I have not posted in many months. My silence interrupted a series that I want to continue. I hope to write again soon.
In the meantime, one of the multitude of graces that God has poured out on our family to strengthen and bless us has been re-acquaintance with an old friend, an older man and church elder from my youth, whose character and godliness is as well known to me as my childhood address. After more than a decade out of touch, the Lord reconnected me and my husband with him and his wife. And to my amazement, when he spoke, out of his mouth came the fire that burns in our hearts. The same urgency, the same repentance from false spiritual experiences, and the same gospel revelation.
He shared with me a piece he had written out of this urgency, and I asked him if I could publish it here. I am so grateful for his courage, as he writes in his own name. Can I overstate the preciousness of tried and true saints who have suffered rejection for the gospel, and chosen the Lord over the comfort of consensus? So many people, in our time, who take the Lord’s name, are entirely un-submitted to Him. And instead of being confronted, they are comforted by the church that although they defy God and despise His ways, they should be confident that they are right with Him. Please take my friend’s words to heart. They are trustworthy. (Emphases are mine).
AN URGENT WARNING FOR PROFESSING CHRISTIANS
by Steve Blaha
We as professing Christians are facing a wicked and insidious present danger today. I certainly don’t want to minimize the real perils of persecution, hunger, war, terrorism, or America’s moral and economic collapse. But the evil threat we face is far worse than the total of all those things combined! It is a hidden, creeping spiritual warfare by the religious being who is the enemy of our souls and the architect of every substitute for Christ and every false and perverted “man-centered” gospel.
Friends, when we misrepresent or deny the true, scriptural gospel, we are also misrepresenting and denying the Biblical Christ. The eroding and diluting of the gospel has happened for so many years now our churches are now filled with unregenerated “so called” believers, who don’t even realize they are not saved. True Christians know that the gospel of Christ is their only hope, and they desire to center their lives on Him and it. They also understand the gospel must be the primary emphasis of all preaching among God’s people, not just the unsaved.
The apostle Paul declared to God’s people at Rome, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes . . . For in it [the gospel] the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, the righteous shall live by faith.” (Rom. 1: 16-17) Paul preached the gospel, not just to the unregenerated, but also to professing believers in the church, as he did to the Corinthians, saying, “the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” “. . . we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called. . . Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.”
That is why Paul told the Colossians, “You, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in His body of flesh by His death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before Him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel . . . “(Col. 1:21-23a)
That is why Paul also said to Christians at Corinth, “. . . When I came to you brothers and sisters, I did not come . . . with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:1-2).
Most of what we hear in our churches today is lofty speech and men’s wisdom. What is our answer to what is happening in the world and the church today? What is our answer to the strife and rebellion, hatred and discord, breakdown of society, fighting and incivility, the pointing of judgmental fingers from the right and the left, blasphemy and violence and terrorism and immorality, mocking of authority, racism, sexual slavery, economic and social oppression, idolatry and denigration of God’s Word? Is our answer political or social? Is it psychology? Is it some kind of morality? Is it a vision of World Peace and brotherly linking together of World Religions in a unity which can only succeed if they are united in hatred of the true God and His gospel? None of these things can bring forgiveness of sin or reconciliation with God. None can transform the evil and wickedness of the heart of rebellious man. Only the preaching of the Word of Truth, the gospel, can do that. And we the people of God are not giving this answer because we have wickedly lost confidence and faith in the authority of the Word of God, the sufficiency of Scripture (2 Tim. 3:16-17), and the powerful transforming ability of the simple gospel proclamation. (1 Cor. 15:1-8) We have not believed it is the power of God and have substituted, or added to it, the false religions of science and psychology , moralism and Christian mysticism, spiritual experiences, spiritual formation methods and our own good deeds.
