Truth in Decline?

Personal Concern

Almost an hour elapsed while I sat motionless with pencil and notepad in hand. I was trying to harmonize my jumbled thoughts and mixed desires in preparation for this issue of The Midnight Cry magazine. As with previous issues I had anticipated that the Lord would have spontaneously touched my mind and allowed me to select the most appropriate articles, but sadly this was not the case.

You see, I understood what Peter meant when he stated, “…no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2 Pet. 1:20-21).

To write anything that would benefit the church today, one must be inspired of God to do so. Of course, this may exclude many Christian writers of our day. As such, it would be against my deepest spiritual conviction to have my pen imprisoned by tradition or apostate dogma.

Therefore, I have concluded that my temporary lapse in writing was the result of two major considerations. The first was the passive attitude of God’s people to messages on ‘present truth,’ and the second being the continuous drifting of our assemblies into the ‘spirit of the age,’ with worldliness, materialism and spiritual drunkeness being predominant.

Present truth, as is mentioned in 2 Peter 1:12, is not just the study of fundamental Christian doctrines, but rather a message that enhances godliness in an ungodly society. According to Biblical history, present truth was given directly to the prophets and apostles by God. It exposed sin and evil in their own time and presented God’s active demands for holiness. Careful notice should be given to the uniqueness of each God-sent man in the Bible and the distinct identity of his message.

Unlike the ministers of our day, Bible prophets and apostles were not limited to the messages of those who preceded them, but were expected to fulfill their own divine commission. Except for prophetic utterances and issues relating to the violation of God’s moral laws, there was absolutely no need to overemphasize messages of the past. The past was great for example but present truth established holiness and sanctification. Paul said: “…That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation…” (Phil. 2:15).

These were the facts that rested heavily on my mind and caused me to question the effectiveness of The Midnight Cry magazine.

Were the messages presented in the magazine any benefit to the Body of Christ?

Is it that the 21st Century church does not like to read being too full, and those of us that do read simply allow our minds to feed on religious profanity?

Are those of us in the ministry so impressed and obsessed with the numerical and materialistic flamboyance of religious Babylon that it has generated a perverted ambition in us, crippling our appreciation for truth and holiness?

This attitude will transform our ministers into entertainers, our congregations into audiences and the church will deteriorate into a backslidden and iniquitous mode. Truth will eventually be spurned and every God-called minister despised.

In Paul’s letter to Timothy, he foretold of “perilous times” coming to the church as well as society. “For men shall be lovers of their own selves…more than lovers of God…” (2 Tim. 3:1-4).

Is this spirit of perverted ambition and self-exaltation among us?

Timothy was admonished to preach “the word” at all times without compromise in light of this future apostasy when Christians “will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers….and they shall turn away their ears from the truth…” (2 Tim. 4:2-4). Are we living in the “perilous times” foretold by scripture?

Does the child of God prefer when the truth that exposes current sin and worldliness is better left unspoken?

Then why publish a magazine that will dislodge the peaceful foundations of traditionalism or disrupt the tranquility of spiritual decline? Should true God-called men allow worldliness and backsliding among God’s people to continue undisturbed? It has been correctly stated that, “Evil will triumph when good men remain passive.”

In the 33rd chapter of Ezekiel, the prophet is described as a watchman. His duty was a spiritual one and, similar to the natural watchman, he was expected to keep vigil and warn God’s people of enemy invasion. Failure to do so would result in him being guilty for the people’s destruction. Therefore, it was necessary for him to be, first of all, spiritual enough to identify the enemy, then bold enough to sound the warning trumpet – even at the expense of public acceptance. Of course, a blind watchman would not even know what I am talking about.

Tragically, the people in Ezekiel’s day preferred not to be disturbed from their deep, backslidden slumber. The Lord told Ezekiel that, “They come unto thee as the people cometh, and sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they show much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness.” (Ezek. 33:31-32). Have we fallen into this identical rut?

Are there God-called watchmen in our day who are presenting God’s people with messages that will save them from the countless evils of this present age?

Are the people responding positively to messages of truth and sanctification?

During the days of Isaiah, Israel was no role model. In exposing their presumptuous and independent attitude the Lord told Isaiah, “Woe to the rebellious children…that cover with a covering, but not of my spirit….that walk to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth; to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt!” (Isa. 30:1-2). Are we positive that the covering we feel in our services is the genuine Spirit of God and not just pumped up emotionalism? I suppose that the fruits produced from our services will determine the authenticity of what really transpired in them. Failure to recognize and correct this spirit of hypocrisy will result in stronger spiritual rebellion.

The prophet Isaiah exposed this rejection of truth in Israel by declaring, “this is a rebellious people, lying children …that will not hear the law of the Lord: which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits…” (Isa. 30:9-10).

The book of Jeremiah also uncovered rebellion among God’s people by stating that, “the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so…” (Jer. 5:30-31).

Unless we too are apostate and are drifting into spiritual blindness, hindsight would allow us to recognize that the rejection of both Old Testament prophets and New Testament apostles was due to their blunt and unapologetic condemnation of the evils of their day. True, God-called men were commissioned by God with a specific message and had little reason to rehash the messages of past prophets. Unfortunately, the ministry of our day appears to be doing quite the opposite.

In light of these scriptures, as well as many more, I again wonder whether God’s people in our day need or appreciate the bluntness of The Midnight Cry?

Truth is oftentimes blunt and hypocrisy hard to admit to, but it is truth that will set us free; not truth about someone else’s era or someone else’s sin, but our own. In all honesty, let us accept the truth about ourselves and then submit to the truth of God’s word by making the required changes.

I am convinced that it was the Lord who inspired me to introduce this most needed and timely publication of present truth. I felt that the Body of Christ should recognize and accept the reality that God will not judge today’s generation on the premise of yesterday’s evil.

