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Why Arenít Christian Leaders More Discerning?
monergism.com ^ | Oct 1, 2000 | John MacArthur

Posted on 01/22/2014 5:49:08 PM PST by HarleyD

I’ve been all over the world, as you know, and have had lots of discussions with lots of Christian leaders and I’ve read lots of things about the church and the history of the church and the theology of the church. I’ve been all over everywhere and I can just tell you this. Right now in this day, and it’s been this way for a long time through this twentieth century, THE biggest problem in the church is its inability and unwillingness to distinguish true Christians from false. It’s…it’s literally killing the church.

You go all over the world, and you see people who claim to be Christians. I’ve been in the eastern Europe and I’ve seen the orthodox church which is by its own definition a Christian church. They believe they’re the only true Christians in eastern Europe. And then you go into western Europe, and earlier this year in France and then in the last couple of weeks in Italy and there is this massive monolithic system called Roman Catholicism which believes itself to be the only true Christian Church on the planet. It’s one thing for them to believe it, it’s something else for Billy Graham to say the Pope is a fine, outstanding Christian. Something else for him to hold an evangelistic meeting and invite all the Catholics to cooperate. It’s something else for Bill Bright to say that the Pope is a fine, outstanding Christian. It’s something else for people in the ECT, the people who are in Christian leadership in America to embrace the Roman Catholics and say we all love the same Christ, we all serve the same God in the same way. And these are all our Christian brothers and sisters. It’s one thing for these institutions to exist, it’s something else for those people who are Christians to embrace them as if they’re all true Christians. This obliterates the line of clarity and invites the enemy into the camp and just devastates the church.

You can turn on your television and watch TBN. Everybody that comes on is embraced as a Christian, even though it’s just…just filled with false teachers and people who obviously haven’t been delivered…It’s the idea that anybody who believes in Jesus is a Christian. And if you want to push the point beyond that, you’re somehow a problem and you’re divisive and schismatic…Liberal Anglicanism in England back in the 60′s was in its heyday and there were some evangelicals in the Anglican church and they thought…Well, we need to move in to the Anglican church and get a hold of this thing and partner up with these brothers, they’re our brothers. We can’t let things divide us, we’re all one church.

And it was David Martyn Lloyd-Jones who stood up and said this is wrong. You’ve got to separate. And he was vilified and he was marginalized and he was pushed out, but he was right as time has proven because whatever evangelicalism was there has succumb to the power of liberalism and the pollution of the church.

You can look at the American denominations…the historic denominations of the Presbyterians, and the Methodists and the Episcopalians and even largely the Lutherans and others and you can see the tremendous slide. And it goes back. They invited people into their schools, in their seminaries to teach. They said they were Christians but they were wrong and they came in and they stole the institutions and sent them right down the drain. This is deadly stuff. And now you even have evangelical churches that are designing their churches to make unbelievers comfortable.

This is frightening stuff. And I guess I feel at this point, I’ve got nothing to lose anyway, I need to…I have to be accountable to the Lord, it’s just time to stand up and say this…this has got to be brought to the test of Scripture. You can have a thing called Amsterdam 2000, you can have 5,000 so-called evangelists and celebrate all this unity, but who’s finding out whether these people are Christians? They come from Catholicism and orthodox groups and fringe groups and all kinds of strange groups and even some cults. I talked to a man even this week who said he thinks there’s going to be many Mormons in heaven. This is continuing to escalate.

And I guess it’s time to just stand up and say there has to be a line drawn. The issue of who is truly a Christian is at the very center of the church’s life and ministry. This has to be protected. There isn’t any fellowship between light and darkness, is there, 2 Corinthians 6? There isn’t any concord between Christ and Satan. Two can’t walk together unless they be…what?…agreed. You have to come out from among them and be ye separate and touch not the unclean thing.

And here is the church absorbing all of this. And now it’s so confusing that the church itself doesn’t even know who’s a Christian and frankly I don’t think they particularly care as long as you say you believe in Jesus. A friend, Iain Murray who is a gifted theologian and a great biographer, [who] wrote the massive two-volume biography of Martyn Lloyd-Jones has also written on Jonathan Edwards and many others. He is a very esteemed Englishman and has been here many times, we’ve spent many hours together, has written a new book called Evangelicalism Divided in which I read it, just devoured it over the last few weeks while I was in Italy in the plane, in the back of the bus, in the room, everywhere because it just consumed me. Murray is tracking the twentieth century decline of evangelicalism and it’s a book of history that is very, very revealing. And Murray says, and I think he’s absolutely right, he says, the inability of the evangelical church to distinguish between a Christian and a non-Christian is quote: “The greatest failure of professing Christianity in the English-speaking world in the twentieth century,” end quote.