How do I know? Because that’s just what I did. I am humbled and regret to say, although I was truly “born again” and loved the Lord and His Word and desired to please Him and do His will, twenty five years later I was preaching and living a watered down, “man-centered” gospel, deceived and deceiving others. How could such a thing have happened!? It occurred incrementally, as the centrality and preeminence of the Scriptures, the Biblical Christ and His gospel of grace for wretched sinners, as well as the hope and longing for Jesus’ return, were slowly diminished in my life. Gradually, without realizing it, I was giving more attention to spiritual gifts, charismatic personalities and spiritual experiences –such as emotionally powerful prayer and worship times—rather than by faith lifting up and honoring the awesome triumphant victory Jesus won at the cross when He willingly took upon Himself the wrath of God against my sin. Instead of Christ and His righteousness having preeminence, my own spiritual life became the primary focus of my attention. Looking back on it, now I can see, despite substantial differences in what they taught and how they lived, all the churches I belonged to were also drifting with American postmodern culture. Whether the church I attended was “charismatic” or one with “Bible” as its middle name, whether it was cloistered and communal or traditional in form, when I surveyed the forty years I lived in Christian fellowship, I realized both I and the congregations of which I was a member had been carried along with the humanistic cultural current. Step-by-step, we had turned away from prophetically confronting the evil depravity in sinner’s hearts, warning of hell and God’s coming judgment, as well as the necessity of being “born again, “and preaching a gospel of repentance and faith, as Christ commanded us to do (Luke 24:47).
Similar kinds of spiritual deception are taking place around the world, even in the most highly respected Christian denominations, seminaries, and parachurch organizations. False Christs and false gospels abound, just as Jesus and His apostles warned. Therefore, “be sober minded; be watchful and on guard. Our enemy prowls around as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). This is a deadly battle we are in. This evil one comes as an angel of light with spiritual alternatives so attractive they would deceive the very elect if that were possible (Mt. 24:24). There will be all “power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore, God is sending them strong delusion so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2 Thes. 2:9-12).
I was deceived because of my spiritual pride, but God had mercy on me and granted me repentance. Please open yourself to the possibility you too could be deceived—even in terms of salvation! Just because you said the “sinner’s prayer” or “asked Jesus into your heart” , or were baptized or belong to a certain church, or spoke in tongues, or do good deeds such as feed the poor, or go out “witnessing”, or cast out demons, or know the Scriptures well, or teach Sunday School or you’re an elder or pastor or priest or had a life changing spiritual experience, or have “great faith,” or have emotional and supernatural prayer and worship times does not necessarily mean you know Jesus or His gospel and are saved. Just because some man or pastor calls you “brother” or “sister” or thinks you are “born again” does not make it so. It is frightful and shocking to consider the Lord might look at our lives or our loved ones and proclaim, “This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” (Mt. 15:8) Christ warned us that on the Day of Judgment there will be MANY who think they are saved and know Him– even those who do miraculous works of power–but will be confronted with the most horrifying and terrifying reality: the everlasting nightmare of eternal damnation. Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me Lord, Lord, will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day MANY will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name: And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you, depart from me, you lawbreakers (workers of iniquity or ”lawlessness”) (Mt. 7:21-23). That’s why God’s Word tells us to “Take care (beware) brothers and sisters lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.” (Heb. 3:12)
Because of these things, I want to exhort all my friends and all professing Christians to “make your calling and election sure.” The apostle Paul exhorted the Corinthian believers to examine themselves to see if they were “in the faith.” They were to test themselves to see if Christ indeed dwelt in them by His Spirit and if they displayed the fruits of true regeneration. He asked Christians to do that. Have you done that? Are you taking our Lord’s “Last days” warnings to “be on guard” and “take care” that we are not deceived by false teachers seriously enough? Since those who preach an unscriptural gospel are to be “accursed,” shouldn’t we emulate the commended Bereans and search the scriptures to make certain the gospels preached by our leaders and churches are Biblical? (Jude 3b-4; Mt. 24:3-5,11,24-25; 2 Cor. 11:4, 13-15; Gal. 1:6-9; Acts 17: 10-11)
Ask God to fill you with His Spirit and love of the Truth so that you do not care whether something is “this way or that” as long as it is His way. Do not trust your own understanding or deceitful heart. (Jer. 17:9) Put your complete trust in Him and His Word, for He will never fail you. If you have honest questions, we will do our best to give you Biblical answers or get you in touch with those who can. God bless you and guide you in the narrow and hard way, which few find, that leads to eternal life! (Mt. 7:13-14)