Monday, December 26, 2011

Schemes That Avoid Consequences Scripture Guarantees for True Followers of the Lord

This last several days, among other things, I've been reading In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson.  It is the true story of the American ambassador to Germany, William E. Dodd, and his family at both the beginning of the FDR presidency and the start of Hitler's ascent to power.  On August 12, 1933 Dodd sent a letter to Roosevelt in which, approaching the violation of the human and civil rights of the Jews in Germany, he wrote:

Fundamentally, I believe a people has a right to govern itself and that other peoples must exercise patience even when cruelties and injustices are done. Give men a chance to try their schemes.

"Give men a chance to try their schemes."  How does that sound in hindsight?  Not so good, I would hope.

Should men be given a chance to try their schemes?  It was bad enough that a U. S. ambassador would think such things, let alone the schemes men excuse for churches in the name of church growth.

Biblical Christianity is synonymous with being hated and persecuted, revealed in the following verses of Scripture:

Matthew 5:10-12: 10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. 

Luke 6:21-23: 21 Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh. 22 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. 23 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.

Matthew 10:21-22: 21 And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. 22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.

Luke 21:16-17: 16 And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death. 17 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake.

John 15:18-19: 18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

2 Timothy 3:12: Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. 

1 Corinthians 1:18: For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness.

You don't need explanation to understand what the above verses mean. Christianity isn't getting along with the world.  It will clash with the world. And yet the flesh wants to avoid that treatment.  As constituted according to the truth, the world doesn't want to be in the church.  A biblical church isn't going to be popular with the world and its members will be hated. That's how Scripture presents the situation.

The Bible warns believers of the consequences of real Christianity, so that they will be prepared for it.  They can buck up and persevere.  It gives Christians a basis for transcending their circumstances and making it through.  Their reward is great in heaven and they know they are joining the ranks of believers who came before them.

Instead of accepting the conditions God has guaranteed, much of modern evangelicalism and fundamentalism simply attempts to change the conditions with its schemes.  Instead of focusing on being obedient to the Bible and regulating church worship and living according to the Word of God, evangelicals and fundamentalists try to tamp down the very reactions that God orders them to prepare to endure.  What are those schemes concocted and choreographed by evangelicals and fundamentalists that avoid consequences Scripture guarantees for true followers of the Lord? What are the schemes perpetrated for missing some or most of the hatred from the world?  There are many today and I want to address them here. They have changed Christianity into something different than the Bible reveals.

  • Invite to Church Instead of Go and Preach
  • Leave out Repentance or the Lordship of Christ when Preaching
  • Attract the Lost to the Church with the Things Unbelievers Like
  • Alter Your Services to Remove Certain Offenses to the Unsaved
  • Attempt to Relate with the World On Its Terms in Marketing the Church
  • Target Demographics with Appropriate Inducements
  • Fashion Special Events that Will Seduce, Captivate, or Lure Unsaved People
  • Use Almost Any Bible Version You Want
  • Craft Sermons with Certain Entertainment Value
  • Start Programs with Which Unbelievers Will Relate
  • Tone Down Certain Biblical Doctrines and Issues at Odds with the World
  • Use the Building as an Attraction
  • Use Holidays as a Solicitation
  • Give the Impression of Comfort and Convenience
  • Employ Prayer as a Means of Appeal
  • Allow Some Disobedience to Scripture
  • Emphasize Unity Over Separation
  • Participate in Community Social Causes
  • Convey a Lack of Dogmatism
Churches and their leaders know that the world hates biblical Christianity. This hatred is also an impediment to church growth.  Schemes are devised to offset the hatred and try to get the world to like them.

Over the next several weeks and months, I will start dealing with these schemes.  When you look at this list, you shouldn't think you're fine just because you practice only a few of them.  All of them should be considered.


Anonymous said...

thanks for the challenge.


Anonymous said...

I'm not understanding the inclusion of "Participate in Community Social Causes." Do you have particular causes in mind, or are you lumping all together?

Example: We had a natural disaster in our community. Many were left homeless, needed medical help,had no food, etc. Those in the community who could do so (who were not affected) banded together to help those in need. It had to be done, and done fast. Methodists were working beside Catholics, who were working with Baptists, etc. One church had a stockpile of rags and our church members worked with them to bandage up some who were hurt. Some churches had food pantries and we all worked together to distribute food and fix some hot meals. Definitely a community social cause, but we didn't question each other's theology. I was so thankful for the many churches who came together to help, as there was no other help for some time. When the phone calls came that there was an emergency, we all just pitched in together. So where would you draw the line? Is it acceptable to sometimes work in conjunction with other churches? Thanks.