Sunday, February 7, 2016
A Question For My Hecklers
The False Gospel of the world begets worldliness, worldly wisdom, and a corrupt, worldly understanding of love all cloaked in a garment branded "Christian". Those who put on the False Jesus sport themselves without godly fear, contrition of heart, and a broken spirit (Psa. 51). Such persons, because of their false understanding of the Gospel and alienation from it's power that makes men into new creatures (2Cor. 5:17) do despise Heaven's Holiness, Wisdom, and Love, which can only be found in and walked in through a Person - the Biblical Christ who is the Word of God. Without True Holiness, Wisdom, and Love, one can only admire Christ, study Christ, and imitate Christ but it is written, "he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God" (Rom. 2:28-29).
The 21st century Mammon Machine has exceedingly excelled at producing and propagating "another jesus" (2Cor. 11:4), heaping upon the world a mass of confusion and hypocrisy. The witness of this false Christ has been preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations but the end has not come (Mat. 24:14) and the world is more polluted and perverted with the uncleaness of sin now than ever before. The spiritual darkness now mirrors the apostasy of the 1st century, where the fundamental religious authority of that day was so utterly blinded by their traditions that they crucified the Prince of glory and thought they were doing God a favor! These zealous, but lost people had faith, but not "the faith of Jesus Christ" (Gal. 2:16) and "when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth" (Luk. 18:8)?
"The good man is perished out of the earth; and there is none upright among men" (Mic. 7:2)...
To be filled with the Spirit is to be a good man (Eph. 5:9). To be a good man is to "walk in love" (Eph. 5:2). This love is a redeeming love. When this love is shed abroad in the heart by God, the "good man" cannot be at ease while an entire generation is being swallowed up in the darkness of hell's midnight. I use quotations to proclaim "good man" because there is only One that is good, and that is the Biblical Christ. But those that are in Christ will verily be a "light in the Lord" (Eph. 5:8), "having no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them" (Eph. 5:11). To do such in Christ Jesus is to follow Jesus with child-like humility (Eph. 5:1), is to "walk in love" (Eph. 5:2) and is "redeeming the time, because the days are evil" (Eph. 5:16). Such faith does beget a white-hot circumspection that will puncture pillows of indifference and will burst the foolishness of lightness and vanity (Eph. 5:15), seeing that "the wrath of God [cometh] upon the children of disobedience" (Eph. 5:6). To walk in this Light and Love is to make manifest the sin and shame of the sleeping and the dead, whereby Christ in Christians "shall give thee light" (Eph. 5:12-14), which is to have the invisible rays of His countenance shinning upon them that are in darkness to the awakening to righteousness. To those who are dislocated or have never been ingrafted into the Person who is "goodness and righteousness and truth" (Eph. 5:9) will condemn the Light of the world as darkness. "Let no man deceive you with vain words...be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is" (Eph. 5:6,17 and see also Mat. 25:1-13).
True Christians who have put off their first humility have forgotten that the cross put to death every disagreement they had in their hearts to come under the Lordship of Christ that they might bear fruit by the True Vine and not their own zeal which is not according to the reality of abiding in the Master. "He that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure"... (2Pet. 2:9,10).
Whether one is backslidden or falsely converted, both persons, because of their alienation from the Person who is Life and Love do commit service for the devil and the activity of the dead. Especially when 21st century Cains are confronted with the righteousness of 21st century Abels, "for this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous" (1Jon. 3:11-12). Such righteousness reflecting upon the darkness of religious hypocrisy will bring to the surface the depravity of Cain that lieth in every man, filling the earth with such corruptions: "false accusers, incontinent (they can't control themselves), fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof..." (2Tim. 3:3-5), "but as many as received Him", that is to receive His absolute rule and reign over every facet of your life that the Living Lord is touching. I am not speaking of cleaning yourself up and then coming to Christ, but an absolute surrender to every idol that would keep you from entering into His discipleship by His voice followed (Heb. 5:9). I speak of offering God the "acceptable sacrifice" (Psa. 51:16-19), "to them gave He power" - the regenerating powers from the world to come ingratiating your soul to love and obey Him from a new heart instead of a stony heart and carnal mind, moral obligation, fascination with the Historical Christ who entertains the minds of men's religious intellect, making the preaching of the cross "of none effect" (1Cor. 1:17).
