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Slow or Sudden Came the Change

Jun 15th, 2017

Paul Mooney

by Paul Mooney

Young souls, that come to claim your place

In Christ’s enlisted band,

And seek the mighty sevenfold grace

Through touch of pastoral hand

 

The eyes that scan your ranks today

Are moist with hope and fear;

Just entered on the stern, sweet way, —

Oh! Will you persevere?

 

Alas for thousands that have knelt

Where you are bending now!

You feel what they as warmly felt,

In prayer and solemn vow.

 

Seemed it that nought could them estrange

From Him your hearts adore:

Yet, slow or sudden, came the change —

They walked with Him no more.

 

Seemed it that nought could them estrange

From Him your hearts adore;

Yet, slow or sudden came the change —

They walked with Him no more!

William Bright

Conformation Canon of Christ Church, Oxford

Christ Church, Oxford
In an old book that I had collected decades ago, came forth an inclusion of the “Conformation Canon of Christ Church, Oxford.” The words were profound, and as I read them I wept, my heart gripped, feeling the weight of the described estrangement from Christ in the poignant line, “They walked with Him no more!”

As if he were trying to understand how this separation could have happened, Bright prefaced the declaration with the lament, “Yet, slow or sudden came the change.” This phrase, a near question, matched my feelings and my prayers of late. There is little need to pose an argument about whether Christians at large, or even we who see ourselves as advocates of holiness, are or are not allowing a breakdown in our traditional and biblical convictions.

In matters of lifestyle, modesty, holiness of spirit, separation from worldly ambitions, worldly interests and entertainment there is a clear departure from Godly conviction. Admit it or not, we all know this is true. Even the most cursory perusal of the Internet documents this reality. America, and her church, has lost her compass. “Yet, slow or sudden came the change — They walked with Him no more!”

Love is at the root of all things. The love of Christ moves us to obey. The love of Truth anchors our minds and gives us strength to resist the wisdom of this world which God hath made foolish (I Corinthians 1:20). It seems impossible that the passion which once moved us, brought us together, changed us, sent us out to labor in mission fields at great sacrifice, could ever become cold. But, as the poet said, “Seemed it that nought could them estrange—From Him your hearts adore.”

Our personal rejoicing is this: both my mother and father used their last breath to acknowledge their love for the revelation of the mighty God in Christ. They had paid the price. They had kept the faith. I say this not to evoke sentimental platitudes such as, “Ahh! Isn’t that sweet? You must have really loved them,” but rather to explain that their deathbed emotion was about a sincere testimony.

The Apostle Paul explained it like this: “For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward” (2 Corinthians 1:12).

The old Oxford Conformation invoked upon the young preacher, or the next generation, the matter of the candidate receiving the conformation by the laying on of the pastor’s hand. In that moment, the candidate had for himself felt the love toward the Lord in the same way and to the same depth as their pastors and elders had felt it. It was an acknowledgment of their love for the Truth as was known and understood generationally with the elders. It was a testimony of their conscience. It was not a temporary belief or popular religious position, but a matter of fervent conviction, from which no one was ever expected to become estranged.

I never expected my parents to depart from their convictions, and they trusted Micki and me to stay on the “right way,” as they liked to say. It was not an imposed indoctrination, a cultish pledge, a religious rite or simply a vow to one’s mother. It was a shared anointing and infilling of the Holy Ghost. We had together touched the same thing, loved the same thing – we all knew Jesus by our own revelation. Our hearts were fixed. “My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise” (Psalm 57:7).

What must happen between generations is not merely shared religious history open to new interpretation and evolving sets of values shaped by modernity. What must happen is a mutual love for fellowship in His Spirit – The same Acts 2:38 experience and commitment to holiness lived, believed and practiced in our lives and in our hearts.

 

The eyes that scan your ranks today

Are moist with hope and fear;

Just entered on the stern, sweet way, —

Oh! Will you persevere?

Why the Good Kids are Angry

May 18th, 2017

Pastor Paul Mooney

by Paul Mooney

 

British-American Bernard Lewis, a renowned Middle East scholar, has written for decades about the rapid advance of the “Islamization” of Europe. He cites as one of the reasons for Islam’s shocking success the “surrender mode” among Europeans, who, he points out, display an “unwillingness to enter into any serious discussion” regarding the topic. Lewis’ concept of the “surrender mode” is not to be taken lightly.