He understands the implications. If you redefine non-Christians as Christians you obliterate the distinctiveness of the church and you therefore create an environment in which you have to tolerate error because these people represent error. He further writes, this is very important and insightful, “The health of the church,” and he’s speaking as a historian here, having tracked it very carefully, “the health of the church has always been in proportion to the extent to which the difference between Christian and non-Christian has been kept sharp and clear.” Absolutely right. The starting point for the church is to be absolutely clear about who is saved and who is not. If we’re not clear about that, then we don’t know who’s on our side and we don’t know who we really need to reach.

From the time that God began to form a people for Himself, Satan endeavored to intrude. From the time that the demons cohabitated with the…with the daughters of men in Genesis 6, Satan has been trying to pollute and mix…all the way down to sowing tares among the wheat. And it’s really true. Murray says, “The most insidious opposition to the gospel has come from within worldly churches.”

I’ll say this as simply as I can. The gospel is more often attacked on TBN than it is on NBC. This has been the legacy of liberalism which has been embraced by quote/unquote “evangelicals.” This has been the legacy of Charismaticism where theology and…I’m not speaking about all the people but for the most part where the Movement tolerates anybody’s view. This has been the legacy of the seeker-friendly pragmatic movement. This has been the legacy of evangelical ecumenism which wants to re-embrace orthodoxy and Catholicism and everybody else. And the confusion goes from the grass roots right on up to the top. I’ve talked to the evangelical brain trust, if you will, and they aren’t even willing to commit to who’s a Christian. Even my conversation with J.I. Packer, so capable and gifted a theologian and writer, when I asked him…what is the line by which you determine a true Christian? All he could say was, “That’s a good question.”

For most of the last part of the twentieth century, the last 50 years, there has been a sustained effort to invent and promote a popular definition of Christianity, which is neither biblical nor legitimate and to fill the church with non-Christians. . .

Satan always wants to get the church confused about who’s saved, then he can infiltrate and take over, as he’s done in so many institutions and denominations.

Iain Murray again writes, “When churches have recovered from apostasy, historically, such as at the time of the Reformation and the eighteenth century evangelical revival…it has always been…by a return to such discriminating preaching and practice.” What he means is when there’s ever a recovery from a time of apostasy, it has come when preaching has become discriminating.

What does it mean to discriminate? If you say you discriminate, what does it mean? If you say…you hear people say, be a discriminating buyer, what does that mean? It means that you can choose the best out of the lot, right? You know how to discriminate. It means to discern. The only hope for the church is discriminating, discerning preaching. I don’t think there’s any organizational answer. I don’t think we need more meetings, more seminars. We need preachers who will stand up and preach discriminating messages.

And Murray says, “Given the great decline in the English-speaking churches of the twentieth century, the chief need again was the reassertion of the meaning of being a Christian.” Wow! The chief hope for the church is discriminating preaching primarily directed at the issue of who is a Christian.

I don’t care how widely known you are as an evangelical leader, to say that Roman Catholics and the Pope are wonderful Christians is not discriminating, he questions somebody’s faculties of discernment. And sometimes I wonder if those who can’t discern the true church can’t discern it because they’re not part of it. I know people who aren’t a part of it can’t discern it because the natural man understands not the things of God. I don’t expect non-Christians to be discerning about the church, but I do expect Christians to be discerning about the church. And yet you have people who have risen to prominence in evangelicalism who have defined evangelicalism on a large scale who lack that discernment. And what we need is exactly what Murray says, we have to have some discriminating preaching. It’s time…it’s time to draw the line again and that means to be unpopular, I hate to say.

And people ask me…why do people do this? Why do they compromise? Why aren’t they discriminating? Why don’t they say what needs to be said? Why don’t they say this is not a Christian institution, these people are not Christians? Why don’t they make a clear-cut line? Why don’t do they do that?

