“I am the man who has seen affliction by the rod of His wrath,” so, laments Jeremiah the prophet in the aftermath of God’s judgment on Judah which he witnessed after years of warning the people it was coming unless they repented (Lamentations 3:1, NKJV). Nearly twenty-six hundred years later, I have experienced the prophet’s travail of soul in the midst of the painful fall of great Babylon in progress; the judgment of God within the churches as a prelude to pouring out His full wrath upon the whole world. In the face of falling great Babylon under His judgment, God calls to the faithful: ‘“Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues,’” (Revelation 18:4, NKJV).
The warning of divine judgment and appeal to come up out of great Babylon is exactly what I have been urging spiritually speaking (the day of the urgent physical call out draws near) in all of my service to the Lord and the churches for over the past thirty years as a watchman/prophet (Ezekiel 33:1-9) and two stints as a pastor. It is my most recently completed service as a pastor that I write about in the following 2011 blog repost and the two that follow. To seem to fail at anything hurts, but even more hurtful is to see God’s judgment fall because people refused to give heed to His Word. That was the experience of Jeremiah that became mine and will be every godly leader’s own until the end of God’s judgment in His house comes at the completed destruction of great Babylon.
Originally Posted July 10, 2011
One of the most profound images of the Lord Jesus Christ in the New Testament is His weeping over the city of Jerusalem because of the dark days of judgment that were coming in light of the people’s rejection of Him as their Messiah (Luke 19:41-44). Surely this was the humanly unfathomable heart break of God voiced many times through the prophets of the Old Testament but now seen in the tears that ran down the cheeks of the Son of Man. While we can never know His pain in absolute terms, God has seen to it that we who serve humanity in and outside of the churches can feel it in some small measure (2 Corinthians 2:1-4). Even so, it is still no lightweight experience.
As of July 1st I became the retired pastor of the St. Mark Baptist Church. I was brought to this circumstance because our church disbanded this past June 30th. As the church’s last pastor I take full responsibility for our dissolution due officially to a lack of numerical growth and inability to meet our financial obligations. I take responsibility for several reasons. First, for fourteen and one half years I have preached the Gospel and the whole counsel of God uncompromised. Many do not want to hear about sin and holy living anymore but only what God will do to meet their felt needs.
Second, I was unwilling to adopt constant entertainment, worldly tricks and gimmicks as methodology for getting people into our church. We did do many creative outreach events including block parties, Vacation Bible School and evangelistic concerts featuring Christian artists. We also went door to door in our neighborhood several times and taught our people friendship evangelism. We did community ministry involving mentoring, sports and prison evangelism, direct mail etc. Thousands were reached, some visited but not enough stayed to take root. Third, in fear and honor of the Lord I ran an orderly and tight ship of integrity--too tight for many religion minded persons.
Last, of course, my stand on God’s fixed order for the family in the home and His church thoroughly explained in The Strong Man Of God: Back To Basics served as a bone of contention in and outside of our congregation. My stand invited slanderous verbal persecution against me, much of it from professed Christians. In all these things I have wept before the Lord and been comforted by Him as He made me understand His own pain from sinful humanity including that which I too had brought Him. True to His ways, the Lord was not letting the man commissioned by Him to write urging other men to become strong in Him escape the painful process.
In the same way I am not a perfect man, in no way do I wish to convey I was a perfect pastor who was a victim of all the things I have written. I made some people skill and judgment mistakes along the way. Reflecting back, in spite of the difficulties I had much joy seeing the few “get it.” I also closed the eyes of a number of saints I look forward to seeing again in glory--praise the Lord!
In the end, our remaining members acted with nobility in being willing to dissolve the church rather than fire their pastor because they found no fault with my essential doctrines, lifestyle or leadership. I am honored and blessed that they should think so highly of me. With the tears of God’s heart break in my heart, I have given myself over fully to the work of restoring men, their families and communities as my future that perhaps there will be many as a result that escape the world’s turn to experience His foretold dark days of judgment drawing ever closer.
