First Baptist Church is excited to host a one-day conference for Students, Youth, AND ADULTS! The conference theme, The Way of Peace will focus on …The Way Of Peace: Why The Church Still Matters Conference
This isn’t the first post that has touched on this subject, and in this case – I plan to be as brief as possible. The primary thing that identifies a particular church (and thus denomination, association, or convention of churches) is doctrine. There are even the cases of “non-denominational churches” that fall into either being non-aligned, but holding fairly clear doctrinal positions (often baptist in nature), or that have absolutely no doctrinal foundation – and thus have no spine or biblical credibility. We Baptists have historically been somewhat confessional (much to the chagrin of many modern baptists), in that we have long held some very firm core doctrines that actually define the term “Baptist”. Among these are:
- The BIBLE– The Inerrant, wholly-inspired, Word of God, given through men across thousands of years as the perfect and complete revelation of God to mankind. It is sufficient for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness. The Word of God (the Bible) is the sole authority on faith and practice.
- GOD – There is One True God, who exists in and of Himself, infinite in being and perfection, in three distinct persons: The Father, The Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit – all of one substance, power and eternity, undivided. Jesus Christ, the Word, has always existed with the Father and the Spirit, was born of a virgin (took on flesh), lived without sin, with the single purpose to die in full payment for sin that wasn’t His own.
- MAN– Mankind is made by God in His image, created for relationship with God, to bring Glory to God and to Enjoy Him forever. BUT – mankind is, because of Adam’s fall, sinful by nature and has no ability to restore himself to right relationship with God.
- SIN – That which violates God’s Law, that in any way attempts to rob God of His glory, whether sins of commission (actions), or omission (things left undone). For All have sinned and come short…
- Way of Salvation – God has made provision for the restoration of fallen, sinful man through the perfect sacrifice of Himself in Jesus Christ, who took on the penalty of sin that we deserve, and in His death, paid the eternal price for that sin. Salvation is by grace, through faith – not of works. (Ephesians 2:8&9)
- BAPTISM & LORD’S SUPPER – the two ORDINANCES given to the church as signs and as an encouragement to believers as well as a testimony of the gospel in participants. Baptism is the immersion of the repentant convert in water, conducted in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as a public sign and profession of the individual’s death, burial, and resurrection with Christ Jesus. The Lord’s Supper, sometimes referred to as Communion, is the memorial meal of the Cup representing the blood Jesus shed for our sins, and the bread – of His flesh broken on our behalf. Jesus commanded His followers “do this in remembrance” of Him. Both ordinances are to be practiced by born-again believers. The Supper to be practiced by believers who are members in good standing of a local New Testament church.
- The CHURCH– is the Body of Christ, expressed explicitly as the Local Body of Believers, yet in a sense understood as the larger union of all true, New Testament believers who are part of the local church.
- PASTORS/ELDERS & DEACONS– There are two distinct “offices” recognized historically by Baptists: Elders (also known as pastors and by various other terms) who are called out and set apart by God and via ordination of the local church, to be undershepherds of Christ’s flock. The New Testament lists some very specific qualifications for a man who desires the office – (1 Timothy 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-9). Among the most obvious are that these are to be MEN (the Greek is unambiguous), of high moral character, and gifted in teaching. Likewise, Deacons – who are not rulers, but men of character and spiritual maturity, who are to carry the primary burden for material/physical care of the local church’s members, with a particular emphasis on widows, orphans, etc.)
- AUTONOMY OF THE LOCAL CHURCH– While Baptists have historically often worked together in various associations and later “conventions”, Baptists have a very biblical perspective of the autonomy of the local church – meaning that each church stands units own, and is beholden only to the Lord Jesus Christ and is not to be subjected to the whims of the secular world, nor to the rule of other churches of entities (essentially the opposite of the episcopal/top-down church government of Catholicism, Methodism, Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and others).
Beyond these, Baptists have followed a variety of local church polity from firm elder-leadership, to democratic congregationalism. In ecclesiology, there is a wide range of practices among historic baptists (though congregational government seems to be the most common). Churches are free to associate and cooperate with other churches for the sake of fulfilling Christ’s Great Commission, and for mutual aid and encouragement. It is out of this voluntary association that larger formal Associations (like the BMAA) and the Conventions have come into existence.
I say all this to set the stage for this concern:
Doctrine Matters! It is doctrine that binds a local church together. That “unity of faith” Paul mentioned in Ephesians 4:13 that believers ought to be seeking together. This all begins with the gospel itself – that Christ died to reconcile lost sinful man to our Holy and righteous God, by HIS sovereign will and purpose. The fundamental beliefs of any church body or denomination serve as the defining of their faith, and SHOULD be the basis of cooperation and fellowship. This is why Baptists generally reject any cooperation with Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses – as they hold very different views of God, Salvation, and even in WHO Jesus Christ is. This is why it is extremely rare to find areas of cooperation between Baptists and Roman Catholics – because their view of salvation and other doctrines are so radically different (and why when there is such cooperation, it is on a single-issue like the right to life).
Even in Baptist history, there have been significant doctrinal dividing points. Early Baptists were divided primarily along Soteriology with the predominant view of Particular Baptists (some might refer to them as Calvinistic Baptists), and General Baptist. While many don’t understand the difference, the underlying division is over salvation – with Particular Baptists firmly holding that salvation is 100% of the LORD *(monergistic- Ephesians 2:8-9), while General Baptists (including those known as “Free Will” Baptists) hold that the individual must gain and hold on to salvation (synergism). It is rare to find these two primary groups associating and cooperating due to this significant difference in soteriology.
In the association of churches I am a part of, the Baptist Missionary Association of America (and the state version), a church is expected to completely affirm our formal statement of faith to be in fellowship and cooperation with us. We believe that an association of churches (voluntary) ought to hold to a common core of values, just as the local church should. A set of theological and doctrinal distinctive that eliminate any misunderstandings on these matters. Beyond these fundamental (primary) beliefs, we allow much more flexibility – whether it be in who the local church invites to the Lord’s Supper table (close vs closed communion), worship style, ministry models, church polity, and even eschatology (theology of end times). But the doctrines that matter, are what bind us together.
I have recently discovered that the Southern Baptist Convention, while having a history of affirming a set of common beliefs, no longer have such affirmation as a criteria for cooperation and fellowship. Maybe this has been a factor for a significant time (I have been trying to research when that came about), but this reality should be a concern. If an Assembly of God congregation decided to cooperate with the SBC, would that be accepted? Based on the current language – the AoG congregation might be found to be in “substantive agreement” with the BF&M. What would stop them?
There are congregations in the SBC who functionally reject parts of the BF&M, including the core belief of sexual immorality, the limiting of the office of Pastor to men, and apparently even the practicing of the “Miraculous Gifts”. Add in that there are some congregations that have pastors preaching blatant heresies that not only directly contradict the BF&M, but shred Scripture – is it any wonder that Social Justice, Critical Race Theory, Intersectionality, and a myriad of other anti-gospel ideologies have become firmly rooted in many churches? These all find their support in a low view of Scripture -and the question “has God really said?” just as the Serpent used so long ago in the context of the fall.
I would propose that the current “liberal drift” of the SBC (and in other denominations and local churches) is the product of several factors – one originating in another. It is the product of a low view of the Bible, God’s Holy Word – a functional rejection of it’s inerrancy, reliability, and sufficiency, which makes mankind the arbiter and judge of what is and what isn’t/what God did and didn’t mean. But even this is in many ways the product of a woeful failure to make disciples. Making disciples means, as Jesus clearly stated – TEACHING THEM all that I have commanded. It means passing on the doctrines and theology that Jesus (and in a larger sense that all the Bible teaches) – that the man (person) of God is fully equipped. Instead – churches (including baptists) have become the gathering of “feelings” and what is easy, expedient, world-pleasing, and yes – pragmatic. And in a world that hates God, hates Jesus, and hates those who follow and love Jesus (just as HE warned us would happen), pragmatically seeking the world’s approval is doctrinal suicide, and has led to churches that far more reflect the world than the Glorious and Holy God they are supposedly worshipping and proclaiming.
