Thursday, October 23, 2014

Being cheerful and confident amid the collapse of cultural Christianity

I read two things today that encouraged me. Though they are on separate topics, they are kind of the same topic.

First up is a great essay at 9Marks. It is titled:

Cheerful Confidence after Christendom

It is apparent to even the most casual observer that cultural Christianity is dying. I've used the term "cultural collapse of Christianity" and others speak of 'post-Christian era' and 9Marks essay author Timothy Larsen says "dissolution of Christendom" but it all means the same thing, the end of an era. Mr Larsen explains it well and encourages us to relish the time such as this in which the Lord in His plan and wisdom put us. Being joyful and confident and triumphant in a time of evil and darkness and uncertainty will be an anomaly to one and all. Here is a short excerpt from Mr Larsen's essay:
THANK GOD FOR GRANTING US NOW

God has granted me the privilege to live now—in my own times. To wish otherwise is not only pointless, it is ungrateful. It is also self-defeating. Every season of life has its own joys. Foolishness is to want to have the joys of adulthood when still a teenager or the joys of adolescence when middle aged and so on.

Likewise, there are unique joys, privileges, and opportunities for serving God in each generation. We are called not to hanker after a different age, but rather to jump in with relish to following Christ at this moment. There is an old Puritan saying: “If you would make the greatest success of your life, try to discover what God is doing in your time, and fling yourself into the accomplishment of his purpose and will.”

YES, THERE ARE UNIQUE CHALLENGES

Our times, of course, have unique challenges. We are witnessing the dissolution of Christendom. Christendom was a long period of time in the West when Christian commitments and beliefs were buoyed up by political and cultural supports. In Christendom, there were worldly incentives to at least pretend to believe Christian doctrine and to observe Christian practices. To do so was good for one’s professional and social success.
The other item that was encouraging was another of Phil Johnson's sermons on the Psalms. It is an exposition of Psalm 122. The sermon is titled "A Foretaste of Glory Divine"

So many Christians moan and groan about life, because they either do not study the prophetic scriptures to know what's coming, or they don't have an eternal perspective, or both. Mr Johnson expertly and beautifully opens the Psalm to us and eloquently describes the manifold and unspeakable glories to come. Here is but a taste: (and it is much better heard than read, but if you have connection problems a transcription is available.)
What Jerusalem was to David, the church is to you and me. It is the dwelling-place of God. It is a living, breathing, holy convocation of God's people, who gather to worship Him in unison. It is the very same fellowship of saints that will one day culminate in a heavenly convocation. It is a place of safety from the evils of a decadent world. It is a place where God's authority is acknowledged and submitted to with gladness. It is an oasis of divine grace in a desert of corruption. It is quite literally a foretaste of glory divine.

The greatest joy in heaven the centerpiece of it all will be the unspeakable glory of God. God's full glory will be on permanent display, and you will be able to see it with an unhindered view: examine it, and bask in it, and reflect it in all its perfection. You will be able to stand in the resplendence of that glory without any sense of guilt or shame. You will have a pure love for God that exceeds any love you have ever known. And the natural, inevitable, joyous response of your heart will be pure worship.

Please do take these two items as a matched pair. Be encouraged that you were placed here by the wisdom of God for just such a time as this, and that we have unspeakable joys to look forward to...SOON!

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5 comments :

  1. Very encouraging words, and true! Thanks! I've been enjoying your blog since discovering it. God bless.

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  2. It's hard to disagree (unfortunately) with Larson here. But I am grateful for living right now because of the wisdom and teachings I get to read from people I have never met via the internet. This would not have been possible (for the most part) years ago. I am especially thinking of John MacArthur, Phil Johnson, and Elizabeth Prata.----Chris M.

