March 2019   
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     When Christians consider the Church (theirs or Christianity as a whole) they often sense that there is something wrong -- that something is just not right with it, that it's broken.   In truth, The Church (The One Holy Christian and apostolic Church) is just fine -- for it is the Body of Christ -- He is Lord and upholding and preserving it.  Oh it is attacked and assaulted, but He assures us that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.  He will cause it to grow or shrink, move or stay throughout this world where and when He wills no matter what we do or don't do, or what satan might try. 

     That said, the churches (denominations and congregations) that we see with our eyes and experience in our daily lives are broken, for they are filled with broken people (sinful and weak) and daily assaulted by the lies of the evil one who wants to get our eyes off of Jesus.   

     And when we see something broken, we often feel that we should fix it.    Lately in our Elders' meetings will have been studying Pastor Jonathan Fisk’s book: Broken - 7 "Christian" Rules That Every Christian Ought To Break As Often As Possible.  In this book Pastor Fisk deals with this broken church -- and our misled attempts to try and fix it, which in fact are actually attacks, false teachings and efforts of satan that actually can lead Christians away from Christ and the comfort and certainty that our Lord would have His children live in.   

     Pastor Fisk shows how there are only two kinds of spirituality in the world -- one false and one true.  One is the work of satan who has sent many false spiritualties into the world, and the other is the true, holy spirituality found only in faith in the One True God.  One is a lie, and one is real.   Fisk explores seven counterfeit "Christian" rules that every Christian ought to break as often as possible.  They are teachings taught as if they were doctrine and truth (that if you follow them, that will bless and increase the church and yourself), but which are nothing more than the traditions of men.  These "rules" will often sound very reasonable to us, but in truth are subtle lies meant to get us to doubt the pure Word of God and take our eyes off of Jesus.   I plan on using the next several articles to share some of the insights we have been gaining from this study and to help all of us to trust in the truth of God's Word alone that exposes us as sinners in need of Grace, forgiven in the blessed work of Christ alone.

      Jesus tells us that satan is a liar.  That is his native tongue.  When he speaks to us, it is in lies.  When he gets his servants (false teachers/prophets) to "enlighten" us, they twist or even deny the Word of God, telling us lies and try to get us to not trust in God's Word.   In fact that is THE LIE of the devil.  It is the First Lie, and the THE LIE that he always tells, the root of all his lies.  "Did God really say"… was the lie he told our first parents.  That is THE LIE.  Can God be trusted?  Can you trust His Word?   The devil's goal is always to make the Christian forget or ignore God's Word -- that you can find God somewhere other than His Word.

     Martin Luther once wrote that the old serpent, the devil, first converted Adam and Eve to unbelief by making them "enthusiasts." By "enthusiasts," he meant that the devil convinced them that the real source of goodness was not in God's Word. It was in themselves. They should be enthusiastic about their own abilities to discern good and evil, to learn of it, and to rule by it. "The old devil led them away from God's outward Word to spiritualizing and self-pride. And yet, he did this through other outward words" (Book of Concord, Smalcald Articles III VIII 5).

     This means that long before the devil ever breaks the faith of well-meaning Christians with his lies, he first must teach them "enthusiasm" as if it were genuine Christianity.  He teaches you to try growing your faith on something other than God's pure Word.  He teaches you that the Holy Scriptures are not the real place to find the Holy Spirit, that the human words in the Bible are flawed, that the Church is full of errors and confusion. He teaches you a counterfeit Christianity.

     Fisk writes:  "Every time Christianity declines in a society, it happens for the same reason: because believers tried laying a foundation on something other than God's Word."   This is nothing new.  Paul writes in Galatians 1:6-8  I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— (7)  not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.  (8)  But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.

     This is how satan operates and attacks the church today – to get Christians to no longer look for and trust God in His Word alone.  Following Fisk's book, we will look at how the devil uses such good gifts from God as your heart, your mind and your hands to try to trick you into placing your trust not in God but in yourself.  We will look at the seven counterfeit "Christian" rules satan tries to play off as if they were authentically Christian, but in fact are false philosophical systems, lies.  Lies that he uses to steal Jesus’ Words away from you. 

     Broken.  That is what happens to church bodies and Christians when they turn away from trusting in the Word of God for the teachings of men and the lies of the devil.  But as Fisk concludes in his introduction: In the pure Word of God, we will find true purpose for our lives built on a foundation infinitely more solid than the shifting sands of “me.”  




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