Richard Land declared Mormonism to be “the fourth Abrahamic faith”. He was eased out of his position at the SBC ERLC for other reasons. His successor gives Baptist even less reason to support this office. sigh
In light of some of the recent posts and comments, I would like to share a few thoughts from my heart, but I want to do so by beginning with a story.
Over five years ago, an unknown blogger started an unknown blog that would eventually become very well known with thousands of readers. The unknown blogger was The Pilgrim and he began a blog that was then called Reformation Nation. Five years later, the site has been visited almost 3 million times, has over 25,000 published comments, spams innumerable, and people who are either still with us or have left angry, mad, or upset.
In late 2007, I was pastoring a small mission work and the Pilgrim, along with his family, wandered in on a Wednesday evening and listened to an exposition from Psalm 1. That night began what has become a very close friendship that climaxed, in my estimation, with one of the best memories of my life. He decided to join my wife and I on a mission trip to Liberia, West Africa. This was not easy for him as he had never been outside the USA, much less having been on an airplane.
The blog quickly became Defending Contending and I was invited to be the first of several contributors that would join in the fight. The Pilgrim and his family became a very important part of our ministry and in various ways they became a huge encouragement to us and still are to this day. Those times as a mission pastor were not easy, and there were times that I wanted to quit. I wondered whether it was worth the fight. Yet through it all, the Pilgrim was one of the few who always sought to give encouragement no matter how he was feeling, and no matter what he and his family were going through.
One of his catchphrases was and still is, “Stay the course, Never Compromise!”
This little phrase encouraged me, as it has others, not to give up when the going was tough. It encouraged me when my health had declined to the point that I wondered whether I would make it back to the US. It encouraged me when we wrote blogs that seemed like they only garnered bad comments, or when we were concerned that the fight should be left to others, or when the thought that giving up was more than passing jumble of words. Yes, there were times when we both wondered if we were going overboard. In our minds, we thought at times that maybe it would be easier to follow the sage advice, “If you can’t beat ‘em, then join ‘em!”
But then, I would remember the phrase again, “Stay the course, Never Compromise!” Either the Pilgrim would have to remind me, or I would seek to remind him.
Was it necessary? Was it worth the fight? Have we stayed the course? Have we sought to compromise?
I believe the answer is and remains that it was necessary, it has been worth the fight, we have sought to stay the course, and to the best of our knowledge we have tried not to compromise.
The purpose of this post and the lengthy introduction and story is to talk about the Pilgrim’s little phrase that has meant so much to me and to others.
First, what does it mean to stay the course and what course are we meant to be taking? After all, there are many blogs out there. There are many paths that can be taken. Some would make us popular and the blog could probably have become very famous had we made some different decisions. So, what course are we to stay?
The apostle Paul never set out to be popular, and it was clear from his writings that he never had a mega-church. He never saw his letters become best-sellers. He never owned his own personal Learjet and was never chauffeured around in bullet-proof vehicles. His final days did not live up to the vague, empty promises made by the health, wealth, and prosperity proponents of the 21st century. In fact, his final days were not spent in luxury but in the damp, dank interior of the Mamertine Prison in Rome. Then for the sake of the Master for whom he was nothing but a slave, he became a martyr and was beheaded at the command of Nero.
Yet, he stayed the course. Listen to what he had to say in Acts 20:24, “But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” Notice that his course was not to enjoy life. It was not to have his best life now. It was not to be fulfilled or to build his self-esteem so he could feel better about himself.
Paul was a servant. Actually, he was more than a servant; he was a bondslave. He was a doulos of Jesus Christ and of such had no control over what he could say or do or even how he could live. He recognized his position and rejoiced that he was even called upon to suffer just as the disciples of Christ had done when they were beaten for giving forth the precious words of life.
He actually notes about himself in 2 Cor. 10:10, “For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.” It would appear that Paul never read the great Roman philosopher Dalius Carnegius scroll entitled, “How to Win Friends and Influence Senators!” If he did, it certainly did not make an impression on him.
History also reveals that he somehow overlooked another popular speaker’s scroll entitled, “The Power of Positive Thinking.” Listen to another passage from Paul’s writing from 1 Corinthians 2:1-5, “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching [was] not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”
Paul made it clear what the course was. It was to know NOTHING BUT Jesus Christ and him CRUCIFIED! That was definitely not a popular subject matter. Nobody liked crucifixion. I am sure that everybody did not want to be reminded that the Christian walk was not a bed of roses. There may have been some that thought that following Christ was easy as long as they could first go and bury their dead. Or, maybe it was necessary to first throw a party or to sell off the family business?
