Sunday, April 30, 2006

The Pendulum of Reformation

.... Throughout the Old Testament, God had a problem with Israel. They kept backsliding into idolatry though He sent them His servants the prophets, rising up early and sending them and saying, "Oh, do not do this abominable thing that I hate!" (Jer 44:4). Yet idolatry was so ingrained in their hearts that they kept returning to it. So finally, God took another approach with them:

.... 'Therefore I will cast you out of this land into a land that you do not know, neither you nor your fathers; and there you shall serve other gods day and night, where I will not show you favor.'

(Jer 16:13)

.... Israel was uprooted in punishment and carried away to Babylon, where they cried out to their idols all day long; but as for Himself, God show themed no favor (see Matthew 25:9-10). They sat down and wept as they remembered Zion (Psalm 137:1), and they learned something important through their catastrophic loss:

.... ‘Your own wickedness will correct you, and your backslidings will rebuke you. Know therefore and see that it is an evil and bitter thing that you have forsaken the LORD your God, and the fear of Me is not in you," says the Lord GOD of hosts.’

(Jer 2:19)

.... After seventy full years, as foretold by the prophet, their captivity was returned. And through this, an amazing result was achieved. Israel was finally and forever CURED of their idolatry! They never had a problem with that again! Sometimes, to achieve the impossible with rebellious mankind, God allows the pendulum to swing too far in the wrong direction as a form of punishment; and by way of this, when it swings back again, it gains the momentum needed to carry them through to the desired correction.

.... In a similar way, God has always had a bigger problem with man than our propensity toward idols. This larger problem is our own selfish focus and pride, which is the ultimate form of idolatry. For this reason Jesus said:

.... "Whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?"

(Matt 16:25-26)

.... For many centuries, especially following the enlightenment, God fought the ‘self’ mentality within the heart of His own people as it dogged the edges of the church. It has always been our biggest problem and it has ever seemed to grow. It has always been our worst stumbling block. So it seems that in the end time church, to deal with this problem once and for all, God will finally allow the pendulum to swing.

.... As demonstrated in our previous two postings, the ‘foolish’ side of the end time church will be thoroughly absorbed with a focus on ‘self’, and it seems that God will finally turned them over to this. But many who follow this route will eventually get a belly full of it. They will be filled with disgust, completely react, and pour themselves into the Scriptures in prayerful search for the truth instead . . . to finally discover that the truth is in Jesus Himself, alone. The only thing of importance to them will be to die to themselves and live to God; they'll want to connect with Him if it's the last thing they ever do: it will be the only thing that matters any more, the only meaningful thing left to them.

.... "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death."

(Rev 12:11)

.... The 'testimony' referred to in this passage is their belief that Jesus is the Son of God (compare to Matthew 16:16-18). Through this reaction, the pendulum will begin its return swing and a heartfelt desire for seeking Jesus will be reborn. So after the great falling away is fulfilled, and while time still remains on the earth, we may see the captivity of many more returned (Psalm 14:7).

.... And let's take this opportunity to make a similar point. Israel was astounded when the Apostles preached salvation to the Gentiles: "But. . . but that’s OUR God. What are the Gentiles doing with our God?" The Lord did this intentionally to provoke them to jealousy, in the hope that they might yet repent and believe:

.... "They have provoked Me to jealousy by what is not God; They have moved Me to anger by their foolish idols. But I will provoke them to jealousy by those who are not a nation; I will move them to anger by a foolish nation."

(Deut 32:21)

.... In a similar way, many Christians have formed the mentality of a ‘heritage’ within our Christian sub-culture. They have served the Lord for so many generations that they now have a false confidence about it, like the Jews who had said in their hearts "We are the descendants of Abraham." But they will be caught flat-footed in a similar way.

