KEY SCRIPTURE Revelation 2:18-29
Notwithstanding, I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.
Churches splinter for various reasons. They split, and it is not something new. God's Church in the desert survived several attempts by Satan to fracture it.
When Korah, Dathan and Abiram challenged Moses' leadership, they neglected to factor in the main thing. It was God's Church. God appointed Moses, not Moses himself. Who knows what abominations those pride-filled pagans would have allowed in the Church if they won a leadership spill. They had already involved themselves in whining for water and more pleasant food and were possibly involved in making the golden calf at Mt Horeb.
Not all Church conflicts are destructive and pride-driven. Some are about wresting control from a dictatorial or greedy leader or sub-group. But generally, sin is the most significant cause of church breakdowns.
In 1977 the Congregational Union, the Methodist Church and part of the Presbyterian Church of Australia merged into the Uniting Church due to low numbers. But, 2006 saw a massive split over whether or not to accept practising homosexuals as ministers—such contempt for God's Word. Imagine how God felt? Their path was similar to the Revelatory Churches of Pergamos and Thyatira. Both became infamous for tolerating fornication—the corruption of both mind and body. The sin for which Paul condemned the Corinthian Church. 1 Corinthians 6:18, "Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body."
Thyatira permitted a person with a Jezebel spirit to teach the Church to accept fornication. That means convincing congregants to allow sin by twisting scripture. Once fornication is deemed acceptable in the Church, homosexuality is hard on its heels as the door to sexual tolerance has been opened.
Sin is like leaven or yeast. Bit by bit, leaven seduces and convinces the entire loaf to absorb it. The loaf, in this case, is the Church. Leaven is a raising agent, pervasive and designed to transform. But what is it raising and transforming in the Church?
Making friends with sin means we've lost our God-given judgment. The Bible tells us to discern and separate sin from righteousness, to understand and choose what is holy instead of that which is unholy. In other words, appoint what is acceptable to God and discriminate against the unacceptable. That is the role of all the followers of Jesus Christ.
The loaf—the Church—may grow in size by allowing sin, but if purity is the price the Church pays, what's the point? God says we are to love the sinner but not the sin. This means our tolerance within the Church extends to helping those trying to escape their sin, but not to tolerate those who demand we accept it. Otherwise, we sacrifice our faith in the fire of Satan's altar.
At the moment, the Anglican Church of Australia needs our prayer. A recent decision by the general synod left the Archbishop of Sydney dismayed and concerned for the Church's future.
This week, the spiritually conservative Sydney diocese put a vote to the national Church through the synod, affirming that marriage is exclusively between a man and a woman. This introductory statement is one of the first principles of God (Genesis 2:24) and one that all believing Churches would eagerly declare. Yet, they lost the vote!
Despite the house of laity (lay people) voting for it, 63 votes to 47 and the house of clergy voting for it 70-39, the bishops—the diocese shepherds—exercised their power to reject it, 12-10.
The Archbishop of Sydney, Kanishka Raffel, warned that something was "fundamentally awry" when the Church casts aside an "unremarkable" statement confirming a fundamental biblical tenet.
Something is wrong when God's Word gets voted down by His representatives. When they vote down God's Word, they vote down God. They declared a motion of no faith in the omnipotent Father and His Son, yet they supposedly work for Him.
Believers must be distressed as they see so many laity and clergy representatives and bishops casting their votes against the Lord. It's as if sin is leavening its way through the loaf.
The Anglican Church came to Australia with the First Fleet, with Richard Johnson as the inaugural colony chaplain. His name was put forward by none other than John Newton, the slave trader who wrote Amazing Grace, and William Wilberforce, the man who stood against slavery and won. It is a significant part of Christian Australia.
Proverbs 14:34 reminds us that righteousness exalts a nation (and a Church), but sin is a reproach to any people, except the sinners. God tolerates people but not the sin that controls them. All scripture points to casting off sin, not honouring it in the Church.
Progressives, the people behind these changes, are opposite Christ. They were offending God in Thyatira by pushing sin and are driving it now as hard as ever. As Solomon said, there is nothing new under the sun. Why do progressives seek a church to change it? Why don't they create their own Church? It wouldn't have the blessing of Almighty God, but it would be a place for them to gather. They prefer to enter a Church and modify God's Word by degrees because it illuminates their sin, shaming them, and their pride cannot deal with that shame.
Hebrews 13:8 states that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever, which is what progressives forget. They cannot remould Christ despite trying to remould His Word. We people need to be moulded to suit God.
His Word is eternally powerful and cleansing. But, like Jezebel in Thyatira, progressives seek to force God and His people into normalising sexual sins. Satan uses anyone and anything to coerce evil into God's Church, but we have been Born Again to resist this, as the Church can only accept those whose hearts seek repentance.
Whether you attend the Anglican Church or not, or even like the Church, it is currently in turmoil needing our prayer, just like we would need their prayers if we were in the same situation.
PRAYER Dear Lord, your Word is perpetually under assault regardless of the era or generation. Thank you for your immoveability, my unshakeable foundation. And thank you that Jesus Christ is my cornerstone but a stumbling block to the wicked. Please give the conservatives strength and resolve, and give those who seek to change your Word time to understand their wickedness and repent.
Photo by Cam Morin