There is the Church and there are the churches. So very sadly, the two are not equivalent in all cases throughout the earth especially where the churches are the product of Christianity the religion of men! That said, let us be clear that the declaration of Matthew 16:18 from the lips of the Lord Jesus does not apply to the churches as institutions of men, but His Church. His Church are all who have come to Him by repentance and faith in the Gospel--His death on the cross for our sins, burial and eternal resurrection on the third day after (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). As is commonly known, the Greek word the Lord uses for “Church” is Ekklesia which generally means a called out assembly.
From the earliest eye witnesses of Him raised from the dead to every soul that will receive their proclamation of the Gospel and testimony to the end of this season of grace, all are assembled to Christ as His Church on earth and in Heaven after death (1 Corinthians 15:5-11). When He returns in awesome glory and power we all shall be gathered to Him in the sky and remain with Him as His Church forever (Matthew 24:29-31; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 2 Thessalonians 1:3-12)! This is the assembly of whom Christ speaks when He, based on who He is declares, “…on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it,” (Matthew 16:13-18, NKJV).
Not only does the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ to immortal glory validate His ability to fulfill His declaration, but the Father has given Him all authority both in Heaven and on earth as well as over Hades and Death (Matthew 28:19; Revelation 1:18). It goes without saying (yet, I say so anyway because of the widespread rebellion against His rule and disobedience in the churches) that Christ is also the Head of His Church (Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18)! Therefore, the Church triumphant here and now and forever is an assured reality regardless of what goes on in this life or death because Christ our Head has already triumphed for us and reigns!
Many sinning professing Christians in the churches are confused about and wrongly apply to themselves, the victories of the faithful saints assembled to Christ by persevering faith and obedience as the Church. It is not just saying one is a Christian and getting baptized that saves, but it is living as one for life. As dirt and improper handling leaves spots and wrinkles on white garments, so, sin on sinners! Christ sacrificed Himself to purify for Himself a Church, a Bride without “spot or wrinkle” (Ephesians 5:25-27; Revelation 19:7-9, NKJV). So, where do unrepentant professing Christians willfully practicing sin in unbelief driven disobedience get off thinking they are fine with Christ?
Besides the fact many are impostors and religionists devoid of the Spirit practicing Christianity the religion of men in their churches who have invented for themselves doctrines of eternal security, there is also a great number of professing American Christians who have both culturally conditioned the faith and been conditioned through compromises with secular culture to believe in the concept of “American Exceptionalism.” From its secular and religious use, the concept expresses the idea that our nation has been uniquely raised up by God and graciously given such values as embodied in the founding documents and the national character along with prosperity and might as a world leader, to assure all of this from Him in perpetuity.
While I, with thanksgiving, have marveled with fellow citizens of like mind at the historic grace, prosperous blessing and might God has bestowed on our nation in spite of its many past sins to include legally sanctioning the oppression of my forefathers and present moral declension, His Word prophetic and otherwise precludes any of this continuing in perpetuity (Proverbs 14:34; Jeremiah 25:15-33). This being so, it is foolish for any professing Christian to bank on American Exceptionalism as a means to comfort themselves about the nation’s future, their escape from divine judgment for sin or for that matter, persecution as our brothers in other nations are now enduring.
Neither heretically constructed doctrines of eternal security or American Exceptionalism provide escape from divine wrath for unrepentant sinning professing Christians in the churches or our sinful nation. Those who say the contrary are false prophets of peace like the ones of ancient Israel the Lord condemned (Jeremiah 23:16-22); those that believe them are deceived (Galatians 6:7-8).
Too, the victory of Christ’s Church is not to have escaped persecution for His sake (Revelation 6:9-11), but in spite of it, to be gloriously displayed as immortal king/priests with Him at His appearing (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14, Revelation 20:4-6)! These are the saints who during their earthly sojourn as aspiring strong men and great women of God in the image of Christ faithfully served Him; loving Him more than their own lives (Matthew 10:34-39; 2 Timothy 4:6-8; Revelation 12:9-11). The risen, living Christ continues His cry among American churches, “Who is on the Lord’s side?”
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