.... As the end draws near, God will pour out His Spirit in world-wide evangelism, using those who have followed Him in truth (Matthew 24:14). He will be found in new cultures that had not previously sought Him (Isaish 65:1-2). This will bring a jarring, jealous reaction from our own vast Christian sub culture: "But . . . but that’s OUR God! What are they doing with our God?" They will be amazed when those whom they have viewed with contempt arise, at the end, as heirs in their Father’s house, and they find themselves shut out.

.... Nevertheless, God’s thoughts are to provoke them to jealousy as well, while hope yet remains for them.

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  • FPL said...
    I think that the first sign of the apocolypse has to be so many priests molesting little kids. Nice religion.

    3/17/2005 12:12 PM

    loren said...
    You allude to the pedophilia that has scandalized the Catholic church. That’s a bit of a rabbit path, but I’ll answer briefly then let’s go on. For many centuries the Catholic church kept a tradition of celibacy of the priesthood, and probably the vast majority of priests meant very well by this. However, for some unscrupulous persons, it also offered a convenient disguise for a perverted lifestyle. (“Why did you never marry?” “Well, I’m a priest you know...”) Jesus foretold this basic concept when He said that the kingdom of God was like a great tree that spreads through all the earth (Matt 13:31,32); yet in that tree, the birds of the air would come and nest (see Matt 13:4,19).

    Even if you disagree with Catholic theology, it is unfair to lump all priests in the same category, since many are serving God as sincerely as they know how. But in another sense, it is fair to indict the Catholic institution because they had discovered this conduct and sheltered those men. I can understand their desire to not abandon them, because the desire to redeem is a strong Christian sentiment. Yet this could not legitimately explain why those men were left in a position to repeat their crimes, the attempt to hide their crimes from the enforcement of law, nor the neglect to the victims.

    Catholics everywhere are enraged by this conduct from their institution, and I do not believe this will be healed until it is justly addressed. So let’s make a distinction between the institution and the people too, and stand with the Catholic people in this regard. Also, may God give courage to well-meaning priests who advocate this reform.

    3/17/2005 3:27 PM

    Gregory said...
    Thank you, Loren. I appreciate that fair and thoughtful perspective on this problem.

    (Notably, the priest abuse scandal wasn't "paedophilia" in the strictest sense, since the vast majority of abuse victims were pubescent. Thus, the problem was actually homosexual depravity. Not that that somehow makes it better--it's just that a different sickness needs a different cure, even if the symptoms are similar.)

    Celibacy itself isn't the problem, as you point out. After all, both Jesus and Paul advocate it. Rather, it's the perversity of certain priests who slipped through the cracks who hid their homosexuality behind celibacy.

    And thankfully, the Catholic Church has made leaps and bounds in correcting and repairing this problem. A little late, perhaps, but still.

    And FPL, let's not forget that this is not strictly a Catholic problem. Clergy all across the board have been guilty of these and other atrocities--from Anglican to Baptist, married or not.

    It's not the religion's fault, but the "practitioners" of the religion.

    7/31/2005 4:51 PM

    Indigent Mendicant said...
    Loren & Gregory,
    You both address the 'generalization' issue - correctly attributing the conduct to individuals and not institutions. Nobly done.

    However, I believe that the 'core' of fpl's comment was "the first sign of the apocolypse".

    While I do believe that part of the end times will be, as Loren has stated, the 'falling away'. Thus your comment is valid if it was taken as "ONE sign of the apocolypse". There will/are many signs - in nature - in society - in the 'church'.
    William Koenig has written on 'signs' in nature.
    James McCutchan has written about 'signs' in politics.
    David Reagan has written about signs in Biblical Prophecy.
    Here Loren, is writing about signs in 'the church'.

    There are signs, perhaps more than there ever have been, that we are living in a world with a very short future.

    So, while, "priests molesting little kids" certainly fits within the framework of 'apocolyptic' prophecy - I think it would be 'erroneous' to call it the FIRST sign...

    In Christ

    4/01/2006 5:23 PM

    Cleopas said...
    I think that's a good way to divide it. Thanks!

    4/03/2006 9:54 AM

    By Blogger Cleopas, at 5:39 PM  

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