Recession-proof Christian Life
10/24/13 at 08:27 PM 0 Comments

Strange and Friendly Fires

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There are times when one feels under the cruel onslaught of criticism - the scourge that only few can bear without falling into a melancholy despair. Job would know about this as he declared Job 5:21 Thou shalt be hid from the scourge of the tongue: neither shalt thou be afraid of destruction when it cometh. Indeed only the most mature can absorb the scathing arrows of many a critic and still be undisturbed. The adversary and friendly critic have both found your Achilles heel and aimed arrows well. They leverage real evidence to show that you have botched an assignment and their flaming arrows burn with fire that claims to be truth. We can learn and adjust …humbly taking correction, but also fend off the worst ambush on our faith when grace exists to choose more enlightened responses.

The pained Job was indeed already beleaguered in heavy distresses when Eliphaz the Tamanite chimed in thinly veiled mockery. Job 4:7 Remember, I pray thee, who ever perished, being innocent? or where were the righteous cut off? 8 Even as I have seen, they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same.

There are many potential sources of criticism …and we are naturally better prepared to deal with opposition from those who never shared our ideals. We have ready answers for avowed opponents but the knock-out blow is often unleashed from kin because the enemy of our salvation understands that family battles have no winners. Job passed his test eventually when he declared “Though He slay me yet will I trust Him…”

Last week, Christendom in America was torched afresh at MacArthur’s Strange Fire Southern California event. Not new to the Reformed movement and anxious to receive something fresh, also having been richly blessed at a Ligonier Ministries Conference featuring R.C.Sproul and Steve Lawson - I was a bit surprised - listening to the streaming coverage, at the divisive emphasis on Cessationism  and to discern the insinuation that “Sola Scriptura” means “what Calvin thought and taught even in his twenties … ” Well, even Christ said “ ..according to your faith be it unto you. …”   Millions of Christians - outside Reformed Circles - may not have heard of Calvin and will give little attention to the “Strange fire” Conference … but they do know the Lord Jesus Christ, by His grace.

Only God will know for sure if the Charismatic fire is as strange or if MacArthur’s fire is a “friendly” onslaught. Christ Himself admonished against this sort of approach … permitting sometimes the tares and the wheat to coexist so as not to cause unintended foolish damage in the zeal to uproot the undesirable.

Mat 13:28 He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? 29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them.

One good thing though - is that attention has been drawn again to many excesses and the need for more prayerful regulation and accountability. Still for those who felt torched in their service to God … there is no reason for unease. The Bible is plain enough for all to read and God cannot be mocked.

But this also somewhat reminds me of David in Psalm 73. Psa 73:2 But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped. 3 For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. 4 For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm. 5 They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men. 6 Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment.

This psalm shows how David almost slipped as a consequence of gazing too much at the prosperous wicked … even the man after God’s heart (not you of course) confessed to the respectable sin of envy . Many believers are exhausted and polluted by the attention given to heretic agents, obviously excessive deviations and “LA preachers” … as though this could in anyway be representative of the divine pattern of Godliness. David’s obsession became dangerous as he found himself nearly falling ....Psa 73:17  Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end.

Perhaps the next conference at Grace Community Church or somewhere should be “The Sanctuary of God…”   … by then, be assured many of the unrepentant in the “Church of the Tares”  – (according to David in Psalm 73 ) would have already been brought into desolation, as in a moment … utterly consumed with terrors.

Though with a scornful wonder
Men see her sore oppressed,
By schisms rent asunder,
By heresies distressed:
Yet saints their watch are keeping,
Their cry goes up, “How long?”
And soon the night of weeping
Shall be the morn of song!

Keep watching …

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