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Standing in the Gap: Fighting God's Enemies
In a recent post, I explained that Standing in the Gap means three things. This post will focus on the first one: Fighting against the enemies of God to protect His people.
The first thing to note is that this work is still necessary today.
(2 Timothy 3:1-6) 1 But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2 For men will be... 5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. 6 For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses,
It is clear that this is not a problem that stopped back when the last Old Testament prophet died. And it isn't a problem that came to an end when the apostles died. Paul gives us the warning that these enemies will be around "in the last days." In other words, this is on-going.
The second thing I want to emphasize is that these enemies are supposedly friends. Nehemiah faced this when he was attempting to rebuild the literal walls of Jerusalem. We face it today in our work to stand in the gap and rebuild the walls of Christ's Church. The theme of many of the warnings against false teachers in the New Testament is that they are men who claim to be brothers. Paul reiterates this when he says:
(2 Peter 2:1) But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.
It is tempting to avoid the fight today by conveniently forgetting that this is an on-going problem and that it is a problem within the church. This is not theoretical. This is a danger that we must pay attention to.
I recently faced this situation here in Indianapolis with a man who claimed to be reformed, evangelical, and not a leader. Yet it became clear as time went on that he was indeed leading souls and harming them. Although this man did not actually attend ClearNote Church, nothing was preventing him from doing so. He could have arisen in my church rather than just outside, and it would have made little difference. He was still doing his best to lead astray some of those within our fellowship, and in fact he succeeded in alienating one regular attendee.
I sometimes want to ask other pastors if there are any specific men that they are willing to call false shepherds. If not, this danger is entirely lost on them. They won't fight God's fiercest enemies. There are other enemies to fight, yes, but none of them are as dangerous as those who are pretending to be friends. The men who refuse to fight these enemies do not believe that this is a problem for today.
On the other hand you have men who are willing to speak the names of specific men who are false shepherds. They will name men such as Rob Bell, or at least Brian McLaren, Joel Osteen, or at least Jim Bakker. But these men are conveniently far away from our church. Sure, they pose a danger. They sneak into our homes using our TV, radio, computer and DVD player. They have books and Nooma videos. But Paul makes it more personal when he addresses the elders of one of the healthiest New Testament churches.
(Acts 20:30) And from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.
Can you name the men who have arisen from among your own selves? If you are a pastor and you can't, you have probably been failing to fight them. If you are a member and you can't, your pastor is probably failing to fight them.
It is always clear when a man is fighting. It is intense. It is scary. It is dirty, messy and bloody. It ought to be clear to you that your pastors and elders are fighting to protect you from wicked, dangerous men. Are they all clean? They ought to be warning you to "avoid such men as these". Have they ever told you, "Don't listen to anything Rob Bell says. He is a snake."? Have they ever warned you that one of your professors is leading you astray? Have they ever told you not to be friends with somebody because he is harming your soul?
This is the work that makes a man bloody. This is the work of fighting God's enemies.
(Originally posted on the ClearNote Church, Indy website, a reformed church on the west side of Indianapolis, where Joseph is the pastor.)