The Body of Corruption


 By James Brown Jr.

The American Church has been continuously and increasingly rocked by scandals throughout the 1900’s.  The rising hypocrisy and the free flow of information have intensified public scrutiny that will reveal more and more scandals as we continue into the 21st Century.

The scandal laden Church has encouraged the rampant skepticism in and outside of the Church.  Because of this, hopelessness permeates the body of Christ.  Leaders and laymen alike are clueless as to how to deal with the issues confronting the Church in a post-Christian culture.

In the midst of the turmoil, the Church should welcome and be transparent even though cover-up is the natural reaction.  Most people attempt to protect the status quo but deception will not protect the reputation of the Church.

This corruption and scrutiny is going to bring some terrible consequences if we do not use it as a tool to purify the Church.  We need to understand that this purifying process is necessary.

“Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.” –Hebrews 12:11 

There are several things we must consider in light of this reality no one wants to admit or deal with.

Scandals will Increase

Due to the lack of emphasis on regenerate church membership and church discipline, tabloid headlines are not going away anytime soon.  Our recent history has shown a continual increase in scandals.

The moral failures of Church leaders started to become headline news beginning in 1974 with Billy James Hargis and in 1976 with Bob Harrington.  These were just the beginning of sorrows.

In the 1980’s we witnessed the downfalls of Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker.  The 1990’s revealed the moral and financial sins of Mark Warnke and Robert Tilton.  The 21st Century has seen the disaster of Ted Haggard, Eddie Long, Jack Schaap, Doug Phillips, and still coming to light Bill Gothard.

We should also mention the Roman Catholic priests molestation revelations and the multitude of lesser knows who have devastated communities from sea to shining sea.  Most of us have seen this firsthand or at least in the news.

These moral failures generally center on financial fraud and sexual immorality.  Even worse has been the numbers of clergy both Roman Catholic and Protestant involved in child molestation and child pornography.  A simple Google search of pastors and scandals will make you want to hang your head in shame.

As grave as the news has been, be aware that the devastation will continue. The bad news is these scandals are not only intensifying in numbers but in debauchery. 

Government will Intervene

Because of the increasing financial fraud in so many ministries, conservative Republican Senator Chuck Grassley from Iowa opened a Senate investigation into six televangelists who promote the Prosperity Gospel.

Too make matters worse, these highly suspicious ministries led the fight for religious liberty making the whole argument look like a scam.  The political wrangling and inability of the committee to remedy these serious allegations will only cause more government intrusion into churches and ministries related to them.

While we must oppose federal intervention into the affairs of the Church, financial fraud and sexual crimes are a problem that must be resolved.  Because the American Church is completely incapable of holding anyone accountable the natural progression will demand government intrusion. 

However, the government should be the least of our worries.

Judgment Begins With the House of God

The Church belongs to Jesus Christ and whether it is apostate or true it must be held accountable.  Christ will not allow His name to be sullied by imposters or sinful saints.

The problem with laymen and leaders alike is we refuse to acknowledge these scandals as God’s judgment upon us.  Occasionally, we hear a preacher warn of God’s judgment if we continue our path of moral corruption but what is missed is the fact these sinful behaviors are part of the judgment.

We did not just wake up one morning corrupt.  There was a progression of sin that brought us to these results.  Our sinful practices are the result of our heretical doctrines.

Just a surface level inquiry ought to reveal some of these issues.  As America entered into the 20th Century the Church began calling for revolutionary reforms.  The educational elites were the first to begin rejecting the theology of the past but this cancer soon began spreading to the elite churches until the cancer infected the whole body.

Today you can hear these heresies in the most remote parts of our land in the most conservative regions.

While even conservatives will give warning about Higher Criticism that liberalized our seminaries and eventually destroyed the mainline churches, they fail to see the beam in their own eye. 

Within both the conservative and liberal leaders of the Church in the early 20th Century was a libertarian spirit.  Citing liberty, both liberals and conservatives rejected the creeds and confessions of the historical church.  They then replaced historical theology and forms of expression in favor of new innovations they believed were rediscovered and unknown to the Church since the Apostles.

These new mystical revelations of the conservatives were just as destructive as the open Bible-rejecting liberals.  Instead of Biblical theology and discipleship, the evangelicals of the 1900’s decided there was no time for faith in God’s ways.  End-time apocalyptic fever electrified the conservative movement into a rush to save as many sinners as possible while discipleship and progressive sanctification was sacrificed for bigger crowds.  As the leaven increased so did easy-believism in man-made mass evangelism techniques and denunciation of the means of grace.

These conservative churches were filled with unregenerate and uneducated members.  This produced a Church governed by the flesh and not by the Spirit.  It is no wonder the God-centered gospel known as Calvinism was replaced by the man-centered gospel known as Arminianism.

