a steadfast believer. His admonition was to beware, because the very objective of the wicked is to lead the faithful astray. In other words, don’t permit what you have been taught to be ripped from your hearts with the error of the wicked. Rather we must maintain our “own steadfastness” (2 Peter 3:16-18).
So if it is our duty to guard ourselves from deception and error, let us apply Dr. Brown’s question to our modern church. Can we just turn our positions on doctrine and holiness upside down on semantic technicalities and not expect any adverse affects? Can we afford to indulge weakness in the areas of separation and our Apostolic distinctions from the world and still think we will be the same church? Do we believe we can turn the Apostles doctrine upside down and still have a hope of reaching the world? Note Paul’s resolve along these lines:
“If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister; Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:23, 26, 27).
Paul’s declarative statement “Christ in you the hope of glory” should be clear to us all, especially those who have received the Holy Ghost. His words describe the Pentecostal outpouring — the defining revelation, the glorious shared experience of each member of God’s Church — the hope of which is to be “preached to every creature under heaven.”
Reaching a state of meaninglessness is possible. One can define, redefine, question, challenge and, in the name of progressive thought or wise rhetoric, can build skepticism and confusion until that which was once sure become unsure. Skepticism like a tsunami pounds itself onto the shores of hearts and minds, and the original issue is lost in the discussion itself. Such was the prideful work of the ancient Greek sophists, who in their specious arguments intended to confound and mislead. Specious arguments are designed to be by definition “superficially plausible, but actually wrong” (Oxford). They are generally the work of those persons “wise in their own conceits” who intend to be misleading and deceptive. I fear there are some in these last days who have shown themselves willing to walk this path in opposition of the Apostles’ doctrine; who are willing to turn the world upside regardless of the consequences — an expression of rebellion itself.
The great Pentecostal revival sweeping the world is impossible without the Pentecostal experience. Without moral foundations, holiness lifestyles and the clear preaching of the Apostles’ doctrine, believers will become weak, indifferent, and worldly; and those once partnered with us in growth and revival will become members of the deconstruction team, who, if left unchallenged, will forcibly pull the truth from our grasp, ripping from our hands and hearts the revolutionary message of the New Birth.
Don’t permit it.