The church is in danger

Réne Malgo

The church is in danger; in fact, this has been the case for 2,000 years. Paul says that “in the last days perilous times” will come upon the church (2 Tim 3:1-9). We often tag this prophetic biblical passage to the unbelieving world just prior to the return of Jesus. This is certainly not completely wrong, but 2 Timothy is actually about the danger of false doctrines in the church. Paul told Timothy that he was to shun “such [people],” even then in his time. The apostles understood the last days to have already begun with the first coming of the Lord Jesus (Rom 13:12; Gal 4:4; 1 Cor 10:11; cf. Heb 9:26, 10:25, 37). Since then the time of the kingdom of God has been near (Rev 1:3; 22:7, 10, 12, 20).

For 2,000 years, we believers have been living in the evil end times (see Eph 5:16). It is truly a miracle of God’s grace that “the gates of hell” have not overwhelmed the church (Mt 16:18). Our Lord preserves His saints. Nevertheless, we should be on guard and sober—Christ and the apostles always emphasize this (Mt 24:42; 25:13; Lk 12:37; 21:36; 1 Cor 16:13; 1 Thess 4:6, 5:6, 8; 2 Tim 4:5; 1 Pet 1:13; 4:7; 5:8).

But how can we remain sober and alert? The recipe is simple. When the disciples were arguing among themselves about who would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, our Lord gave them the answer: the very ones who receive the kingdom of heaven like children will be the greatest. This means that, like children, we should naïvely, simply, and purely believe in Jesus and His kingdom (cf. 2 Cor 11:3-4). Neither controversies, new ideas, special doctrines, nor “science falsely so called” (1 Tim 6:20) should determine our lives, but rather Jesus Christ Himself.

We cannot go astray when we look at Jesus.

Both Christ and Paul say that temptations will come and that we are susceptible to them (Mt 18:6-14). For this reason, we should not consider ourselves wise or pursue other people, but cling to Christ and destroy “every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God” in our life, and bring “into captivity” every thought opposed to Christ “to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor 10:5).

The protection against temptation is not to be more clever than the tempter. That would be a fatal notion. The means of protection is a living faith relationship with the Lord Jesus Himself, in prayer, in reflection on Him, in reading and hearing His Word, and in communion with the saints.

In the time of the New Testament, Thyatira was a church shattered by heresies. There were people who spread exceptional new insights, and were proud to recognize “the depths of Satan.” There were those who, in the words of the Apostle Paul, were “ever learning” and yet were “never able to come to the knowledge of truth” (2 Tim 3:7).

Now Jesus Christ does not tell the faithful few in this terrible church that they should defeat the false doctrines with better arguments. No, rather, “But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden. But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. And I will give him the morning star” (Rev 2:24-28).

In other words, “It is enough if you hold fast to a simple faith in Me. You need not do more. Just hold tightly to the simplicity and purity in view of Me, until I come. If you retain only what I have done for you; if you remain in childlike faith in Me, then you will be the greatest in heaven, and will reign over the peoples of the earth, as I will reign over them when I come.”

Maranatha. Amen, come, Lord Jesus!

Midnight Call - 03/2017

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