Short Expression of Concern


Over the past 15 years or so, I believe the Lord has made me aware of three serious areas of deception affecting the church. They are not the ONLY examples, but they are the beliefs and attitudes that I’ve personally experienced or observed close-up.

  1. The extremes of Charismania and its associated beliefs and practices.
  2. The misguided understanding of God and the gospel promoted through Calvinism.
  3. Christian devotion to patriotism/nationalism

 

The first two have been the subject of many of my posts in the past, and I’ve also addressed the third to various degrees on a few occasions. At the moment I see that third has become the most pressing problem – embracing adherents from across the Christian spectrum. And that third example is no less vociferously defended by its adherents than those who hold to the other two.

 

I’ve seen and heard many professing believers express pride in their nations and their citizenship, and I’ve heard them justifying that pride and their right to have that pride. But if you are one of those proud citizens, have you REALLY taken the time to examine what you are taking pride in? Have you looked at the history and the foundations of your nation?

And I mean the REAL history, and not some mythical version of it.

Have you looked into its wars, its invasions, its mistreatment and abuses, its murders. Have you looked into the things your nation values? Have you looked into its origins and how it built up its “prosperity” and how you came to share in that prosperity (as small as that share may be).

Have you looked at how your nation has treated the least of its citizens – or those it excludes from citizenship?

 

Can you REALLY be proud of your association with ALL of those things? Do you think those things would be approved by Jesus?

 

One justification I’ve heard for a person’s patriotism is that their nation has done more to spread the gospel than any other. But even if we take that gospel-preaching claim at face value – was it REALLY your secular nation at work and therefore deserving credit and your “pride”? Or was the gospel being spread by CHRISTIANS who happen to live in your nation. Spread by citizens of the Kingdom of God, sojourners, strangers, people not belonging to this world and its Kingdoms. Ambassadors of Christ, representing Him in foreign territory.

 

To whom or what do you give your allegiance, your devotion, your service?

 

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.

 

choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve

 

 

 

 

18 thoughts on “Short Expression of Concern

  1. It seems that “kingdoms of men” can only, ever, ALWAYS…by definition…stand in opposition to The Kingdom of God.

    If God’s view is THE definitive Truth of any matter, that’s God’s view of human kingdoms when the people of Israel ask Samuel to give them a king “…like all the nations…”

    “The Lord said to Samuel, ‘Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but THEY HAVE REJECTED ME from being king over them.’ ” (I Samuel 8:5, 7, my emphasis)

    When our affront to God is coupled with PRIDE (satan’s own sin) in “our” kingdom, it’s hard to see what human work could be more odious to God than “nationalism/patriotism.”

    >>To whom or what do you give your allegiance, your devotion, your service?<<

    Have been meditating the past couple weeks on Jesus' words in Mark 12:17, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's."

    The radical (and radicalizing) question, if Jesus believed God created, and rules, all things: what things did Jesus consider belong to Caesar ?

  2. “One justification I’ve heard for a person’s patriotism is that their nation has done more to spread the gospel than any other. But even if we take that gospel-preaching claim at face value – was it REALLY your secular nation at work and therefore deserving credit and your “pride”? Or was the gospel being spread by CHRISTIANS who happen to live in your nation. Spread by citizens of the Kingdom of God, sojourners, strangers, people not belonging to this world and its Kingdoms. Ambassadors of Christ, representing Him in foreign territory.”

    Yes, absolutely. And welcome back, Tim.

    To expand on your thoughts, I also believe that one/one reason Christians – Americans and elsewhere in the West – get so caught up in this pride and in desiring a leader that will “deliver” them is that they aren’t studying the end times. I am more and more convinced of this. The virgins are ALL asleep.