After the events of Acts 5 and the account of Ananias and Sapphira, there was no doubt that staying the course meant that people FEARED to join themselves unto the number of those who claimed to be followers of The Way. They were afraid to claim something that they were not just as Ananias and Sapphira had done. It cost that couple their lives when they lied to the Holy Spirit. God knew they were phonies and their lives did not match up what they claimed. There was no desire for forgiveness ever recorded, but the church remained pure and continued to grow.
Those who joined themselves to the church were not looking for fame or fortune. They didn’t come for the lattes, mochas, or cool, hip, relevant messages preached by a guy wearing a “Jesus is my homeboy” t-shirt. To join the early New Testament church meant you knew you might leave home for a church service and that you could be lion food that same night. They also knew what it meant to “stay the course.”
Staying the course meant being willing to take a stand when it is not popular. Staying the course means that you will gain the strength necessary to stare evil in the face, even if it means you must give your life for the testimony of Jesus Christ. When you stay the course, it means that you DO NOT QUIT doing what is right. A saying I heard all growing up is worth repeating, “Two wrongs NEVER make a right.”
Paul had only one desire and that was to finish the course. He did not start out well being a religious leader and putting believers to death. Although he did not start well, he wanted to finish well and with that in mind, he concludes his ministry with 2 Tim. 4:7, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.”
Notice that he tells young Timothy that he “kept the faith.” This is where the rest of the Pilgrim’s favorite phrase comes in – “NEVER COMPROMISE!”
Today, as a blogger, it would be easy for us to stop telling the truth. It would be easy for us to join with others and seek to hold hands with all denominations and religions all for the sake of unity, but done at the expense of doctrinal purity.
But, it would be compromise!
At DefCon, we could openly embrace all those who claim to know Jesus simply because they know what His name is, yet have no evidence of fruit.
But, it would be compromise!
We could change from being a blog that takes a stand for truth and only give nice fluffy messages about how our readers could live their best lives now.
But, it would be compromise!
We could tell our readers how much God loves you that He has a wonderful plan for their lives that includes no hardships. That would be to join the mainstream of what passes for evangelical Christianity.
And, it would be compromise!
We could refrain from Paul’s admonition to warn others of the wolves that are desirous of eating the flock.
But, it would be compromise!
Yes, there are many things we could do differently that would please many of our former readers. There are areas of doctrine that could be ignored and whole passages of Scripture completely obliterated from our Bibles all for the sake of unity. We could refrain from warning others of the coming wrath of God. We could refrain from shedding tears at the apostasy that is so prevalent in modern churches. We could keep from warning others that it is only going to get worse.
But, it would be compromise!
To compromise is to give up on God! It is to give up on the Scriptures! It is to say to the world that the world is more important than the truth of God’s Holy infallible and inerrant words. To compromise means that we would have to stop telling people of the dangers of the cults and religions that are taking their people down to hell. To compromise does not necessarily mean huge changes overnight. Compromise takes shape just one small step at a time, but the end result is still the same! DESTRUCTION!
Hebrews 4:12 tells us that the Word of God is quick (alive) and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword. It pierces down to the very core of our being. To compromise means that we would no longer believe in the regenerating power of God to break the dead heart of stone and make a new creation in Christ. You see to compromise means that we would be admitting that God is NOT the same yesterday, today or forever. It would mean that we believe that the message has to be different because of the changing times.
To compromise means that we will not have stayed the course. We must learn and pray that God will give us the grace, the strength, the humility AND the boldness to stand alongside the Martin Luther’s of the world who have come and gone. We must learn to re-echo those famous words with the same fervor and passion of those who were willing to DIE for their faith.
To compromise means that we do not count as dear that great cloud of witnesses who laid down their lives for the sake of the gospel. It means that we do not stand with our fellow brothers and sisters around the world who suffer today for their faith. It also means that we show to the world that our faith is only for when it is an easy walk, not a path wrought with difficulties, trials, and tribulations.
Listen again to the words of a man, who like Paul, refused to compromise.
“Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and will not recant anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. Here I stand for I can do no other. May God help me. Amen.”
To my fellow contributors, nobody said it would ever be easy. There are far too many who have given up already, and I for one do not want to be just another web statistic. I do not want people to say, “DefCon used to stand for the truth, but they gave up. They quit! They compromised for the sake of getting more readers!”
With God as our helper, we will stay the course and we will never compromise. I would hope that if we ever veer from our path that somebody else would be granted the strength to call us on the carpet. If we ever cease to use the Word of God as our mainstay, then I hope that somebody will seek to remind us of our duty and our call to be obedient servants. Our goal should be not to gain or hear the praise of man but to hear those wonderful words one day in eternity, “Well done, you were a good and faithful servant!”
Soldiers have no recourse to change their orders like so many are doing today. 2 Timothy 2 tells us that we are called to be good soldiers of Jesus Christ. No soldier that goes to war entangles himself with the affairs of this world. Our Commander in Chief has not authorized easy deployments, nor has He changed the battle plan!