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    1. Chris M., thank you for your kindness. Any wisdom I have is from the Spirit. I'm definitely not in the same category as the men. I'm just some lady with a laptop, lol :)

      I am blessed by living in this time as you said- I'd never have heard of John MacArthur and Phil Johnson otherwise, and I know my faith has been deepened and strengthened by Spirit's work through them

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  3. I am of the age where I remember when almost every family in my neighborhood went to church, and several of them went to the same church I did. That was back in the 60s, and many times my mom would sometimes cram seven kids in our car (five could sit in the back seat) to take to Wednesday night kids' program and junior choir practice. I grew up thinking everyone was a Christian and went to church. This belief followed me into early adulthood, and then I became aware that church wasn't part of everyone's lives and [gasp] some people didn't even believe in God.

    I realize I was young and naïve back then, but I also believe that part of my perception is grounded in reality--that the church played a bigger role in people's lives then than it does today. I have seen our society slide downward to where we celebrate the tawdry, vulgar, and inane over the good, wholesome, and intelligent. Evil has become more evident, and speaking out against it labels one as (at best) narrow-minded and old-fashioned but more likely as intolerant, some kind of -phobic, and/or hateful. Standing up for the Christian faith can bring attack and even fines or arrest. It seems sometimes like anything goes EXCEPT solid Christian beliefs.

    One thing I believe the church has been weak in teaching is to encourage us to look forward to our heavenly reward instead of focusing on the here and now. We must always look forward to what lies beyond this life and consider everything in terms of its eternal value. What the world deems important and even essential will remain after we're gone--we can't take it with us, only leave it behind for someone else to deal with. Recently I have been convicted to not to let the things of this world stand between me and God. I didn't realize that was a problem--and then I was convicted to confess sins of envy, jealousy, covetousness, and selfishness and saw how much of a problem it was in my life. We are to be wise stewards of all God has provided but not let those things (usually money, wealth, possessions, power, intelligence, education, etc.) become idols to us.

    Focusing on the promise of eternity in Jesus' presence makes this life and the things of it less important to me. I am content with what I have. I'm not chasing after desires for more, bigger, better, newer stuff. I think more in terms of need instead of want because I know God promises to provide what I need...although sometimes He blesses me with something I want.

    I, too, believe the end is near, coming faster than we can imagine. I remember back in the early 80s when people thought bar codes were a harbinger of end times. I remember when Y2K loomed before us and people feared that would be the end of the world. The world hasn't ended yet. I am not an end-times scholar, but I can see some signs that point to end time--such as the apostasy in the church. In the past 20 years I have seen a slide from the church being attacked from the outside to being destroyed from within. False teachers are dumbing down their followers to the point many would not be able to define or defend their faith. I engaged in a conversation with an ordained pastor this past week that was very disturbing. He had posted an announcement on Facebook that his church will be having a sermon series based on a book that has no scriptural foundation and promotes pagan practices. His argument was toothless (he kept telling me to read the book) and when I explained why I would not read the book he ended the conversation by calling me 'incredibly close-minded,' blocking me from additional comments, and unfriending me on Facebook. What I found most bothersome wasn't what he said or did to me personally but that he could not see the error contained in this book. I have been praying for him, as well as the leadership of that church and its members, that Godly wisdom and discernment would descend on their hearts and minds and they would seek God through His word, not false promises built on a mythical foundation. ~~Linda Dodson

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  4. The Lord has been good to us since our inception on the day of Pentecost. We've seen some harsh times of persecution such as when Roman emperors burned hundreds of our brothers and sisters at the stake, or during the Reformation which resulted into a bloodbath between the Catholic church and the faithfuls. Through it all, we have survived because of the Holy Spirit that kept us going. We've seen periods of tremendous blessings and spiritual breakthroughs such as the Great Awakening the swept across the western world and paved the way for thousands of missionaries and evangelists to go to the farthest corners of the world to spread God's message of love and forgiveness. We have also been instrumental to the regathering of the Jews. Well, now it's about time that we go home and be with our Savior and King who has promised to be with us until the end of the age. I am humbled to be a part of the Church, this entity that is so precious to God, and I can't wait to see Him face to face and be with Him forever.

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