Students of God's Word that are backslidden or unconverted are content with this Historical Christ because the manner in which they seek God does not confront them of their sins in light of His Holiness. God seeks to purge His people that they might bear fruit, but if His people refuse and rebel, sanctification ceases, and so does the life of God in the soul of man (Jon. 15:1-6). God seeks to put away the idolatry of false converts and crucify them, but if they refuse and rebel they "abideth alone" (Jon. 12:24). Such students of scripture seek the Lord on a intellectual level, but God "desirest Truth in the inward parts" (Psa. 51:6), He desires to deal with the heart of men, that they may have His heart and not their own. This "quite time" check-list "Christianity", does not lead anyone to a broken and contrite spirit, to the Lordship of Christ - the knowledge of God that saves, but rather it is a knowledge that runs down the line of a formalism that perverts men, puffing them up with pride and an inability to be reproved (Psa. 18:26), fortifying the walls of their conceit to the clouds with their own righteousness, procuring unto themselves the tragedy of "ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" (2Tim. 3:7).
"The knowledge of the truth" is experiential knowledge of what it is to be vitally joined to the Savior by way of a broken and contrite spirit (Psa. 51). This vital union with God starts by a personal crucifixion "with Him" (Gal. 2:20), yea, a Holy Ghost revelation of your utter depravity in light of the Holiness of God in which God's execution device, the cross (your crucifixion upon it), for would be disciples, becomes good news to you (Rom. 6:3-10), amen, men hating their lives (Jon. 12:25), because God hates their life (Psa. 5:5, 7:11, 11:5). Men hating their life because the Spirit of God quickens the solemn truth that their heart, mind, and soul is covered in a top-to-bottom depravity - "O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death" (Rom. 7:24)? Such do heed the call to "strive to enter in at the strait gate" (Luk. 13:24).
God forbid I ever forget the great agony of soul when the presence of God did cause me to realize that I was problem. It wasn't that I had sinned and done horrible things. It was that I was a monster of iniquity, a brute beast who could not cease from loving the world (1Jon. 2.16), "but God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature" (Gal. 6:14-15). When people are graced with such mercy, they realize that if they are going to be saved, they must die. "Are there be few that be saved" (Luk. 13:23)?
"Many will seek to enter in, and shall not be able" (Luk. 13:24).
Many have sought to enter into the Work and Person of Jesus Christ but their pride does keep them from entering in. These wicked "Jesus" movies always depict crucified persons with clothing on. Dear reader, in reality, this was not so. People were crucified naked! And if you want Christ, you must lose your all your rights, all your reputation, yea all that you are and have crucified on a cross. Disasters, imprisonments, scorn, slander, pain, poverty, persecutions, whole-sale abandonment from false and backslidden brethren, being the off-scouring and refuse of society, the disciple is not above his Master, the sufferings that fell upon Christ will fall upon those that truly deny themselves and follow Him and whoso humbleth himself under the mighty Hand of God will be exalted upon the cross to die, going without the camp, bearing His reproach. No cross, no conversion, no cross, no Christ, there is only one way, one exit from this evil present world - salvation through a cross! Few are saved because few are made willing to be humiliated, broken, and crucified, which is the desire of the Master towards every seeking sinner and wayward sain. God receives broken men. By His grace and His faith He does gift them with a revelatory resolve to crucify the rest of their days because they had an eye/ear experience of beholding "the revelation of Jesus Christ" (Gal. 1:12), with the eyes and ears of their soul, which did not come to them by dead men preaching dead words about a Living Christ but "God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2Cor. 4:6).
"But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name" (Jon. 1:12).
Jesus Christ is alive, He lives in His people. Are you alive? His people, if they are indeed taught by Him, will, by nature and not by running or willing, walk even as He walked. When Christ began His earthly ministry, it was so lovingly judgmental, that He was on the brink of being murdered constantly for 3 years straight, and did end up being crucified by the people He came to save BECAUSE OF SLANDER. The old-time hypocrites long murdered Him in their hearts before they murdered Him on the Cross... Dear Christianity of the world, have I become your enemy because I tell you the Truth in Love for your soul?