The Calvinism of the Great Reformation came to America and produced godly families, churches and government that cultivated into the greatest nation on earth.  When Arminianism became dominant it destroyed America in less than 100 years.  If anything, our history ought to cause us to be suspect of this man-centered gospel but instead those who profess the name of Christ today continue to flee farther and farther from the faith of our fathers.

Instead of returning to the old paths we conjure up one more program, evangelistic method or new way to package the same old heresy.  Yet, no one will dare question the seed that has produced the corrupt fruit.

While no sane Christian is happy about judgment, we do understand it is necessary.  We have no desire to see the death of America but our only hope is to look to Christ and live.

Looking to Christ implies His terms, which include the righteous standard of His law, the acknowledgment of our sin in true confession, and repentance.  However, one of the necessary elements of repentance is accepting the punishment of our iniquity.

“If they shall confess their iniquity, and the iniquity of their fathers, with their trespass which they trespassed against me, and that also they have walked contrary unto me;  And that I also have walked contrary unto them, and have brought them into the land of their enemies; if then their uncircumcised hearts be humbled, and they then accept of the punishment of their iniquity:  Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land.” –Leviticus 26:40 

This has been ignored making our affirmation of judgment beginning at the house of God a moot point.

“For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” –1 Peter 4:17

If we truly believed judgment must begin with us, it would cause us to acknowledge, confess, repent and accept.  While some may mention some degree of the first three, it is rare when all four are upheld in their fullness.
Christ the Conqueror

Victory in Christ

We believe that Christ will purify His Church; therefore, we accept this stroll through the wilderness as heaven sent for our good.  Christ did not redeem us from Egypt so that we could go elsewhere to establish our own Egypt but to build and advance the city of God.

American Christians must rediscover the work of God in redemption.  This redemption process does not begin and end with some trivial affirmation of the sinners prayer but is explained in Romans 8.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.  For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.  Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.  What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” –Romans 8:28-31

The work of redemption was predestinated by God before the foundation of the world in foreordaining Christ to atone for our sins (1 Peter 1:20), choosing us in Christ (Ephesians 1:4) and completing the work even though Christ was manifested once in end of the world (Hebrews 4:3; Hebrews 9:26).

This work God began in us will be performed (Philippians 1:6) because “it is God which worketh in [us] both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).

God has redeemed us from Egypt in order to deliver us “from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8:21).  Therefore, this present judgment is for our good and essential to the purification of Christ’s Church.  We are the body of Christ and not the body of corruption. 

Brothers and sisters in Christ, do not despair, what the enemies, and even many friends, of the Church have thought for evil, God has thought it for good.  He will bring good out of evil to show forth His power and His glory.

The lesson we are being taught, and the sooner we learn it the sooner we can march toward the Promised Land, is that God has given us new life for His own glory and pleasure.  If we desire a pure and powerful Church, we must return to the true Gospel of Christ redeeming His people by justifying and sanctifying them.

“Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” –Hebrews 13:21 

Conclusion

In light of these things what should we do?

First, we must return to the true Church.  Many of these scandals are the natural outgrowth of an apostate Church. 

The common denominators of these apostate churches are heretical doctrine and government.

Within their heretical doctrine you find their focus on Arminian perversions of the Gospel in both justification and sanctification; the denial of the three uses of the Law in their full context and implications; the denial of the means of grace; and eschatological and ethical additions or subtractions from the Word of God.

The modern American Church has digressed from the constitutional republicanism of the Reformation to the socialistic democracy of the Enlightenment.

One of the biggest failures of the Church has been in the government of the Visible Universal Church.  We are left with two extremes: radical independency and sectarianism.  Many times these two extremes merge together to divide the body of Christ into the worst chaos ever seen within the Church.

Second, we must clean our own house.  Of course, this cannot adequately be accomplished without unity in Biblical doctrine and government.  However, it would be pointless to come together in true faith if we only continue to cover-up the Breaking Bad environment found within many churches.

One of the essentials to this house cleaning is handing over those who violate the law and then working with the proper authorities for justice.  No one will ever take us seriously until we uphold the rule of law we so often demand for liberals.

Third, we must recover the Biblical hope in Christ to change lives and reconcile the world.  A defeated people will attempt nothing and will only further isolate themselves in hopelessness.  We have been entrusted with a Gospel of Victory and it is time for the revelation of the sons of God in a world ruined by sin.

The reason we have an ineffective Church is because we have rejected God’s means of grace for a bowl of watered-down soup.  The sacred trust commissioned by Christ to His Church has been exchanged for doctrines and traditions of men.

If you are tired of ignorance and defeat, then maybe it is time to join the modern Reformation of the Church back to the old paths of the Apostolic Faith.