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Common Slaves

Common Men; Uncommon Master

Author

Eric Anderson

Pastor of Lifespring Church, Crosby MN

The Gnosticism which COVID—19 reveals

The Gnosticism which COVID—19 reveals

Is physical worship essential to being a Christian? Or is physically gathering to worship with the church you belong to crucial and a requirement for your view of Christianity? Does a person have to obey Jesus Christ in order to be a Christian, in order to have any hope of seeing heaven and not hell?

To state the opposite: Is Christianity above all a “personal Experience?” Or it is a life/path in which Christ Jesus is King, in obedience to His commandments?

John 14:15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments”

In I John and Colossians, specifically, the authors are writing to a church being devastated by a new religion, a new paradigm which, being aligned with Paganism and worldliness, was being imported into and re-framing the entirety of what it meant to be a Christian.

Gnosticism was based upon religion evolving and transcending, meaning it was constantly changing and improving. This meant that it was guru/leader led. The Leader had learned new/novel techniques and secrets, and they could impart them, thus the new Spiritual knowledge (Gnosticism)

Being Spiritual, Gnosticism DE-emphasized any commandments which were transcendent and which were moral or Bodily For example: As long as you feel close to God, you will be forgiven of your all sins, (today referred to as “brokenness”) Gnosticism denied original sin and total depravity—it taught that life was the mastery and unlocking of the inner good and finding your personal happiness. Grace is feeling Good, not living obediently. Jesus came to unlock your potential, not to save you from eternal hell by causing you to follow him.

I am amazed, but shouldn’t be, at the amount of churches and leaders who seem to have made physical worship optional, not just for the past two months, but seemingly indefinitely. The belief that a personal experience at home is just as good as gathering (and risking sickness and inconvenience) in person in a building or place.

The Video Venue home worship is simply not church. It may have been deemed a good and necessary option for a time, but it is not a replacement of the physical gathering required of Christianity. Video Venue/virtual worship, taken to it’s logical conclusion, is a replacement of Christianity. It says that I do not belong to the body of Christ, my presence is optional, The Pastor/guru comes to impart in my life good feelings and principals for living. That is enough. It is individual and autonomous. Just me and my personal Jesus.

In this My personal safety becomes the chief virtue of my life. It is scary to go to church, It might upset my emotional balance. My personal inner comforts are what matters. Don’t tell me otherwise, that is legalism and hurtful of my Holy, in-corrupted feelings.

I fear that The COVID-19 virus isn’t creating an apostasy into Gnostic self-worshiping paganism, It is a revealing of how many “confessed Christians” do not have the category of the necessity of physical worship gathering with the body of Christ, in obedience to Jesus Christ’s commandments as King. Their religion may be closer to the Gnosticism the Bible describes. It may not be not Christianity.

Hebrews 10:25 warns against this: neglecting of the physical gathering. I John warns against disobedience and not loving the brethren. I Corinthians states 5+ times that “when you gather” as the church.

The Gathering of the Church for Worship in person, may not be safe, but it is Sacred. The Assembly is a time set-apart by a Holy God to worship in Spirit and truth..preaching and proclaiming King Jesus in all of His glory (Col 1)

The Gospel Declares that Jesus Christ came bodily. He came to redeem all of us. He lived and dies and rose again bodily, not merely spiritually. There is no separation of our feelings towards Jesus and our actions in obedience towards him and our good works of love towards others. He calls us to gather and worship him as He directs in His word. This is both Faith and Repentance. In exchange we receive the assurance that he grant to those he loves who are obeying Him.

Titus 2:11-15 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

An Event on www.zoom.us “Responding to the New Social Justice Religion”

II Corinthians 10:5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
Please join us tomorrow night, July 29,  (7:30-9:00 CST) from your own home computer, phone or laptop, www.Zoom.us for a discussion on a Critical threat to the church of Jesus Christ.
This is available for you to participate from your own home as Four current and former pastors (P Andrew Sandlin, Ardel Caneday, David Smith and Bob Dalberg), will address how to contend against the new religion of Woke-ness/Social Justice, specifically as it is threatening to convert your fellow church members, even your church leaders.
Why is this a danger to your church? What is the effect when “white guilt” or other Cultural Marxist ideas are brought within the walls of a local church? What is result upon the clear proclamation of the Gospel and relationships within the church? What happens when a church, a place for truth, becomes “no place for truth”? How did Paul handle the Legalism of His day in the Galatian church? What is the responsibility of the Christian to discern truth from error in this? How does a person, who is rightfully distressed by this new-found agenda creeping into their church go about addressing their concerns? When should you converse? When should you confront? Do you ever leave? 
ERIC ANDERSON is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.
Topic: A Place For Truth–Zoom Q&A–Contending against the Woke Religion in the church
Meeting ID: 882 0017 9743
Passcode: 140637