The Jesus of the Bible meant business (Lk 4:14-30). He did not try to redeem the fallen “Christianity” of His day, rather, He showed up at their “churches” as a special, uninvited guest and would preach the Word, “And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong” (Lk 4:28,29). The irresistible grace of the Father would draw ones like “Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews” (Jn 3:1), a man of religious authority who didn't even know what it meant to be born again because of the gross apostasy of the day (Jn 3:9), did follow Jesus in The Way, The Truth, that leads to a cross of like-kind and eternal life. Do you really want to be like the Biblical Christ? Many profess that they do but by their works they deny Him.
“Do you think Jesus died for this dirty, rotten system we call Christianity? Not on your life!”
If you are indeed conforming yourself to the Image of the Son of God, you will be “despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isa. 53:3). Most everybody loves Jesus until He reproves their sins (Jon. Ch. 8). Christians in Christ are the sin-repelling, sin-reproving light of the world (Jn 3:19-21). They are enemies of darkness, a bright light in the night warning the wicked with the weight of eternity, wrath, and love upon their upon their shoulders. They do carry the burden for souls with a razor-sharp circumspection, knowing no man after the flesh and would rather swallow a knife than stop witnessing. The love of Christ constrains them and the terror of the Lord persuades them to fulfill a ministry of reconciliation to a proud and self-confident people spotted by a world that will soon be scorched with heaven's flames of fury. These ever decreasing nobodies do eat upon the locust and honey of godly sorrow, weeping in this wilderness of woe, exceedingly vexed at the defamation of His Person and Name, and are preparing the way of His 2nd coming.
In a world that hates being held accountable to saving truth's that are consistent with Biblical Salvation (initial and present-progressive), do you really expect to be untouched by the apex of lawlessness, cold-heartedness, and iniquity abounding of this omega generation which is arguably on the cusp of the revealing of that man of sin, the devil incarnate (2Th. 2)? If the darkness and deception of the 1st century hated the Biblical Christ, what do you think they will do to you if you walk in the Biblical Christ by His relentless Love to a society who has been programmed to receive the anti-Christ as a good thing!? The apostasy of the 21st century is prophesied to be unprecedented, and must needs be so that the world will be ripe enough to justify the anti-Christ and to condemn the truest witness of Christ, which would be a Biblical Lampstand under the Lordship of Christ, "a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish" (Eph. 5:27) meet to receive the latter rain (Acts 2:16-21, 2Cor. 6:14-7:1), whereby the whole world will be turned upside again by the faith of Christians in Christ in the purpose of His glory, by His own merit.
Please read Matthew Chapter 23? Are you ashamed of this Love, this Christ and His Words?
"Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels" (Mar. 8:38).
But you may say, "I don't need to walk in the Christ of Matthew Chapter 23", He already did it for me. Dear reader, "glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish" (Jas. 3:14-15). Scripture says, "He that saith (your profession) he abideth in him (that is savingly joined to Him) ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked" (1Jon. 2:6).
When one is graced by "the faith of the Son of God (Gal 2:20)", grace will work and will in them the Living Works of the Jesus Christ who is alive today, who lives in His people, who has not and does not change (Heb. 13:8) and it is written, "The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household" (Matt. 10:24-25)?
How's your persecution going, or are you one of those who are persecuting Christ in Christians? If you're not persecuted, you do not live godly. If you do not live godly, you should doubt your profession as a son or daughter in Christ.
"Yea, and all that will live godly IN Christ Jesus SHALL suffer persecution" (2Tim. 3:12).
I am not talking about the kind of persecution that is because of redemptive noises that are towards sinners and backslidden saints that are a result of embracing a self-preserving, cross-less worldly wise understanding of redeeming love. Neither do I mean the heartless and abominable Westboro Baptist-esque evangelism or any other kind of vehement emotional outburst that are born of the flesh and fueled by a love for the praise of men.
I speak of righteousness, burdens born of God which result in feeling the heart of God - great sobriety of soul concerning eternal matters, tears, heaviness, soul-travail, prevailing prayers and to what end? Oh that Christ would glorify Himself through broken men that stand up in the Person of Christ and declare the Word of the Lord to a rebellious generation who love their sin and shame, who hold the hypocrite's shield of unbelief with high-minded steadfastness, but blessed be that Treasure, that Excellency in earthen vessels - "Charity never faileth" (1Cor. 13:8)!
