Henry Mahan

Rolfe Barnard made an interesting observation years ago when he said: "Sixteen hundred years ago the church was adopted by Rome. Millions of pagans flooded its membership, and they brought with them their pagan culture, tradition and faith. It took that "successful church" a thousand years to recover from that brilliant success. Something like that has happened in our day. In this century the church and religion has been adopted by society, politicians, entertainers, and popular persons. All of a sudden "Jesus" and "the gospel" have become quite popular. Millions have joined up to swell the membership to an all-time high. Results: a church that bears no resemblance to the church of our Lord Jesus Christ. "Religion" has become man's chief defense against the true gospel! If there is one place that a man does not dare to preach the gospel of God's sovereign grace, it is in the average church."

Church membership has become the best place to hide from God. Religious beliefs and experiences serve as refuges to shield men from the arrows of conviction and the message of real redemption in Christ. Everybody in this super church is "saved" and are insulted if the question of their interest in Christ is raised or even suggested. There is no possible way to confront these "know-so salvationists" with the gospel of God's glory! The so-called church of today exists as a social power, a political power, and as a powerful body in the community but it has lost its true nature as the body of Christ. They have sold their birthright for respectability, social and intellectual acceptance.

Long ago men accused Jesus Christ of revolution and blasphemy and put Him on a cross. Today's religionists, while claiming to believe His Word, have tucked Him neatly away in their sanctuaries. There amid soft music, or hearty singing, the chant of the liturgy or shouts of amen, He can be talked about in theological terms, preached in disguised words so as not to disturb the status quo, (that's Latin for the mess we are in) and accepted as Saviour while men turn thumbs down on His royal claims to reign over His own. Souls can be won to Jesus without disturbing their other relationships, partnerships or style of life. Those who put Him on the cross, hoping to be done with His demands for submission and surrender to His Lordship, were no more deceived than those who have tried to relegate Him to church buildings or the worhsip of Him to a sabbath day and a decision for Christ. Todays presumption is that God exists to serve and provide for us, whereas the Scriptures indicate that our chief end is to glorify God!

The character in which men refuse and reject the Lord Jesus today is the same character in which they rejected and ridiculed Him two thousand years ago – The King. Those who accused Him said, "He maketh himself a king. " The soldiers mocked Him by putting a crown of thorns on His head and saying, "Hail, King of the Jews." Pilate presented Him to the people saying, "Behold, your king." The inscription over His cross read, 'Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews. " It was as The King that the thief on the cross confessed Him and received mercy, "Lord, you are not going to stay dead, you are the King; remember me when you come into your kingdom. "

Men today will bend the knee in solemn humility before the throne of grace on which sits the King of Kings and will confess Him to be Lord or they will feel His wrath. There is no debate in the heart of a regenerated man over the Lord's right to reign or His right to do with His own what He will. There is no debate in the true church of the Lord Jesus Christ over his divine sovereignty and His right to show mercy to whom He will and be gracious to whom He will. There is no debate in the mind of the true minister of the gospel as to whether he will preach the sovereignty of Christ in salvation or compromise that message in order to hold his crowd or his pulpit. "Here I stand, I can do no other." The test of a true soldier of Christ is his willingness to do battle exactly at that place where the character and work of His Redeemer is being questioned – today it is the Lordship of Christ in creation, providence, and salvation.

Henry Mahan, Pastor
Thirteenth Street Baptist Church
Ashland, Ky.

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