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section 8


In America, we have a lot of Bible teaching on a great many useless things, but few hearts who know what "first works" is. Our country is full to the brim with nominal Christians. Shallow, incomplete conversions produce shallow, incomplete Christians. Of those who are wealthy, no one challenges them lest they leave and find another place that will tickle their ears, lest they leave and reduce the numbers sitting in the pews, and lest they stop giving their money! As a result, our fellowships are not run by the Lord's standards, but by the lowest common denominator. This shallowness is the expression of the compromised Church, locking us into a gridlock of ever stagnant and putrid water.

How will the Lord answer this? How will He address it? If we do not heed, just what can He do to save us from ourselves? Those who want to be a reigning king in our churches can do so too easily. Equally immature Christians, who cry out for entertainment and not substance, surround them and support them with their dollars. With such loyal followers, what need do they have to change? Will He remove all of these false leaders, as some have prophesied? No. God never promises to deal with all the evil on the earth until the end of the age. Although some, no doubt, are carried away by their own self-destructive behavior and others by judgment, there is no game plan by God to rescue the stiff-necked away from their deceivers. In fact, remaining deceived is part of their judgment, so that both may "fall into the pit" (Luke 6:39).

I am sure Jesus was thought to be a Ďmadmaní when he made a whip out of cords and violently overturned tables and coins at the religious marketplace, but His disciples remembered that it is written: "Zeal for your house will consume me." (John 2:17) As for those who rebuke in our midst, God would indeed look upon them in favor instead of disfavor, because passion against evil and sin is from the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 8:13). The only time God would look upon those who have passion in disfavor is if they have left their first love like the church in Ephesus. This would be evident by their failure to love God, as well as their hatred against their brothers and sisters as they walk in darkness (1 John 2:9-10).

As for idols and other useless distractions, how can one cut away what they secretly want to keep it? How can we repent with lasting results if we cannot convert with lasting results? Arenít they similar to one another? Godís refining fire is the only way to deal with locked in apathy:

Jer. 7:9 Therefore this is what the LORD Almighty says: "See, I will refine and test them, for what else can I do because of the sin of my people? Although a superficial church or person will never say or teach this, suffering produces both pure faith and good character. In fact, it helps us enter the Kingdom of God (1 Peter 1:3-7; Romans 5:3-4; Acts 14:22). Suffering is a difficult but useful tool in our lives, and is not to be avoided at all costs. So, either we deal with our sin and idols, or God does. Then and only then will He have men who will bring "offerings in righteousness." (Mal 3:3) Rev. 3:17-18a You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fireÖ I believe that by and large, we are at that state of wretchedness. The Lordís Spirit has long since departed, writing "Ichabod" on many doors. We are all better off to ASK for that refinement, rather than to dodge it, just as the Lord counseled the Laodicea church. It is a blessing, and not a curse. In the meantime, we must strengthen what remains, sincerely repent for what we havenít done (2 Corinth 7:8-11), loose ourselves from the religious hypocrites and the apostate who hate our zeal anyhow, and minister to the people who need us most: the unbelievers, the dispossessed, and the poor in spirit. Otherwise, we will be amongst the tasteless salt that is thrown out and trampled upon, and we could find ourselves to be goats!

Jesus is building His Church, if we will but let Him, and if we will but participate in humility and obedience to His ways. Wisdom calls from the streets to turn us from our ignorant ways, if we will but hear her (Prov. 1: 20-33) All is not lost. If we turn from our sin of apathy, we can be redeemed from being found no more, but we must accept His rebuke and discipline (Rev. 3:19). Our faithfulness in seeking God and His ways will move Him to empower and intervene, in His own unfathomable grace and wisdom.

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