It seems like it's every other day that I am reminded of the spiraling downfall that is humanity's state of being. Not only were we born sinful, but it seems like the world is more numb to sin, and less resistant to showcase it now as the time draws nearer for our Lord to return.
Has the World Really Changed?
While reading through Isaiah last month I came upon a passage which reminded me of what Paul said in 2 Timothy 4:3-4; "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables." When Isaiah was preaching to what should have been the choir, he said something strangely similar: "That this is a rebellious people, lying children, 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 deceit" (Isa 30:9-10; italics, mine). These verses came to mind as I read through the conversation that Sean, Seth, and Nicole (formerly, Anonymous) were having about homosexuality. I had heard of Christians that would twist Scripture to suit their flesh, but I assumed that this was a point of repentance that merely needed to be addressed. Once exhorted, the person would be 'reformed,' as it were.
Jesus Guiding, the Church Encouraging
However, after some deep reflection, and searching of my own heart, I realized that the passage in Isaiah was directed at me, as well as every other Christian that God has chosen to be His disciple. We read passages like this, and they exhort us to press on towards the goal, which is eternal life with Jesus. But we also each have different points of contention with the Bible that need to have light shed on them, and Jesus sheds light on them in our daily readings, through prayer, or through His people. He brings His people into all truth. The Church sheds light through correction and reproof. A preacher (Driscoll) once said: "I believe hard words produce soft people, and soft words produce hard people." Scripture also calls us, The Church, to "exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of [us] may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin" (Heb 3:13). God wants a pure, and beautiful bride (Eph 5:25-27) and uses all of these methods to get each individual ready for the day of his appearing.
True Christians Will Be Ushered Back to Truth
In Isaiah, there was much exhortation and rebuke, but we know how it finished; Israel continued to rebel and was given away into Babylonian captivity. However, though Paul's words in 2 Timothy resemble that of Isaiah's, he ends his thought this way: "But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing." (2 Timothy 4.7-8)
The Church, Christians, are different than Israel. We have the Holy Spirit living inside, which circumcised our hearts, and wrote God's law on them. We will fight the good fight, finish the race, keep the faith and then receive a crown of righteousness because of the faithfulness that God works through us as his disciples. Christians will not give heed to false doctrine, that contradicts God's word, without being ushered back ever so sweetly to the truth by the Holy Spirit (Jn 16:13). Will there be some variety? Yes. I enjoy how Mark Driscoll presents this to his church: there are some issues that must be held to with a closed hand (such as Salvation, Verbal Plenary Inerrancy, The Trinity, etc). And there are issues that must be held more loosely (such as Worship styles, Dress, etc), which explains the variety in the church. The unity however, comes from the nonnegotiables, or fundamentals, of everyone's faith. And because of our faith, we have a hope that endures. We will persevere because the God who formed all things also made us a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17), that we would follow after righteousness (1 Tim. 6:11; 2 Tim. 2:19).