Swallowed up in a worldly church!
(James Smith, "Man's Treatment of Gods People" 1859)
"If the world hates you—keep in mind that it hated Me first. If you belonged to the world—it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world—but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you!" John 15:18-19
Such is the testimony of the Lord Jesus.
Real Christians have never been favorites of the world—and while it continues what it is, they never can be.
Nor can the pure and simple gospel be pleasant to the world, because it lays the sinner in the dust, and exalts God as supreme and sovereign. Let us not be surprised then, if we hear worldlings speak against the gospel, and traduce the Lord's people; for what the Romans told Paul, is in a good measure true in the present day, "For concerning this 'sect', we are aware that it is spoken against everywhere!" Acts 28:22
This 'sect' originated with Jesus, the hated Nazarene, who came into the world for its good, and to save His people from their sins. He gathered around Him many—but they were principally the poor and unlearned. There was nothing in them, or about them, to recommend them to the proud and sensual world.
They were begotten of God, and made new creatures in Christ.
They embraced the truth that He taught.
They observed the precepts that He gave.
They copied the example that He set.
Their creed consisted pretty much in these facts:
that man is a lost sinner,
that salvation by works is impossible, and therefore it must be all of grace—or not at all;
that the Lord Jesus came into the world to take the sinner's place, fulfill the law in the sinner's stead, and die as the sinner's substitute.
By such hopes, they were animated,
by such rules, they walked, and
at such objects, they aimed.
And yet, they were spoken against and despised, because they poured contempt on the luxuries, pride, and honors of this world. They were treated as the offscouring of all things, unfit for society, unfit to live.
"Do not be surprised, my brothers—if the world hates you!" 1 John 3:13
And yet, like Israel in Egypt, the more they were persecuted, the more they multiplied and grew; until at length they spread not only over the Roman empire—but nearly over the world. And, had they retained . . .
the simplicity of their lives,
the spirituality of their minds, and
the correctness of their creed—
they would no doubt have encircled the globe!
But at length they were . . .
courted by royalty,
loaded with wealth,
became intoxicated with worldly honors,
and then their glory departed!
They drank into the spirit of the world,
conformed to its maxims and customs,
sought its approbation and applause—and
so fell from their exalted station, and lost their real dignity. The 'sect' that had been spoken against everywhere, with the exception of a few—was swallowed up in a worldly church!
There are still some, who, like the ancient sect of the Nazarenes, are spoken against everywhere. They will not swim with the stream. They will not compromise their Master's honor, or give up their Master's truth. According to the light they have—they walk; and they rejoice to exalt the Savior, humble the sinner, and proclaim salvation, all of grace. They rejoice that they are counted worthy to suffer shame, for His dear name.
Reader! Do you belong to this sect? Is there anything in your religion that is distasteful to the world, anything that draws forth its opposition, or excites its contempt? The carnal mind is still enmity against God, and if we are godlike—that enmity will manifest itself against us!
If we copy Christ's example, as set before us in the gospel; if we testify against the world, that its works are evil, and call upon it to repent, as Christ did—we shall soon be hated by the world!