Continued from Part II
Let us fast forward to the book of Acts, in the New Testament. The beginning of the Christian Church by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is described in chapter two. In Acts chapter seven, just a few years later (between 34 and 39 AD), a young man by the name of Stephen dared to be different and became the first Christian martyr. He was stoned to death at the orders of the Jewish Sanhedrin, which regarded Christianity as blasphemous, rather than God’s intended successor to Judaism. The Roman Empire regarded Christianity as a threat up until the time of the Emperor Constantine. During his reign the Edict of Toleration, 311 AD, and the Edict of Milan, 313 AD, stopped the persecution of Christians by the Empire. By that time all the original Apostles, except John, had been martyred, the Apostle Paul had been greatly persecuted and martyred, and thousands of Christians had been martyred in the arena, by lions, gladiators or burning at the stake, all of them because they dared to be different.
The Church was soon polluted with thousands of members who weren’t born again. It gradually lost its spiritual power, collected all kinds of false doctrines and gelled into the corrupt and militant Catholic Church with its unscriptural papal system, with the popes supposedly being put by God as supreme rulers of all mankind. Internal struggles resulted in a split: the Roman Catholic Church in the west, and the Orthodox Church in the East. All along the way any true Christians who dared to buck the heresies of the established Church were excommunicated or martyred. By the fourteenth century, the Roman Catholic Church had become so corrupt and unscriptural that it was being challenged from within by its own membership. The Spanish Inquisition was launched to find and punish the “rebels.” This was followed in the fifteenth century by the Protestant Reformation, the Catholic counter-reformation, and the persecution of those who wanted to publish the Bible in the language of the people. Many thousands who dared to be different were martyred.
With the “Arab Spring” of the late twentieth century until now, and the growing nationalism among third world countries the Church today (except in the west) is experiencing more persecution and martyrdom than ever before against those who dare to be different.
Even in the west (chiefly North, Central and South America) attacks and persecution against the true Church are intensifying at an alarming rate. In some areas, where Communism or radical Catholicism are in control, martyrdom has been around for decades. The danger to those who dare to be different is going to get worse. After this lengthy preparation,
THE CRUX OF THE MATTER
Depending upon which poll you believe, fifty to seventy percent of the “Christian” youth (the age of Daniel and his friends) in the United States leave the church after high school because they do not dare to be different! This is direct disobedience to these key scripture verses:
Romans 12:1-2, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world (dare to be different), but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” What is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God?
Romans 8:29, “ For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.”
Here are two more verses that say the same thing in a different way and with a little more detail:
1 John 2:15-17, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world — the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”
James 4:4, “Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”
SO WHAT CAN WE DO?
Ideally, Christian couples considering marriage should discuss whether or not they are willing, should their marriage produce children, to commit to raising them to dare to be different in the good sense which we have been talking about.
If they are willing, get married, and children are conceived, they will immediately begin a prayer vigil all the while the baby is in the womb until he or she has successfully dared to be different as did Daniel and his three friends about 2600 years ago. They will not only pray, but they will diligently train each child through precept and example how to be different, even if it would cost them their life.
Well, Pastor Russ, aren’t you being a bit melodramatic? Not at all-it is happening all over the world, and will surely be faced by our children and grandchildren, sooner than later! So how do we go about it?
- We fill them up with Bible truth, at home, in nursery and Sunday School at church, by Christian environment, books, music at their level. Parents should keep track of what the children are learning at Sunday School and reinforce it at home.
- Parents should get the best education they can afford, from Christian School, homeschooling, charter school or least bad public schools. They should keep up on what the children are learning to catch anything that is not scriptural before it can do any damage, especially if they are in public school.
- Parents, pastors, and Sunday School teachers should be diligent to discern when each child is tender towards Jesus and constantly give an opportunity for them to receive Christ as Savior, be baptized, get filled with the Spirit and be involved in ministry at earliest practical age.
- Each child should be the object of earnest prayer for things short term and long term.
- Each child should be trained in obedience to those in authority, especially to parents and God as called for in the Bible.
- Each child should be punished when necessary to ensure this obedience using the Biblical principle of loving care so that Christian behavior will become an integral part of their character.
- When children reach the teens and attend junior-high, high-school and college church groups parents need to be especially careful to monitor what is going on, for this period is the time when peer pressure can be devastating.
- The pastors from the pulpit, the leaders of the church groups and the parents need to be warning the children about and preparing them to face the challenges to their Christian faith that they will face at all levels in the secular education field to which they are subject. Secular humanism can be found in the curricula down to pre-school level.
- If any parents haven’t been doing these things up till now, you need to pray hard and try to make up for lost time. Your children are facing a real danger as illustrated by a question Jesus asked in Mark 8:36, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?”
Let us return to our heroes who dared to be different for a moment. Daniel and his three friends were around seventeen when they were taken to Babylon, which in our day would be when they had just finished high-school. They each had an unshakable belief in and relationship with God, and a godly character and worldview.
As a result, when they were settled in Babylon and were enrolled in King Nebuchadnezzar’s very secular “Courtier’s College” for three years they came out stronger than ever.
This might be a good place to state the goal of this blog. My goal in writing it is to stir up the membership of the Chapel in the Pines and other Christians who read this blog to successfully train up every child in their area of influence to be like Daniel and his friends by time they graduate from high-school, so they won’t lose their faith even if they go to a secular college. Alas, I don’t think the percentage of those thus equipped is very high. If they are not, I don’t think they should go to a secular college, but to a reliable Christian college or to a trade school. I am serious, it is that important.
SOME CLOSING THOUGHTS
If your children are all out of the house on their own, don’t dismiss your value. The primary responsibility is that of the parents, but the prayers and personal input of grandparents and great-grandparents are of incalculable value. I believe God will hold all of us responsible for what we can do in this way.
In addition to what has already been said about what the high-school grads should be like in their character and preparation for succeeding in their Christian lives, I would like to close by listing a few key convictions (conviction=a fixed belief) each grad should have:
- The Bible is the infallible Word of God.
- God created the universe.
- Evolution is the devil’s lie, has never been proven, but in the light of scientific discoveries has actually been disproven.
- Mankind is born with a fallen (sinful) nature.
- John 3:16, “For God so loved the world (sinful mankind) that He gave His only begotten Son (Jesus) that whoever believes in Him should not perish (go to hell, a real place) but have everlasting life (go to heaven, a real place).
- True morality is based on the Bible absolutes of right and wrong.
- Each human’s lifetime on earth is not an end in itself, but is meant to prepare that person for an eternal life of fellowship with God and other believers in heaven. Alas, that so many refuse to believe. Make sure that you are not one of them!