Let me preface this with the fact that I pray daily for the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention. We share a common spiritual ancestry and at least by statement, believe the same Bible and hold the same core values. And as I sit here in my “2nd Office”, having prayed about this post for several days, hoping that the LORD would change my mind – I have received confirmation after confirmation that this post is necessary. Yes, the Southern Baptist Convention has done many great things for the Kingdom of God – including planting churches around the world, supporting seminaries that have through the many years, trained many Christians for greater work for the cause of Christ. BUT: things are not all well with this organization.
This week, as the Southern Baptist Convention meets in Anaheim, California for their annual conference, they face a massive problem that goes well beyond the very publicly-aired grievances. On the surface, you don’t have to be an SBC insider to be well aware of the hashtag #changethedirection. The Conservative Baptist Network (CBN), Founders Ministry (led by Tom Ascol), and even G3 Ministries have been among those most vocal in calling for mayor direction shift by the world’s largest Baptist denomination, a cooperative convention with stated goals not unlike those of my own BMAA.
So why #changethedirection?
Some of us are old enough to remember (or have studied) the “liberal drift” of the SBC that came to a head in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. A significant number of cooperative churches had begun to adopt theologically and doctrinally liberal positions that ran contrary to historic Baptist positions (and more importantly, BIBLICAL positions). The fundamental issue was not the “liberal drift”, but the low view of Scripture that was at the core of this shift. A handful of well-known figures (and a myriad of lesser-known men) began in 1979 to fight in earnest for the “soul of the SBC”. Over the course of several years, Dr. Albert Mohler secure election as President of the convention, which opened the door to change in leadership of the various agencies and seminaries, bringing what is now known as “The Conservative Resurgence”. Among the better sources on this subject was penned by Judge Paul Pressler entitled A Hill On Which To Die (A worthwhile read for anyone interested in that tumultuous time in Southern Baptist history). The end result of that “coup” as some called it, was the spin-off (split) of the “Cooperative Baptist Fellowship”, a parallel body of mostly former Southern Baptist congregations that hold a wide, though significantly liberal in doctrine, beliefs including the ordination of women, affirmation of the LGBTQ+ lifestyle, and what most Bible-believers would call a very low view of God and the Bible.
To those of us outside the Convention, we have watched as churches of the convention have continued to spin off into liberalism. Somewhat controversial ministries like Pulpit & Pen/Protestia, Reformation Charlotte, and others have been sounding the alarm for well over a decade. Often maligned and accused of being divisive (despite the Scriptures always labeling those in doctrinal and theological error to be responsible for division), these men and ministries have been battling – many leading their own congregations out of the SBC on the basic principals at hand. Over the last several years, as SBC superstars, often in megachurches, have been ramping up the assault on God’s Word, again bringing the inerrancy, authority, reliability, and sufficiency of Scripture into question. From well-documented redefining of sin to simply “brokenness“, the ramping up of easy-believism and “come as you are, but we don’t expect change”, With so-called pastors refusing to speak of teh very real consequences of sin, in favor of soft tone and coddling sinners – it was only a matter of time before this produced the spiritually weak and immature churches, building what my friend Allen Nelson (@quatronelson) has complained are “unregenerate church members”. Mega churches in the convention are now not only ordaining women to pastoral positions (Saddleback Church/Rick Warren), but proudly boasting of having LGBTQ+ volunteers and staff people (Church on the Glades, Corral Gables, Fl). The SBC’s own ministry, the ERLC (Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission), which has expended millions of cooperative giving dollars in promoting mosques, condemning churches that didn’t shut their doors under COVID, and now actively opposing state legislation to stop abortion (unquestionably the greatest injustice in the US for almost 50 years). In fact, the current leadership (following the train wreck that is Dr. Russell Moore, a politically and biblically-liberal man who has left the convention to a far more suitable and liberal group) has announced their “pro-life” conference – where they refuse to even call abortion evil – instead using a slogan of “Make Abortion Unnecessary”. When asked when abortion is “necessary” today, leadership (according to those in Anaheim this week, refused to answer).
What we see unfolding is a war within the Southern Baptist Convention. A war where the battles and skirmishes are over sin, liberalism, Critical Race Theory (a distinctively Marxist and brazenly racist ideology), Intersectionality, radical feminism, and much more, that at its core – isn’t ABOUT these, which are simply symptoms, but are all rooted in the exact same cancer that divided the denomination 40 plus years ago: The Word of God. IS the Word of God reliable? Is the Word of God inerrant? Is the Bible sufficient (2 Timothy 3:16)? It is on this set of questions that essentially all of the “issues” being battled under the banner of #chagnethedirection rest. Indeed, to fight against the clear teaching of the Word of God is to be “ashamed of the gospel” itself (Romans 1:16). Instead, as churches and now the Convention dive off into the poison pill of pragmatism, seeking to please the world instead of their Creator – it begs the question: Now what? Will the effort to elect a distinctly conservative man to the President of the SBC fix the problem? No. The process to even remotely impact the actual direction of the Convention, made up of some 47,000 local churches, with several seminaries that are rapidly flying off the rails, with those holding to liberal ideologies now in the majority in most committees that have any say, is a decade or more of uninterrupted conservative leadership.
To my third-person perspective, it looks like a lot of folks are holding out hope that a man (Tom Ascol) somehow can be the “messiah” of the Convention. Alas – even if he were to be elected today in Anaheim – it doesn’t solve the problem that nobody seems to want to address: Corporatism and an ecclesiology built to fail.
Ecclesiology is by definition, the “study of the church” and is an area of Christian theology that often gets less attention than is appropriate. Within ecclesiology is the study and application of church structure, governance, and polity. Baptists have historically held to a bottom-up framework that emphasizes the equal vote and value of the individual regenerate church member, in a mostly congregationalist local church polity (with some degree of elder-leadership), autonomy of the local church (the local church is not beholden to any other entity or in subjection to outside denominational authority), with each local voluntarily associating with and even cooperating with other local churches in fulfillment of the Great Commission. This is in stark contrast to the episcopal/hierarchical model – where the local church is subject to a ruling denominational authority (Catholic, Methodist, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, Lutheran, and even some Pentecostal denominations. Within the Baptist realm, there are some variations in the view of local church “autonomy” – form the stereotypical “Independent, Fundamentalist Baptist”, to the more organize Baptist denominations. But in all – Baptists proudly (and I believe accurately) hold that “the church” is manifested in this world as the LOCAL church.
The problem with the Southern Baptist Convention’s Polity:
The Southern Baptist Convention has grown into a massive corporation, with hundnreds of millions of dollars given every year jsut to the national denomination (and Billions when totaled with state and local conventions and associations). The Convention has several ministries that function as semi-independent entities (such as the North American Missions Board, the International Missions Board, Lifeway, the ERLC, etc.). These all receive their primary funding via the denominational umbrella. I won’t delve into the details of how the money filters up mostly from state conventions, but suffice it to say that churches have very little say in where the funds they contribute are spent. And therein lies the rub: The size of the Convention becomes the excuse for a lack of transparency and accountability. Over the years, many have come into leadership positions that had no business in even leading a local church, much less a multi-million ministry organization in charge of missionaries and missionary policy.
Some within the more conservative circles of the Convention have been trying for years to even find out the compensation package for certain officers. Likewise is the effort to simply get a detailed accounting of how cooperative funds have been spent. The structure itself makes such information functionally a “protected secret”. Outside of general budgets and offering totals, the average church member of a Convention church has no way of being fully-informed. By the time a problem is obvious, the hole is already dug (or in the current situation – the derailment already well-progressed). Even seminaries are under this (though at least for accreditation purposes – they have to have more transparent financials). But when seminaries have professors (and even presidents) who are teaching or tolerating serious errors, doctrinal contradictions, and even blatant work contrary to the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 (the official statement of all churches in the Convention) – change is nearly impossible because of so little accountability.
The Convention has become and albatross – one that is easily steered by political correctness, but rudderless in trying to “right the course”. And his all goes back to the title of this post: A Denomination Built To Fail. When we explore the New Testament and the model of the Church(s) – we see independent bodies, connected not by some hierarchal system, but bound by the teachings of the apostles, once handed down (Jude 1:3), revolving around the one gospel of Jesus Christ that Paul was so passionate about (Romans 1:16, Galatians 1:8). Churches were organized then left to further the ministry. Yes, Paul and others checked in and offered suggestions and even commands to those early and immature bodies. But we see that contributions were sent for specific purposes to specific churches in need – not via some denominational organization or authority – but simply out of love and concern for the brethren in need. Indeed – we often see reference made to “churches” within a geographic area who often worked together for ministry. But the local church remained the foundation.
