In keeping with His Gospel, our Lord not only announced it but foretold the trials and tribulations that would encompass His followers who have been called to be separate from the world. Our Lord even intimates how becoming and natural persecution is to His followers by placing it among His Beatitudes:
"Blessed are they who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.."
It is the case today that a sword has entered into the very heart of the confessional body. Over and across the entire American Church, from Catholic to Protestant, it works as a winnowing-fan (Luke 3:17) separating the wheat--the humble, repentant believers who self-sacrificially demonstrate His grace--- from the unrepentant, truth-hating chaff: all who merely claim to be Christians---the proud, weak, indecisive, lukewarm, compromisers, the gossips, whisperers and back-biters; the ambitious, covetous, and all clergy in process of falling (Rev. 9:1) who have made God into whatever they want Him to be and persist in removing two entirely offensive words---sin and repentance (Rom. 3:23, Rom.1:18, Col.3:6) :
"When sin is retired, no one need feel guilt or shame for doing anything they please, whenever they want, and with any whom of their choice. In both the secular and religious today it is accepted that Man's nature is to "Feel good, be happy, and prosperous." (Lucifer's instructions to his acolytes, Frank McGuire, Renew America, Aug. 6, 2013)
On one side of the sword are the faithful---the many churches, priests, evangelists, distinguished Christian laypeople and missionaries here in America and around the world humbly proclaiming Christ crucified for the sins of all men and fulfilling the Biblical mandate with humility and integrity.
In response to the essay, "Apostasy in America: The Strange but Just Judgment of God," the faithful, whether Catholic, Evangelical, Lutheran, or other denomination did not reject its' bitter truth and dire warning but rather responded with pleas to "wake-up and consider your ways!" One reader's response was representative:
" Your hour of trial is upon you. “If the righteous scarcely be saved where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?” Jesus still stands at the door of your heart, knocking, waiting to be invited in. The time for accepting this truth is growing very short. Please consider carefully what you will do with the Son of God."
The faithful distinguished themselves by their humility, love of truth, charity, compassion and grief:
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. "Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.…" (Matthew 5:4) "For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; 'he will lead them to springs of living water.' 'And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.'" (Rev. 7:17)
On the other side are all who suppress the truth, especially about sin, that it separates us from a holy and righteous God, provokes his wrath, and causes us to ultimately suffer death and eternal separation from Him. (Rom. 3:23, Rom.1:18, Col.3:6). They comprise the culturally-relevant church of "what's happening now," the anti-traditional contemporary Church consisting of trendy, disaffected Roman and Eastern Orthodox Catholics and 'new' Protestant evangelicals who practice a spirituality that is Christian in name only, a works-based "deeds but no creeds" spirituality that accommodates itself to our pagan culture and is trivial, irreverent, self-affirming, fun-loving, irrelevant, and permissive.
With the unrepentant, salvation is on their own terms or not at all. Jesus is a mystical mantra, a get-home free card, a prod to do more work and fill coffers more generously, a portal to the astral plane, or perhaps a gaudy flashing neon sign proclaiming the spirituality of the self-righteous who with Frank Sinatra sing: I did it my way!
As the unrepentant are offended by truth, their tirades against "Apostasy in America..." together with the ugly aspersions cast upon its author clearly set them apart from the faithful.
The sword is even now separating the wheat from the chaff, who sunk in pride and self-delusion yet believing themselves 'saved' have forgotten the following:
"Not every one that saith to me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doth the will of my Father who is in heaven, he shall enter into the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 7:21
This parable said Matthew Henry, speaks of two kinds of builders. The faithful who repent of sin, strive daily to live holy lives, and love one another no matter how much suffering and persecution they must endure:
"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:3-11 By them will the compromising church and the world "...be offended..."
The mere religion of the other builders rests in bare hearing and "it goes no further; their heads are filled with empty notions (and) worldly prosperity." Upon these they build, "but they are all sand" that will fall in the storm..."coming that will try every man's work. When God takes away the soul, where is the hope of the hypocrite? The house fell in the storm, when the builder had most need of it, and expected it would be a shelter to him. It fell when it was too late to build another. May the Lord make us wise builders for eternity." (Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary, 7:21-29)
The sword is at work. Time grows short. May the unrepentant wake-up and consider their ways.