The Enemy Wants to Divide but Christ Unites

In a time of our history when not only as a nation we should be united for the greater good of one another because of the impact of COVID-19 but more so within the church. This is a time that is hard for the world but the church can shine bright but the problem is there is a division within the church.

First, we have had division on whether the church should meet in person or not. Personally, we have had this conversation with those who have felt like the church is in the wrong for not pushing to meet in person because the goes against our civil liberties while we know others who argue we need to listen to the government out of love for the neighbor.

Second, the issue of masks. Yes! Within the church, there were heated debates about wearing a mask or not. Same thing, the liberties we have to not wear a mask or to wear one for the love of other people (I am not making this up) This is the 2020 debate among Christians, forget smoking, drinking, or tattoos as the past debates of Christian liberties, now it is to wear a mask or not.

Third, which has been a divisive issue for most of Christendom, race, and racism. If you do not know what is going on across America in response to the death of George Floyd. In America, we have the freedom to use our voice and to fight against injustice. As Christians, we should care about how every human being regardless of color is made in the image of God. All of this points to the spiritual battle that is taking place. More now than ever the church needs to be united. In fact, because of Christ, we are united!

We have an enemy

I am grieved at what is going on. This should not be happening. This post is not to dissect the situation but to remind the church of the enemy we have who wants to divide the church. We see even in the book of Acts that if the devil can not stop the church through persecution then he turns his attention inwardly. The Bible tells us that the enemy called a thief comes kills, steals, and destroys (John 10:10). Or he is also described as our adversary and vividly like a roaring lion seeking one to devour (1 Peter 5:8).

There are sin and sinful actions that take place. Hurt and pain. Death and chaos. Injustice and oppression. These take place in this life that shouldn’t but because of the Fall this happens (Gen. 3). This is where the church needs to be beacons of light because Jesus is the light of the world (Matt 5:14; John 8:12).

In Christ, we are One

When there is hurt and even more hurt, we must come together to pray, to care, to comfort. The Gospel not only saves us from sin, we have peace with God, we have eternal life, but the gospel also unites other believers together because we are one in Christ. Unity is necessary! The Puritan Richard Baxter is known for his desire and pursuit of Christian unity. He wrote,

In necessary things, unity; in doubtful things, liberty; in all things, charity.

The Apostle Paul reminds us of this truth, “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves[d] or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Cor 12:12-13). Unity is necessary because of the work of the gospel.

The Apostle Paul mentions race and status, regardless, we are one in Christ. Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection defeated sin and united image-bearers who are in Christ. Church let us work together, stand together, love together, weep together, cry together, and long for Christ’s return together because he is making all things new (Rev. 21:5).

If we want to fight, then fight to remember our unity in Christ. Be careful knowing that the enemy is wanting that wedge to hinder the work of the gospel going out. At a time that the world is going to listen, let us boldly proclaim the gospel. The world is watching, let us be gospel lights!

A New Podcast Launch

Hey everyone!

I just launched a new podcast, Anchored in Truth where I address how the Gospel and life collide. In this introductory episode I talk with my wife Alyssa about what has happened these past 3 months and what Anchored in Truth is about.

You can listen to it here:

The Attainable Gospel

In Deuteronomy 30 we get a glimpse not just for Israel entering into the promise land but a foreshadow of what Christ has done for us. The Word that became flesh, dwelt among us so that sinners could be saved!

How to Not Have Fear, Worry, or Anxiety

This is something that every person faces. Given today and the uncertainty of this invisible enemy called COVID-19 or Coronavirus. Going through pandemics is nothing new for the Church though it may be something new that we are all facing now. One of the deadliest pandemics that took place was the Black Death or The Great Bubonic Plague that infiltrated Europe between 1347-1351. More than 30-60% of the population died from this catastrophic pandemic. For example, in England alone, the population of almost four million dropped down to two million. The Church survived through this plague and continued on through other wars, famines, and pestilences throughout history.

The answer to not have fear, worry, or anxiety is the same today as it was in the fourteenth century. We can reflect back on the fact that not only God is sovereign over all but we are directed to the true peace that we can have with God. The Apostle Paul wrote these words, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). The believer who has peace with God can have the peace of God as one endures the trials and tribulations of this world.

