The Church is Offensive
The Church is offensive and offensive.
First and foremost The Church is God’s current offensive weapon of choice in the war against Satan. The Church is not a defensive weapon. Her mission is to conquer, not to defend. Jesus made this absolutely clear:
…on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Mat 16:18)
Gates are defensive weapons against an attacker; if the gates prevail the attacker does not conquer the stronghold. Therefore Jesus is painting a picture of The Church attacking and conquering strongholds everywhere not just here on this earth but in Hell itself.
Furthermore, Jesus commands every Christian to go out purposefully and conquer by making disciples everywhere throughout the world:
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Mat 28:19)
He is commanding each member of The Church to take the offensive, to attack, and to disciple, baptize, and teach – not just to sit back and wait for Satan’s attack!
Second, The Church is offensive because The Gospel message itself is distasteful and offensive to unrepentant unbelievers who are God’s enemies at heart. After all, The Gospel is a stumbling block that causes them all to fall and fail. But the same Gospel message also assures the victory of The Church!
as it is written, “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” (Rom 9:33)
Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1Co 1:17-18)
We tend to think that Satan is roaming the Earth attacking. But he isn’t. He is roaming the earth on the defensive from the onslaught of The Church. Satan is vainly attempting to maintain control over what he lawlessly appropriated through the shackles of compulsion, coercion and force of sin. So what can a defender do when attacked with overwhelming force?
- He can blunt the attack by weakening the attacker
Specifically, Satan can blunt The Church’s forceful attack by confusing, corrupting, and co-opting individual leaders and members of The Church – thereby corrupting and compromising The Church itself. A compromised Church is a weakened, distracted, and confused Church unable to press a vigorous, coordinated attack.
The allure of power, money, fame, physical comforts, and other temptations is hard for man to resist and readily provides easy targets. Nevertheless this is still a losing strategy. At best it can only slow down the expansion of The Church. In the end the Church continues expanding, albeit more slowly; the strategy cannot regain lost territory. Satan’s only viable option therefore is to counter-attack.
- He can counter-attack.
Satan can counter-attack only by providing an alternate message to The Gospel. Since The Gospel claims uniqueness and truth, any alternate message believably clothed in the garb of compelling truth will suffice. Since The Gospel is the truth, cunningly distorted gospel messages are the most compelling and effective. Additional benefit and effectiveness can be gained if the message actually raises questions regarding the veracity of The Gospel. Satan’s forces can aggressively counter-attack The Church only under the banner of such false messages to re-gain lost territory.
An alternate false message merely needs the ring of truth and some promise of apparent benefits or success in this world to gain a substantial following. The more true it sounds on the surface, the more effective it becomes. An element of compulsion increases the effectiveness of the campaign.
Those are the only two possible choices for Satan’s defense against The Church, and he has used them both quite effectively, but The Gospel continues its irresistible march around the world.
Corruption of The Church
The enemy’s only effective weapon against The Church is corruption. Though The Church today is imperfect, for it is made up of imperfect people, she is being perfected as Christ Jesus perfects each member of His Church. Until the day when everyone has been perfected, however, The Church will remain corrupted simply because all members of The Church are corrupted.
Types of Corruption
What actually is corruption? How can The Church be corrupted? The Church can be corrupted or co-opted.
Corruption occurs when an impurity is introduced into something that was previously pure. For example
- If something is clean it is corrupted by dirt within.
- If something is true, it is corrupted by falsehood within.
- If something is good, it is corrupted by evil within.
- If something is moral, it is corrupted by immorality within.
- If a fire burns pure and uncorrupted fuel, it gives off heat with little smoke and dirt; otherwise it gives off lots of smoke and little heat.
Co-option occurs when something originally intended for one purpose is used to achieve a contrary purpose through illegitimate means. For example
- If a charity originally intended to create wealth is illegitimately taken over and subsequently used by to destroy wealth
- If an organ in the body originally intended to produce good hormones is taken over by sick cells that produce sick hormones
- If a business founded to promote healthy behavior is acquired by a competitor and used to sell unhealthy foods
- If a fire intended to heat a house is used to burn it down .
- If The Church, intended to accomplish God’s goals, is used to hinder those same goals.
Degrees of Corruption
The Church’s foundation is Truth, comprising historical events and doctrinal teaching. The Church becomes corrupted to the extent that extra-biblical, non-biblical, non-scriptural, or human inventions are used to distort or change the underlying foundational Truth of The Church. The Church becomes co-opted when its true teachings are used to justify goals contrary to The Church’s original intentions. (For example, using The Church’s teaching to justify personal sinful behavior is co-opting The Church for personal gain.)
The term “corrupt” from here on includes both corruption and co-option as discussed previously.
All corruption is sinful and equally abhorrent to God – and therefore to be avoided by all means. But corruption is unavoidable in a sinful world, and we need to understand it to discern its effects and to avoid it. Specifically, this series of essays likens The Church to a fire:
God is an all-consuming fire (Deu 4:24, 9:3, Isa 33:10-14, Heb 12:29)
Jesus is God (Mat 11:27, Luk 10:22, Joh 5:22, 10:30, 14:6, 17:11, 17:20-21)
The Church is the body of Christ (Rom 12:4, 1Co 10:16-17, 1Co 12:11-13, 27, Eph 3:6, 4:10-14, 5:23)
Therefore The Church, the body of Christ, reflects some of the characteristics of God, such as an all consuming fire
Sometimes this series of essays refers to the fire of God as “burning pure”, at other times as “smoking embers.” How does that translate to corruption in The Church? Let’s examine the situation, starting with the most pure situation:
|Type, church||Characteristics||Type, fire||Relationship to Jesus||Biblical example|
|Biblical||Strictly adhere to N.T. teachings of Jesus||Acetylene torch(burns everything)||All about Jesus||Smyrna (Rev 2:8-11)Philadelphia (Rev 3:7-13)|
|Orthodox||N.T. teachings of Jesus+ traditions||Large bon-fire(good fuel, lots of sparks, little smoke)||Jesus first+ traditions||Ephesus (Rev 2:1-7)|
|Religious||Works+ traditions+ N.T. teachings of Jesus||Solid camp fire(good fuel, sparks, little smoke)||Traditions and works first+ Jesus||Pergamum (Rev 2:12-17)Thyatira (Rev 2:18-29)|
|Social||Personal & social benefit+ religious garb||Smoky, wet brush fire(bad fuel, some sparks, smoke)||Temporal benefit+ pomp and show+ some Jesus||Thyatira (Rev 2:18-29)|
|Political||Power+ Personal & social benefit+ religious garb||Smoky, smoldering leaves(terrible fuel, no sparks, much smoke)||Power+ personal benefit+ Jesus as a tool||Laodicea (Rev 3:24-22)|
|Cult||Personal benefit+ personal power+ corruption/conflict with Scripture||Enemy’s Back-fire(starved of fuel by ememy controlled counter-fire )||Fake Jesus+ false Truth||Sardis (Rev 3:1-6)|
All is not as it looks
 This is exactly the technique Satan used in the Garden of Eden for his initial attack when he asked, “Did God actually say?” … “You will surely not die.” (Gen 3:1-5)