What we have seen historically is that the farther away from the local church structures get – the more susceptible they are to corruption and trouble. The latest scandal in the SBC revolving around sexual abuse and the accompanying cover-ups, which should have been handled at the local church level (because biblically, the “denomination” has no authority over the local church), became a denominational issue – precisely BECAUSE of the SBS’s corporate structure. When Executive Committee members actively helped to cover up abuse reported to them – they opened the entire denomination to not just scrutiny, but to a degree of liability. The proposed “solution”? Even more top-down structure and policies.
I had to step away from writing this for several ministry duties and opportunities – but now that I’m back at the keyboard, I do it with an even heavier heart – for literally everything that has been considered “worst case” has come to pass. Just what I’ve seen reported is too much to post here on this already long entry – but here are some of the more alarming and in many cases, Scripturally contradictory actions:
- Tom Ascol soundly defeated in a runoff between himself and Bart Barber. Bart has tried to play “moderate”, while defending Dr. Moore and the ERLC when they chose to attack churches for keeping their doors open, while also defending mosques. And lest we forget, we now have absolutely proof that Dr. Moore was an active participant in covering up sexual abuse in the convention – holding information as a secret weapon instead of helping to deal with it. Alas – Barber chose politics over biblically-correct and moral action.
- The Pastor’s Conference elected the truly #woke candidate, Daniel Dickard, as President of the conference, over Voddie Baucham (one of the most gifted and biblically-sound preachers in all of the Southern Baptist Convention – who also happens to be a Black man and anti-woke). This was a pretty significant preview of what was to come with the Ascol/Barber vote.
- When Tom Buck’s wife Jennifer had the opportunity to speak – she was disgracefully shut down (despite speaking from a victim’s perspective), yet Rick Warrant (Saddleback Church) was given free reign to defend ordaining women into pastoral office (in direct contradiction to Convention rules and more importantly, against God’s Word. (This in response to a call for Saddleback to be removed from fellowship for that very offense).
- As a result of the above, and a ruling by the Credentials Committee on the issue – the Southern Baptist Convention now endorses and approves of women being ordained to offices biblically restricted to men (including pastoral ministry). This under the decision stating they recognize that some churches practice ordination based upon the person’s “gifting”. (I’m still trying to figure out how you deal with “husband of one wife” – aka a “one woman man”).
- A resolution submitted to recognize and proclaim the sacredness of the pulpit – and thus the need to protect it in the local church was rejected by the resolutions committee with no hope of it being voted to the floor by the full body.
- Passively endorsed blatant plagiarism from the pulpit (in part by rejecting the above resolution), but also by platforming some of the worst and most brazen practitioners of plagiarism.
- The ERLC announced their theme for the next “Stand For Life” – functionally asserting that abortion is currently a “necessity”… (see above).
- The body voted to remove full acceptance of the Baptist Faith & Message 2000 as a necessity to become a cooperating church (in other words – a church can reject even key components as long as they acknowledge most of it and still be “Southern Baptist”).
- Voted to implement Recommendation Two which establishes a “Ministry Check” database, publicly accessible, to functionally “register” pastors and leaders in Southern Baptist Churches at churches where there is ANY sort of abuse allegations (they did use the phrase “preponderance of evidence”, but didn’t define that), even if the pastor or other leaders were unaware of abuse – and were not part of the allegations. A functional blacklist or “sex offender registry” that doesn’t even require a conviction (or even actual legal charges) to find your name on it. We have already seen men’s names drug through the mud who were not involved in abuse (Mike Stone being one). This doubles-down and will undoubtably be used as another political weapon.
- Faithful and honest people have been verbally assaulted and falsely accused of “stuffing the ballot box”.
The long-and-short of the matter: those who began sounding the alarm more than a decade ago were labeled as dividers, hateful, spiteful, and MUCH worse. Yet again, the Scriptures clearly and consistently equates those who try to inject error, heresies, and wickedness as the “ones who bring division. As the Southern Baptist Convention consummates their marriage to the accursed false gospels and doctrines of “wokness”, Critical Race Theory, Intersectionality, and inevitably incorporating full acceptance of the LGBTQ+ movement (as already openly and proudly practiced at the aforementioned Church on the Glades). But lest we forget – the unaccountable and utterly lacking in transparency missions sending entities of the SBC have been pushing women in leadership roles (including functional pastorship) for a while now.
And sadly, we have a biblical precedent for what we are seeing (as well an historic and recent example): When God’s timing came to bring dramatic judgment to His own people, and after dramatic and warnings by many men of God, Israel was utterly crushed and carried away. Prophets continued to warn Judah to repent and return to God and HIS Word, rejecting their idols – but they refused to heed the Word of the LORD and suffered even more horrific judgment by Babylon. Similarly, the United Methodists went through a nearly-identical (though somewhat more protracted) drift over what is essentially the same issue (God’s Word and it’s reliability, inerrancy, and sufficiency – aka “Hath God really said?”. They too had opportunities to #changethedirection, they too labeled the Conservatives among them as divisive and evil. They too progressively shut down Conservative voices. And now, the UMC is in the process of a dramatic division. I see no path forward for a united Southern Baptist Convention. And sadly, like the UMC, it is the more Bible-aligned “Conservatives” who are getting run out.
But there is an alternative. There is biblical grounds for churches to associate together and to cooperate for the Great Commission Work. But along with that association is a need for both accountability (to the LOCAL CHURCHES) and in that – transparency. The BMA of America is such an association. No “Executive Committee” driving a massive corporate structure (thus no ruling elites entangling the entire denomination in sexual cover-ups and other legal wrangling that consume offerings from churches intended for the support of missionaries and church planting). The BMAA operates with a dramatic and intentional bottom-up structure, where the LOCAL CHURCH is the driving force, the fundamental platform, with the associated (aka – cooperative” work being subject to and in support of the local church’s work in spreading the gospel and planting churches). Churches give directly to each and every ministry, which themselves exist as autonomous entities that don’t even inter-mingle funds. Because of this structure, transparency and accountability are paramount. Every associated church gets reports that include itemized giving and audited expenses, and something as simple as every director’s compensation is clearly listed (and approved) every year! The same-said directors are also re-elected by the body every year – thus they are directly accountable to the churches of the BMA (and the same structure is used at the state level as well). Every church decides which ministries they give to (not some body that makes the decision for you). Missionaries are directly supported.
And the only thing possibly more important the above – is that to be welcomed in to fellowship with the BMA simply requires that you petition in, and completely affirm our statement of faith (and the larger comprehensive confession – the New Hampshire Confession of Faith, which use to be the confession of the SBC as well). We believe in protecting the pulpit, we believe in the inerrancy, reliability, and sufficiency of the Bible. And of interest to some: Messengers to our association meetings is a set number (3) per church, regardless of how inflated your church membership roll is! Every church has an equal voice.
Is the BMA “perfect” – absolutely not any more than the local church (or individual believers). But we believe we have a much more biblical grasp of ecclesiology. We take autonomy of the local church very seriously, only eclipsed by our passion for the Word of God.
Oh – and our seminary (Baptist Missionary Association Theological Seminary, Jacksonville, TX) – happens to be one of the most cost-effective, fully-accredited, and biblically-conservative seminaries in the country, proudly teaching expository preaching and a very high view of God’s Word.
We have a small, but extra-ordinarily biblically-sound publishing house (Baptist Publishing House) producing unabashedly “Baptist” literature, with the primary literature being titled Baptist Expositor, a curriculum for Sunday school or small group study.
Our broadcast and media ministry is called Lifeword, which produces gospel broadcasts in a massive list of languages, podcasts and ministry videos, as well as conferences, retreats, and events to bolster faith and to help equip believers.
The BMA has other ministries under the umbrella – yet every one is autonomous and independently funded by the churches and individuals of the BMA.
This post was not intended as a sales pitch (though I’m sure the last chunk sure seems like it!), but simply to address some of the symptoms that are sooner than later bringing spiritual death to the Southern Baptist Convention, while presenting an alternative for those churches who can no longer bear to associate (or even to be unequally yoked) with the works of darkness that have become the norm of the Convention (Ephesians 5:11). Please know that my prayers are with our brethren in the SBC. Whether or not you take a look at the BMA, I do pray that you come out of what has become a type of Babylon!
