The True Church – Christ’s Remnant – Has Been Scattered

Rom 16:17-19 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. (18) For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. (19) For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil.

In the soon to be four decades in which I have been a pastor, I have seen the visible church become more like a den of robbers than the body of Christ. What would you experience if you checked into a robbers’ den? A thieves’ hideout? Oh it looked good on the outside – a nice place to stay you thought. But inside? Well, you were preyed upon. Not prayed upon. Preyed upon. Beaten. Robbed. Turns out the place was filled with the wicked.

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We Must Always Remind Ourselves – There is a True Church and a False One

John 10:26-28 but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. (27) My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. (28) I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.

It is absolutely crucial that we regularly remind ourselves regarding the difference between the visible church and the true church. Otherwise we are going to get into all kinds of trouble.

With some sad frequency I hear from people who profess to be Christians and who have been mistreated or abused in their church, and as a result they speak of “the church” as being hypocritical, condemning, unloving, unforgiving. Recently one such person said that they would rather hang out with the most wicked in the world rather than having anything to do with “the church.” Why? Because, as she said, “the church” is condemning and judgmental and hypocritical. Better to have worldlings as companions than those in “the church.”

Do you see the problem? This lady lumps all who profess to know Christ together into one big mass and calls it “the church.” She fails to differentiate between the visible church and the invisible church. So let’s clear this up.

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How to Turn a Local Church into a Den of Vipers

Mat 3:7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?

Jesus told the Jews that they had turned His Father’s house, the temple, into a den of robbers. Here, John the Baptist confronts and exposes the religious leaders in that temple system. He addresses them as a pack of snakes.

Many local churches are robbers’ dens and a gang of snakes. Many of you have experienced such places. Domestic abusers love those kind of hangouts. They find the leaders willing allies and the pews a comfortable place to practice their hypocrisy. Just think of trying to get justice from poisonous snakes or greedy thieves. Not gonna happen.

So how does a local Christian church become such a place? Let me show you one primary way. It is a plague today that infects most all of evangelicalism. Here it is, stated by a prominent theologian in his commentary on Matthew’s Gospel [Daniel Doriani, Reformed Expository Commentary, Vol 1 p. 378]

The church is a society of sinners.

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Abusers Fail the Test of Love – A Very Clarifying Fact

Joh 13:34-35 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. (35) By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

1Co 13:1-2 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. (2) And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

Every real Christian, that is people who have truly been born again, have been taught to love one another by the Spirit of Christ in them. This is our new creation nature in Jesus. His Law is written on our hearts so that it is part of who the new man is. And this is why Jesus and Paul and other biblical authors tell us that love, the real love of Christ, is THE evidence that we know Him. Specifically, this love is love for Christ and love for Christ’s people. Certainly we show love toward unbelievers as well in various ways but the real test is a person’s response to the Lord and to His people. The “nicest” pagan to be found will eventually cease to be “nice” if pressed in regard to his thoughts on Jesus.

Paul tells the Corinthians that a person can wear the finest most convincing “holy” disguise all they like, if they do not love then they are phonies.

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