Racism, Marxism, Guilt, Government and the Bible’s Prescription of both the Problem and the Solution

Wednesday Evening, June 24, Lifespring Church hosted a Zoom Q&A with Drs Ardel Caneday and P Andrew Sandlin on discerning the current cultural crisis tearing apart both our society and sadly, many churches.

How do we understand the current cultural divide (and conflict) going on, related to both our common heritage and our cultural divides and to racial and political tensions? What is the relationship between our current struggles and a shifting cultural worldview below the surface?

Topics included:

What is racism? Is racism a sin? What are the roots of the riots and protests? What is Cultural Marxism? What worldview is behind the monument toppling? Should we leave conservative churches that have embraced “wokeness?”

Ardel Caneday and  P. Andrew Sandlin are two men who have taught in academia and the church for many years, from the same consistent foundation: That the Bible is God’s authoritative Word and applicable to every difficult issue we face in life, including racism and political conflict. (II Timothy 3:16-17)

The Lordship of Christ: Christians, Government and Culture…in a time of COVID-19 Crisis audio

On Sunday, May 17, Lifespring Church of Crosby, MN hosted a Zoom conversation with questions principally directed to with Drs. Ardel Caneday and P. Andrew Sandlin concerning Christian thinking, Spheres of Sovereignty, Church, Worship, business, politics and COVID-19.

This was a 90 minute discussion and has been Re-formatted into an MP3 file, which is linked below.  It is worth taking the time to listen to these seasoned Christian Leaders and theologians discuss these topics and address audience questions, beginning with a short refresher by Dr. Sandlin on the three spheres of God’s ordained Sovereignty over life in this world (Church, Family and Government)

The conversation ranged from discussing proper uses of the Apostle Paul’s instruction for Christians and the church in Romans 13, radical two-kingdom theology, the role of the church within society, whether churches should ever cancel public worship assemblies, whether the civil magistrate is bound to God’s law, America’s Founders’ view of human nature, the diabolical basis of coronavirus fear, and more.

The Lordship of Christ: Christians, Government and Culture…in a time of COVID-19 Crisis.  (thanks to Joe Bancks, Joe Reed, Corban Noah and Isaac Ohman for helping with discussion and audio re-formatting)

Church Worship (and other livelihoods): The Duty to use our Citizenship

Church Worship (and other livelihoods): The Duty to use our Citizenship….

or….Paul did not intend in Romans 13 to promote absolute submission to human authorities

Citizen:The native of a city, or an inhabitant who enjoys the freedom and privileges of the city in which he resides; the freeman of a city, as distinguished from a foreigner, or one not entitled to its franchises.
– Webster’s 1828

A couple of pre-emptive statements:

  1. I am not arguing against the reality of COVID-19 virus nor the degree of prevalence of the spread COVID-19, whether in Crosby, Colorado, or in California, etc, etc.
  2. I am not arguing that our church, in retrospect, should not have suspended regular worship. As my friend Joe Reed says, “If someone knocks on your door and says your roof is smoking, only a fool would not go outside and check to see if the thing is burning down.” God is sovereign, we are not; yet we are called to make decisions based upon commandments, convictions and calculated risk every single day. We are guided by obedience to God and love of others, and we act by faith because we do not have foresight. We are, after all, flesh and blood. That’s why, at various times in the winter, we have canceled our church programs for snow (or even on the basis of a forecast) based upon the limited knowledge we have while calculating risk/reward. I do not regret, for our church in our area, the decision to suspend worship for a time, the same decisions that almost all were making, upon the forecasts of COVID–19.

That said…

I am deeply concerned about this now popular notion among-st Christians that Romans 13 argues for absolute submission to the human Governing authorities for seemingly whatever length they suspend the assembling of the church.

Truth: Our attitude should always be one of humble submissiveness, and our actions should be in submission to proper authorities, unless the government goes against the clear directives of Christians as laid down in God’s Holy Word.