What causes cultures and religions to surrender their core values without a fight? Denial? A false sense of invincibility? Are such people brainwashed into submission, desensitized to danger? Do they no longer understand the value and importance of their foundational principles? Have they forgotten what shaped them and made them? Or have they just grown frustrated and disappointed by those in positions of leadership whose dedication to globalism and to their own pocketbooks supersede the will and best interest of the common man?

These supposed leaders skirt around the law, make their own rules and suffer few consequences. The honest lose hope. They unconsciously or consciously slip into the “surrender mode.”

Mr. Lewis notes that many Europeans, especially the young, feel no sense of loss or danger. They aren’t in mourning even though they are suffering a rapid degeneration of their cultures. They ignore the growing Islamic conversions, the changing demographics, and the innate subversive power of mass immigration itself, as if numbers don’t matter. Further, they refuse to consider the consequences of decades of anti-marriage philosophies, not to mention the casual aborting of their children. They surrender to what they see as inevitable.dejectedpedestrian

Sadly, I fear we are witnessing the early stages of the “surrender mode” among many Christians, even Apostolics, who more and more disregard the moral dangers we face. I note a growing frustration in many of our young men and women who are grievously affected by the inconsistency of our teaching and practice of holiness. They fall prey to the “surrender mode” because they are confused and angry. They find little support in their peer groups and are forced to endure inconsistent application of the standards of conduct. They simply cave in — angry, unsure and disappointed.

I fear a good number of church folks, especially young people, may fall prey to a “surrender mode” at a time when we are experiencing the rapid advance of the Antichrist. The question is, “Why?” There are, no doubt, many reasons; but I challenge you to think about at least one: perhaps it is the fact that they see way too much compromise.

They note many who are in positions of responsibility who take no action against the destructive influences of the world, entertainment, false doctrines, worldliness, and bold hypocrisy. They take note – and they question.

Many good young men and women and seasoned saints in our churches feel cheated and betrayed. Some become angry. Others quietly carry a deep hurt when they see the ungodly who openly flaunt their cool mockery of holiness and righteous living, yet despite the unfaithfulness, continue unreproved and remain in good standing. They flood social media pages with examples of their rebellion, yet they remain – chosen – performing in our services, leading our worship and sometimes even preaching in our pulpits.seekinghelp

This leaves a conundrum for the obedient. Do they cry out? Or, do they ignore the misbehavior? Do they wink at it? Do they step aside, silently sulking into the surrender mode of inevitability? But should the forsaking of scripture be inevitable?

When elders tolerate such behavior, are they saying that talent upstages godliness? Are they saying that they prefer performance to anointing or faithfulness? What confusion! It is an unfortunate betrayal to allow a talented person in any discipline, whether it be oratory, music, sound, communication or business, to take even one step on the assumption that personality, talent, connections or money can cover sin. Only the blood of Christ can cover our sins. We must therefore walk humbly, not in arrogance flaunting our disobedience.

The deeper and broader matter here is the consequence of the Church not going through the vetting process, so to speak. The Bible does say that we must “know them which labor among you” (1 Thessalonians 5:12). If we fail here, the end result will be disastrous chaos. If we promote platform personnel in the house of God who do not live Godly, separated lives, then we thwart the moving of the Spirit. We create hurt and separation among the good and faithful.

We are responsible for the young man and woman who must sit in service after service and endure the positioning of the unfaithful and the unholy who take the “high” seats. We are responsible when the good kids take the “surrender mode” – when they lose hope (Ephesians 5:3).

God forbid we teach them that only the talented and only the cool matter. God forbid we stand by while the good kids get angry. We cannot sleep through this day of confrontation. We cannot surrender on the issues of righteousness and holiness. We ARE a holiness movement.

