Friday, April 13, 2012

The Watchman on the Wall (2) - Three Lies Christians Are Being Taught

A watchman is someone who looks out for danger and sounds the alarm if he senses that a threat is approaching. 

When I was a small boy growing up in northwestern Pennsylvania, we didn't have an electrical alarm system in our rural home but that doesn't mean we weren't protected.  Our alarm system had a name.  It was Buster.  Buster was a large, full grown Collie and in all his years with us he never failed to warn us.  Buster once warned us of a bear roaming around in the ravine behind our home.  Buster provided security for my mother who was a nurse when she arrived home at 11:00 at night.  He was constantly on the lookout for danger and he never once failed to sound the alarm when a stranger approached.

Buster was a loner.  He didn't run with the neighborhood pack.  It's as if he knew he had a job and he was totally committed to doing that job well.  Those whom God has called to be watchmen often find themselves as loners.  They share an unpopular message with an unreceptive people.  God wants his people to be distinguished, he wants others to recognize a difference in those who call themselves Christians.

"Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord.  Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you." - 2 Corinthians 6:17

"Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.  For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities."  Revelation 18:4

We are to live in the world but we must allow the Spirit of God to distinguish us from the world.  Many modern Christians are more interested in blending than in distinguishing.  There is a deception common among Christians that says a Christian can act just like a non-Christian, they can use the same language, they can go to the same places and they can enjoy the same sins. 

Let me share with you three lies Christians are often taught:
a.   Christians are often taught  believe that prosperity is a fruit of the Spirit.

            If you have really given your heart to Jesus he will make you wealthy.  We are told that somewhere in the Bible Jesus said:  "If you believe in me:
•          You will be prosperous
•          You will be healthy
•          You will get a better job
•          You will find a spouse
•          You will be spared physical illness or pain.

There is no guarantee that God will bless you with any of these things. 

God never promised us a rose garden.  This health and wealth gospel is cotton candy theology that has replaced the real meat and potato gospel of Jesus Christ.  Christ never promised his disciples wealth and power.  He said,  "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." (Matthew 16:24)  Some ministers are more concerned about making people feel good so they will come back.  A real watchman on the wall will declare that Christ is the Messiah, he died on a cross, he arose from the dead.   "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him." (John 3:17) He came as a lamb to the slaughter so we might be saved and have a relationship with him.  A real watchman must say that when Jesus comes again, he will not come as a lamb, he will come on white steed with sword in his hand and he will administer a fiery judgment on all of the injustice and evil that reigns in this world.
b.   Christians are often taught that a solitary, simple prayer one time spoken is all that is necessary to get to heaven.

            Are you a Christian? The reply is often; "Yes, I walked the aisle when I was seven years old."  "Yes, I said the Sinner's Prayer at age ten".

             Jesus never taught such easy believism.  There was nothing easy about Christ's purchase of our salvation:  “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Is 53:5-6)

            Jesus was a watchman and his message was:  "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."  (Matthew 4:17)

            Jesus shared an unpopular message with an unreceptive people:  "But unless you repent, you too will all perish."  (Luke 13:3)

            Jesus said this, even though he knew it would hasten his own death, "I am the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except though Me."  (John 14:6)

            He didn't die to provide us an escape from all suffering.  He died so that we might draw on his grace when given the privilege of suffering with him.

            The true message of salvation is that the cleansing blood of Christ is transformative.  "…do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind."  Becoming a Christian is not just saying a simple prayer and continuing in your old ways, rather, it is a radical transformation described by the watchman Paul who said, "…sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace."  (Romans 6:14)

c.         Christians are often taught that a nation can be spiritually transformed through politics.  

            Christians often confuse the power and authority of American government with the power and authority of Christ.  We must not confuse the two kingdoms.  One kingdom is worldly and it will surely pass away.  The other kingdom is far more important because he who rules the eternal kingdom is Christ himself!  He is pure and incorruptible.  The government of that kingdom is "upon his shoulders and he shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." 

            Jesus was not opposed to Christians influencing earthy governments.  He said we were to "render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's".   (Luke 20:25)  But let us not confuse the two kingdoms.  Because the world is corrupted by sin God will continue to work through those who "bear the sword" (Romans 13:4) 

            This truth is captured in the old Negro spiritual, Wayfaring Stranger;
            "I am a poor wayfaring stranger,
            While traveling through this world of woe.
            Yet there’s no sickness, toil nor danger
            In that bright world to which I go.
            I’m going there to see my Father;
            I’m going there no more to roam."

            Let us not confuse the temporary purpose of the American government with the eternal purpose of the kingdom of God.  Let us fight to make America a better country.  Let us be found on the front lines fighting for the lives of the unborn, for the sanctity of marriage and for the purity of our youth.  But let us not lose sight of the fact that as watchmen on the wall our primary responsibility is to point lost wanderers to the King of Kings!

Kevin Probst - Teaches History, Government and Apologetics at the high school level in Columbus Georgia.

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