To conclude, we at Defending Contending make no apologies for our stand for truth. Our conscience is captive to the Word of God. Our prayer is that we will continue to walk the paths that have been walked before us. Our prayer is that our words will give strength and courage to those who follow us, and that they too will heed the words of our dear friend and brother, The Pilgrim,
“STAY THE COURSE, AND NEVER COMPROMISE!”
Well, as we set upon the end of one year and the beginning of another, I cannot help but look back and reflect on this last year. I think we can safely say that we have seen definitive evidence of the decline of the church’s influence in the American culture. With the re-election of a president that is one of the most pro-abortion, anti-life records in political history, a president who has openly promoted the profanation of marriage by endorsing homosexual unions, it has become clear that our country has embraced a non-Christian ideology. This is not major news, many Christians have been sounding the alarm for years, but it has gone unheeded. But now as we face a new year before us, my question for the church in America is “What is it going to take?”
Consider this, we have seen the growth of megachurches and seeker friendly country clubs for years now. Every week, hundreds, even thousands of people walk the aisles, prayer “the prayer,” sign a card and are proclaimed “Christians” in their congregations. Those people are never taught about sin, righteousness, judgment, condemnation, the wrath of God, repentance or the sacrifice of Christ. Instead, they are given gospel-light messages that consist of Christ loving them so much that He’d rather die than live without them. They are told that God only has their best life in mind and all they have to do is follow a ten step program to get a better job, better marriage, or better kids. There is no call to holiness, no attempt to cause the people to question their worldly mindsets, no testing to see if they are actually in the faith. What is left are a room full of goats who have been mesmerized into believing they are in fact sheep.
In these same churches, the sheep that do exist are either marginalized or simply shoved out the door to make way for the vision of the “goat-herder in chief.” This has allowed the growth of these country clubs masquerading as churches to go virtually unchecked. With little to no opposition inside the churches, they grow like a virus in a compromised immune system, with almost the same deadly effect. The more churches that adopt worldly advertisement growth techniques, the less the true Word of God is preached. The less it is preached, the worse the compromise within the body and the more sin is tolerated. The end results are people who claim to be Christian, or even “spiritual,” but who have no personal sense of the wickedness of their sin. Thus they allow and even promote blatantly sinful behavior. Can the re-election of a man who is anti-christian, anti-life and pro-homosexuality be a surprise then?
That is not to say that there are no real Christians in America. They are still many sound biblical churches faithfully preaching the Word of God. But I fear that even truly born again Christians have become more affected by worldly philosophy than they realize. Go into most churches today and ask Christians what is more loving, to confront sin and unrighteousness boldly, pointing people to the need of Christ’s propitiatory death on the cross, or to win friends through kind works, easing them into the gospel. Inevitably, many will choose the latter. Most Christians today have succumbed to the world’s belief that it is simply unkind to point out sin and to warn of the judgment to come. They believe the message is “too harsh” and will drive people away. The result is that a small percentage of truly born again Christians are going out of their way to share the gospel with the lost in our country. And an equally small number are trying to call out the churches who aren’t even on the biblical program.
So how did this year end with the country embracing a false Christian president who embraces universalism, denounces true Christianity, promotes murder of the unborn and homosexuality? Simply because the church has allowed our influence to wane. We have allowed the propagation of false churches by not calling out with a unified voice against them. We have not resoundingly called them false teachers and have been willing to work in conjunction with them as “co-belligerents.” As they grew, we simply let them go on unchecked. Additionally, we have not combated the false gospel of “Jesus loves you just the way you are,” with the bold proclamation that all mankind is deserving of the wrath of God and the only escape is Jesus Christ.
The American culture has watched a watered down version of the gospel propagate throughout the country and sees it for the phony message that it is. They have no desire to be a part of it and walk further and further away from it. Yet, the true gospel has not been preached with boldness and regularity. The true church has involved itself in any number of other activities – politics, protests, Tea Parties, etc. – yet does not offer the true message of salvation to a world immersing itself in sin. The country sees the true church as harsh and judgmental for it does not call to the world in compassion to the Savior.
So today, on December 31, 2012, I ask you as a member of the true church of Jesus Christ, “What will it take?” Will you, in this next year, be willing to step up to the plate? Will you stand against the false gospel of the country club churches? Will you call them out for the false teachers they are? Will you work to make sure your church steers away from such nonsense? Will you get you and your congregation worked up to preach the true gospel to a lost and dying people? If not, what will it take?
“Will you let Jesus take the heroic right out of you? Will you let Him make you see yourself as He sees you until for one moment you stand before the Cross and say, ‘Nothing in my hands I bring”? How many of us are there to-day? Talk about getting people to hear that, they won’t have it! Jesus says they won’t. No crowd on earth will ever listen to that, and if under some pretence you get them and preach the Cross of Christ they will turn with a snubbing offence from the whole thing as they did in our Lord’s day (John vi. 60, 66).