When God sends His ambassadors from the Kingdom of His Dear Son to reconcile them to the Light, they declare the King's terms of peace, yea even the very escape from the wrath to come which is none other than utter submission to His Lordship. It is an exiting of this present world through a Cross, your very own personal crucifixion “with Him” (Rom. 6:3-10). The the false converts of false Christianity will scorn and call you a “Legalist” and think they love God all the while they have “friendship with the world” (Jm 4:4), love it (1Jn 2:15), and are conformed to it (Rm 12:2) because they are of their “father the devil” (Jn 8:44), the “god of this world” (2Co 4:4) thus naturally, “walk according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience” (Eph 2:2). And thus they do condemn heaven's witnesses as the devil's handiwork, just like the 1st century Jews did to the Biblical Christ! Oh how great is their deception!
"Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, HOW GREAT IS THAT DARKNESS! No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon (that which is loved and sought after that is void of God)" (Matt 6:20-24).
Truly, By the Faith that is working in me through Love, I can give countless testimonies of how the love of God constrains me to be sober before persons who are not right with God; groaning, weeping, praying for them, even doing and saying things towards their reconciliation towards a Holy and Just God that are beside myself; foolish to civilized men, but seemly in light of the Judgment Seat of Christ. Seemly because Love speaks when eternity is on the line. Seemly, if it is wrought by the One who is Seemly (1Cor. 13:5). The Christ that liveth in me, the Christ that loves sinners and backslidden saints, will plead hard with them before they fly into eternity condemned. What faith do you have?
The heart and reputation of Christ, can you identify by way of salvation's miracle upon the soul of man - "a new creature" (Gal. 6:15) or do you presumptuously apply to yourself the identity of being in Christ apart from being divinely gifted with the grace and faith that would produce the heart and reputation of the Biblical Christ? It's not a sin to examine yourself:
"Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh. Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets. But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation. Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep. Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets" (Luk. 6:20-26).
You can't both save your life and love in or through the Person who is Love. You cannot keep your reputation and love like Jesus did. You will make some excuse not to "walk, even as He walked" (1Jon. 2:6) and the false teachers that entertain you will corrupt, deceive, and so utterly blind you from the Biblical Christ that when He works and wills through His people today, you will be offended, proud, and hateful like the 1st century Jews. Don't deceive yourself, do you still think you're any better than them? Do you think you are above the mind-blinding delusions of the devil that lay captive persons who do not love the Cross of Jesus Christ that they might be saved? Dear reader, please soberly consider: is your reputation, mind, ministry and life at enmity with the Work and Person of Christ who does Work and Live through His people today? And if so, are you open to the possibility that God is trying to awake you from the sleep of the dead and dying?
"Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? But I trust that ye shall know that we are not reprobates. Now I pray to God that ye do no evil; not that we should appear approved, but that ye should do that which is honest, though we be as reprobates" (2Cor. 13:5-7).
To have "the faith of the Son of God" (Gal. 2:20) is synonymous with having the grace of God reigning over you by the Lord Jesus Christ that will cause you to feel His heart and will merit for and empower you to the same deeds, reputation, and like-sufferings that would follow such and abiding with this Biblical Christ:
"Do we not cry out for Revival today? It is an understatement that we NEED a Revival, but from what? In conservative Churches across the nation, there is the need! The battle against lukewarmness, carnality, passivity, and worldliness rages on! If this is the state of our Churches, then could it be possible that there is enough worldly wisdom that would make the ways of the apostles or Jesus to be so offensive that they would think them or call them reprobates if they were alive today? One of the main arguments used to verify Paul’s ministry proving that it was “of God” was that his life/ministry was marked by suffering. False and carnal Christianity avoid suffering. By adhering to worldly wisdom, they have been inhibited from seeing the way of Christ, and the greatest evidence is that their morality does not lead them to the same (or similar) suffering as the apostles and Christ. Therefore, it is worldly-wise, carnal morality.
1 Corinthians 4:8-17 ---Suffering
2 Corinthians 4:8-18 --- Suffering
2 Corinthians 6:3-10 ---Suffering
2 Corinthians 11:23-33 ---Suffering
What He Says
We need a renewal of mind in this area, or we will be conformed to this world instead of the image of Jesus Christ (Rom. 12:2). If we seek suffering, then we err. If we are absent of suffering, then we err. If we have true love with God’s wisdom, then we will suffer righteously. But all this is to say that offenses and controversy (even with the regenerate who are beset in worldly wisdom or carnality) must come, and we should be examining ourselves if we don’t have it. Many people define love to be absent from persecution.