At first iI was TOLERANCE– out of “Christian love of your LGBTQ+ neighbor” and “for the sake of the gospel”… Just “tolerate”… Coexist. Let it go…
But that wasn’t good enough, so then it became…
ACCEPT– you and your church must be accepting of these identities and lifestyle choices. Just accept them for who hey believe they are- accept their feelings as fact, because it is “who God made them” (so don’t you dare preach about THAT set of sins or even call it sin!)… Or, as made famous by the likes of former SBC President JD Greear & current SBC President and plagiarizer – Ed Litton- “God (only) whispers about sexual sin”…
Oh, but that too just wasn’t enough.
And now you must AFFIRM! Not only must you tolerate (not enough), and accept (which still means you might secretly hold on to “outdated Biblical values” and really think they are in need of some kind of change…
No! You must offer heartfelt AFFIRMATION– praising their life choices. Praising what the BIBLE clearly calls sin (oops – not suppose to call it that – just ask Beth Moore who in the last few years removed homosexuality from her materials when identified as sin that needs to be repented of).
And now, as Southern Baptist megachurches begin turning over and giving in to the culture, thus giving up on God’s Word (literally denying it), the downgrade of the largest “protestant” denomination in the US readies to go down in flames. Local congregations like Church on the Glades in Coral Springs, FL have pastors who make promotional videos lauding that they have LGBTQ+ members (active, practicing), even on staff… The proudly state that they are affirming of all…
Or the message I received this morning from an old high school associate that sometimes sounds things off for a pastoral perspective, who sent me a link to a page/message form the web site of 2nd Baptist Church in Little Rock, Arkansas. Included in this churches radical Social Justice agenda (their motto apparently is “Where Faith and Justice Meet”) is an entire series that begins with “inclusion”, but is bolstered by a message from their pastor titled “Why We’re Affirming”. That’s right – not only do they “tolerate” or “accept” this – they formally and officially affirm the LGBTQ+ – they promote it, the hail it, they join in celebrating it as some kind of beautiful thing. Typical for the #woke church movement, where dollars and noses are more important that regenerated souls and disciples made. Where calming identity in Christ, yet celebrating the very sin that necessitates the death of Jesus…
Scripture doesn’t whisper about any sin, but sexual sin – from the acts of homosexuality, to adultery, rape/sexual assault, fornication (improper, out of order, out-of-wedlock, and also same-sex sexual activity), effeminate behavior, men dressing as women/women dressing as men, and even lust – are all addressed firmly as sin. Alas – the modern American, pragmatic version of the gospel is powerless to change lives and hearts. The gospel sold by these groups is one that could please only the Devil himself. And all is put on a pedestal of “God loves me just the way I am”, giving cover to never seek change, nor to repent.
Sadly, we see God’s Word (the very text that the above seem to think are not really Scripture) coming alive before our eyes – Romans 1 in dark, vivid scene – given over to a reprobate, exchanging the truth for a lie…
What the shall we do? If you are a truly regenerated believer in Christ Jesus – Study God’s Word and pray as if your life and the future of your family depends on it, that you may stand boldly for the truth, calling others to repent of their wickedness. To call other professed believers to seek the truth and turn from the false gospels and doctrines of devils that are being foisted from stages and pulpits – poison being cast to goats. And call preachers to repentance when they are spewing attacks on the character of God and HIs Word.
Flee from any so-called church that refuses to call sinners (regardless of their sin) to repentance. Run from any church that celebrates sin in any form.
And if you find yourself among those who’s identity is still functionally found in your chosen sin – or you blame God for your sinful lusts and actions – then you need to repent and believe the gospel!
It is a rare breed that would deny that our nation (and the world) is in dramatic decline. Certainly there would be massive disagreement over what constitutes that decline, as well as the solution. But one thing rings true no matter what: Morally and Spiritually, America is likely at its lowest point in her almost 250 years of formal existence. Indeed, I will argue that while the relative moralism of chattel slavery of our first 100-ish years of existence were horrifically wrong, the overall moral and spiritual condition of this nation is actually worse today, and this is directly attributable, not to “Leftist and Liberals who hate God and hate what America stands for” (though this is a real condition), but to those who claim Jesus Christ, yet have willfully shut their mouths or refused to engage the culture for decades, or have lived in a state of denial in spite of the “remnant” who have sounded the alarm and been shunned and demonized as divisive or even evil.
Indeed, I lay this at the feet of the current state of The Church. Now – let me deal with some definitions so that we have no misunderstandings. When I use the term The Church, I am using it in the very limited context of Paul’s writing to the Ephesian congregation (Ephesians 5:25), or in the form that Jesus Himself used the term in Matthew 16:18. The singular term is the minority use of ἐκκλησία (called out assembly). In this world, The Church is actually manifested, not in some invisible, hypothetical giant umbrella, but as the physical, local, New Testament Church. I reject the generic “universal church” of all professed believers – as all believers are commanded to be joined with and assemble together, not in some mass body (that is reserved for the final days), but with the LOCAL CHURCH (think of the salutations of the New Testament epistles – “to the church at ______” or “to the saints at______”.
But for the sake of this post, I am referring to the larger umbrella of churches that claim to be OF Jesus – or maybe better I could use the equally deceptive and generic “Christianity” (with a particular focus on more contemporary “Big Evangelicalism”, but that quickly devolves to an entirely other discussion).
But my point here is this – the root tool or mechanism that has lead to the incredible spiritual and moral decay in this nation is the very institutions that Christ instituted to be models and champions OF His Word and foundations. Just as Israel of the Old Testament was called out and set apart as a witness to the pagan world of God and His character, we who are genuinely regenerated believers today are to be a “peculiar people” (1 Peter 2:9) – and this doesn’t mean simply to put on a front, but to live out and speak out the truth as the early Apostles did, and indeed as our perfect example – Jesus Christ – did.
Who would have thought just a few decades back that some of the biggest denominations in Christianity would not just endorse homosexuality, but certify same-sex “marriages” as valid? How many saw coming supposed Christian leaders fueling racial and ethnic division via promotion of certifiably-anti Christian and anti-Gospel products of the Frankfurt school’s blatant Marxism as the “solution” to society’s claimed woes? Jesus came to BE the solution to the woes of this nation and the world. That woe is spelled SIN. The woe that enabled and promoted chattel slavery for so long was the sinful and unchanged hearts of mankind. The fuel for radical skin-color based discrimination and hateful actions for many years following the formal end of said slavery (and even the remnant of that today) is not “anti-racism” or a “Social Justice Gospel” as perpetuated more and more by supposed churches. The answer to any and ALL is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which directly crushes Social Justice, it shreds such Marxist concepts as Critical Race Theory. It is the gospel that actually erases lines between ethnicities, skin color, nationality, socio-economic status, and every other division. Galtians clearly states this in no uncertain terms –
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.Colossians 3:28
And while we are battling senselessly over these massive derailments, heresies, and those “going apostate”, we have also witnessed professed believers behaving as scared lemmings, literally bowing in homage and worshipful adoration of supposed government experts who have now perpetuated a grand power-grab using a human-engineered virus (aka – a bioweapon) to exercise a whole new wave of humanity-manipulating evil. And how has this been done, even to masses of professed “Christians”? Because so many fear death more than they fear Hell itself.
Why? How? Because “we” (Christians/The Church) have grown far from proclaiming the realities of Hell, even among our own congregations, much less in this lost world. Being labeled as “judgmental” is more concerning to our ears than the desire to hear “well done my good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21). Churches that have decided to become massive corporate entities instead of refuges and barracks for training and equipping Christ’s local armies (churches). Instead, “churches” have trained up apologetically-weak, worldly “Christians”. Many bemoan the huge majority of supposed “Christians” among our young people who go off to college and functionally walk away from their faith. When Jesus said (Matthew 10:16) “behold, I send you as sheep among wolves”, He wasn’t tossing unequipped, helpless pawns as cannon fodder, but sending soldiers who were to take up the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18).