What are those clear directives?

Gathering together personally and publicly as a local church for worship (Colossians 3, Hebrews 10:25). The Holy Spirit brings isolated sinners from death to life, through the preaching of the Gospel, and into a local family, the church, as we run together towards heaven (Hebrews 12:1-2) The church is certainly more than Sunday worship, but it is also certainly nothing less than Sunday Worship – together, in person. Virtual meetings are a mirror of gathering, but there are many “one-anothers” which cannot occur through a video screen, and much participation by the whole is lost while watching the performance of one. Virtual worship is something, but it is certainly not “the church.”

Let me give an example from Scripture which I think is quite applicable today, showing us how and when to properly interpret scenarios where submission to Government applies.

In Acts 16 as Paul and Silas are preaching the Gospel, the rightful governing magistrates of Philippi, being influenced by some upset and angry citizens, arrested and beat the evangelists, throwing them in jail. They were then released by a divinely sent earthquake. Their jailer and his family, in fear and awe of God’s power and the kindness of his disciples, hear and are converted by the Gospel to Christianity. Here is the relevant text for us today, in our current situation: Christians who are also American Citizens:

But when it was day, the magistrates sent the police, saying, “Let those men go.” (36) And the jailer reported these words to Paul, saying, “The magistrates have sent to let you go. Therefore come out now and go in peace.” (37) But Paul said to them, “They have beaten us publicly, uncondemned, men who are Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison; and do they now throw us out secretly? No! Let them come themselves and take us out.” (38) The police reported these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Roman citizens. (39) So they came and apologized to them. And they took them out and asked them to leave the city. (40) So they went out of the prison and visited Lydia. And when they had seen the brothers, they encouraged them and departed.
Act 16:35-40

Do you see it in v. 37? Paul uses the rights of his Citizenship, as (evidently) understood by All Romans, to challenge the authorities, that they, not he had violated the law and needed to repent, to change their course. Paul was actually demonstrating proper and legal submission to the government by reminding them of the rights of Roman citizens that Roman magistrates were expected to honor. The Magistrates had violated the law, not Paul.

Paul disobeyed the magistrates by not leaving town, but his dis-obedience was not moral, it was not a sin against God. The magistrates were out of line, according to their own oath of office. But confronting them, he was both helping himself and doing them a favor.

Each nation, of course, is different, so let me appeal to Americans.

In the USA the rights of citizens are recognized in the Constitution. It is the right of citizens to free, peaceful assembly: “Congress shall make no law respecting and establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

We obey God and God commands us to gather together bodily for worship (Colossians 3, Hebrews 10:25). It is what the pastor/elders/leaders of your church will be held accountable to God for. Did they obey God, even in the face of opposition? We can suspend worship, related to common sense reasoning (weather, pandemic, etc), but it is the church’s government, not civil government’s responsibility and sphere of authority. If, we as church leaders, make a wise or foolish decision, that is on us, not our civil government. Our American Constitution itself recognizes the very fact. Thank the Lord for this reality. The Governor can make recommendations and pleas to the church, but the church leadership are delegated to make decisions on Worship.

My question: In our Governor’s executive order to not allow churches to “meet for public worship”, is he, within the rights of his office and the laws of the land, according to the Constitution, or are we?

When we gather peaceably, we are exercising our rights as citizens and indirectly reminding others that this right is protected. If we do not remind the government of our place and their place, according to our own laws, who will? My primary goal in re-staring public worship is not to remind the government of anything. I am obeying God’s command. But, as an American Citizen, it is within my rights to do so. Period.

All things considered, such as the issues of risk, health, and love, it is crazy for the church right now to not at least read the constitution and wrestle with our American rights, our duties as the citizenry, as Paul did in Acts 16 when his rights were violated.

End Notes:

*We must differentiate the authority of civil magistrates and the authority (oft too much) of public opinion. Fear is a powerful weapon to wield, and it can enslave those who succumb to its influence. How often do we surrender our call and obedience to God because of the fear of who will shame us or hurt us?

*Similar principles and rights apply to businesses and other livelihoods in our nation. Where in the constitution is my right to make honest and peaceable commerce not protected right now….by what standard?

*A helpful video on the purpose of Church worship (Governmental Authority and the church) is found at https://www.facebook.com/aomin.org/videos/247003543025946/

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