By David B. Smith
Are you living in a “safe house”? Is the church you’re in a healthy, thriving kingdom where the pure gospel of Jesus is the foundation?
Christian writer C. S. Lewis has a wonderful illustration in his introduction to the book Mere Christianity. He likens the worldwide network of believers, billions of Christians, as the body of Christ — which is the appropriate metaphor. But he also employs the idea of a great house which begins with a foyer or grand hallway. It’s a wonderful thing to stand in that beautiful foyer, where there is safety and warmth and a nice chandelier. But at some point one needs to move out of the foyer or hallway and find a good room to stay in. “It is in the room, not in the hall,” he writes, “that there are fires and chairs and meals.”
What does he mean as he creates this word picture? Simply this. It’s important not just to be a Christian, but to then find a good, solid Bible-believing church that is healthy and where clear truth is taught and loved and where the pure gospel of grace is the paramount passion.
The Bible idea of a “remnant” is found in the book of Revelation, chapter 12, where John writes: And the dragon [Satan] was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed [NIV: “the rest of her offspring,”], which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony [faith] of Jesus Christ. Is it possible that in the last days, “remnant” churches everywhere will discover a renewed spiritual power through loyal obedience that expresses the primacy of Jesus as our Example?
It is a painful reality to address, but the stark fact is that churches can fall into serious error, or heresy. Throughout the ups-and-downs and moral turmoil of the Dark Ages, the official Christian church adopted many beliefs that conflicted with Scripture. One doctrine asserted that the human Head of the Church was infallible, incapable of making any theological error. Justification by faith in Christ alone was mingled with the concept of meritorious works — and the subsequent tragedy of believers actually paying money or doing extra good deeds in order to build up a bank account, a “treasury of merit” or extra righteousness. Mariology — the worship of Mary — and the veneration of saints took sincere Christians dangerously close to a form of idolatry.
Believers these many centuries later need to carefully acknowledge that, first of all, this was our Church! These were our spiritual ancestors . . . and many millions sincerely followed Christ the best they were able, and performed heroically as gracious and gentle disciples. Tragically, though, abuses became so real and pervasive that Reformers like Wycliffe, Luther, and Hus finally and reluctantly spearheaded the miracle-driven movement known as the Protestant Reformation.
For careful students of prophecy — and they’re to be found in all sincere denominations — the timelines of Daniel and Revelation spell out the centuries when these painful patterns unfolded. But the good news is that God’s Word foretells a recovery of healthy religion in the final days of earth’s history. Vibrant Christians in the last generations of time will be mature men and women, “saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus” (Revelation 14:12). They eagerly and obediently follow the Lamb wherever He goes (v. 4). And when the three great angels of the same apocalyptic chapter (vv. 6-12) announce that the Christ who created the world is preparing to judge our planet, these pure disciples will enthusiastically invite a desperate world to return to pure, grace-bathed worship where full obedience is the hallmark of their faith relationship.
Christians who seek to highlight the importance of following God's laws see themselves as a vital part of that climactic mission, as they seek to honor and share the Sabbath of the Ten Commandments as a weekly antidote to legalism, and also as a reminder of Jesus’ loving power displayed during Creation Week.
Back to C. S. Lewis’ analogy of the Great House — and thank God for the Body of Christ which spans the globe and twenty centuries and millions of churches and cathedrals. But as one chooses a room in which to live and grow in grace, he carefully adds this as a guiding watchword: “In plain language, the question should never be: ‘Do I like that kind of service?’ but ‘Are these doctrines true: Is holiness here? Does my conscience move me toward this?’”
God help us all to be remnant Christians whose growing devotion and obedience is always wrapped in the gospel of grace and offered up to the glory of our Redeeming Lord.
David B. Smith writes from California. (13 of 28) His web page is Copyright © 2014. Click here for content usage information. Biblebay