2004-07-11_1145_FromJoeWatson

Have you ever been concerned about the state of the Church?

I have, especially in the last twenty years or so.

However, let’s consider the existence of an obedient, God-loving group of people, who, experiencing tremendous struggle at times, determinately remained faithful.

Below is a very abbreviated account of this reality.

A couple of extreme examples which stand out from early biblical history—extreme because the surviving believers are so few—are Noah and Lot. After the call of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the people of Israel, as the reader is probably aware, were enslaved in Egypt for four hundred years. Although they brought pagan idols with them when delivered out of that nation; although not all gained entrance to the Promised Land, (Moses, of course, though denied entrance, remained faithful) a remnant remained obedient—a group of Israelites who continued to believe, trust, and love the God of Abraham. Joshua and Caleb are two noteworthy examples, although many accompanied those two across the Jordan River.

When terrible as well as good kings reigned in Israel and Judah, prophets and believers in the one true God persevered. I am sure the informed reader will remember the Lord’s response to Elijah when he complained he was the last true believer in Israel: “I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.” (1 Kings 19:18). 1 God’s remnant did not abandon Him through the dispersion of Israel and the captivity of Judah. Jerusalem was destroyed. The temple, the dwelling place of God—gone. The kingdom of God, as Israel understood it, no longer existed. Notable among this remnant are Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.

Although we have no biblical history of what is called the intertestamental period, the time between the last utterances of the last Old Testament prophets and the arrival of Jesus, true belief existed then, as well. How do we know this? Both Simeon and Anna were present to give witness to the arrival of Israel’s Messiah when Joseph and Mary brought Him to be dedicated in the temple.

In the Church Age, despite the foolish legalism of the church at Galatia, the uncommendable fellowship at Corinth, the falling away of the church at Laodicea, the all-too-soon authoritarian rise to power in the early Church, the one-true-church deception of the church at Rome, the unfortunate, deadly—literally—alliance of the Church and the State—yes—even the Reformed church—believers faithfully motored through. We just don’t know about them, unless they were martyrs, because they held no power and were not writers of history.

But Someone knew, and one day, all heaven will know, when everything becomes known.

But what of today?

What of the 33,000 denominations throughout the world?

What of the Catholic church, which did not abandon Latin in their services—a language most of their adherents did not understand—until 1962? Doing so for centuries, even in foreign countries, gave rise to the notion that the Mass was mysterious and mystical, giving rise to many pagan beliefs, still operative today.

What of the excesses of Pentecostalism? The word of faith and prosperity doctrines?

What of the watering down of truth in the evangelical church?

What of the astounding misuse of Scripture and massive biblical illiteracy in the Church throughout the world?

What of the ordination of homosexual priests in some denominations?

What of the seeming deadness of Protestant churches that no longer believe in miracles, or even the authenticity of Scripture?

What of the denominations that are convinced that the gifts of the Spirit ended when the last words of the New Testament were penned, when “that which is perfect” had come (I Corinthians 13:10)?

What of the lack of life-denying discipleship but emphasis on numerical growth instead?

We must pray. Grieve, possibly.

But be comforted. There is a remnant.

Where?

Everywhere. In all the above-mentioned denominations, possibly. But specifically?

I have no idea.

And what will be the eternal judgment of the adherents of all those denominations and movements listed above and many more? What will our just King Jesus say when they stand before the bema seat? Will it be “Well done,” or “I never knew you. Depart from me,” or something in-between?

I have no idea.

My responsibility—your responsibility—is to seek Him. Love Him. Abide in Him. Worship Him. Obey Him and His Word, the Bible. Pray. Find fellowship with believers.

I want to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:23).”

Don’t you?

You and I are and will be accountable before Him one day, no matter what anyone else does. Remember Jesus’ words to Peter when he asked what was to become of John: “Jesus said to him, ‘If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!’” (John 21:22).

1All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

Advertisements