The abominable ‘show business’ is creeping into the very ranks of the saved and sanctified–‘We must get the crowds.’ We must not! We must keep true to the Cross! Let folks come and go as they will, let movements come and go, let ourselves be swept along or not, the one main thing is–true to the yoke of Christ, His Cross.”
In the First Century AD, Cerinthus was a well-known heretic, being one of the early leaders of the Gnostic movement. John opposed him as fiercely as a man possible could (thus giving us a better example of how to deal with heretics than the many modern-day milquetoast “pastors” who think we need to buddy-up with heretics and call them “brothers in Christ”). In fact, the story goes that when John and some of his disciples (possibly Polycarp) were about to enter a bathhouse, and John heard that Cerinthus was inside, John fled the building with his disciples, shouting
“Let us flee, lest the building fall down; for Cerinthus, the enemy of the truth, is inside!”
If only that which calls itself “the church” in America today would follow John’s example, we might not need a site like this. If the quote-unquote “church” would rise up and flee, flee, flee! Flee swiftly from those institutions that teach things that are contrary to the Word of God!!
- “Let us flee, lest the building fall down; for Roman Catholic idolatry, the enemy of the truth, is inside!”
- “Let us flee, lest the building fall down; for Emergent “Christianity”, the enemy of the truth, is inside!”
- “Let us flee, lest the building fall down; for Purpose-Driven™/Seeker-Driven™ egocentrism, the enemy of the truth, is inside!”
- “Let us flee, lest the building fall down; for Prosperity heretics, those enemies of the truth, are inside!”
- “Let us flee, lest the building fall down; for Robert Schuller, the enemy of the truth, is inside!”
- “Let us flee, lest the building fall down; for self-esteem, the enemy of the truth, is inside!”
- “Let us flee, lest the building fall down; for Compromise of all sorts, the enemy of the truth, is inside!”
That which calls itself “church”–if only they would adopt the attitude of John the Apostle, and “Let us flee, lest the building fall down; for [fill in the blank], the enemy of the truth, is inside!” Remember these words which our Lord Jesus spoke to this one who fled from Cerinthus, the enemy of the truth. Listen to what He said to these gatherings that claimed to be of Christ–but which allowed Satan to enter through the front door, all the while claiming they did it “for Christ”:
Revelation 2:12-16–“And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write…I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. And you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days in which Antipas was My faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.”
Revelation 2:18-23–“And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write…I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first. Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts.”
These were churches that were “doing good things.” They went around preaching “Love!! Love!! Love!!” They had all kinds of faith. But what did they do? They brought the enemy inside. They brought in Balaam, and they brought in Jezebel–and by doing so, they brought in all of their destructive heresies.
- Did Jesus say, “Oh, I’m so proud of you!! You’re using Satan’s methods to bring people in the doors! How wonderful!!”
- Did Jesus say, “It just thrills my heart to see you joining the worship of the true God with those who teach false Christs and bow down to worship statues!!”
- Did Jesus say, “I love how you guys are engaging the culture around you!!”
- Did Jesus say, “That’s the way to do church!! After all, who wants to sit there for a half an hour and just hear about…Me? Bring in more games!!”
Look at the warnings Jesus gives the church at Pergamos, and the church at Thyatira. Notice how they compromised with the world, and notice the rebuke from Christ. Then ask yourself: Would your church receive a “Well Done.” Or would He rebuke you for flinging wide the front door and inviting Balaam and Jezebel inside?
It happens. It always happens. Someone styles themselves a prophet, or a teacher. They teach some aberrant doctrine that flat-out contradicts the Bible. Or they bring in AC/DC Satan to minister to the people. They use all kinds of newfangled methods to make people feel comfortable in their sins while not teaching them the necessity to repentance. They gain a large following, people begin to be attracted to their methods and teachings.
We (and others, such as Ken Silva or Ingrid Schlueter) warn others to avoid these people, since their doctrines are capable of leading people away from Christ, and into destruction. We obey the command given to us by the apostle Paul in Romans 16:17-18–“Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.” And guess what happens? Those folks with the itchy ears get all upset because we are exposing the wolves who are preaching “peace and safety! Peace! Peace!” When there is no peace. And, like the Israelites–to whom God sent prophet after prophet, finally sending His own Son whom they killed–they buck back against the warnings, they continue to follow the wolves who are spoiling the flock, they let their itchy ears guide their thoughts. And then they whip out… Continue reading
Would that we could see the wall of separation between the church and the world made broader and stronger. It makes one sad to hear Christians saying, “Well, there is no harm in this; there is no harm in that”, thus getting as near to the world as possible. Grace is at a low ebb in that soul which can even raise the question of how far it may go in worldly conformity.
- C.H. Spurgeon
1834 – 1892