Because it was economically impossible for me to personally communicate this message to our assemblies around the world, I was convinced that the publication of a magazine would suffice.

My prayer is that ministers who are truly called of God will be enlightened by the Holy Ghost to recognize the subtlety of present day evil and hypocrisy, then preach appropriately.

Although the responsibility of exposing and correcting false doctrine in our day should be treated as a major issue, truth that deals with sin and worldliness in the lives of God’s people should always hold priority.

These were some of my concerns that inspired the publication of The Midnight Cry in the first place.

Do we recognize the subtlety of evil in our day and are we preaching present truth?

I do hope that the day will never arrive when The Midnight Cry will become a mere family magazine that will only cater to the reading pleasure of God’s chosen people.

Guided by Scripture

If fulfilling God’s calling in my life was dependent on public acceptance I would have altered my message and methodology a long time ago. Fortunately this is not the case, seeing as I have always relied fervently on the scriptures for example and guidance. There are many areas of the scriptures that will assist us today if they are properly applied.

The Apostle Paul made reference to Old Testament scriptures as offering a wonderful source of inspiration. He stated, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” (Rom. 15:4).

Today, the church is more privileged in that we have both the Old and New Testament to rely on for example and guidance. It would be a tragedy if the Body of Christ ignores the pattern set forth in the Bible and instead looks to Babylon for instruction and example.

I exhort every sincere child of God, whether saint or preacher, to carefully examine the scriptures in order to determine the lifestyle and example left us by every man of God in the Bible. The greatest of all examples was our Lord Jesus Himself. Isaiah described Him as being, “despised and rejected of men”. (Isa. 53:3). Yet he emphatically declared himself to be, “the way, the truth and the life”. (Jn. 14:6).

Is Jesus the pattern for our ministers or are we simply copying the spirit of present day Pentecostalism?

It is no new phenomenon that truth is rejected and despised in our day. The whole volume of scripture tells the same. But, like the stalwarts of old, the ministry today should never sacrifice truth in exchange for growth, fellowship or popularity.

However, the greatest disappointment is still to come. Our Lord prophesied that “iniquity shall abound” and a deception will be so great that, if it were possible, the very elect would be deceived. (Mt. 24:12 & 24). It is quite possible that day is already upon us and we are just too naïve to recognize it.

Let us not ignore prophecies that refer to the time when the church will have concluded its public witness — the two witnesses will be killed and the woman will flee into the wilderness. (Rev. 11 & 12).

In plain language, the Gentile church as we know it will come to a conclusion. God will restore the literal nation of Israel to a spiritual standing in order to carry on His work in the Earth. He will pour out the “spirit of grace and of supplication” by sealing one hundred and forty four thousand natural Jews with the Holy Ghost. This will be the ultimate fulfilment of the prophecy of Joel. (Joel 2:28-32, Zech. 12:10, Rev. 7:3-8).

Unless we understand these prophesies correctly and draw genuine distinction between the Gentile church and restored Israel, we will be deceived and pursue a misguided vision. Eventually, we could find ourselves embracing the ‘abounding of iniquity’ as a great move of God. This will cause us to drift further into Babylon and ultimately receive the marks of the Beast — some in our right hand of fellowship and others in our very thought pattern.

Poor discernment and an exalted overconfidence in our so-called amazing ability to handle the word can blind our eyes to spiritual reality.

How can we be guided by scripture if our concept of scripture is incorrect?

Isaiah declared, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness…Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!” (Isa. 5:20-21).

Have we deceived ourselves into believing that we alone have the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?

Being Too Full

It has been correctly stated that any church that convinces itself it has reached the apex of its existence will eventually peak-out and start on a downhill journey. In simpler language, a church or fellowship that feels it has it all, spiritually speaking, and needs nothing more, will fail to pursue further goals and will stagnate and die eventually.

This spirit of arrogance and misconstrued spiritual superiority was prevalent among the Jews and contributed to their rejection of present truth as it was presented by the Lord Jesus. Their failure to recognize that truth was progressive influenced an overemphasis on traditional teachings, and resulted in an almost total rejection of present truth.

Can we possibly reject truth by arrogantly limiting our belief only to the teachings of the past?

In dealing with the spiritual stagnancy among the scholars of His day, Jesus declared, “Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.” (Lk. 11:52).

The absence of prophets from Malachi to Matthew resulted in a rapid decline of present truth in Israel since no one was exposing evil or giving spiritual guidance to God’s people for approximately 430 years.

In man’s futile effort to substitute for the lack of active divine intervention, spiritual shrines were erected to perpetuate the past. But, as we have often said, “The past is good to contemplate and may offer a great foundation to build on, but it is a terrible place to dwell.”

With the absence of present truth to influence godly lifestyle, the work of God will collapse into a mode of ineffectiveness. The subtle advancement of evil will go undetected and mere human genius will never sanctify God’s people.

Some of the characteristics of the decline of truth are:

– Present truth fades into obscurity while the past is glorified.
– Illumination is replaced by education and spiritual blindness becomes predominant.
– Divine calling is replaced by human genius and results in the uncalled dominating the pulpit.
– God becomes the object of study rather than the supreme authority for obedience.
– The work of God becomes captive to the spirit and fashions of an ungodly world.
– Worst of all is the development of a sense of completeness and sufficiency that becomes the greatest obstacle to sincere repentance and renewal.

As we examine our present standing in light of all of the aforementioned scriptural facts, we too can ask: Are we absolutely content with our present standing in God? Do we really have it all or is there any room for God to give us more and lead us further on?

Jesus said, “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.” (Lk. 1:53, Prov. 27:7, Matt. 5:6).