    I certainly am grateful for all the missionaries that have gone out from America and other Western countries. But so many churchgoers are Biblically illiterate, especially in the area of eschatology. I had one individual, who led our former Sunday School class, actually say, for example, that He was glad that the pastor did not teach much on the book of Revelation. This is inexcusable, since Rev. 1:3 clearly tells us, “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.” We are to not only read Revelation but to hear and HEED the things that are written in it. Dittos for the OT prophecies concerning the second coming. In Matthew 24 Jesus commands us to “read and understand” the book of Daniel. Why? For one thing, I believe it is protection from the massive deception that is coming, and indeed is already upon us. But it is going to get even worse, so as to even deceive believers.

    There is a reason why the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood the angel who finally came to Daniel to give him “understanding” of what was to befall Daniel’s people in the latter days. I believe Satan was trying to hinder the revealing of this prophecy in Daniel 10. He does NOT want us to be prepared, nor he does not want us to understand the Scriptures concerning the latter days.

    We should look to the examples of the Jewish remnant who were watching and anticipating the Savior’s first coming. Anna and Simeon are two examples, such precious saints. They knew their Scriptures. They recognized the time of their visitation. Likewise, we should also be watching the signs and anticipating Jesus’ return. And just as John the Baptist was the forerunner of Messiah, we should be “forerunners” announcing that Jesus is returning to this earth.

    I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit lately. Things are NOT going to get better in this world before Jesus returns. That doesn’t mean, of course, that our prayers for people to be saved cannot be answered, but, IMHO, we must realize that this won’t necessarily bring “revival”. I pray it does. But what is true revival, anyway? It isn’t emotionalism, which doesn’t last.

    Sorry if I went off track here, but this is on my heart. Something is terribly wrong in the church with the lack of serious interest in what is coming. Yes, people give lip service to it, and they believe they will escape tribulation, but they are not seriously heeding the words of the prophets and of Jesus. We spend far too much time at our favorite news sites online (guilty as charged!) while neglecting doing business with the Word of God. And someday we will give an account of that if, in fact, we do not hear the words, “Depart from Me. I don’t know you.”

    Thanks for letting me comment.

  3. I’m glad you mention “prosperity” in your text here. In the three things you listed, I would respond that prosperity or some other wording for that overshadows those unless you include it in them.

    I think most people who are proud of the country are really about wealth or some share (however small or however much you think you deserve it, big or small) of prosperity, as you acknowledge.

    And that attitude isn’t just a diminution of the country but a perversion of the faith. There are people who do believe they have faith but are defining it in a corrupted sense (but don’t know it). Patriotism too.

    And, of course, these are two separate thing; and prosperity is not the same as either one of them but is a third “thing” (simply something else). I think it was Locke who spoke of life, liberty, and property. In our Constitution, we say “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

    We shouldn’t go, Oh, so just call that happiness property or prosperity — or define it that way legally [as possession or ownership of stuff] or as if connected to spirituality or cynically or “realistically” or something. And then again, we shouldn’t decide it’s prosperity for me and who cares what for my neighbor.

    I don’t know how many people who think they are evangelical would sell out for prosperity. I’m pretty sure there are even more people who would sell out their country. And many wouldn’t think they were “selling out” the country because they haven’t differentiated their wealth from what the country or their citizenship is supposed to do for them.

    Many haven’t differentiated what their so-called faith is supposed to do for them either. And we know that many —
    many — rationalise that they are supposed to do whatever they can get away with and “apologise” later. Contrapositively, there are people who aren’t primarily about country or religion but have good values they adhere to for people in general.

    [There are other people more about pride than prosperity,
    because it’s kinda all they got — and this can manifest
    as membership in a race (or dominant heritage),
    a citizenship in heaven, or citizenship here.]

  4. I was going to say the following in the previous thread before I saw you started this new thread. Then I had to respond more directly to your new thread before saying this; I think it fits here.

    I am so grossed out every time I hear Trump speak. I was listening to him at the NRA today, not worried about what he would say, just listening in. But then he was talking about his numbers again.

    Still listening, bored, disappointed in how shallow he is. But now, how long is this going to go on? Will he get to something more substantive? No. Know what we get next? Him poking at Pocahontas again.

  5. Marleen said:

    I am so grossed out every time I hear Trump speak.

