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Has the Church Lost Her Way? part 2

“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, Unto him [be] glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”

Ephesians 3:20-21 KJV

Why Church?

We hear much today about ‘toxic masculinity’ In March of 2021, an article in Psychology today, defined toxic masculinity as follows:

Toxic masculinity is the result of a set of strict rules that prescribe what being a man should be. These toxic “man rules” include:

  1. A man should suffer physical and emotional pain in silence.
  2. A man shouldn’t seek warmth, comfort, or tenderness.
  3. A man should only have the emotions of bravery and anger. Any other emotions are weaknesses. Weakness is unacceptable.
  4. A man shouldn’t depend on anyone. Asking for help is also weak.
  5. A man should always want to win, whether in sports, work, relationships, or sex.

The conclusion reached by the author is that these elements are the root cause of mysogyny or violence against women. Frankly, I see this as a bit of a straw man argument. While these traits are not desirable they fail to explain the root cause of violence against women.

Propping these traits up so that we can as a society knock them down, not only fails to address the root cause of violence but in fact undermines the role of masculinity in the home and society. By failing to recognize alienation from God as the root cause of misplaced aggression, society reflexively labels any traits of masculinity as toxic.

There is a need for men to not be focused on their pain so that they can focus on the needs of others.

There is a need for men to be brave against threats to what is right.

There is a need for men to bond with other men so that each other’s strengths may reinforce each other’s weaknesses.

There is a need for men to want to win for the glory of preserving their families.

Through this deceptive label of ‘toxic masculinity’, men are actually robbed of their masculinity and this allows evil and chaos to perpetuate itself. Femininity and masculinity each have their own glory. The enemy of our souls knows that if he can diminish that glory in any way, families will be destroyed, societies weakened and opportunity for his domination will increase.

Scripture reveals God’s order in the home. If the glory of man as the head of the home is diminished or if the glory of the woman as a nurturer is diminished, the family will self destruct. This failure to glorify each in their respective roles as God designed them, undermines the very foundations of society. In the same way, if the Glory of God is not acknowledged and celebrated, creation itself will self destruct.

In the last post, we asked the question regarding the purposes of the church. In this post, I want to explore the first of those purposes and one explanation of what it means to glorify God and how the church is uniquely designed to accomplish this.

It will be helpful to provide a little of the background that God has revealed to us regarding His mind and overall purpose in the earth. For those of you whose minds are already purified by this knowledge, please indulge me that your pure minds may be stirred up in remembrance of these things (2 Peter 3:1)

In the beginning of creation, God created man in His own image and “male and female created He them”. Being created in the image of God means, among other things, that mankind is particularly suited to be a companion to God.

Adam and Eve were given the role of exercising kingdom dominion over all of God’s creation. Though, no doubt, they were extremely intelligent and creative, we do not read of any special powers granted to them. Their greatest power ever given to them was then, as it is now, a special place of nearness to their Creator. To my knowledge, this relationship of intimacy was never said to be characteristic of angels.

Angels were apparently created even before the earth itself was. It is said of them in the book of Job (38:7) that they, the sons of God, shouted with joy as the foundations of the earth were laid and hung upon the nothingness of space.

We read in the first verse of the Bible that God created a beginning that marked the beginning of time, He created space that was called heaven and He created matter that He called earth. So it appears to me (and there is no apparent consensus on this) that somewhere after the creation of time and space, angels were created as spirits to observe the creation of matter.

We can only infer the time of the angels creation, since it is not specifically stated. In Job 38:7, they are called the morning stars leading some to suggest that they were created at the same time as God created light on day one. They sang for joy when God laid the foundations of the earth suggesting that they were created on day one when the heavens were created, even before God formed the earth. (For a helpful treatment of this subject, read Those invisible spirits called angels by Renald Showers)

God is no Respecter of Persons

What we do know is that Lucifer’s name means ‘light bearer’ and he is called son of the morning. He was also called the ‘expansive cherub’ tasked to magnify the glory of God:

“Thou [art] the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee [so]: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou [wast] perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.”

