By Gunnar Anderson
Kyrka och Folk Nr. 39 24th Sept. 2015
Translated by Bror Erickson
Go to church more, immerse yourself in the Christian message, and confess your faith.” This summarizes German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s recent admonition that she gave during a speech at the University of Bern on the third of September where she received an honorary doctorate. This was her response when asked what she wanted to do to protect Europe against Islamization.
Instead of feeling anxious about believing Muslims she thinks that we should be bold in our own faith, and gain better knowledge about the same.
“We still have every opportunity and every freedom to pledge ourselves to our religion if we practice it and believe in it. Do we even have the courage to say that we are Christians? (www.signum.se).
We all have reason to receive Merkel’s admonition. But the question is, what message would we encounter in the churches. Within many church walls something is heard that is in direct conflict with that which we encounter in the Holy Scriptures. For example, the pastors of Stockholm’s Great Church (Stora Kyrka) recently made it clear that they do not believe that Jesus is the only way to God, but that other religions can lead one in the right direction also.
The diocese has been notified of this, but it is unlikely that anyone there will have any objections. We do not need to go too far back in time to find church leaders who reacted very strongly to such serious abuses of the Lord’s name. The fall has come incredibly fast.
The great threat against Christendom and the Christian inheritance in our lands is not Muslims fleeing here, but the widespread apostasy within the church. “Did God really say…?” To this day this is the devil’s winning concept. The opposition to the misleading forces have broken down as the questioning of God’s word has gained acceptance.
Instead of God’s word judging and assessing our lives, men have sat as judges over God’s word. And when one begins to weed from the Bible such things that one finds uncomfortable, or too offensive to human reason, one also throws out the salvation of man. The prophetic and apostolic word is the foundation upon which Christianity is built. (Eph. 2:20)
Islam is a religion that is growing strong in Europe primarily through refugees and by having larger families. And the radical direction that persecutes Christianity harshly in other parts of the world, is extremely challenging for our society.
But the Christian church is not driven by fear. She knows that Jesus is Lord, that he has all authority in heaven and on earth, and is with his congregation regardless of what she encounters.
Jesus has a clearly delineated chief task: To forgive sins, to clothe people in eternal righteousness that he won for us. Every single man has the right to hear this message. God does not desire that any one of them redeemed by the blood of Jesus should be lost but he wants them to be saved for eternity. Do you who read this want the same?!
It is critical that congregations faithfully keep to God’s word and that we individual Christians live close to the Lord in worship, Bible Study and prayer. Then the light can shine clearly in the spiritual darkness.
For this reason there is also something critical found in the congregation’s most important task: to regularly celebrate the divine service where consummate proclamation of God’s word is central. Resources are limited, so invest them in Sunday worship. Such congregations need to be encouraged and many new ones need to be built up across the land.
Through the centuries the church has been “accustomed” to live side by side with confessors of other faiths. In many places in the world today, this means that Christians are exposed to harsh persecution, even while we hear that large crowds, not the least Muslims, are converting to faith in Jesus. The light of God’s word shines clearly in the darkness, and as it gets darker it is seen more clearly.
Our spiritual enemy wants us to be afraid, stunned and paralyzed. But if we give ourselves time to listen to Jesus we understand that he has overcome and conquered the evil one, and all this evil on the cross. And the light shines in the darkness, and darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:5)