Saturday, July 12, 2014
"Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
Let all that you do be done in love."
"At the present time," Paul wrote, "there is a remnant, chosen by God."
He was encouraging Christians back then and now to remember God always elects/chooses/calls a remnant to remain faithful to Him even as the increasingly unfaithful majority distances itself from Him as perfectly patterned by Jesus and prescribed in Holy Scripture.
Dipping back into history, he cites one of many examples of God's people being outnumbered by those who have abandoned Him: "God has not and will not abandon His covenant people...Don't you remember the story of what happens when Elijah pleads with God?...'Lord, they have murdered your prophets, they have demolished Your altars, and I alone am left faithful to You; now they are seeking to kill me.'"
Using that same example of a decreasingly faithful minority being assaulted by an increasingly unfaithful majority, Paul describes the character of people who remain faithfully even when outnumbered by an increasingly unfaithful majority that is increasingly hostile to the decreasingly faithful minority: "How does God answer Elijah's pleas for help? He says, 'I have held back a remnant who are faithful to Me. The remnant has not and will not bow a knee to worship or serve Baal.'"
Contextually, the Bible tells us that God's people will win with Him in the end; or as Jesus promised, "You will be hated because of your loyalty to Me. But whoever endures to the end will be saved."
Simply, God's people, often a remnant in times of increasing national and ecclesiastical apostasy, will catch a lot of hell on the way to heaven; yet triumph in the end because the remnant is cut from the King of kings' cloth and "every knee will bow and every tongue confess Jesus is Lord" in the end.
Again, remnant is reality now as well as then; or as Paul encouraged the Christians praying and laboring to be faithful while living in a hostile Roman culture, "The same thing is happening now. God has preserved a remnant, elected by grace."
I think of God's promise through David, "I was young and now I am old; but I have never seen faithful people abandoned by God."
It helps to remember that/Him when you're trying to honor Jesus by the book in American churches these days; because any connection between them and Jesus by the book is increasingly coincidental as they revise God's truth as enfleshed in Jesus and explained in Holy Scripture to accommodate instincts remaining from the garden.
For those of us who have decided to remain faithfully within American churches "irretrievably apostate under current management" as part of a remnant praying and laboring to honor Jesus by the book, it helps to remember what's left after the process of unfaithful eliminations of fidelity in nations and churches will not be abandoned by God.
What's left of Jesus-loving-Bible-esteeming people after assaults by apostates will be saved by God in the end and supernaturally buoyed in the meantime.
Though living like exiles in neo-Babylonian captivity, people who still pray and labor to honor Jesus by the book will understand the 8th beatitude: "Blessed/fortunate/happy are all of you when people persecute you or denigrate you or despise you or tell lies about you on My account. When this happens, rejoice. Be glad. Remember that God's prophets have been persecuted in the past. And know that in heaven, you have a great reward."
Being a part of God's faithful remnant means absolute allegiance to and affection for Jesus alone as Lord and Savior and esteeming Holy Scripture as the manual without parallel for expressing allegiance to and affection for Jesus alone as Lord and Savior.
In short, being a part of God's faithful remnant means praying and laboring to follow Jesus by the book with enthusiasm and without equivocation; looking up, standing up, speaking up, and acting up for Him akin to the assurances of His presence and power that never abandon His people: "Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."
Being a part of our Lord's remnant will require more specifics than those general guidelines; and while particular circumstances will prompt precisely proactive priorities, plans, proceedings, and programs, here are some starters:
1. Do not feed the beast! Do not take the offerings of God's faithful and hand them over to apostates who use resources to promote anyone or anything obviously antithetical to Jesus by the book.
2. Honor God by feeding God's people as guided by Matthew 25.
3. Because Jesus ignored socioeconomics and only cared about allegiance to and affection for Him, invite, welcome, include, and agape without any respect to culture, color, or class.
4. Don't leave one stinking denomination for another stinking denomination but stay in the one with the familiar stench as you pray and labor to save the willing by pointing to Jesus by the book.
5. Remembering unfaithful denominationalism, nationalism, and other tribals are idolatries and inconsistent with the red letters like Matthew 15 and 23 as notable exclamations, network with anyone anywhere who has declared allegiance to and affection for Jesus by the book.
6. Remembering Jesus by the book recognizes diversity of expressing belief with behaviors consistent with Jesus by the book, acknowledge ritual, ceremonial, liturgical, musical, and other idolatries as sins to be overcome to enable peace, unity, and purity.
7. Salt and shine with Jesus as the pattern and the Bible as having the prescriptions.
Finally, don't hide, quit, or run away!
It is better to be thrown out like Luther, Bonhoeffer, and other remnant heroes than forsake the call to "go out into the world" as His.
I recall a conversation with Hans Evans of Coatesville, Pennsylvania back in the 70s just before he went home to Jesus. I said, "Dr. Evans, I think I made a mistake by being ordained in our denomination. I see it moving farther and farther and farther away from Jesus, the Bible, and its own constitution and confessions." He said, "Stay in our denomination. It's the best mission field open to us today."
Of course, I know some people, especially the apostates who want to rationalize their shameless infidelities by claiming "more light" than what's been graced upon us in Biblical revelation supported by two thousand years of confessional Christianity which is akin to two feet planted firmly in the air, will claim that declaring to be a part of the faithful remnant is arrogant or something like that.
Don't fall for it!
It is damnably arrogant to claim revelation apart from Jesus by the book: "I know that's what Jesus and the Bible say; but I think..."
Talk about arrogance and its consequences a la Revelation 22:18-19.
One more personal/parochial word.
I will remain faithfully in the PCUSA because I was introduced to Jesus in it, nurtured in Him in it, ordained to serve Him in it, and graced by those in it even after sinning so grievously.
For me to leave with such indebtedness would be, for me, like saying, "To hell with everyone in it!"
I also recognize my continuing sins; and if anyone convinces me by the example of Jesus and explanations of Holy Scripture that I am wrong about anything including the preceding, I will confess and repent publicly while begging forgiveness from those who have been offended by me.
To quote one of my heroes on the night before he was assassinated, "Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will...And I'm happy...I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord."
Ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda secundum verbum Dei!!!!!!!
"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal
of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God,
what is good and acceptable and perfect."
Blessings and Love!