John 10:1-11 ESV
“’Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.’ This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
“So Jesus again said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.’”
Where are We Today?
Well, back in the early 1950s, at the beginning of my life on this earth, the American church, overall, but not including every congregation, was convinced that they should organize as 501c3 tax exempt religious organizations under the state, even though they were already tax exempt because they were churches. So, most churches in America, it would appear, are now incorporated under the state, making them state churches.
So now the church is united with the government (the state) in an unholy union, which God forbids, and they turned the church into a marketplace, which Jesus also forbid, and they added another “head” to the church, i.e. the government, which is also forbidden, for Christ is to be our only head. And this has been going on for nearly 70 years here in America.
What that resulted in was the church being turned into a business and being marketed to the world just like any other business or any other product being produced by businesses. And so they altered their gatherings in order to draw in large crowds of people from the world, and they started to entertain the world with worldly means and methods so that the world would feel at home in their gatherings (what is wrong with this picture?).
Therefore, they also altered the gospel of Jesus Christ to make it more palatable to the world and to human flesh. It was a slow process of deception and changing things a little bit here and a little bit there so that the unsuspecting didn’t even notice the transition. But the false gospel, which is largely being taught now, other than to talk about Jesus’ birth, death, and some of his life, barely resembles the gospel Jesus and his NT apostles taught.
First it began by teaching them that all they had to do was to confess their sin, pray a prayer to receive Jesus Christ into their hearts, and then they were told that they are now saved, that they are part of God’s family, and that heaven is guaranteed them when they die. And they encouraged spiritual growth by connecting them with a local church congregation for discipleship which may or may not have ever taken place.
But as time went by, then they could just acknowledge what Jesus did for them, and they could just accept his grace and his forgiveness of their sins and now they were saved and bound for heaven, but they didn’t have to do anything. They were told that God required nothing else of them – no repentance, no obedience, and no submission to him as Lord. So now we have a bunch of people professing faith in Jesus who don’t even know him.
Being Taught Government Worship
But let’s back up a little. In the 1950s, in the time period when I was a child in elementary school, both in the school and in the church, we were taught to pledge (vow) allegiance to (to worship) the flag of the United States of America, i.e. its government, with hand over heart. We were taught songs of worship to the government (patriotic songs), as well, and we were taught to honor our military as our heroes and as our saviors who keep us safe.
So, not only was the gospel being diluted to convince most people that they could be guaranteed salvation from sin and eternal life with God based on a one-time decision to “receive Jesus into their hearts,” the church, at large, was pushing government worship to the point that many people saw loyalty (fidelity) to the government as equal with loyalty to God. And many “Christians” today still promote government worship in the church.
As a result of this union with the government, this partnering with the world and with big business, and this marketing of the church to the world just like any other commodity, the “cheap grace gospel” became the predominant gospel being taught and spread throughout this nation, and perhaps throughout the world, as well. And it has been seeping into the lives of the masses because it requires no repentance nor obedience to Christ.
Called to Proclaim the Truth
And so the Lord has called some of his servants to address this issue and to expose the lies of this cheap grace gospel (the supplanter), and to warn the people not to buy into the lies, and of the consequences if they do. His servants are not only exposing the lies, but they are expounding the truth of the gospel in opposition to the lies so that the people will know the truth.
They are warning the people about these “strangers” who are teaching this false gospel so that they do not follow them. They are warning them about these “thieves and robbers” disguised as shepherds of the sheep who are out to kill, to steal, and to destroy the church, not to lift her up, and not to nurture her, and not to show her the way of righteousness and holiness.
And they are telling the people what the Scriptures teach (in context), and they are explaining to them how so many of these lies have come about by teaching Scriptures outside their context. For, the Lord has sent them out to the people to open the eyes of the blind and to turn them from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God so that they can receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those sanctified by faith in Christ.
And they are teaching the truth that is in Christ Jesus that we are to put off our old self, which belongs to our former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of our minds, and that we are to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. But we don’t do this in our flesh, but by the Spirit of God (Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Lu 9:23-26; Eph 4:17-24).
But they appear to be few in number by comparison to the vast number of people who are spreading the cheap grace gospel. And so they are being opposed by the same people who are opposing the truth of the gospel and who are spreading the lies. They are being faced with rejection, false accusations, persecution, and misunderstandings, and they are not getting much support from the church, either. So, it is a lonely path for them.
But they are to be encouraged, for the Lord is with them wherever he leads them. He is their support. He is their help and their comfort. The Lord is our strength and our shield. Where he calls he also supplies and he equips, and he also comforts and encourages, too.
So, although this is a lonely path, we know that the Lord is using us to dispel the lies and to proclaim the truth so that many (not the majority) will reject the lies and so that they will embrace the truth, and that is our comfort.
Breath Of Heaven (Mary’s Song)
Songwriters: Amy Lee Grant / Chris Eaton
I have traveled many moonless nights
Cold and weary with a babe inside
And I wonder what I’ve done
Holy father you have come
And chosen me now to carry your son
I am waiting in a silent prayer
I am frightened by the load I bear
In a world as cold as stone
Must I walk this path alone?
Be with me now
Be with me now
Breath of heaven
Hold me together
Be forever near me
Breath of heaven
Breath of heaven
Lighten my darkness
Pour over me your holiness
For you are holy
Breath of heaven
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