Taxing the Church into Political Correctness

May 11th, 2017

Robert L. Rodenbush

by R. L. Rodenbush

 

Senate Bill 476 worked its way through the Indiana legislature in February of 2017. Within the bill was cleverly written language that would allow local government to tax churches. Of course, it was not called a “tax” but rather a “user fee” designed to force churches to pay additional fees for public services, like the fire department, police and other government services that church members already subsidize through their tax dollars.

 

A government buildingThe ambiguous wording did not define exactly the amount of the “fee” or if or how it could be raised over time. Yet, if churches refused to pay this new “fee” or tax, a lien could be issued for the church property and if not resolved the government could sell the church out from under the congregation to pay the fee. Thankfully, through much prayer, intense lobbying and pastors and churches in the state speaking out, the language charging churches the “user fee” was dropped from the bill.

Sound scary? It should. Similar bills and legislation are finding their way into our state legislators throughout the country. It’s important that we stand against the taxation of churches. Any tax, fee or assessment violates our core principle that churches are by nature good for society and therefore should not be taxed. We did see victory on this particular bill here this year; however, many liberal elites have made it their mission to make sure churches are “paying their fair share” of the government tax bill, despite that as individuals we already pay for these services. As Christians we must watch for these things and look for politicians and leaders who are willing to stand up for the rights of churches and non-profit institutions.

Bill Maher, political commentator and comedian, recently made these statements: “New rule: If churches don’t have to pay taxes, they also can’t call the fire department when they catch fire. Sorry, Reverend, that’s one of those services that goes along with paying in. I’ll use the fire department I pay for. You can pray for rain.”

And, to a cheering audience Maher further stated: “If we levy taxes — sin taxes, they call them — on things that are bad to get people to stop doing them, why, in Heaven’s name, don’t we tax religion — a sexist, homophobic magic act that’s been used to justify everything from genital mutilation to genocide? You want to raise the tax on tobacco so kids don’t get cancer? Okay. But then let’s put one [a tax] on Sunday school so they don’t get stupid.”

Through this type of comedic harassment and relentless political attack, public opinion continues to be turned against the church. And through Maher’s last comment above we see the ultimate goal – to control, censor or stop through taxation what churches and congregants can believe, teach and preach.

Answering Questions on the Light Doctrine

May 11th, 2017

Bro. Bobby Killmon

by Bobby Killmon

 

How would you address the claim that “There are ‘good people’ who haven’t obeyed Acts 2:38 who might be saved…” or will perhaps be “…judged by the light they knew”? 

First, I wouldn’t answer that personally but instead would let Scripture speak on that clearly. Scripture does not say people will be saved by ignorance in our age (Acts 17:30). Further, Scripture is against salvation by works. Paul spends the first three chapters of Romans making the theological point clear that no one is saved by works righteousness. The only way to be saved is to appropriate by faith the perfect law keeping of the man Jesus through obedience to the Gospel. The absolute uniformity of the entire NT witness to this fact is a powerful witness that cannot be denied.

As one man said, we must see all of humanity’s ruin in sin and the surety of God’s just punishment guaranteed before we can then go on to God’s perfect remedy in Christ. The old timers used to teach this same point strongly as well through statements like, “You must preach them lost before you preach them saved!” Or “God didn’t come to make good men better . . . He came to make dead men alive!”

One Way sign

The question of what we do with “good people” has at its core an unscriptural view of humanity. By what definition do we say people are “good” and then what is the standard for entrance into heaven? All have sinned . . . and sinless perfection is the standard of entrance into heaven. Either we are “hid in Christ” and have joined with Him as a perfect man in covenant, or we are left on our own to face a holy and just God alone. Paul is clear. No one, not even the Jews, including David their greatest King and Abraham the father of the faith, has ever kept the law perfectly. All have “fallen short.”

The purpose of the law then was not to give us a series of steps to heaven. It was to expose our inability to merit heaven so we would be convinced we could not earn salvation. This leads to both acknowledgement of our sinfulness and the subsequent need for salvation. Only after this can we be preached to about Christ! The correct response will then be obedient faith, which simply takes what God freely gives. Our obedient faith is critical, and the continued life of faith afterward, but it adds nothing to the gift of entrance into the Kingdom itself. It is only by grace we have both capacity (the measure of faith innate from our created make-up) and opportunity (through the substitutionary work of the man Christ Jesus).

