Friday, January 26, 2007

The American Church in Crisis- The Rise of the Pharisees

You can’t escape the large number of verses in the New Testament that deal with strained or broken relationships. The gospel was born out of a struggle. Indeed a war with the price of blood was waged for the redemption of man. 

The problem of sin nevertheless still impacted the apostles and early converts to the new faith. The controversies came in as the church began to struggle with outside opposition, often resulting in persecution and death. 

The church began to struggle with false teachers and the new age of Christian liberty and conscience. Jews and Gentile were new converts to a new law of love and a path to God purchased by God incarnate. The opposition was also supernatural and strategic. 

 The Christian walk is a joyful celebration but also a “boots on the ground”, all out assault. It is an internal peace of the presence and power of God along with a fantastic display of battle wounds and setbacks. The key to any victory in any competition is harmony. A unified team is hard to defeat. The Bible makes it clear that our head is Christ. He is the cornerstone of our foundation, and we should strive to be unified in Him. We are to forgive, bear with, go the extra mile with. How are we doing? Any Google search will reveal that the American church is rife with tremendous infighting and splits. From worship wars to translation debates, the American expression of the evangelical church is imploding. 

 What is the problem? While it may seem trite and shallow to suggest a straying from Biblical truth and sound doctrine, I believe it is just that. The inspired writes of the New Testament urge us to pursue peace and purity while accepting and watching out for the weaker brother. 

 In a Nov 5, 2006 broadcast of the White Horse Inn, Michael Horton and a panel of pastors do a splendid job of presenting perspective from Romans chapter 14 in our current culture. The discussion centers around a common problem within the church. What is the relationship of Christian liberty in the gospel age to God’s moral law and the binding of conscience? Paul and Peter themselves went through a similar controversy regarding the early cross-pollinization of Jews and Gentiles. 

 The Pastor roundtable gives us great insight into many problems today and the news is sobering. We are more like Pharisees than children of the living God. Our culture is teaching us to opine and judge. Our news programs are centered around argumentation and debate. We are quick to judge, quick to speak, and very slow to listen. We think with our eyes and reason with our lips. 

 There are some great ideas in this broadcast. 
1-We violate the Christian idea of humility the very minute that we are worried more about our neighbor than ourselves. 
2- We are in the wake of modern universal principles where wisdom and prudence has been replaced by policy and procedure. 
3- Christian liberty is an appendix to the doctrine of justification. We can believe in justification but be in bondage ( the judgment of works) if we violate liberty. 
4- In view of the mercy of God, we should live lives that are distinctly different. God’s moral laws are the same, but now our motivation is different. The law of the gospel is love. 

 The bottom line- to the degree that I use my spirituality to judge and condemn sheds a lot of light on my possibility of being a Pharisee. The more oppressive my ways the more in error I am likely to be. I pray that we somehow find a spirit of unity. It is vital to potential victory in this current culture. I have been told that the way porcupines sleep together is that they have the ability to pull in their quills. Isn’t it time to put off dissension and put on love? Please pull in your quills and forgive. Our society is teaching us to use wounds as a weapon. There is a lot of power in pain in American culture. Is this what scripture encourages? 

 Hebrews 13:13 Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he (Jesus) endured. 14 For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. 15 Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name. 16 Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God 

 Romans 15:5 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 6 that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 “The lessons my mama taught me were to always treat people right. It don't cost nuthin' to be nice. 

It don't cost 'nuthin' to do the right thing most of the time, and it costs a lot to lose your good name by breakin' your word to someone.” Paul “Bear” Bryant 

 Stephen Grellet, French/American religious leader (1773-1855) said, "I expect to pass through the world but once. Any good therefore that I can do, or any kindness I can show to any creature, le t me do it now. Let me not defer it, for I shall not pass this way again." 

 Until the Lord comes or closes the curtain on our society, let’s keep up the work of grace and peace!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice one Jay. Well written, and I give you double kudos. Just so you know, I have a podcast now. You can go to and subscribe to it if you would like. Hope you are doing well brother,
In Christ,