Lessons from the Past:

B.B. Warfield wrote these words in his book, The Power of God unto Salvation in 1903. Let these words which were beneficial for Warfield’s generation be encouraging to you:

And having once entered into our peace, let us turn and look with new eyes upon this life which we are living in the flesh. These difficulties, these dangers, these trials, these sufferings, how hard they have been to bear! We have deserved no better, but—nay, therefore—how hard they have been to bear! But we have been justified by faith—actually and truly justified by faith—and now we have peace with God. What a new aspect is taken by the trials and sufferings of life! They are no longer our fate, hard and grinding; they are no longer our punishment, better than which is not to be expected—forever. They come from the hand of a reconciled God, from the hand of our Father. What one of them has not its meaning, its purpose, its freightage of mercy and of good? Shall we not follow the apostle here, and, as we find that peace with God has stolen into our hearts and that we are exulting in the hope of future glory, let that glory gild also our present pathway? Shall we not turn with new courage, nay, even with joy, to the sufferings of this present life, crying with him: “And not only so, but we also rejoice in tribulations, knowing that tribulation worketh patience, and patience triedness, and triedness hope, and hope putteth not to shame, because the love of God hath been shed abroad in our hearts through the Holy Spirit which was given unto us!

We have peace with God and we then now look onwards towards eternity not with dread but sing with the Apostle, “to live is Christ and to die is gain” and “our citizenship is in heaven, and from it, we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself” (Phil 1:21, 3:20-21). The trials are just momentary afflictions but cannot compare to the glories that await us (2 Cor. 4:17). Because of Christ, we not are only saved by his grace but also will be sustained by his grace.

So how does one not have fear, worry, or anxiety? The answer is to run to the Lord who is sovereign over all!

Palm Sunday

With not being able to meet in person, we had an opportunity with our small group to sing to the Lord together and share a little from Matthew 21:1-11.

The Church, Technology, and CODIV-19

The ever-changing and improving technology is nothing new to the church. Martin Luther and his 95 theses caught the fire of communication in Europe because of technology. Between 1517 and 1520, his writings sold over 300,000 copies which were something new for differing religious mindsets. Wycliff who was on the cusp of this new technology was unable to use it the same way. (Elizabeth Eisenstein, The Printing Press as an Agent of Change, Kindle Ed., location 7511). Luther was born at the right time as technology advanced. On one hand, this was thrust upon him as others took his writing to be printed and on the other, he saw how it was advantageous of getting the truth out.

Here we are five centuries later and we see how technology has advanced. We have digital books, not just the printed book! We are now able to communicate with more people faster than ever. Many churches use technology to communicate but COVID-19 has forced the church to communicate in these different ways more than ever.

Some churches have wrestled more with this over their convictions of streaming their service compromises on what it means to be the church and some churches already stream their services online. I understand both sides and am thankful for both views. A church that is strong in its convictions and one that utilizes the tools on hand. A couple of thoughts regarding this:

Motivation:

Costi W. Hinn responded to the recent debate of church’s moving to do church “online” on Instagram and said, “Friends, let us spend time this week whether traditionalists think of our online efforts and spend more time proclaiming truth through whatever medium we can: Pound the airwaves, Post to IGTV, go ‘Live’, Light up phone lines, and fill up mailboxes. Unleash the hope in Christ.”

Costi showed the bigger picture. We have an opportunity to get the gospel out so as a church let’s do just that. If we write a letter (old school way with a pen, paper, and a stamp) you are using a form of technology. If you call someone you are using technology. When you use a microphone to make it so people can hear you at church is a form of technology. Using a camera and the internet to share God’s Word with your church is a form of technology. So, let us use the current tool of technology to share the gospel message.

There may be some churches that are unable to stream as it is work upon pastors and staff that probably are already stretched. One must not judge them based on conviction or abilities. I think all Christians would agree that we must live with a sense of urgency (Eph. 5:15-16). I know some pastors, though are not streaming a Sunday service, are busier than ever reaching out to the congregation through texts, phone calls, and video meetings. They are doing what they can!

The Church:

There should be a clarification of what is the church? Does doing church this way constitute “doing church?” No, the church is the gathering of God’s people together living within a community with each other. But, here is a time that people are more open to listening to the gospel. This is the time that this world has many questions and fears and the church can point them to the Savior, Jesus Christ who conquered sin and death. The one who made it possible for us to have peace with God so we can have the peace of God.

This is a tool to get the message out and we are longing to be able to meet in person one day again. This is a longing that is a good longing to have. This is something that should be on the heart of every believer, to gather with other believers, to give hugs, handshakes, and high fives as the local congregation assemble together. There is longing to sit next to other believers singing to God out loud through the poor pitch and deaf tone singers along with those that sing elegantly. I long for that day to come again to be able to place my hand on the shoulder of the brother in Christ as I pray for him. This is the church which is more than just listening to a sermon, it is the living out of God’s word. We have been given the gospel doctrine which lived out which makes a gospel culture.

Though we are called to keep distant from one another, we know that because of Christ we are one and united together. Though we have social distancing for protection and to help curb this invisible enemy, we look to Jesus who defeated the invisible enemy sin, death, and the devil through life sinless life, sacrificial death, and his glorious resurrection.