Thursday, November 14, 2013

"The New Vocabulary ..."

"Inclusive" ... "Inclusivism" (is that even a word???) ... it all sounds relatively harmless.  The Church of Jesus Christ should be inclusive, right?  God calls people from every nation to follow Christ.  By His grace, forgiveness and life are offered to all through faith in Jesus.  So what's wrong with being inclusive?

Nothing ... EXCEPT, those who use the word today have changed the meaning to something God never intended.  "Inclusive" has been hijacked by Satan and those who claim to be speaking for God.  They are saying that God's love includes all people, whether they confess their sins and repent or not, whether they believe in Jesus or not, whether they believe in anything or in nothing!  And the worst part of all this is that these are people who CLAIM to be Christians!!

Another word that has been twisted to mean something other than the biblical definition of the word is "faith." While the Bible defines faith as a knowledge of the truth concerning Jesus Christ that leads to trust in and service to Christ, the new definition for faith is so vague as to be utterly meaningless.  I continually read about "people of faith" as being those who believe in SOMETHING.  I have said for years that everybody has faith in something.  For some it is faith in a god of their own making … like the faith of Muslims in Allah.  For others it is faith in their religion … like Buddhists, Hindus and many who call themselves Christians.  It is faith in an institution or in a process of steps that lead to greater enlightenment and personal spirituality.  For many, the object of faith is SELF!  They are the cynics of the world who have become disillusioned and who in their foolish pride believe they can count on no one but themselves.  Eventually, these are the hopeless who lose themselves in the darkness of a world without hope.

Faith, you see, is only as good as its object.  Faith in the God of creation, who made man in His image and who sent His Son Jesus Christ to redeem those whom He chose to belong to Him and to transform them once again to the image of His Son, is the only "faith" that leads to eternal life.  True faith, biblical faith, God-given faith is NOT inclusive.  While the Gospel of Jesus Christ OFFERS forgiveness and life to all, it must be received and the faith that God works in His chosen people through His Spirit by the hearing of His Word is the only faith that delivers anyone from the kingdom of darkness and brings them into God's kingdom of light.  THIS faith is "being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see" (Hebrews 11:1).  THIS faith "comes by hearing the message of Christ" and believing it (Romans 10:17).

Over and over again today we hear of all "faiths" coming together to celebrate their "faith."  From the World Council of Churches to the Pope to the leaders of many denominations, the call going out is to be "inclusive" and to accept the "faith" of others as valid expressions of a "seeking after God" that are all acceptable and praiseworthy.  And if you or I speak out against such foolishness, there is another word that has been redefined that is used to describe us:  Judgmental.

Have you noticed how often Christians who actually believe the Bible to be the Word of God are called "judgmental."  Whether it's television talk-show hosts or religious broadcasters, the consensus seems to be that telling people that there is ONE way to God and that way is through faith in Jesus Christ is being judgmental.  Instead, we should just let people believe what they believe.  In fact, we should respect what they believe and try to find what we have in common in order to unite all of mankind in a universal "faith" that may lead to world peace and unity.

All of this redefining of terms makes it vitally important for true Christians to understand what these words and others mean and to be intellectually critical when listening to people talk about their "faith" and being "inclusive."  This is not something new.  What IS new is that so many leaders and others in the visible church are accepting the new vocabulary and allowing more and more people to be deceived into believing they have "faith" when the truth is they have been led astray and are following the wide road that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13).

The Apostle Paul wrote the following to the believers in Corinth:  "I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.  For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough" (II Corinthians 11:3-4).  Remember what Paul wrote to the Galatians:  "Even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!" (Galatians 1:8).

That doesn't sound very "inclusive," does it?  The true Gospel of Jesus Christ is NOT inclusive in the way it is being defined today.  Seventeen years ago the denomination of which I was a part presented a paper, written by a professor of theology, which discussed the uniqueness of Jesus Christ in a pluralistic world.  The paper contained much that was true from God's Word concerning the person and work of Jesus Christ as the eternal Son of God.  But the conclusions drawn at the end of the paper made the rest of it null and void.  The author stated that "we cannot know the limits of God's grace" and therefore it may be that God will save most people, or even all people, whether they have heard of Jesus or believed in Jesus or confessed Him as their Savior and Lord or not.

As a regional gathering of pastors and elders met to discuss the paper, I shared at length before all those present that we needed to take a stand for truth against those in our midst who would "preach another gospel."  It was the only time I had ever been at such a meeting where the majority of those in attendance clapped in approval … but the next year at a broader denominational gathering, the paper was approved anyway.  At the initial meeting a pastor came up to me and stated, "So, you're an 'exclusivist.'"  I responded, "As opposed to what?"  He said, "Well, I'm an 'inclusivist.'  I believe that God can save whomever He wants to save."  Try as I might, I could not get him to understand that that was precisely the point:  GOD has determined that He will save those whom He has chosen … AND He has determined HOW He will do that:  through the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit, bringing about the new birth, which leads to true repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.  He just looked at me.  He didn't get it … and he was preaching his "inclusivism" to the church he was serving and people were listening and saying nothing.

At Lighthouse Community Church Nondenominational we proclaim the one message that has the power to save sinners:  the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Whoever believes is saved from God's wrath and is part of Christ's true body.  Whoever does not believe will be condemned … not by us, but by God Himself.  Telling people the truth is not being judgmental.  Telling people that faith in anyone or anything other than Jesus Christ leads to eternal death is not being judgmental.  It is the most loving thing we can possibly do.

Don't fall for the new vocabulary.  Allow GOD to define the terms you use to explain what you believe.  His Word is true and Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  No one comes to the Father except through Him … by faith in His finished work on the cross.  "Contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints" (Jude 4).  Be strong and courageous, for the LORD Almighty is with us, the God of Jacob is our fortress and in the end, GOD WINS!

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