A Devotion for 4 September 2019 Anno Domini, the Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, 7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. 9 But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was. 2 Timothy 3:1-9 (KJV)
I had intended to title this devotion, Sacrificial Christianity, but decided that the term, A Convenient Faith, more abundantly identifies the modern church. Why do I say, abundantly? Because there are far greater numbers of false churches today preaching ‘another Gospel,’ than those which preach the infallible and unchanging truth of God’s Word.
When I use the term ‘convenient,’ I am using it in its conventional sense and not that of the older and more formal English of the Shakespearean era. The etymology of the word derives from two Latin words: com (or con) meaning ‘together’; and venire meaning ‘to come.’ Hence, come together, agreeable on issues, reach accord, etc. But in the common vernacular, the word has come to mean that which is easy, acceptable, or to be without demanding effort. This is the meaning of ‘convenient’ in my title.
The Church of both the Old and New Testament was a Church of sacrifice – not one of convenient and happy-clappy entertainment. From the Fall of Adam until the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ, it was a blood sacrifice that was necessary for the covering of sin; and, in reality, it is still a blood sacrifice that is necessary to cover our sin. “For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people, Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you. Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry. And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.” Hebrews 9:19-22 (KJV) But the sacrifices of animals in the Old Testament church was symbolic of the perfect sacrifice to come from the death of the first animal to die in Creation at Eden: “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” Genesis 3:21 (KJV) This was the beginning of the bloody sacrifice to cover our nakedness in sin from that of righteous Abel unto the prophets. But the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ was the once-and-for-all sacrifice which was sufficient to cover ALL sins.
At the very gate of the Wilderness Tabernacle, men were required to offer their sacrificial animals to be offered on the Burnt Altar. That sacrifice granted a further passage of the petition for mercy on to the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies. These represented, in symbolic form, the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ to be offered at Mt. Calvary.
Today, the Church is faced with many temptations to compromise – more so than at any point I can discover in history. This is not a result of increasing demands on the Church, but of a failure to take a strong stand against the growing compromises and evils of days gone by. Eve was tempted in the Garden because she arose and walked toward the Tree. She stopped before the Tree. She conversed with the evil being behind the tree. She then succumbed to a temptation for which only she was responsible. When we walk in dark shadows, our path will not be clear. The modern Church has sat silent, and still sits silently, as one compromise of morality after another is accepted – first in society, and then by the church itself. The Church, not Mammon, is responsible for the inveterate wickedness sweeping the landscape of American and the world. Silence in the face of evil is concurrence.
Where was the proclamations of indignation and judgment when the Bible and Prayer were vanquished from the public classroom? Where was the outcry of churches when abortion on demand was demonically declared constitutional by a maverick Supreme Court? Where the righteous protests when marriage itself (a direct reflection of Christ and His Bride) were disgraced by a legal recognition of perversion?
The life of the Christian was never assured a ‘convenience’ of passage. The Wicked One has sown seeds of bramble throughout our landscape. Work is necessary to weed the garden and plant wholesome grains. But the church has forsaken the labor of the field for the luxury of the velvet-lined pews. Locking themselves behind the doors of the church on one day out of seven, they feel that they have met their obligation and duty to God and their fellow man. Sitting through a 20, or 30, minute sermon suffices, in their minds, to make them a righteous and pious people. Instead of dying to self and working to improve the moral and physical lives of the down-and-out, they have itching ears to hear of how wonderful they are and how blessed by material wealth as tokens of their righteousness. Nothing could be further from the truth. Sacrifice for others has been traded for comfort for oneself. As Paul warns in Hebrews, “Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.” Hebrews 12:4 (KJV) In our own day, I have come to believe that it is not fear that keeps us from resisting unto blood, but a greater desire for comfort and acceptance by the world. Our foolish hearts have embraced wickedness itself over the righteousness of God. We remain silent in speaking out – fearing we will be sanctioned by Facebook or some other worldly media. Christians of our day need to ‘get a grip!’
When I read of the heroic students of Hong Kong resisting the wickedness of the Communist government in Peking (singing Hymns in groups of thousands on the streets there); or the young children who suffer beheading in Syria/Iraq rather than denounce Christ; I feel that our churches have become hotbeds for vice and wickedness rather than havens of righteousness and truth. Just today, I was belittled by a self-pronounced Anglican priest for believing the veracity of the Holy Bible in every detail. I am amazed that such snails crawl from beneath their rocks on sunny days. Two things the snail, and the luke-warm Christian, hate – salt and light. “As a snail which melteth, let every one of them pass away: like the untimely birth of a woman, that they may not see the sun.” Psalm 58:8 (KJV)
Snails normally scurry, as best they can scurry, for a dark place ere the rising of the sun of light. Neither can they abide salt without melting into a mushy blur. “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.” Matthew 5:13 (KJV) It is quite unfortunate (and fatal) that we in the modern church have allowed the things of the world to eclipse the Light of the Sun of Righteousness, and have gone in contact with the world so closely that the bond of elements are separating from the constituent atoms of hydrogen to join with other elements of the earth. This is what happens to a bag of salt when left too long on the ground. We have become good-for-nothing as a moral voice of judgment against the world. Why? Because we have allowed the world into the Church instead of taking the Gospel out into the world. We have become like the world!
Unless we, as the prodigal son, come to our senses and repent, Lord have mercy on our sorry souls! No matter what the venue, let us show ourselves as men and women of backbone, unafraid to express our convictions and to judge sin according to righteous judgment (God’s Word) and not our own or by those egregiously wicked standards of the world.
“If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” 1 Corinthians 16:22-23 (KJV)