Tuesday, May 29, 2007

This Is Going To Be Long!

Hello All,

I warn you now that this post has been roughly 3 years in the making. If you want to take this post off and come back in a few days for the usual Frank & Lela fare, I would not blame you one bit. I have been mulling and musing over a verse for a few weeks now that has really stuck with me and has been a culmination of a lot of events that had just not made sense to me. I admit that what I am about to write will likely be disputed and I am comfortable enough to say that there may be exceptions, but what I am thinking about is more likely the rule.

I'll begin with the verse in question. Matthew 24, the Olivet Discourse and Jesus answering three eschatological questions. Somewhere after He has talked about wars, earthquakes, etc., He makes an interesting comment.

"And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold." Matthew 24:12, KJV

For whatever reason this verse has come up into my spirit quite often over the last 6 months as I watch believer after believer walk away from life long commitments to follow after their flesh. It began around Christmas time 06', when someone we believed would never fall from grace, decided that she did not want to be married any longer. Then just a few weeks later, another situation and set of people, but the same result: He did not want to be married any longer. Add to this 4 or 5 other situations just like it and you see where I am going. In most cases, the one left behind remains a solid believer, looking to do anything to right the situation.

Let me go further with you. What implications does this verse have when applied to the love that we are to have for God? Look over at Revelation 2 and the letter from Christ to the Ephesian church. Jesus notes all of these external attributes, like perseverance, good works, etc., but then says in some of the most almighty words ever spoken:

"Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love." Revelation 2:4

The note there is that church had become all about the external appearance and doing instead of being. Outwardly all appeared normal and worthy of applause. The world would look and recognize that this was a distinctive church, yet Jesus, the one whose opinion actually matters, says that He sees a busy church lacking the one thing that He desires: Love!

Going back to the original thought. Because of sin, the love of many will wax (grow) cold. It would seem then, that these people had the love to begin with, but began toying with sin, thus choking out the love for Christ and His people. This is certainly valid.

Yet, something still strikes me as odd. People can call themselves Christians all day long and NOT BE! Going back to Matthew, chapter 25 in our Bibles, but the same address, Jesus talks about separating sheep and goats, both of whom are allowed to live side by side, yet the goats are removed and set apart for judgment.

What is my point? Is there a falling away? Yes, it's happening right now. Believers are turning away from Christ, people who you never thought would. On the other hand, let's remember that there are goats around us as we speak. We can not discern who they are, so it's not our business to make any final judgement calls, but the fruits are quite evident.

• A definitive lack of repentance toward sin.

• A lack of desire for the Word of God to be applied and obeyed.

• A feelings based (sensual), subjective approach to their own circumstance.

These are but a few. Why do I write this? I admit that the people who have walked away from people that they covenanted with, make me angry, with a righteous anger that I might have toward the likes of Judas Iscariot! How dare they betray trust and sacrifice precious people on the basis of their fleeting feelings and sin obsessions! Having heard another story like this this very evening adds fuel to this fire.

But my other reason is to call true believers to look for more than our pithy cultural standards for Christian behavior. Look for true marks of one who believes. A person who is faithful to God's Word, at all times, despite what he or she feels would be one worth inviting in. Someone who is genuinely disgusted by their sin, no matter how "big" or "little" it is, would be a good friend. Someone who wants nothing more than to know God's Word and live it, fully obedient, would be a person that I would admire.

Instead what the church has been guilty of is looking at whether a person is nice, has a good family name, and doesn't cuss or listen to secular music! Our criteria is way off and we avoid it to our peril. Christians, there are WOLVES ALL AROUND YOU! DISCERN!

I, in no way, want to alienate those who have entered into a covenant relationship, only later to be deceived and betrayed. There is no condemnation here, nor do I hold you responsible for the person who might have blindsided you with their deception. Instead, because you exist, my heart goes out to anyone who might be in for the same heart ache, I beg Christians to BENEFIT from your terrible experience, and be as wise and discerning as possible, so as to MINIMIZE the risk involved in any relationship. INVESTIGATE, BE PATIENT, TEST, and WAIT FOR GOD to confirm and ONLY MOVE FORWARD WHEN THERE IS PEACE ON EVERY SIDE!

Please forgive me for this rant. I think of all the wonderful people that I know and love, who I saw marry or enter into a relationship with, only to be betrayed and cast aside like a worn out possession that gave no further pleasure. I think of them and wish that something could have been seen or done before damage was done. On the other hand, there are those that I love right now, who are on the verge of the same precipice, who perhaps are entering in without a discerning spirit. It's also for them that I take this space and beg for thoughtfulness in this area.

Christian Culture is not enough to sustain a godly life; Only conversion of the soul and being can make that a reality! Listening to the right music does not make you a Christian. Avoiding certain behaviors does not make you a Christian. ONLY CHRIST CAN MAKE YOU (DECLARE YOU) A CHRISTIAN!

In these last days, deception will be the order of the day. False prophets, false believers, false doctrines will abound. Let us who belong to Christ, who are manifesting the daily proofs of genuine conversion, cling closely to Jesus, keeping our eyes fixed upon Him, the Author and Finisher of our faith.

There...now I can get back to our usual fare!

Blessings...To Our Friends,
Frank Sanchez

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