Ezekiel 28:14-15 KJV

This poetic language may be using physical descriptions to reveal spiritual realities in order to show us that Lucifer was in an elevated and unassailable position of power with God. This language suggests that before God created man, Lucifer was the pinnacle of God’s creation and given the task of preserving God’s glory through the magnificence of his radiant beauty.

Ezekiel prophesied against the King of Tyre by speaking against the angelic principality that animated him, (Ephesians 6:12) namely Lucifer. What this prophecy reveals about Lucifer is that at some point the beauty that God gave him in the spiritual realm was apparently given physical manifestation on the newly created earth:

“Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone [was] thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.”

Ezekiel 28:13 KJV.

What a shock it must have been to Lucifer in all of his grandeur and power to witness the creation of another beautiful creature clothed with the light of God and given a kingdom mandate to exercise dominion over all that God created upon the earth (Genesis 1:28) We read that iniquity ‘was found’ in Lucifer, suggesting that God knew it was there but God had yet to reveal it. That iniquity revealed in Lucifer is pride.

What we learn about pride through Lucifer is that it causes the creature to profess love for the Creator because of what God had made the creature to be, rather than the creature loving his Creator for who God is.

We can identify with that in our own relationships. For example, if a man and a woman come together only because each one thinks that there is some status that can be gained by marriage to this person, then that is a weak definition of love.

What will happen to us in such a condition of heart when we feel that ‘our needs’ are not being met in the relationship? Well, it is easy to ‘fall out of love’ with that person. On the other hand if there is a real appreciation of and a delight in the personality and character of our mates, love has fertile ground in which to grow.

The same is true regarding our relationship with God. If we profess to love God because of what He has made us or given us without an appreciation of His character then when life’s circumstances turn sour, we can be easily convinced that God is not all that great after all. We are in effect serving God from a point of pride, conditional upon our status remaining elevated and the circumstances of life remaining favorable.

God’s holiness requires that pride can not be hidden. God reveals pride in us often by bringing us into circumstances that cause us to become jealous. Perhaps it is over someone else living in circumstances that we want for ourselves and do not have. This happened at creation when God made man in His own image and gave Him a place of companionship with God and dominion over the earth. Lucifer wanted this dominion for himself.

Lucifer’s iniquity, born out of pride, led him to deceive and diminish the man, through the woman. Lucifer’s jealousy led him to prefer a ruined creation where man was diminished rather than a perfect creation that diminished His own position. Lucifer chose to glorify himself rather than God, saying of himself: “I will become like the Most High…” (Isaiah 14:13,14)

This blasphemous behavior ultimately brought a curse even upon Lucifer, the greatest in God’s angelic host. After Lucifer made his choice, he immediately set out to turn Adam and Eve from loving God for who He is and got them to think about what God had made them to be. The devil introduced ‘the lie’ to them that is with us to this day, “…ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil”. By listening to the creature rather than their creator, Adam and Eve brought a curse on the whole of God’s perfect creation.

Reversing the Curse

Now, rather than walking with God in the garden in the cool of the day, Adam and Eve were banished from their place of nearness to God and their kingdom dominion was lost. The only access for returning to God now was through shedding the blood of an innocent animal. This victim would serve as a reminder of the life that they lost with God.

The sacrifice of an innocent lamb serves to illustrate the way back to God. The blood applied would later serve as the means of deliverance out of Egyptian bondage on Passover night. God declared that the way back to God then and now is that when He sees the blood, His destroying angel will pass over them. Today God looks to see if you and I have allowed the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s lamb to be applied to our souls.

Note that it was not the pride of Lucifer that brought a curse on creation. His pride brought a curse upon himself. Rather, it was the pride of man who had been given authority over all of creation, that brought the curse on all of creation. The result of that curse is that Lucifer usurped the dominion and co-regency with God over creation intended for mankind.

The intent of God’s revelation of Himself in the Bible is to show us God’s Glory. This glory establishes God as the ruler of all creation. He has devised the plan to restore the kingdom that was lost in Eden. This plan would ultimately be fulfilled through Christ Himself.

In the process of time, God is calling out a remnant of people that will love Him for who He is rather than solely on what He has done for them. The Greek word translated church literally means ‘called out ones’. That is the church is a body of human souls called out for the specific purpose to glorify God by learning to love Him for who He is.