And the only answer I can come up with and I think it’s a general one and Murray in his book agrees with me on this, the fear of being alienated. It’s the fear of man, it’s the desire for popularity. It’s the desire for the widest possible acceptance. It’s the desire for a reputation. It’s the desire not to be marginalized and pushed off into a corner. It’s a desire to be tolerable and tolerant because it affords you some level of popularity. Because it lets you move up the social strata in the world of Christianity. And so they seek the approval of man. And it’s amazing how they can seek the approval of man at the expense of the approval of the Lord of the church.


TOPICS: Evangelical Christian; General Discusssion; Mainline Protestant
KEYWORDS: deliverance; discerning; discriminating; johnmacarthur; macarthur
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And now I'm told you don't even have to be a Christian to be saved.

Dr. MacArthur's article on Deliverance is an expanded version of this article and very insightful.

1 posted on 01/22/2014 5:49:08 PM PST by HarleyD
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To: HarleyD

Why? Because they serve another Master.


2 posted on 01/22/2014 5:58:38 PM PST by Noumenon (Resistance. Restoration. Retribution.)
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To: HarleyD
I have always found it ironic that people who have a problem with Catholics have no problem clinging to the absolute truth of every word of a book assembled by Catholics to the near exclusion of all else.
3 posted on 01/22/2014 6:08:10 PM PST by TexasFreeper2009 (Obama lied .. the economy died.)
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To: HarleyD

It’s sad anyone believes a man can be saved without being a Christian. Then again, nothing really surprises me. We know “narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Most people live and die without ever understanding the way of salvation, even people on church roles.


4 posted on 01/22/2014 6:12:10 PM PST by .45 Long Colt
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To: HarleyD

I understand his point and I agree. I will read the larger article. This excerpt read somewhat like a rant. Truly an important rant however.


5 posted on 01/22/2014 6:18:03 PM PST by outinyellowdogcountry
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To: HarleyD

You can turn on your television and watch TBN. Everybody that comes on is embraced as a Christian, even though it’s just…just filled with false teachers and people who obviously haven’t been delivered…


Really? He knows who’s a Christian and who’s not! When did God give him that power to determine who’s saved!!


6 posted on 01/22/2014 6:26:04 PM PST by RginTN
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To: .45 Long Colt

**It’s sad anyone believes a man can be saved without being a Christian.**

What about Elijah?

What about Moses?

Both appeared with Christ at the Transfiguration.

What about Enoch, whom the Bible says “Walked with the Lord”?

What about all the souls from the Old Testament who awoke from their graveyard sites and roamed around Jerusalem, visible to the believers? They were waiting for Christ to enter heaven after three days!


7 posted on 01/22/2014 6:31:17 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: HarleyD

Would you please post the follow up article? I would like to read the next one. Thanks!


8 posted on 01/22/2014 6:35:07 PM PST by outinyellowdogcountry
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To: Salvation

Nothing I said precludes Old Testament saints. The Old Testament saints were saved by the same free grace that saved me.


9 posted on 01/22/2014 6:37:21 PM PST by .45 Long Colt
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To: .45 Long Colt

So are you dead too? You used a past tense “saved”. Made ne wonder....not!


10 posted on 01/22/2014 6:38:44 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: .45 Long Colt

You said nothing about Old Testament saints in your original post.


11 posted on 01/22/2014 6:39:49 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Salvation

I didn’t need to.


12 posted on 01/22/2014 6:45:16 PM PST by .45 Long Colt
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To: Salvation

**It’s sad anyone believes a man can be saved without being a Christian.**
.................................
Even sadder when the pope believes it:

“Sharing our experience in carrying that cross, to expel the illness within our hearts, which embitters our life: it is important that you do this in your meetings. Those that are Christian, with the Bible, and those that are Muslim, with the Quran. The faith that your parents instilled in you will always help you move on.”


13 posted on 01/22/2014 6:57:35 PM PST by bramps (Mark Levin: Would Christie, McConnell, and Boehner repeal obamacare? Not a chance!)
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Comment #14 Removed by Moderator

To: Salvation

Since I suspect you don’t really care what I believe I’m not going to spend time giving a thoughtful answer. I thoroughly reject Rome’s teaching on assurance, just as I do most of her teaching.

For anyone struggling with assurance, Bishop Ryle’s short brief on assurance is worthwhile.

http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/sdg/ryle/ryle_assurance.html

“We are always confident, knowing that whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord.” (2 Cor. 5:6)


15 posted on 01/22/2014 7:13:16 PM PST by .45 Long Colt
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To: HarleyD

While I agree with most everything MacArthur says, I would ask, what is the solution?

