Thursday, February 4, 2016, 6:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Weary of Heart.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Mark 11:15-18 (ESV).
And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching.
A Den of Robbers
How is the church today being turned into a den of robbers? First off, we must define “den” and “robber.” A den is a home (dwelling place), or a hiding place, refuge or secret place. A robber is a thief, i.e. “one that steals especially stealthily or secretly, or one who commits theft or larceny” (M-W). “Larceny” is “the unlawful taking of personal property with intent to deprive the rightful owner of it permanently” (M-W).
We must also define “temple” or “church.” We are not speaking here of the institution of church or the not-for-profit corporation under the authority of the federal government (in the US), or a business of human origin. We are also not speaking of a physical building containing physical belongings such as furniture, sound equipment, and TV screens, etc. We are speaking of the body of Christ, the people of God who are followers of Jesus, by God’s grace, through faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives.
So, what is it, then, that robbers (thieves) would come to steal from us? And, what do these robbers look like? And, how do they get into the church to steal? We can find some answers to these questions in the reading of John 10.
Jesus spoke of those who did not enter the sheep’s pen by way of the gate (Jesus), but who came in “another way,” as those who are thieves and robbers. So, these thieves and robbers are those who are among us, who gather together with the Lord’s sheep (followers), and who pretend to be part of the flock, or even shepherds of the flock, but they have entered by way of deception and a false confession of Christ as Savior, or by proclaiming themselves to be Christians and thus followers of Jesus. But, they are not really one of us, but have secretly slipped in among us in order to steal, kill and destroy.
So, what is it that they are trying to steal, kill and destroy? Our lives. Our faith. Our pure devotion to Jesus Christ. Our testimonies for the Lord. Our stand on his Word. And, the gospel of our salvation. They come in among us, pretending to be one of us, so that they can distort the truth of God’s word, deceive naïve minds, and get us to accept “another Jesus” and a “false grace gospel.” And, they do this stealthily, subtly, and largely undetected by those who are not serious students of God’s word, and are thus easily led astray by what sounds good to the ear, and is pleasing to human flesh.
Paul talked about such as these as is recorded for us in Ephesians 4. He spoke of the necessity of having godly leaders among us to prepare us for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up in him, reaching the unity of the faith and so we may become mature in Christ, no longer tossed back and forth by various winds of doctrine and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, we need to speak the truth of God’s word, one to another, so that we will all “grow up” together in Christ.
Peter also addressed the subject of these thieves and robbers, as did Jude (2 Pet. 2; Jude 1). They secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord. They bring the way of truth into disrepute. They exploit you with stories they have made up.
So, what are some of these destructive heresies being promoted in the gatherings of the church today? For one, there is a teaching that has spread far and wide, and is gaining much popularity within the church. It is what I call a “false grace” teaching which gives free license for people to continue in sin without guilt and without remorse. It teaches that all one has to do is to acknowledge what Jesus did for us in dying for our sins, or say certain words asking Jesus into our hearts, or profess to know Jesus as Savior so that we might escape the punishment of hell and have the hope of life with God in heaven when we die.
But, they miss the point of why Jesus died. Jesus did not die merely to give us a get-out-of-jail-free card or to give us the hope of heaven after we die. He died that he might radically change our lives while we live on this earth. He died that we might be crucified with Christ to sin and be resurrected with Christ to newness of life, “created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Pet. 2:24). He died that we might no longer live for ourselves, but for him who gave his life up for us on the cross (2 Co. 5:15). And, he also died that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who walk not according to the flesh, but who conduct our lives (walk) according to (in agreement with) the Spirit of God. If we walk according to the flesh, we will die, but if by the Spirit we are putting to death the deeds of the flesh, we will live (See: Ro. 8:1-14; cf. Ro. 6:1-23; Ac. 26:16-18; Lu. 9:23-25; Jn. 6:35-66; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).