Instead, “The Church” has become a bunch of country clubs that are more concerned with tickling ears and building up not a warrior class of believers serving and living life in unity, but in self-centered, fleshly soup of debauchery disguised with church-ish practices and vocabulary. Meanwhile abortion continues practically unabated (thank you Texas for taking meaningful steps to protect the unborn). Though the actions of a few black-robed dictators with an agenda (some of which claim to be Christians), every state in this nation must issue certificates and recognize same-sex “marriage” as legitimate. We have legislations and court decisions opening the door to chemical and surgical mutilation of children as young as 5 to “change their gender” (what happened to genetic “science” we are suppose to “pay attention to”?
I could continue to bloviate about the “woes” of modern Christianity, but it all circles back to the view of Scripture in the professed believers heart. Either the Bible is the wholly-inspired, inherent, and sufficient Word of God, or it is not. No human has the authority or wisdom to pick-and-choose, do deprecate some parts and elevate others. It is beyond time for those who truly know Christ to set aside their worldly worries, fear of death, and stand for God’s Word.
Sadly – there are those who have taken a stand throughout biblical history. The Old Testament prophets were often hated and reviled as troublemakers and even were put to death. Those who sounded the alarm have historically been among the most harshly persecuted. In our own day, many have been attacked, shunned, condemned as hateful and wicked men, mostly because of the tone of their “polemics”. Organizations like Pulpit & Pen, Reformation Charlotte, Protestia, and guys like Jordan Hall, Seth Dunn, Cody Libolt, and a bit later – SovereignNations (and it’s leader Michael O’Fallon) have been calling out Christian figures, pastors, and false teachers for years, and their reward (in this world) has been vilification and marking – yet the woes of today’s “Church” are nearly all fulfillments of the very things they have been sounding the alarm about for all this time. And only recently have other figures finally begun singing the same song and realizing the utter futility of worrying more about tone and feelings over the brutal truth.
What is truly needful? For all who profess Christ to follow the same root model that the aforementioned men and organizations follow (regardless of the “tone” used) – the very same methodology that the Lord affirmed through Luke’s record of the early church and Paul’s ministry: Be Bereans! (Acts 17:11). Question everything. Open up the Word of God and actually compare what you hear and see to what God has already clearly said. The Bible isn’t outdated. No problem or woe faced today lacks an answer in the Word of God – and literally, everything can still be measured and discerned when compared to what the Bible says. Sins may have been redefined. Some so-called “preachers” may have said we need to “unhitch from the Old Testament” (just one of a mountain of heretical false-teachings of this man who is more concerned with pleasing man over God), or to simply stop judging people (clue – it isn’t US judging, God has ALREADY judged everything we are proclaiming). Indeed – if a toddler were to jet across your parking lot and towards a busy road, would you be worried about offending the child with your “tone” as you attempt to keep him or her from running to their violent and bloody end in that road? I pray not! And until we fully see that EVERY soul we encounter regardless of their choices of sin, is running willfully, blissfully, and blindly towards an eternity of condemnation and utter suffering for their unrepentant and unregenerate hearts – we will sit idly by in our inward-focused, sugar-coated, and disobedient cruise ship churches and just watch people, like lemmings, gleefully follow these heretical anti-christ types right through the gates of Hell. I might rightly ask – how can anyone who truly knows Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for the payment of our sin debt and reconciliation – sit and watch?
I’m revisiting a familiar passage from Genesis this afternoon – the history of Cain and Abel, and a situation that has cause me some confusion as I’ve tried to understand it – and has I have heard and read many opinions that I really cannot agree with.
Scripture (Genesis 4) records these two sons of Adam, Cain and Abel, making an “offering” to the LORD. Abel brought “of the firstlings of his flock, including the fat”, while Cain brought an offering “of the fruit of the ground”. The passage goes on to say that God had no regard for Cain’s offering (rejected), while God “had regard” for what Abel offered. We know the rest of the story – and the anger and jealousy (theoretically) led Cain to murder his brother Abel. But the question that begs: Why was one accepted, the other rejected?”
The answer to this might be far simpler than most popular explanations given, and can be understood from the very best source of interpreting Scripture: Scripture!
So lets begin:
What’s The Difference?
One common theory as to why Abel’s offering was accepted, while Cain’s rejected is based on WHAT was given: Abel gave oof the firstlings and the fat of his flock implying death and the shedding of blood. While Cain’s offering was “of the fruit of the ground”. If we were to retroactively try to apply the Mosaic law (given many generations later), we might could make a case for the lack of blood in Cain’s sacrifice to be a reason for God’s rejection. But that would be eisegesis, or forcing our opinion on the text. We actually have no record of what had been taught or commanded of these brothers. In fact, outside of God killing animals as a covering for Adam and Eve, we don’t even have any other examples of killing until this point. But of even more interest is that the term translated here as “offering” (מנחה- or minchâh) means just that – offering or gift. It is nowhere translated as a “sacrifice”. But even if we were to use that terminology – the Mosaic law refers to grain offerings as well – so this is not likely to explain the difference.
Another theory revolves around the perceived quality of the offering. After all, Abel gave of the FIRSTlings of his flock with the fat – this would have been the most valuable (even in those earliest of days), and truly meaningful to the one giving them. And it so nicely foreshadows the giving of “firstfruits” to the LORD. At the same time, Cain’s offering was “of the fruit of the ground”. Again, the law later includes sacrifices given of grain (fruit of the ground), but was this just “some of what he had”? The problem we have, is that we still have no recorded instructions for what was “appropriate” to be given to the LORD in that context. Yes, our New Testament mindset ought to be that we desire to give of our very best – that is our view imposed on that historical event with nothing more than speculation. BUT…
A Symptom of the Bigger Problem?
The very best tool for interpreting Scripture will always be: Scripture! And sure enough, the New Testament gives us a great deal of help, beginning with explaining WHY Abel’s gift (now interestingly identified as a sacrifice) was accepted:
By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he was approved as being righteous—God approving his gifts—and through faith, though he is dead, he still speaks.Hebrews 11:4
The writer of Hebrews identifies Abel’s offering (now also called a sacrifice, interestingly enough) as “better”. Why? “BY FAITH”. Abel’s offering to the LORD was given because of and with FAITH that it would be accepted. In fact, the “approval” in this verse might just as easily be understood as “demonstrated by”. The offering, made in faith, demonstrated that faith or “proved” it. This aligns well with James and what he penned regarding showing faith BY works. Works of/from genuine faith – which is what is expected (even without a single command given).
John recorded a bit that gives the contrast to Abel’s righteousness/faith –
For this is the message which you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another; not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother. And for what reason did he slay him? Because his deeds were evil, and his brother’s were righteous.1 John 3:11-12
Cain harbored hate in his heart. His jealousy and rage over Abel’s offering being accepted by God was just another symptom of this heart corruption. Indeed, John here identifies Cain as literally “of the evil one” – aka Satan! So in reality, it didn’t matter what Cain brought as an offering to the LORD, it would not have been acceptable because it was not out of righteous faith. It was not with the right motives, and indeed – this is exactly what has always been the case. God knows the inner thoughts and motives of the heart. He knows why we do what we do. His murdering of brother Abel was just the logical escalation of his wicked and reprobate heart.
What does that mean for me?
But this should then bring us to a very serious position. What are you offering the LORD? Certainly it ought to be “of our very best”. Indeed, we are commanded in Romans 12:1 to offer ourselves as a living, holy and acceptable sacrifice unto the LORD. We are further commanded to do all things (that is – our work, our play, our speech, our walk) “as unto the LORD” (Colossians 3:23). If you genuinely love the LORD, if you truly desire to live a life that is pleasing to Him – then you are not encumbered by worry what others have given or do. You are not trying to figure out how to “get by with the minimum”. You will give generously to the LORD’s work (this isn’t just a financial comment, but of your time, your efforts, and your very heart). And you will give in and through faith, without an expectation of some kind of reward or accolade, or as some kind of “seed so God can bless you back 10-fold”. No – we simply are to give our best because He already gave His very best in the Perfect Lamb, Jesus Christ, who died as the complete payment in our place, to redeem us from our unplayable debt of sin. But if your giving is for the sake of getting – what kind of motive is that?