A doctrinal checklist that we have to sign off on before we can have fellowship? Who writes the list? How many issues are on it? 10? 100? 1,000? Who decides how many have to be checked “correctly” before one is accepted?

Or should evangelicals have their own “Inquisition”?

I remember a couple years after entering the ministry, I was in a restaurant eating breakfast studying my Bible. I thought a group next to me were believers by their talk, and sure enough, as they were leaving one came up to me. He began asking me questions: Did I believe in Jesus? His death, burial, resurrection? Ascension? Bodily return?

And so he went on through about 20 matters. He definitely was in an inquisition mode. He was stern. I was being interrogated. It troubled me.

Finally, when I had properly answered all of his questions correctly enough to satisfy him that I truly was a believer, he shouted, “Praise the Lord!”, gave a big smile and gave me a big hug.

That experience deeply troubled me, and for years I’ve used it as an example - of how we are NOT to have fellowship when we meet other believers.

I believe that when one says they are a Christian, we initially take them at their word, and seek to fellowship in the Lord. In time, we will find if they are truly believers. Then we can decide on our level of fellowship with them.

Another issue is that true believers in Christ do not all share the same doctrines - we all know this. What do we do here? At what point do we accept doctrinal differences, and at what point to we make it an issue of fellowship?

Paul said he preached “Jesus Christ and Him crucified...”, strongly implying that that was the foundation and focus of his ministry. Jesus Christ, His Person, and His work. The essentials of salvation.

What our dear brother has not addressed, at least in what I’ve read so far, is a solution to the problem. How do we join in fellowship with other true believers while in no way further dividing the already incredibly splintered body of Christ?

This is the elephant in the room. It is one thing to describe the problem.

And wholly another to provide a solution.

If so led, and if I have time, I may offer my thoughts on a solution at a later time.......


16 posted on 01/22/2014 7:25:37 PM PST by Arlis
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To: .45 Long Colt

Let’s ponder for a moment what God ourFather may think. Let’s see, I accept my sons offer to go to the world to help those who are no more knowledgable than ants, they then kill him physically by their sins and deeds and cannot even visualize what is being said, then they say they worship me, I need no worship from ants who don’t know I am there..so after all of the heavenly effort they think I am an ego maniac...the truth is I live in all, if you love me, love me in all, you are but embryos in a galactic egg..I speak to you through your reality and from the outside so you may learn to hear my voice, to worship me, love me in all things.., since my son died for you, to not accept this divine gift which my beloved suffered so terribly for..i would suggest all on earth seek my favor and learn to heal the body, else i will pour my wrath out on the world....I spoke to you through the Aeons and continually call you to a supernatural reality, to not accept my son as the only reason you hear me at all and your saviour is to kick me in the teeth..at the coming my mercy will end...
So when we see christians we should see and confess we do not understand, it is not about how good we are, because we confess being christian and seek to repent we should be the first to display our humility..
Look at john the baptist, said to be the greatest man on earth, I am not worthy to tie his shoes, but this should give great joy to earth..we will always be seen as hypocritical..we are..but we have a king who is rightious and knows the Father, who sees the reality he has made for us. If the world cannot see in their hearts, the egg was not fertilized by the spirit of God..and will not be born in the heavenly kingdom.....as Jesus said, they will know you by your love for each other.


17 posted on 01/22/2014 7:27:52 PM PST by aces (Jesus Saves not Society)
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To: .45 Long Colt

FAITH! in who? Yahweh Repentance...Obedience...Righteousness...Who is Yahweh...Elohim...plural godhead...Yahshua...his death, burial and resurrection...atonement...born again...Salvation.


18 posted on 01/22/2014 7:30:23 PM PST by ladyL
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To: Salvation

All can be saved through Christ, none are worthy..not moses, or any prophet that appeared in the trasfiguration..they all have to know who God is, Christ is the only voice this world has ever heard, if we could turn creation backwards it would melt into Christ words, let there be light. There is no other way, all previous knowledge given through the ages is severed and unfulfilled...Rejoice, God has given us a just, knowledgable, king..make his path straight....smile..


19 posted on 01/22/2014 7:34:30 PM PST by aces (Jesus Saves not Society)
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To: aces

So are you saying you can believe that you are saved, then go off and embezzle your employer, or kill your neighbor, and you will still get to heaven?

OSAS is a false doctrine.


20 posted on 01/22/2014 7:37:42 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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