These “false grace” teachers, though, will tell you that all these scriptures I have just referred to above are teaching works-based salvation. They (the false teachers) focus on only a few key verses while ignoring the bulk of New Testament teaching on the subject of what constitutes our salvation and eternal life with God. And, then they teach that God does not require repentance or obedience – no death to sin and living to righteousness; no walking according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh. They believe that a mere prayer or confession of Christ outwardly guarantees them salvation from the punishment of sin (hell) and also guarantees them heaven when they die, no matter how they live in between. But Jesus and his NT apostles taught the opposite of that. God’s grace, which brings salvation, teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives while we wait for Christ’s return (Tit. 2:11-14).
Since the gospel has been severely diluted within the church and “another Jesus” is being preached, other than the one taught by the NT apostles, and the people have put up with it easily enough, this has opened the door wide within the gatherings of the church (the Christian community) for even more heresy. President Obama (of the USA) and Pope Francis are two major voices for this heretical teaching within and without the church.
They, and others like them, are trying to bring the world together under one global totalitarian government and under a one-world religion (of the beast of Revelation). They are preaching a message of oneness of people of all walks of life and of all religious faiths across the globe. They want us to see that, as humans, we are all one big family, and that we must find “common ground” and unify together in joining hands, and in breaking down all which divides us as the people of the world, which means ridding ourselves of the gospel of salvation, because it divides people.
Obama, the US president, in reference to his Cairo speech of 2009 (1), and with regard to his call to all Americans to find “common ground” with people of different and opposing religions, and of different and opposing walks of life, is calling on all Americans to “stick by the country’s founding ideals” (2). Be informed, though, that those “founding ideals” are a mixture of Christianity, Satanism, and the occult; of Greek, Roman and Egyptian gods and goddesses; and of freemasonry (as a religion) and syncretism – the combining (merging, unifying) of different and opposing beliefs and practices.
Obama, who claims to be a Christian, is appealing to “fellow believers” to see themselves as one family along with other people of other faiths and walks of life. They want us to accept all people regardless of lifestyle or religious preference, and validate them as being co-heirs with us as recipients of God’s grace, forgiveness, and acceptance into his eternal kingdom.
I agree that we should love all people. We should treat all people kindly and with the greatest respect. And, we should never look down on others who are different from us. We should also know that Jesus died for the sins of the entire world, and that God loves all people.
Yet, the ones who have eternal life with God are those who believe in Jesus, and that belief entails death with Jesus to sin and living with Jesus to righteousness. Jesus said that only through him can we have eternal life with God in heaven, and only as he prescribed for us in his Word, not as we determine in our own flesh. If we continue in sin, we will die. If we don’t believe in Jesus Christ, we will die. Only through faith in Jesus Christ, of the Spirit, via death to sin and being resurrected to new lives in Christ, to be lived in his righteousness, can we have the hope of heaven, escape hell, and be set free of slavery to sin.
So, if we are ministers of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and we are teaching that it is only through faith in Jesus Christ that one has access to God and eternal life with God in heaven, and if we are teaching that such faith constitutes dying with Christ to sin and living with Christ to righteousness, and if we teach that if we continue in sin we will not have the promise of heaven when we die, but only the fearful expectation of burning in hell, then we will be targeted as intolerant, bigoted, hateful, critical of others, prejudicial, and disrespectful of others’ beliefs and religious preferences. And, we will be targeted for persecution and extinction. Yet, God is completely sovereign over all. He is absolutely in control. He will use this time to bring people to faith in Jesus Christ, and to revive his church before he returns to take us to be with him. So, be of courage, and “Shout it Out!”
Weary of Heart / An Original Work
Based off Isaiah 40 / January 23, 2016
You who bring the Good News,
Lift up your voice.
Do not fear. Shout it out:
“Here is your God!”
The sovereign Lord comes
With power and strength.
He gathers His tender lambs
In His arms.
Lift up your eyes and look:
“Who made all things?”
God, our creator knows
All about you.
Your cause is not
Disregarded by God.
He will not leave;
He’ll not abandon you.
When you are troubled
And weary of heart,
Trust the Lord with your life.
Do not despair.
He will empower you;
Soar on wings like eagles,
Walk and not faint.