Let me begin with a few bits of context. I am not an “anti-vaxxer”, despite being labeled as one in the last few months (my daughters have all standard vaccinations- even our dogs get their “shots”. I have also frequently been labeled as a conspiracy theorist, despite my record of debunking such craziness – though I do consider myself one who seeks truth, even when it challenges my opinions and beliefs. And finally, while I do believe we are getting closer day-by-day to the return of Jesus Christ, I don’t automatically assume every world event is a prophecy being fulfilled. And finally, I believe in free speech, even when the opinions and views contradict my own views. Indeed, I believe that free speech and debate are hallmarks of a genuinely-free nation. Even the LORD told Isaiah “come let us reason together” (Isaiah 1:18). At the same time, I have deep-seated hate for lies, for obvious propaganda, and for “mandating” anything. I have remained fairly quiet here on this page regarding the last 20 or so months of the “COVID Pandemic”. I’ve not been silent in other forums, but I have for the most part tried to simply soak in all the information I can, to speak to health care professionals (including my own Primary Care Physician), and by simply keeping a running tabulation of cases, severity, and context for those diagnosed, treated, vaccinated, etc. I have attended community meetings, political meetings, Governor’s Townhall, And most recently, I have watched not only our nation’s supply and manufacturing sectors crippled, our economy loaded with skyrocketing (related to the previous) inflation, and policies being implemented that literally fly in the very face of the “science” we are constantly told to follow – which only exacerbates the supply chain, inflation, and even the health care crisis.
But the time for silence is over…
From early in 2020, as news began to emerge from China regarding this “new” CoV-2 virus, dubbed “COVID-19), theories of its origins were all over the map, but the most consistently attacked and dismissed until only very recently, was that the virus originated in a laboratory in Wuhan, China (where the first explosion of cases was located). Fingers pointed at a “wet market” and bats or other animals used for food. China vehemently denied any connection and claimed it was natural. But we now know it was all a total lie and attempt to cover it up. Even much-vaunted US “expert” and longstanding head of the NIH aided in the dismissal and denials – until Senator Rand Paul finally spoke up, with documentation in hand, proving that Fauci’s NIH had illegally funded “gain of function” research on this exact virus for several years – at the very lab that had been earlier identified. Even more disturbing are patent filings for the exact virus genetic sequences – patent applications (and eventually-granted patents) all under direct violations of several laws, were submitted and re-submitted until granted. Included in said filings we also find vaccines of a new kind included. More on that later.
From March’s sudden mass closures and shutdowns, all under the greatest of assurances that 15 days would flatten the curve and we could get back to normal, we have seen a rapid degradation in public trust – or so I thought. Former President Trump, in his attempt to be a cheerleader and motivational leader, tried to paint a positive face, but those in power behind the scenes were rapidly working to undermine him. AS the virus spread and deaths began mounting, fear became the weapon of choice. And what an effective weapon it was. 15 days became 15 weeks or more in some states. Other state governors decided to buck the system and reopen (slowly in most cases). Some with more success than others. Here in the state of Arkansas, our governor began fairly well, but when federal dollars began rolling in in unprecedented amounts, he turned soft and actually began regurgitating propaganda to try to gain compliance by the public. We now know that in addition to massive cash payments to states for every day they maintained a disaster declaration (even when cases in no way merited it). Further, in the last few months, information got out that every school district that maintained restrictions and/or mask mandates also got huge injections of unrestricted cash. In some districts, it took lawsuits to end mask mandates.
And now, we have an executive order from President Joe Biden, to be enforced via OSHA regulation, that all companies with over 100 employees in any form, must require all workers to be “fully vaccinated” (the definition of which is also still evolving). Even before this EO, many large employers including Walmart Corporation mandated these shots under penalty of being terminated. Among the most egregious of these have come from major hospitals, where nurses, doctors, therapists, and even maintenance crews who were deemed “heroes” for nearly 12 months, now were relegated to useless scum if they didn’t want to submit to the vaccine mandates. Many had contracted the virus and recovered (giving them superior protection than any injection), while others simply objected on a variety of personal grounds.
Propaganda and Fear
Every ugly mass atrocity requires at least some public cooperation. I’ve often heard stories of Nazi Germany and the questions of how so many, even professed Christians, could be either directly complicit by their actions, or indirectly via their complacency. Even the vast majority of the Catholic and Lutheran leadership of the day went along, either willingly helping to spew propaganda (and yes, some were deeply antisemitic), or passively by not speaking out. Yet record after record from that horrific regime pointed to a reality of how easy it really was to gain compliance: Fear.
Fear is a powerful motivator, and what we have witnessed for nearly 20 months has been nothing short of a total capitalization of widespread fearmongering via propaganda and intentionally-misleading data manipulation. From day one, the standards for reporting the cause of death changed, but only for this particular virus. At first, many laughed at the absurdity that a rider killed in a motorcycle accident could have been counted as a COVID death – until we found out it actually happened. Those patients who simply presented with COVID-like symptoms (90% of which mimic the seasonal flu or common cold plus pneumonia) were counted. But case by case (with even lawsuits filed by grieving family members offended that their deceased loved one was counted even though they had no symptoms). But then I watched it happen with my own eyes – a church member who “tested positive”, but never had a single symptom (not even the loss of taste), who died because she was denied dialysis for far too long. Yet because of the positive diagnosis – COVID was clearly listed as a cause of death. And then the CDC quietly issues a soft recall on what had become the primary diagnosis tool – the PCR test. Apparently, the creator of the test was not lying when he went public saying that the test was not reliable, and further – the systematic (and mandated) over-cycling of the samples would generate massively false positives. But the CDC’s “recall” doesn’t firmly go into effect until the end of 2021 – leaving massive doubts as to even the reliability of the total “positives” that so many economic and life-changing decisions have been made.
But above all of this was raised up a great hope: Vaccines. With major pharmaceutical companies taking advantage of the 1986 legilsation harmlessly titled “National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act”, which literally absolved drug companies of any and all liability related to injury or death caused or exacerbated by their products under the guise of “vaccine”. In literally record time, a handful of manufacturers were given taxpayer funding and guaranteed contracts for hundreds of millions of doses – even before a final, proven, and safe product was released. Pfizer, MOdeerna, and Johnson & Johnson were finally chosen for the US market. The first two utilize a brand new technology – one that had consistently failed miserably in animal testing. Introducing “mRNA” therapy. A means of reprogramming cells of the body to produce proteins that were to interfere with virus activity. In the case of the COVID vaccines (this is over-simplified), this gene therapy would trigger the production of the same kind of spike protein the target virus produces – somehow interfering with the virus attaching and functioning. One (of many) problems: for the previous 8+ months, we had been told that it was the spike protein causing the most damaging and dangerous symptoms. Who to believe? Don’t ask – just obey or you might die!
We were told that as soon as a vaccine was produced, life would quickly return to “normal”. The President (Biden) even claimed “100% effective in preventing you from getting or transmitting the virus”. Yet as soon as the second major variant of the virus went wild (we were told from the beginning that the CoV-type viruses readily and regularly mutate naturally) – the vaccines showed an alarming lack of efficacy. And this is where things get truly insane – Doctors who had originally been radically pushing the shots began to question things. They saw statistically-significant adverse reactions. Patients were even dying after receiving the injections. But they were told it was not outside of the “norm”. But then these vaccinated patients began testing positive at rates equal to the unvaccinated. My own doctor has backed off pushing these vaccines, as has my wife’s. A growing number of doctors and health care providers have chosen to not even get the shots themselves (and are facing loss of positions, jobs, or practice). And amid the ongoing demands that everyone gets vaccinated, the evidence points to the likelihood that fully-vaccinated people are just as likely to spread the virus as the unvaccinated. As this troubling data has emerged and now is well-documented, the effort to cover it up, to sugar coat it, to put some kind of spin on it has intensified – to now include the call for regular boosters every few months to maintain your “vaccinated” status. And all of this with an ever-expanding demand that everyone gets vaccinated.
And dare ask about the unprecidented increase in well-conditioned athletes who are showing up with major heart conditions (primarily myocarditis and pericarditis) within days of receiving their doses of the vaccines. This has been particularly evident in the realm of international sports like soccer where all players have been required to get vaccinated. The situation is so grim that the official reporting has been shut down.