    So is Gloria. She expresses her displeasure every time she hears him.
    In Australia Trump’s voice is on our news programs EVERY day – I don’t recall another US president getting so much constant TV coverage over here.

  6. Hi Jeanne.
    Unfortunately the topic of the end times has been muddied by a lot of claims and speculation that have been proven false. I have found that most of what I was taught about end times was wrong. (when such teaching was more prevalent in the 70s). As a young Christian I didn’t know better, until I took the time to do some study for myself and in the process had to discard most of the beliefs I’d taken for granted (pre-trib rapture for example).

    “End times” is also a subject that goes against human desire – and increasingly that includes the desire of Christians who seem to have little idea of what God’s purposes REALLY are. Biblical revelation of end times often doesn’t fit into general church doctrine. The Bible describes a future significantly different to the commonly held “live a good life and then go to heaven when you die” mindset; a way of thinking that seems to give permanence to this world, that requires Christians to strive to make it a better place instead “in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells”.

    As you say, “things are NOT going to get better in this world before Jesus returns.” but most seem to act as if they will – or at least that things won’t get any worse.

    Sorry I don’t have much time to address all of what you wrote – I have a lot of work to catch up on, but I’d like to get back to what you said a little later when I have more time.

  7. I’m glad to hear of anyone who is grossed out by him. I’m so sorry you guys have to hear his voice (and words) so often. Have to follow up because somehow autocorrect messes up my words at times. In comment number five, I didn’t mean to say “then keep had to respond” — I meant, then I had to respond …

    In the third one of the comments above, additionally, I didn’t type in “And many would think they were selling out the country” — rather, And many wouldn’t think they were selling out the country because they haven’t differentiated their wealth from what the country or their citizenship is supposed to …

  8. Have to follow up because somehow autocorrect messes up my words at times.

    I’ve edited the comments to make the corrections you mentioned.

  9. Jeanne said: “Jesus commands us to “read and understand” the book of Daniel. Why? For one thing, I believe it is protection from the massive deception that is coming”

    When Jesus’s disciples asked him about the signs of the end, and Jesus (2nd) coming, Jesus prefaced His answer with the warning:
    “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many.”

    I’m sure that preface wasn’t insignificant or merely a throw-away line.
    End time teaching, speculation and prophetic claims are considerably prone to error and therefore we should be extra-wary – making sure we search the scriptures for ourselves, testing everything.

  10. “I alone can fix it,” in fact, is what he said.

    His similar line with “only” in it was formed a little differently.

  11. It’s the same as him drawing “the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration”, and his first 100 days being “just about the most successful ever”.

  12. “When Jesus’s disciples asked him about the signs of the end, and Jesus (2nd) coming, Jesus prefaced His answer with the warning:
    “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many.”

    I’m sure that preface wasn’t insignificant or merely a throw-away line.
    End time teaching, speculation and prophetic claims are considerably prone to error and therefore we should be extra-wary – making sure we search the scriptures for ourselves, testing everything.”

    So well said, Tim. Jesus warns us four times in Matthew 24 about deception. And you’re right, these are not insignificant, “throw away” lines. We must take these words of Jesus seriously. And then in verse 25, note that Jesus adds, “See, I have told you beforehand.”

  13. We must take these words of Jesus seriously.

    And to show how His words aren’t taken seriously, we only have to look at how easily some of the most dodgy end-time claims are lapped up by people who have been warned to know better.

  14. From the blog of a Christian man I won’t name here, but someone I’ve had issues with in the past regarding his promotion of lying videos to push his favoured, nationalist political agenda. A man who describes himself as a “patriot”.

    Marine Le Pen gained almost 35 percent of the vote in the recent elections in France. This in spite of the incredible level of demonization she was subjected to by the world press, the French press, the cable media and the World elite, and the collusion of nearly all of the other candidates running in the election.

    (my emphasis)
    When believers fall into the political trap of nationalist politics, they demonstrate something I mentioned in a comment on another thread: “how much Christians have lost discernment”.

    It’s getting easier to see how Hitler got into power in the 30s.

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