The point is simple then. Anything less than appropriating this provided forgiveness through the direct command of Jesus through both water and Spirit baptism (John 3:3-8), which was also affirmed by the apostles throughout the NT (Acts 2:38-39; 4:12; 8:5-15; 10:44-48; 11:17; 19:1-6; 1 Cor. 6:9-11; 12:13; Titus 3:5-6) is not salvation. Anything less is not Apostolic. We do not believe in “works righteousness” or that people will be saved because they are simply “good people.” We cannot believe in salvation by ignorance either. Jesus and the Apostles did not lie. God does not ever “grade on the curve.” This message has always been clearly in the Bible, and the command at Pentecost for our age has still not ever changed. We do people no favor by trying to include them another way. We must only say what Jesus and the Apostles said! That truth still works today as it always has since the day of Pentecost!

At the Edge

May 4th, 2017

Bro. Paul Mooney

by Paul Mooney

 

Several years ago, I walked out to the edge of the Grand Canyon, near a spot where a young lady had recently jumped to her death. A nearby park ranger approached me and engaged me in a conversation about the dangers of being near the edge. He said, “There are two forces at play concerning the edge. There’s the force that pushes you toward the edge and over the edge, and then there’s a force that keeps you from falling.”

The more I thought about this, and the more I analyzed my own step toward the edge that day, I became convinced the ranger had it right. There is a force of some sort, perhaps it stems from our sense of curiosity or the desire for a better view, but it does indeed draw, at least some people, to approach the edge. Yet, all the while the second force is in play, triggering our heightened senses and warning us of the edge’s danger.

Man standing at edge of cliff

Today, almost all social commentators, politicians, newscasters, academics, pastors, philosophers, and even common men talk almost incessantly about the current and influential forces that are pushing us to the edge. Are we foolishly curious to see how “fun” it might be to break down the Judeo/Christian moral foundation of our country, to rip the U.S. Constitution to shreds? Would it satisfy our prurience to discredit the Bible by exposing it to continuous debates and dubious examinations, rather than preaching from it as the revealed Word of God? Let us keep in mind that before foundations are removed they are first cracked.

Former President Obama stated in 2007, “Whatever we once were, we are no longer a Christian nation, at least not just. We are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, and a Buddhist nation and a Hindu nation and a nation of nonbelievers.” That powerful statement, combined with increasing moral decadence and increasing universal godlessness, supports the fact that the United States is increasingly a post-Christian nation (America’s Post-Christian Apocalypse, Goehle, 2015). A force of some sort is pushing us to the edge.

A warning signIf secular writers, journalists and various non-Apostolic denominations dare to speak to these pressing issues concerning the “loss of Christianity’s cultural authority” (Goehle), when do we plan to join the fight? Where are our old-time, Pentecostal, holiness preachers who dared to make clear that the very essence of Christianity is the principle of separation – coming out of the world? Who will raise their shield to protect this future generation from the secularization, deception and mindless inclusion into worldliness? Who will be the voice of warning against the force that is pulling us toward the edge?

I’m an Apostolic pastor. I’m concerned. I’m troubled. I’ve decided to resist modernism and secular ideas of “enlightenment.” I’ve decided to resist spurious, choreographed worship that reeks of carnality and sensualism (1 Corinthians 14:40). I resist the blatant deconstruction of holiness, the doctrine of separation and the disparagement of the holiness lifestyle. I resist theatrical services and sermons devoid of the Spirit, devoid of discernment. I resist the democratizing or privatization of doctrine (John 18:20). This is not the time to put our beliefs up for debate. This is not the time to tell our congregations, “Whatever works for you!” This is the time to defend steadfastly the Apostles’ doctrine as never before. We cannot afford to break down spiritual authority – if we do, we lose the concept of right and wrong altogether.

I must, at all cost, fight for my family and the children, teens and ministers who are in my pastoral care. It is an imperative that they not be enticed away from pastoral authority, unethically enlisted, isolated or indoctrinated into paths of apathy and worldliness. The forces that have pushed our world to the edge must be met by a second, counter force. The force that keeps us from falling.

 

“But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit. But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,” (Jude 1:17-24).

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