Yet we have seen similar results here in the US – with our own VAERS (Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System) of which the reports have exceeded the numbers of adversee reactions and deaths of every prior vaccination in over a century. Even more, suspicious is that some doctors and administrators have claimed to have been told explicitly to NOT report adverse reactions to the official system (even though reporting is supposed to be mandatory). Why would anyone try to interfere with reporting adverse reactions unless they were trying to preserve a narrative?
My own obseervations – As a pastor, my own observation within both my church family and network has concerned me. Of the funerals I have done in the last two years where the death was attributed to COVID, the maority now were vaccinated! Of those getting the most ill – have in the last few months been vaccinated. I have seen adverse reactions with my own eyes. I have spoken to a parent whose son was in the CCU with myocarditis brought by the vaccine. I’ve more recently heard of a young lady who received the vaccines while pregnant – she and her baby both developed blood clot and/or cardiac and respiratory issues requiring ICU care. But doctors are afraid to officially label it an adverse reaction.
And now we are supposed to expand vaccinations to children as young as 5 years old? A subgroup that has a statistically insignificant chance of becoming seriously ill or dying from the virus these vaccines are intended to prevent? At the same time, younger patients are at a significantly higher risk of developing those heart inflammations mentioned above, as well as blood clotting issues.
And overall – the expanding list of vaccine-related reactions is astounding – and we now know that most of them were listed in the initial filings to the FDA!
So we have three “vaccines”, two of whic are not even true vaccines in the traditional sense but are gene therapies that we have absolutely no track record or history to even guess the long-term safety of (but we have a whole lot of evidence of serious safety issues in the short-term). And one vaccine (J&J) that is a modified but still more traditional vaccine. But even its efficacy is now in question having been developed so quickly.
And note – beyond the elimination of a fundamenttal basic right of “informed consent”, which has been a bastion of our medical system and practice for over a hundred years, I have not even jumped into the ethical issues regarding the development of these products.
The Mark of the Beast
I recall reading the Tim LaHaye/Jerry Jenkins Left Behind book series in the early 2000s. One of the biggest puzzles of the storyline is just HOW an anti-Christ could get nearly 100% compliance with an embedded “mark”. And while I don’t agree with significant portions of those authors’ eschatology, the question has been answered in the last few months, with nearly precision alignment with that fictional book. Beginning with a friendly suggestion, then request, to offering financial or prize incentives, but quickly moving to the taking away activities and privileges (must be vaccinated to enter a concert venue, or to take off the ineffective face masks), and now to even go to work and earn a paycheck to keep a roof over your head and food on the table. Since fear didn’t completely work, only setting the propaganda machine and narrative in place (and making it much harder for those who bought in early to face being shown wrong), it is now deemed ok to literally deny people a livelihood, and in some areas – to deny them even basic health care if they choose to not take these injections. Even when the firing of employees exacerbates already over-taxed systems like health care and manufacturing – the attitude is – you WILL receive the vaccine, one-way or another. There is even serious talk of vaccinating people who are in a coma or are otherwise incapacitated (rememer that “informed consent concept?).
Lotto tickets for getting vaccine!
Do I believe that these shots are the Mark of the Beast? No. Yet it certainly makes clear how such a thing could be accomplished – via fear, then by taking away literally everything. I’ve seen heartwrenching, real videos of children being literally ripped from their parent’s arms to have the injections forced on them because parents refused.
I have also seen how religious leaders could become active participants in the forcing of shots. From those who shamed church members who sought religious exemptions, to even the previous President of my own Baptist association shaming any messengers who were still resistent to the vaccine (he demanded attendees who were not fully vaccinated to wear a face mask, even as the evidence was coming to light of the ineffective nature of the vaccines in regards to preventing spread, and despite the meeting being held in a state that stopped mask mandates).
I have seen family turn against family, churches split, friends divided, and truth dismissed for the sake of a narrative. I was actually not against the idea of a vaccine. I was actually even open to receiving one, once enough safety and efficacy data was accuulated and vetted. Sadly, when officials and society begin to implement mandates, and refuse to acknowledge even well-documented evidence – when they (along with social media giants and news media outlets) seek to censor or completely shut down any and all questions, to try to hide cases, and to alienate (or even attack) doctors with proven and well-documented track records of treating actual COVID patients with old and inexpensive medications with proven safety records, only to be labeled with a package of horse dewormer and wild accusations. Something stinks. And the best-case scenario is that there were some good intentions early on, but so many succumbed to the propaganda and literally gave themselves over to the pressure – and now simply are trying to save face…
But as a friend reegularly says: Always follow the money. Look at how many of those making the demands and requirements are major stakeholders in the same companies making the vaccines. Look at how many have gained unprecedented power. Just think – regardless of one’s politcial views or opinions regarding the 2020 election- one thing is for certain, the “COVID-19 Pandemic” was a major component in how it turned out.
And I will close with some truly sad tweets. They are from a real mom, who began as a proud pro-vaccine mother who had scared her son into believing the narrative, and as soon as he could get the shots – he did. The drama that unfolded, even just through her social media posts is heartbreaking – but at least she finally had her eyes opened. I pray for here son – but I pray even more that parents would wake up BEFORE her story, becomes their story.
I’m frequently told that my obseervations and experiences are “anecdotal”. I’m sure many have labeled the above experience by that mom the same way. Or the thousands of families with loved ones who died or were seriously harmed by these “vaccines” who undoubtedly have been told the same thing.
If you, with active consultation with your doctor(s), with serious prayer and consideration of ALL available information, to get vaccinated – that is informed consent – and while I may disagree with you, that is your choice. But if you shame me for choosing, having done all of the above and much more in diligent pursuit of the right thing to do, to not recievee these shots – shame on you.
And if you seek to take away people’s means of feeding their family and providing shelter over the shots – shame on you.
But if you truly believe that a manmade vaccine has moree bearing on how long you will live than our Holy, Sovereign, and Righteous Creator – you need to repent and seek Jesus.
And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.Hebrews 9:27-28
Imagine yourself traveling back in time – a little over 1900 years back, to take a look at the early Christians and what they were enduring. Scripture gives a few indicators that believers were gathering for more formal worship on what we know as Sunday (the first day of the week). But what the Bible itself only hints at, those early believers often were assembling in direct contradiction to the demands of the day set by the “ruling authorities”. We can read in the book of Acts the records of Peter and others being commanded to stop preaching Jesus and Him crucified (aka – the gospel) – with the understood implication that the gathering of like-minded folks (aka – the church) was also on the prohibition list – because what else draws believers together like the common bonds of our crucified and risen Savior?
These early gatherings were not held in big, multi-million dollar temples of brick and stone (or steel and glass…), but in homes – sometimes the LORD blessed a local body with a wealthy believer who opened their estate up for the assembly (like Nympha of Laodicea mentioned in Colossians 4:15). But what we can gather from history plus Scripture – is that believers regularly met together for edification, teaching, and worship via hymns, songs, and spiritual songs, bearing one-anothers burdens, and frequently observing the LORD’s Supper in remembrance of Christ Jesus and HIS sacrifice on their behalf. We also know that this was often an al-day event, and generally included food. But of prime value to this post – we must recognize that often – these meetings were considered “unlawful”.
Now let us return to our present time – but fly across the Pacific to China (or several other Asia/Pacific nations). We find ourselves there on a Sunday – and other than a scarce state-authorized “church” that teaches a Chinese Communist Party edited and approved religion that barely resembles biblical Christianity. But keep looking. In apartments, homes, and even in some of the few remote outdoor places – you may find churches – often comparatively small, meeting together – singing songs of praise, edifying one-another, often sharing a meal, and preaching Jesus and Him crucified – all in a jurisdiction that is actively engaged in the arrest, torture, and murder of those engaging in biblical Christianity – and those small house churches are growing – and despite heavily-enforced prohibitions – they continue to meet – taking quite literally the command that God recorded in Hebrews 10:25 “…not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” Their love of Jesus and their faithfulness to the call for believers to come together as the Body (and as a side-note, often an amazing zeal for sharing the gospel despite the unlawfulness of it) is a much higher priority than the laws of the earthy authorities.
But this brings us to today, right here in the USA & the rest of North America – And we have seen government entities, under the guise of a global “pandemic”, shutting down churches. On the surface, we might not see a problem – in the “interest of safety”. Yet even as other gathering places and businesses were allowed to reopen under the guise of “essential” (including casinos, big box retailers, liquor and tobacco vendors and bars, etc.), some jurisdictions continued to demand churches remain closed and/or strictly limited attendance to a small fraction of capacity.