Some would define a person to be loveless or in error because of what they say. Others stumble at how it is said. Please consider the ways of Christ in how He says what He says. Also, consider what He says. We must examine the method of witnessing and winning the lost alongside the message itself.
How He Says It
He interrupts a Feast, is uninvited and unwanted: John 7:37-53 - the “fruit” of this interruption (sword) was controversy and division. Jesus' love toward the house of God and to men who are engaged in hypocrisy is demonstrated in that He interrupts it (without apology): Mark 11:12-21. Jesus’ love in a house: He was invited to a house to eat; He reproves the man that invited Him and all the guests with him: Luke 14 (the whole chapter). He spoke things that only those whom God gave ears to hear would follow; therefore the offenses abounded, the people were in controversy, and few continued to follow Christ: John 6 (the whole chapter), see John 6:44, 60-71. See the offensiveness of the message of Jesus; nevertheless, those that are offended were usually a false planting of the devil: Matt 15:12-14. (I am not accusing you to be a false planting of the devil, but rather, deceived by worldly wisdom/carnality.)
He comes against minor doctrines that are breaking the commandments of God, and comes against them openly: Matthew 15:1-20, 23:23-24. He preaches a sermon of love. By and through love, it was a sermon of woes and condemnation to the Pharisees without any appeal of mercy or forgiveness (and this is perfect love with perfect wisdom). Why? Jesus knew that if He did not fiercely condemn this practice and people, then others would be hypnotized by their hypocrisy and so be subverted from seeing the truth: Matthew 23 (the whole chapter). A similar message is in Matthew 7. He preaches against sin: John 3:19-21. Jesus was hated, because of this “wise,” true love wherein He did expose and reprove sin as it was. He was hated because His preaching, witness, and light did uncompromisingly expose sin.
Why He Says It
He says it to save men: John 3:16-17. He knows that men get saved by falling under conviction, by being confronted by the truth, and by being reproved for their sin – NOT BY PEACE…Call for the sword: Matthew 10:32-40. Jesus' ministry of love as a sword: Luke 2:34-35. God’s desire is that lost men get lost instead of comfortable. After one is lost, then he/she can get saved: 2 Corinthians 2:14-17.
He is calling us to the same love, witness, and light: Ephesians 5:1-33, see Eph. 5:8-10 especially. He is calling us to the same walk as Christ: 1 John 2:6 He is calling us to the same steps as Christ suffered: 1 Peter 4:1 We should be like Him: Luke 6:40. We should be hated like Him: John 15:18-25 If we truly follow the foolish ways of Christ, then we will be like Him: 1 Cor. 15:29-34.
There are many who will say that it is not God’s will to judge or deal severely concerning sin and righteousness. But, where in the Bible does it teach that you cannot judge those who are in the Church, and by judge, I mean share with them God's word, hold them to it, warn them of it, and save them by it? Please consider the context of Matthew 7:1-5 and John 7:24, and please compare those passages with 1 Corinthians chapter 5 (the whole chapter).
We must obey the teaching that is clearly taught in those passages. The word and ways of a thrice holy God are intense, sharp, judgmental, true, loving, and saving. Please consider the word of the Holy Ghost: "And when He is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and righteousness, and of judgment" (John 16:8). This is the work of the loving Holy Spirit of God. There are many manners in which this reproof may come.
I wonder when true Christians will arise from their affinity with false Christianity, speak and appeal with interruptive urgency, and so walk in true love that is so culturally, economically, and spiritually invading that it is an unhidden city on a hill (Matt. 5:14). Oh, that men would not stay in their houses and vocalize the truth as much as would maintain a neighborhood “respect.” Wake up, American “Christianity”! Jesus Christ did not command neighborhood peace but housetop proclamation (Matt. 10:27). Oh that men would not seek to be civilized but set their hearts to be crucified (if God willed it) (see Heb. 13:13-14).
To see such men in our day following "our ways," their charge is often to wake up. Or perhaps, dear reader, your charge to me is to “wake up.” When Paul commanded the sleeping, worldly- wise, carnal Christians to “wake up”, it was a call to suffer offense, persecution, and even a “baptism of death” (1 Corinthians 15:34), but the offenses and persecutions of our lives is what has persuaded you that I am not awake. This is what has persuaded you that our work is a work of demons. Please look at how clearly Paul defines the charge “wake up.” Paul said, “Awake to righteousness, and sin not, for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.” The Corinthians were not doing righteousness like Paul; they were deceived by “evil communications” in worldly wisdom. The “good manners” that they once had were corrupted to a peaceable lifestyle with the world or worldliness (1 Cor. 15:33). That is why the former verse before 1 Cor. 15:34 is, “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.” What does it look like, according to Paul, to be awake - awake in righteousness? Paul said it is like a baptism of death (1 Cor. 15:29), it is “jeopardy every hour” (1 Cor. 15:30), it is a dying daily (1 Cor. 15:31), and it is a fighting with beasts (1 Cor. 15:32). Paul knew well the unavoidable struggle and grief of contention (1 Thess. 2:2) - the inevitable result of unrelenting love through boldness. Paul said that true Christianity was exemplified in his ways (1 Cor. 4:16-17). These experiences were manifestations of being awake in righteousness, thereby teaching that the absence of righteousness produces an absence of these experiences. The world should understand that “if in this life only we [Christians] have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” (1 Cor. 15:19). Few then and few now will be willing to be baptized with the baptism that Jesus was baptized with (Matt. 20:22, 1 Cor. 15:29), and most are unaware or in denial that the way of Christ is a baptism of death".
I wonder when our cultural Christianity will ever look like our Master’s Image, or when we will stop justifying ourselves for looking and walking a course that is so unlike our Master’s Image. The end of our Christianity is to be in His Image, right? It is written: For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren (Rom. 8:29). Consider the whole passage:
"For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:29-39).
Well, there be many who bring charges against us, there be many who condemn us, there be many who say we are separated from the love of Christ, but why? Because of tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, or sword? Nay, none of these separate us from the love of God! God has justified us, is interceding for us, and the evidence of this great love is that we are privileged to be conformed to “the Image of His Son”…and this is for God’s sake and purpose. What is His Image? “For Thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” It is God’s will “that no man should be moved by these afflictions,” because we should know that we are “appointed thereunto” (1 Thess. 3:3). The New Testament Christians were undergoing so much tribulation, distress, and persecution that they were accused, charged, and condemned to be separated from the love of Christ, but, on the contrary, those very experiences are the predestinated purpose of God that we would be conformed to the Image of His Son, “as a sheep to the slaughter.” Don’t you see? That is your charge to me. You are condemning me because of offenses, persecutions, and tribulations, but you are offended at the Image of Jesus Christ, not at me, if the doctrine and deeds which I am standing for are rightly interpreted and applied. You are convinced that this work is of the devil because of offenses, controversy, and persecutions; you are charging me that I am in darkness, danger, and (by fruits) separated from the love of Christ…but it was these very things that Paul said was the Image of God’s Son. He said that this is done for “Thy sake”- meaning God’s sake. It is God’s will that we are persecuted even as a sheep to the slaughter! If I am right, you are saying that the Image of God’s Son (the controversy & suffering) is the proof that our life and work is not of God’s Son.
Is it possible that “evil communications” of false prophets and carnal men have so inoculated this generation that we cannot discern good from evil and do not walk in the sufferings that the Book of God deems normal? Though our consciences scream that we need Revival, we are incoherent and proud enough to think that we can still judge our own state rightly, divide the word of God wisely, and know His will truly: yet how can we? If we need Revival (or are carnal), how can we know judgment, wisdom, and righteousness? If we are carnal, then it is predominately hidden from us (John 16:12, 1 Cor. 3:1-2, Hebrews 5:11-14) and must be taught or exemplified to us, and if we are not fearfully careful, then we will persecute the wisdom of God because it is foolish, be offended at the righteousness of God because of its weakness, and misdefine the awakenings of God as the darkness of the Devil. Jesus said: “And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me” (Matt. 11:6, Luke 7:23).
In this place of rejection, Paul stood and appealed to his own congregation. In love, brokenness, prayer, and hope, he fought against their rejection of him, saying…
“Now I pray to God that ye do no evil; not that we should appear approved, but that ye should do that which is honest, though we be as reprobates.” (2Corinthians 13:7)
Do you believe this? The regenerate Church (the godly), even they are rejecting Paul, considering him to be reprobate. Please, as we face the same circumstances, let me plead with you all to hold us to the biblical format of trial! It echoes the same saying, "Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth" (John 7:51)? There is a biblical format of examining an elder, church, person, or work that claims to be of God in the midst of a country-wide slanderous hurricane."