Reformed Baptist Fellowship

Light vs. No Light

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on February 10, 2011 at 8:57 am

I keep running into people who are professing Christians, but rarely, if ever actually attend church. There may be various reasons for this: perhaps they’ve been hurt, perhaps they’ve been disappointed as a result of an offense or a difficult trial, perhaps leadership has failed them, or perhaps they really aren’t believers at all. For some this is a temporary situation, but for others it goes on year after year. The reasons are certainly not all trivial, yet the result is the same: they are absent from the assembly of God’s people. And a few of them will claim a “closeness” to God that they’ve never had before, a subjective “intimacy” that they are sure they couldn’t be mistaken about.

I just finished a conversation with two young men in my living room who were giving me their arguments for why I should believe that Mormonism is the restoration of God’s True Church on Earth. Among these arguments was one that seemed for them to be a show-stopper: they had prayed that God would show them whether or not the Book of Mormon was really true, and behold! This He had done! They had a subjective experience of some kind that they interpreted as God showing them this for certain. And so, of course there could be no argument.

We Americans are very distrustful of Authority: our popular entertainment culture has taught us to distrust the institutions of government, business, education, the military, and on and on. And the realm of religion is at the top of the list. The Individual is the authority, and Autonomy is King. I have a “right” to believe what I want to about God, and that has led to the prevalence of the bumper-sticker sentiment, “I’m not religious, just spiritual.” This is shorthand for, “I want to believe that I’m OK with God, and of course no one can say otherwise, because I have that right.” The resistance to “organized religion” has led to the embrace of disorganized religion, with the Self as Pope. And Evangelicals have their own version of this: “I’m not religious, just a Christian!”

The Bible makes no distinction between “religion” and “spirituality;” its categories are “true religion” and “false religion,” the worship of the true and living God, or idolatry and humanism. There is no middle ground. The subjective feelings of “peace” and “intimacy” are not the measure of one’s standing before God. Many of us know those who claim that “God” has “led” them into all sorts of error; many of us have been those people. The prophet Isaiah said, “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Is. 8:20). No light! None! When it comes to spiritual things, religious things: without the light of God’s Word we are in utter darkness.

Time and again the Scriptures have proven to be completely faithful. May we purpose to trust the Word in all things this year: in our families, in our finances, in our homes, and especially in our churches. May we not be afraid to say, “This is the true religion.” And may our pastors determine to do that which no one else can do: open the Bible and preach what it says, regardless of cost or consequence.

  1. The Burning in the Bosum the great decider for Mormans about the Book of Morman,so very deceptive and dangerous. It is true with so many today that when they get goose bumps they count it as a sign from some god out there some where. Having been in the Charismatic movement then full blown Pentecostalism I’ve been there and done that. I cherish intimacy with the Lord and a sense of His presence as much as possible,but the great decider is the objective truth of His unchanging Word not goose bumps or a burning bosum. Christ Himself said we are wise when we do the things He says not if we have good feelings about them and then do them not. Good teaching and a sober truth spoken here, may we all take heed how we hear and of what we hear.

  2. Like the author said, some churches turn off some who clain to be Christian and that is sad. Other churches bring in non believers because of the social interaction they find. That too, is sad. Perhaps those Mormons who felt God was telling them Mormonism was true felt it because they were not the elect and God was satisfied to leave them in the darkness. We mourn for the lost but we cannot dictate to God in what He should do. To find a true church that encompasses preaching the true word of God, offers much fellowship and worship isn’t easy to find these days. I’m thankful for the church I do attend and I’ve attended many different kinds.

  3. For those of you who are interested, a Reformed Baptist layman wrote this.

  4. Well said, well written article. The real question is this: What is our final source of authority? Is it my feelings, or is it the Word of God recorded in the Bible? If it is my feelings, then I am the final arbitrator of truth, and thus, I am God, but if it is the Bible, then it is the final arbitrator of truth, and it’s Author is God.

  5. I’ve no problem with the point of this article. However, this: “We Americans are very distrustful of Authority: our popular entertainment culture has taught us to distrust the institutions of government, business, education, the military, and on and on. And the realm of religion is at the top of the list.” was completely beside the point. Yes, beside the point. The second the writer says that culture has taught us to distrust institutions he’s gone off the rails. You don’t think Watergate or the Iraq War rationale teaches citizens to mistrust Authority? What about Arabs mistrust of their regimes? My point is the writer wants to blame the culture for pointing out that human beings fail and their institutions fail. Comparing the “authority” of the Nixon, Bush or even Clinton administrations to the Authority of God and the Bible is absurd.

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