One high-profile example comes from Edmonton, Alberta Canada, the home of Grace Life Church, who’s pastor, James Coats, had led his church to continue in their corporate worship. The church refused to tell some (the majority) of the local church that they couldn’t attend – that only a couple dozen could worship together. As the situation escalated, provincial health authorities and police began showing up, then began threatening tickets, and finally demanded they cease or there would be arrests. Eventually, Pastor Coats was arrested and spent a month in jail, as a judge refused to allow bail – because this pastor would not promise to stop preaching and meeting with the church assembled. Since then, other churches in that province have also faced arrests and massive fines. And just this week, RCMP and Alberta Health Authorities took the unprecedented action of raiding the church to have a riot-style, double-fence installed to physical barricade the church from meetging on their own property. Even here in the US, churches like Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California faced similar threats from Los Angeles County authorities for holding in-person worship services. They still are accruing thousands of dollars a week in fines from the county.
And in defense of those who are trying to prevent churches from assembling – are those (some of which profess to be Christians) shouting “ROMANS 13!!!”. For those who may not know, this is a reference to Paul’s command to “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves.” (Romans 13:1-2)
Unfortunately, those using these two verses as a club against churches fail to take the context of that passage (which follows in verse 3 & 4) the PURPOSE of government – which becomes moot when said government rejects its biblical mandate. Indeed, we have no biblical reference or example to validate believers shutting down corporate worship (the assembly together) based on any government or ruling authority mandate. Quite the contrary, we have example after example of believers meeting together in spite of mandates and laws, and yes – sometimes even to their own arrest and martyrdom.
But that brings us to the cryptic title of this article “2 or more are gathered…” I have been attacked for supporting Grace Life Church (and others who have been fighting the fight for the church and their right, regardless of mandates, to assemble as they see fit). Most recently, this has been in repeated misuse of Jesus’ words in Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” The story goes something like this:
So, what we have here is a completely different subject matter than corporate worship/assembly. The verse is so frequently and wrongly used (being forced into a meaning other than its actual meaning is called eisegesis. NO, a gathering of two or three believers together isn’t a substitute for corporate worship. Believers are expected – and the biblical example in this IS prescriptive – to assemble together regularly for worship, prayer, fellowship, and the teaching/preaching of God’s Word. Period. It is not a sin to do this even when the “ruling authorities” tell you not to. Indeed, Scripture couldn’t be more clear that we are to chose this day WHO we will serve – God or man. If choosing to follow God’s commands is wrong – then Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were actually sinning for refusing to bow down before the Babylonian emperor and his golden statue, or for refusing the food offered them.
And even more troubling – that means that the first-century churches that gathered in spite of the ruling authorities and their commands to the contrary…
And our brethren around this globe today who worship despite laws against it – who face literally torture and death for their assembly…
Are actually committing sin against God.
Are you really willing to go there?
This past Sunday, thousands of small house churches met in China, Iran, Indonesia, Afghanistan, and several other nations that are lethally-hostile to Christianity. Each led by a pastor, an elder, or simply a layperson who understands Christ’s call to His churches to assemble regularly together. Each faced slightly differing threats – some from neighbors, others from police or government officials – and all also under a declared world-wide pandemic. And without a doubt, there were some who were found and reported, some who have been beaten for gathering with the saints. And we have no way to know for certain just how many may very well have died for their faith as a product of simply trying to meet together with the local body of believers.
Meanwhile, here in the US, Canada, and several other far more “Church-friendly” nations, thousands of churches were empty, doors locked or with only a skeleton crew to operate a camera and to “preach” to, in hopes that an electronic video would stream to a social media or video hosting platform that some of their people might tune in. Some of these local churches are claiming to be following Romans 13’s command to subject themselves to the ruling authorities who have issued mandates and regulations that have all-but made church gatherings illegal. Others are simply scared of this virus and fear being blamed if someone were to get sick and die from it. Figures like Andy Stanley (I refused to call him a “pastor” as he has turned apostate on all manner of foundational doctrinal matters) closed their corporate mega churches months ago wiht promisees to reopen in January, yet their auditoriums are still empty with the lights mostly off – and their flocks still scattered… and like the flocks, big-or-small across this nation – the sheep are suffering and even dying from discouragement, spiritual deprivation, and growing malease from the lack of a fundamental need of all genuinely regenerated believers: the personal fellowship and edification that comes with corporate prayer, worship, and preaching.
I ask, first: which is the biblical picture? Which is seeking to please God rather than man? Which represents a hope of and in a God who is Sovereignly ruling and reigning still? Which holds a low view of God and His power and authority? Which fulfills the writer’s admonition in Hebrews 10:25
25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.Hebrews 10:25
How do we fulfill the command to “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:16) through Zoom teleconference or a recorded video?
How can we share together the ordinances of the church Christ left for us through a pre-recorded message? The Lord’s Supper, that beautiful reminder of the sacrifice Christ made of Himself on our behalf is commemorated in the sharing together of the elements – with the combined illustration of humble service. Jesus didn’t die virtually, nor should we remember that sacrifice “virtually”.
But lets address a few things. First is that claim of Romans 13 submission to ruling authorities. Throughout Scripture, God’s people are commanded to obey God first. And every single time that man’s law and rulers conflict with God’s Law & Commands, the positive choice is always God’s Commands. Whether in the courts of Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon, or the Pharaoh in Egypt, or in the face of Roman and Jewish rulers who demanded the early believers not proclaim Jesus as the Christ, the God-glorifying, Kingdom-building and righteous decision is to always obey God rather than man.
For those who refuse to open churches for in-person worship based on threats of fines or arrest under law or dictatorial edicts, particularly in the United States, I encourage you to find a copy of the U.S. Constitution and turn to the Bill of Rights and the first Amendment (included here for your convenience):
The key component here is that it clearly prohibits the government from prohibiting (interfering with) the free exercise of religion or the abridging of the freedom of speech… or the right to peaceably assemble. So, even if one were to try to twist Hebrews 13 to be a mandate to obey governing authorities even when their demands contradict God’s commands, these mandates and forced closures are themselves unlawful. This doesn’t’ change just because there is a virus.
So lets turn to fear. Yes, the virus that has triggered the “global pandemic” is a real virus. Yes, I personally know people who have died either directly from, or as a result of complications arising from the virs formally known as SARS-CoV-2. My intent here is not to chase theories regarding where it came from, if it was a human engineered weapon, or if it is a sign of the prophetic end times. But I will argue that Satan has used Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt (hereafter referred to as FUD) to cause authorities and church leaders to make un-Godly decisions. And as we see our world (and especially the USA) turn increasingly anti-Christian, anti-church (if the church isn’t #WOKE with the Social Justice false gospel of the day), and so-called “Christian leaders” sacrifice the gospel and kingdom building on the altar of politics and political correctness to appease the culture – we see an increasing hopelessness: the exact opposite of what Christ’s people are suppose to be showing the world.
And please don’t take this wrong – many churches have been forced to reach beyond their physical building via streaming or video uploading of sermons. Indeed, the church I pastor has seen an interesting audience well outside of our local “mission field”. But again, this in no-way justifies shutting the doors of the local church meeting.
Among the most common phrases in all of Scripture, directed always at God’s people:
Each and every time the doors of the local church open, people make a decision if they are going to assemble together with the saints or not. This has always been true (and is the core of admonition regarding not forsaking the assembly as is the matter of some). Long before their was a Coronavirus causing panic or being used to create FUD, people made this decision. Week-after-week. But as a pastor, I have no right to take away an the opportunity to assemble together with believers. I don’t even take issue with taking reasonable precautions as one would with any spreading illness (we can save discussion of the efficacy of some of the current mandates and requirements at another time), if that is what it takes to help people overcome their fear. But ultimately, whether someone assembles together with the local church at any given time is a matter between the individual, their doctor, and their Creator. But I will do everything within my ability to make sure the doors of the church I have been called to lead, are open for for all who desire to worship as we have been called to worship (together), and I call out other pastors – for the sake of the sheep – the flock of God, and even more importantly, for the Glory of God and the sake of His kingdom: