A Common Claim – “Only God can Judge”

1Co 5:12-13 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? (13) God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

I was reading a commentary on Matthew this morning and came across the following statement by the author:

God is the one truly competent Judge, for he alone knows all things. Every human judgment is based on imperfect knowledge. We make every decision on insufficient evidence. Not so with God. He knows all that is, was, and shall be. [Matthew: Reformed Expository Commentary, Daniel Doriani]

Now, this statement is true, in part at least. God is indeed the only truly competent judge. He is the only one who knows all things. This cannot be said of any human. If perfection in judgment is the subject of discussion, yes – it is only to be found in God.

However…

Continue reading “A Common Claim – “Only God can Judge””

Is Your Abuser a “Child of God”?

John 8:39-44 They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, (40) but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. (41) You are doing the works your father did.” They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father–even God.”

(42) Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. (43) Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. (44) You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Quite often we hear from Christians, pastors, authors, and counselors something like, “you must love your abuser because he is a child of God like all human beings. God loves all His children, and so must we.”

Totally bogus. I will prove it to you.

Look at the passage quoted above. Does that sound like the Pharisees are children of God? Nope. Who is their father according to Jesus? The devil. They even share the devil’s spiritual DNA.  “If God were your father…”.  But he isn’t. The devil is.

This business of all human beings being children of God is simply the same old theological liberalism that infected the church long ago and which was opposed by faithful saints like J. Gresham Machen.

Think a bit further on this. If God loves the wicked because they are his children, then necessarily his love for them is motivated by something in them. That is to say, in some way, God finds them “loveable.” But is that what the Bible says about man outside of Christ? No way. Did God elect us to salvation because of some merit he saw in us? No way. If he did, then grace is no longer grace.

So don’t ever fall for the line “we must love everyone because everyone is a child of God.” The fact is that the wicked, such as the domestic abuser hiding behind a facade of “saintliness,” is an object of God’s own hatred. And thus the Psalmist can say in perfect holiness:

Psalm 26:5 I hate the assembly of evildoers, and I will not sit with the wicked.

Psalm 139:21-22 Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? (22) I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies.

 

 

A Common and Surprising Ally of Abusers – Christians Who Grew up in Church

2 Co 11:13-15 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. (14) And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. (15) So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.

I have known many people who grew up in a Christian family, attending a Christian church. And not only attending that church, but attending it diligently. Sunday School, morning worship, Sunday evening worship, Wednesday evening prayer meeting, mid-week children’s ministry, vacation Bible school, summer camp…the whole package. In other words, the church was their life. Their friends were in the church. They may even have eventually married someone they met in their church, after going to the Bible college that most young people from church chose.

It all sounds so wonderful, doesn’t it? And I bet some of you can identify with this description – or at least you once did. But let me tell you something that I think most likely most of you already know –

Your church world was a fantasyland. At least your idea of your church was a fantasyland.

Now, please don’t misunderstand. I love Christ’s church. I am not one of these ticked off ex-Christian, ex-Church people who had something bad happen to them and so they reject Christ and His Church in their entirety. Nope. I have been a pastor of Christ’s church for going on 36 years now. But the church I love is Christ’s true church – not the counterfeit.

So when I say that your “church” was in all probability a fantasyland, or at least that what you think it was is a fantasy, I am talking about the visible local church that you lived so much of your life in, and what it really was in comparison to what you thought it was. And if anyone reading this post is still in such a church, leading that same kind of church life, then what I am saying to you is that most likely your view of what your church is, is a fantasy. Let me talk, in fact, to you.

All of this produces a surprising ally to evil – you. The church kid. The church youth group member. The young adults group leader. The person, in short, who loves their church, who lives their church, who pours out their life’s energy in their church. Many of the enemy’s allies come from these very ranks. Let me explain.

The Bible never, ever portrays the Christian life and the local church in terms of a fantasyland. It never tells us that our enemy is only “out there.” In fact, what Scripture (like the one quoted above) does tell us is that creeps creep in among us in the church (see Jude on this). Wolves in sheep’s clothing, in other words, do not do their wickedness “out there.” If they did, they wouldn’t need the woolly disguise. No, they do it in the church. Among us. Do you think that your church was or is immune? I think not.

But, reinforced by false teaching in the church, the fantasyland mentality so often gets rooted in our minds. The pastor is what he appears to be. The elders and deacons are surely holy men. Mrs. Jones the choir director, Jim the youth leader, and other “pillars” in your church – surely they are the apples of the Lord’s eye.

Is that image of the visible church what we see in the Bible? Of course not –

3 Jn 1:9-10 I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. (10) So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church.

If you cut out all the parts of the Bible that were written to deal with evil inside the local church, how much would you have left? Not much. Even Jesus’ battles with the Pharisees come under this heading because the Pharisees were the leaders in “the church” of that day.

Somehow, because of sinful willful blindness, foolishness, simplistic naivete, or selfishness, people who grew up in church, who never (at least knowingly) were the direct target-victim of a wicked counterfeit, whose very life was their church, simply cannot and will not process the suggestion that their idea of their church is a false one. They cannot or will not entertain the notion that Mrs. Anderson’s husband the deacon is not who he disguises himself as at church. They cannot or will not even consider that the pastor is an adulterer or that Mrs. Simpson lusts for power and control and is willing to use the most devious and cruel schemes to get it.

Now remember, I am not saying that Christ’s true church is like this. We call that true church the “invisible” church because we cannot actually see it. The invisible church consists of ALL genuine believers from all time, both in heaven and on earth. This church is the real body of Christ and to the extent that a local church here on earth consists of genuine believers, to that extent it is a true church. While we still would not want to embrace a perfectionistic fantasyland view of such a church, we can be blessed in such a church because evil is simply not at home there. It generally moves on. “They went out from us because they were not of us” as the Apostle John puts it.

But what I am saying is that many (if not most nowadays) local churches are nowhere near the fantastical idea that the person I am addressing in this post thinks it is. Not only are they not places where evil does not dwell, they are in fact incubators of evil where, behind the scenes and unmolested, these sons of the devil that Paul tells us appear to be sons of righteousness, operate.

Now, over the years, if our life-long fantasyland thinking church member would be honest, there have been some clear indicators that all was not as it appeared to be in their church Disneyworld. The rate of pastoral turnover for instance. “Why did the pastor leave?” “Well, I’m not sure but apparently the Lord called him to a new ministry.” “Ok, I just won’t think about that anymore.”

Or there was that time that Mrs. Gray took the kids and moved out, leaving Mr. Gray so sadly grieving in the church pews. She was not faithful to her marriage vows, you know. Poor Mr. Gray. Yes, you had heard those occasional rumors that Mr. Gray battled a “drinking problem,” but then, none of us are perfect, are we?”

And then there was that unpleasantness of the terrible church split ten years ago. You weren’t ever sure what it really was about, but the associate pastor took a group of families out and started a new church across town. In the end, everyone said we are all Christians and we need to look past, and love one another.

Then there was that time when Mr. and Mrs. Snyder suddenly were gone. They had been such wonderful leaders in the outreach ministry, but now – it’s just terrible – Mr. Snyder is in jail. Surely he was falsely accused. There was some talk about the charges but you never wanted to hear the details. Someone said that Mr. Snyder had drowned their infant in the bathtub! No, it can’t be. Surely if anything like that happened it was an accident. Mrs. Snyder has taken the rest of the children and moved away to no one knows where. [This example is based on a true event by the way that I myself experienced in a local church when I was only in my early 20’s].

Yes, there had been all these rocks in the road. But your fantasyland stood unmoved in your mind. You put these things out of your thinking, until….

And I will now let our readers finish the story. How do you think it ends? Or perhaps it just continues? What do you think?