Part of that ‘calling out’ plan is assigning a task for angels to serve as ‘ministering spirits’ (Hebrews 1:14). They were given special powers suited for that purpose. These powers were all to be exercised in service to mankind for the purpose of glorifying God.

What we find revealed in scriptures is that Lucifer took a third of the angels in rebellion with him (Revelation 12:4) in an attempt to thwart the purpose of God in restoring kingdom dominion to man. Those angelic powers originally intended to minister to mankind are now being used in rebellion to God in order to deceive and destroy man by whatever means.

Knowing God Glorifies God

What all of this teaches us is that the purpose of God is to preserve His creation from complete destruction. Essential to that purpose is an acknowledgement of who God is. This is what it means to glorify God. So all that God is doing in man and through man is intended to glorify His name.

When we say that the purpose of God is to glorify Himself, our sinful minds immediately respond by thinking that God is acting arrogantly. Quite to the contrary, as it has already been demonstrated, this is not an exercise of self-aggrandizement, it is an exercise to preserve His creation.

One of the characteristics of God is that God is love. As His creation we were intended to be an extension of that love. So His great desire is to preserve for Himself a creation that He can share that love with because of who He is.

For many years, I believed and taught that God’s purpose is ‘salvific’. In other words, He is all about saving souls. However, this presents a problem when we see how many souls God condemned to death because of their opposition to Him.

Furthermore, it does not account for the fact that there is no salvation for the angels that opposed Him. If God’s main purpose is to save souls, then by His own admission there are few that are saved (Matthew 7:14), and He is failing in that purpose.

Rather than God’s purposes being salvific, God’s purpose is what we have already been describing, it is doxological. That is, it is to glorify His name because the very existence of His creation depends on it. So whether God saves souls or whether He destroys souls, it is all to His glory. It reveals His righteousness, His love, His mercy, His Holiness and His Sovereignty over all of His creation.

Now with all of that as background, when it comes to the purpose of the church it is not hard to understand that one of the purposes of the church is to glorify God. We do this by learning who He truly is and bearing witness to His Holy character whether we are prosperous or whether we suffer loss.

It is not hard to see where the devil is at work causing those who profess to love God to have their attention drawn to what God can do for them. This is a very shallow faith that will not stand the storms of life, much less withstand the searching judgment of God.

The Church Glorifies God in at least seven ways:

1. Love God for His character of Grace, Mercy, Holiness, Sovereignty, etc;

“And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself.”

Luke 10:27 KJV

“Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for [thou] only [art] holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.”

Revelation 15:4 KJV

2. Preach the gospel in season and out of season;

“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.”

2 Timothy 4:2 KJV

“Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for [your] liberal distribution unto them, and unto all [men];”

2 Corinthians 9:13 KJV

3. Praise Him by Singing aloud and by making melody in our hearts;

“Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;”

Ephesians 5:19 KJV

“That ye may with one mind [and] one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. … And that the Gentiles might glorify God for [his] mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name.”

Romans 15:6, 9 KJV

4. Give thanks to God for all things;

“Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;”

Ephesians 5:20 KJV

“Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by [your] good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.”

1 Peter 2:12 KJV

5. Give thanks to God in all things;

“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

1 Thessalonians 5:18 KJV

“Yet if [any man suffer] as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.”

1 Peter 4:16 KJV

6. Increase in Fruit Bearing and in the Knowledge of God

“That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;”

Colossians 1:10 KJV

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

Matthew 5:16 KJV

7. Offer our bodies as living sacrifices.

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service.”

Romans 12:1 KJV

“For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.”

1 Corinthians 6:20 KJV

What we learn from a review of scripture is that we were created for the purpose of glorifying God and exercising dominion with Him. That purpose is lost when we listen to the lie of the devil and profess to love God for what He can do for us rather than who He is.

Creation cannot exist without God’s name being glorified. God’s purpose on earth is to restore what was lost in Eden. That purpose is progressively realized in those who place their faith in Christ and are made members in His church, which is His body. The local church then becomes the place where God’s name should be glorified on earth through lives of worship and obedience to His Word.

Next, we will look at the responsibility of the church to equip the saints to fulfill that purpose.

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smc

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