By Rick Renner
Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. — Revelation 2:16
Today the Church is facing a crisis of morals. More and more, society has no stomach for spiritual or moral absolutes. Pastors and spiritual leaders who decide to “take a stand” and preach the Gospel in its pure, unadulterated form are derided as irrelevant and intolerant hate-mongers.
The public reaction to biblical truth is often so adverse that many pastors are hesitant to take strong positions on issues of morality, even though these truths are clearly stated in the Word of God. Rather than answer difficult moral questions, they are tempted to dodge the questions and skirt around the issues in an attempt to avoid conflict.
This same issue plagued the Early Church nearly 2,000 years ago. Toward the close of the First Century AD, there was a group of spiritual leaders who intentionally “watered down” the message of the Gospel to make it less demanding and more accommodating to other points of view. Because the culture couldn’t stomach the idea of a strict exclusionary faith that claimed to be above all others, this group of spiritual leaders attempted to entice Christians to make their faith more inclusive of everyone else’s beliefs.
The problem grew so rampant at the close of the First Century AD that Christ issued a strong rebuke to the people who were spreading this toxic doctrine when He supernaturally appeared to the apostle John. Addressing these erring spiritual leaders, Jesus sternly warned, “Repent, or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth” (Revelation 2:16).
The word “fight” is in this verse is the Greek word polemos, a well-known Greek word that describes a full-scale battle that is fought until victory is achieved. This emphatically means that Christ is not willing to surrender His Church to anyone, and He will fight for His Church until it is solidly back in His hands. He refused to stand idly by and let these individuals corrupt His Church. If errant spiritual leaders did not repent of their active or passive tolerance of this false teaching, Christ would rise up against them with His mighty sword.
Christ’s warning to the Early Church applies to the Church in all ages, and it is clear to see why His words are especially relevant to believers today. Although there are many God-fearing pastors, preachers, and spiritual leaders in the modern Christian community, a host of spiritual leaders are replicating the grave errors made by errant leaders in the First Century. In pulpits and congregations around the world, truth is being watered down and altered to reflect the inclusive values of a changing culture. In many congregations, pure, sound doctrine has been completely replaced by soft, “feel-good” messages, and the majority of people in the pews are ignorant of even the most elementary tenets of the faith.
Despite their ability to communicate masterfully, many modern-day ministers lack a basic education in fundamental Bible principles or have simply chosen to avoid teaching sound doctrine in favor of more popular motivational messages. To be direct, it appears that some have been duped into taking a politically correct position on many biblical truths instead of declaring truth — because the truth would put them on a collision course with the society that surrounds them.
This drift away from the Bible has created a doctrinal vacuum in the Church — a void currently being filled with dynamic business ideas, financial advice, and motivational messages instead of the Word of God that the Holy Spirit is bound to honor with signs and wonders. It is certainly true that some of the motivational messages delivered from the pulpit are beneficial in people’s lives, but this help is temporary and can often be found in a book by some psychological guru. When everything is said and done, only the Bible has the power to permanently transform.
Unfortunately, what we currently see and feel is only the beginning of the rift that is developing within the Church world. Unless a major revival occurs, this rift will only grow deeper and wider. If repentance doesn’t melt the hearts of people throughout the Church world, it will eventually seem like there are three churches:
- A Church that holds fast to the truth and faces the brunt of opposition because it refuses to bend.
- A Church in the middle trying to “ride the fence” through accommodation in order to avoid persecution and societal rejection (see Revelation 2:12-17).
- A lukewarm, “Laodicean-like” Church (see Revelation 3:14-22) that has allowed compromise to run its full course, stripping it completely of the power of God and leaving Jesus standing on the outside.
It is not too late for the Body of Christ to make a recovery. In fact, it is never too late as long as there are believers who are willing to hear and hearken to what the Holy Spirit is saying to the Church. However, in order for the Church to receive the divine power it needs for correction, change, and restoration, it must undergo a transformation from the highest to its lowest levels.
The Bible makes it clear that if spiritual leaders refuse to take a stand for truth in these turbulent times, Christ will fight against them with His mighty sword. This is a battle that they cannot win. Absolutely no one may mitigate the truth of the Gospel — even for the purpose of purchasing peace with the world around them. The only true recourse is to surrender to the Holy Spirit and do what is right, even if it is wrong in the eyes of the world.
Early believers endured bullying, ridicule, imprisonment, and were even put to death because they refused to conform to the world that surrounded them on all sides. Although some believers collapsed under this pressure, many steadfastly resisted this coercion to conform and held fast to their faith. God has always had His remnant — those who will not bow to external pressures. In these last times God will have that remnant once again, and those who refuse to fear or to compromise their faith in Jesus Christ will experience previously unknown levels of the power of God as a result of their commitment to stand by truth.
I realize this is a very different type of Sparkling Gem, but I felt it necessary to write and memorialize what I believe are the greatest struggles facing the modern Church. I encourage you to stay faithful in praying for those believers and spiritual leaders who refuse to succumb to the pressures of the age and stand by absolute, biblical truth, regardless of what the world around them dictates. Why not make a fresh consecration to the Lord today that you will always be counted among that faithful number? Make a quality, immutable decision for your own walk with God: “From this moment forward, there’s no fence left to ride! Compromise in my commitment to Jesus is NOT an option!”
Rick Renner is a prolific author and a highly respected Bible teacher and leader in the international Christian community. He is the author of more than 30 books, including the bestsellers Dressed To Kill and Sparkling Gems From the Greek.
In 1992, Rick and his family moved to what is now the former Soviet Union. Two years later, he and his wife Denise founded the Riga Good News Church in Latvia before moving on to Moscow in 2000 to found the Moscow Good News Church. In 2007, the Renners also launched the Kiev Good News Church in the capital of Ukraine. Today, Rick serves as Bishop for this group of churches.
In addition, Rick and Denise pioneered a Bible school, and a ministerial association that serves thousands of Russian-speaking pastors throughout the former USSR as well as parts of the Middle East.
Rick also founded Media Mir, the first Christian television network established in the former USSR. Its broadcast capabilities via terrestrial stations in Russia, Ukraine, Mongolia, Estonia, Poland, Latvia, Armenia, Georgia, and Moldova, and as well by satellite means millions of people are reached with these messages. It has since expanded into book publishing and managing social media accounts.