From the beginning of this war, God’s enemies (Satan’s offspring) have waged war against God by attacking His subjects (the woman’s offspring), using deceit to convince them that Scripture is not true, that God is not who He says He is. They do this in order to foment rebellion against Him.
Satan sought to convince Eve that God was not good and that He was a liar (Genesis 3:1-7). Many in the medieval church sought to convince people that salvation rests not in God but in the church. The Deists of the 17th and 18th centuries sought to convince people that God was a benevolent but distant creator who has left us to fend for ourselves. All of this was geared toward making humans believe, like Eve, they can be like Him.
More recently, the enemies of God have become bolder by proclaiming that God does not exist at all. Now, humans don’t need to strive to be like God; since He doesn’t exist, they can strive to be Him. Of course, the problem with convincing people that God doesn’t exist is that the evidence of God’s existence—creation—surrounds us (Romans 1:19-20).
To counter the evidence, His enemies make up stories under the guise of science that eliminate the need for God the Creator. Two prime examples are the multiverse and evolutionary hypotheses; if an inert world can spawn itself from nothing (the multiverse) and subsequently spawn life from its inertness (evolution), then there is no need for a creator to account for creation (Genesis 1:1-26).
Unfortunately, the church has too often fallen for this deceit and strives to adapt Scripture to fit into the world’s ideas about creation. Many Christians, therefore—even many Evangelicals who profess that Scripture is God’s inerrant Word, now bend or ignore the text of the Bible to make room for a universe that is billions of years old, to deny fundamental differences between men and women, or to justify excessive and harmful levels of government interferences in our lives through the social gospel.
This appeasement stems from the church’s forgetfulness of passages such as 1 John 3:13, “Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you” (ESV) and James 4:4, “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (ESV).
The church is in retreat, unable to see the battles lines forming around us. Thus, while the enemies of God are seeking to destroy the culture and the church, surrounding us and picking us off one at a time, we debate Phoebe’s role in the early church.
This retreat is also evident when it comes to race and culture. The world seeks to divide that which is whole and make whole that which is divided. Thus, the single race of mankind becomes hopelessly split into various races while the greatest of all divides, that between believers and unbelievers, is forgotten. Racism, primarily white racism, is said to be at the heart of racial tension in America today and the primary cause of many of the problems that minorities face.
There can be no doubt about the harm that slavery and white racism has caused to blacks and other minorities in America’s past. However, to assume that white racism is still widespread in America and the cause of current racial tension and minority struggles is to ignore the history of conflict from almost the beginning of time and to deny the harm caused by theological and political liberalism, including the welfare state, to minorities and people of every color.
To address racial tension and the two-way street of racism, all of us must repent of our unbelief and return to Scripture to truly understand how to live out Christ’s ministry of reconciliation now and in the future. While we should strive for better today, we must remember building God’s kingdom here on earth is a slow process, like the growth of the mustard seed or the spread of the leaven. Moreover, the only path forward for this is the Good News of the Kingdom of Heaven, that Christ came to live the righteous life we did not, then died to pay the price for our unrighteousness, and now has risen to reign over all creation for eternity. In this is the hope of the world, and to spread the Good News we must speak it clearly and imitate Christ by dying and coming to life again, over and over.
Retreat, i.e., reconciliation with the world, is not the Christian’s path. Instead, we seek reconciliation with God, through the righteousness of Jesus Christ. This is how the kingdom of God will be filled with children of the kingdom as numerous as the stars. It is also how the great cultural divide in the world between belief and unbelief will be overcome.