June 2021 Message from Pastor Greg

Standing Firm When It Feels Like Giving In Might Be Easier!

Recently I’ve heard three radio interviews that I wish every person who claims to be a faithful follower of Christ had been able to hear as well. The first one was with Jack Phillips, the Colorado baker who refused to bake a cake for a wedding that violated his Christian faith. It was enlightening, encouraging, and edifying to hear how absolutely important it was to him to trust the Lord in the face of extreme persecution, especially when it would have been easier to give in and avoid ten years of court battles. He eventually won his case when the US Supreme Court determined that his constitutional rights had been violated. But even with that, the persecution continues because he still regularly receives requests from people who simply want to harass him by asking for themed baked goods that would force him to create something that condones or supports sin.

The other two interviews were with pastors who are deeply concerned that the Church in our culture is  being drastically reshaped by the “ideological collision” between basic biblical truths and the deceptive influences that are taking our society by storm, similar to what Jack Phillips experienced. Simply stated, these pastors grieve because it seems that more and more people believe it’s better to simply give in and avoid any arguments or discussions with those who might disagree. It’s relatively common to hear someone question the “wisdom” of standing firm on the truths and principles found in the Bible; they often suggest that the “loving thing to do” is to allow everyone to “determine their own standard of truth.” One of these pastors also wrote a book where he quoted a study published in Christianity Today that revealed how the “church growth movement” during the 1980–90’s saw an increase in church attendance which included reports of many “conversions to Christ.” However, further research indicates that very few people among these “conversions” were “discipled.” He went on to say that “now the Church needs to recognize how that growth came at an ‘unforeseen cost’ where an insufficient understanding of biblical truth and doctrine has made it easier for people to allow our contemporary culture to dictate and define their views and values.”

 1 John 5:19 We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. 20 But we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. 21 Little           children, guard yourselves from idols.

So … I’d like to draw our attention to 1 John 5:19–21 and conclude by pointing out how closely and clearly John’s words apply to us in a very personal and practical way.

   Frequently the Church is being asked by our secular society to put “our” stamp of approval on actions that God’s Word describes as sinful. John makes it clear that everything outside the realm of the “true church” lies in the power of the evil one. From a cultural perspective, the Church is the final barrier and restraint holding back a flood of immorality and lawlessness.                                                

  Since the Holy Spirit indwells our lives, we’ve been given a dose of godly discernment, wisdom, understanding, and spiritual strength that enables us to take a firm stand against the values and views that threaten us.

John’s concluding exhortation in this letter (5:21 is the last verse of 1 John) is unique and stands out as if it was an afterthought, a post script, or an add—on. But especially since God’s Spirit was guiding John, I have to believe that this was his plan. To give a final instruction that does what we’re supposed to do. IT STANDS OUT!!! There’s no reason to take the easy route—as true disciples of Christ, we’ve been transformed by His Spirit and by His Truth and let’s stand firm by reaching out with the grace and love of Christ!

With prayer for God’s glory and praise for His grace …

And as always, with prayer for our ACEFC family,              Pastor Greg 

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