Wednesday, March 21, 2012

What Shall We Do?
Matt.24:36-39 - But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
37 But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,
39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

II Tim.4:3-4 - For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

It is impossible to pinpoint the exact day of our Lord’s return, however the days are evil and the faith once delivered to the saints has slipped away. We have watched as entertainers professing to be preachers have tickled ears and excited the masses. Conferences are held that promise to help pastors elicit funds from wealthy parishioners, and to provide techniques to increase membership roles and Sunday morning attendance. Unbelievers like Benjamin Netanyahu are invited to speak to believers, and millions of professing believers believe Jewish people can be saved without Christ.

Preachers live lavish lifestyles and teach a Jesus who is the head of a ponzi scheme that seems to benefit preachers the most. The western church has built another golden calf and millions worship it with great vigor. Churches by the tens of thousands are in debt to the world’s institutions and billions of church dollars in mortgage interest go to fund all sorts of sinful and hedonistic enterprises. Christian television is no longer Christian, and the Madison Ave. advertising strategies help sell books and Cds across the western world.

Media has created religious icons whose image has been so inflated that millions of professing believers will believe whatever their favorite preacher says without a shred of Biblical scrutiny. In fact, the Bible, although quoted, is no longer even relevant in this new evangelical tsunami. There are now only pockets of true Christianity in the west. And the fearful thought is that millions upon millions of professing believers have succumbed to a false Jesus and a false gospel and will perish in the end. How chilling to even ponder.

And it isn’t just the prosperity churches or the seeker sensitive churches that have slipped into a man made caricature of the church of Jesus Christ. The slippery slope has found its way into all sorts of churches that have an orthodox statement of faith. Christian counselors charge exorbitant rates just to help people. Secular psychology has replaced Biblical direction. When a church enters a fund raising venture, many now employ a fund raising expert who stays on staff long enough to elicit the funds and promise of funds necessary to build whatever it is the church believes it needs.

Slick presentations, wonderful literature, networking, Scriptural manipulation, and an array of techniques are employed in order to fleece the flock. And in the end, unlike the Biblical example of building the Tabernacle without debt, the church visits the bank with promises in hand and borrows from the world’s financial system. And they call it God’s blessing. And why? Because the western believer must worship in comfort and the preacher knows his church can only grow with new and bigger barns. It is a vicious cycle that runs on schemes rather than God’s Spirit.

This week I heard that a SBC church had paid a secular person in excess of $100,000 to be the pastor’s “personality coach” to leverage a greater ability to raise funds. It is most disgusting and heartbreaking as well. These kind of things happen all the time in seemingly orthodox churches. Instead of prayer and fasting and delving deep into God’s Word, preachers major in lunch, golf, telephone, twitter, committee meetings, and all kinds of worthless activities. Sermons can be purchased, and many preachers have learned long ago the value of a good music service.

Never in ecclesiastical history has there been so many churches with millions upon millions of attendees with little or no tangible evidence of God’s presence or power within a culture of darkness. And even being planted within the most hedonistic culture in modern times, and with every sin known to mankind practiced openly, the church goes unpersecuted and actually embraced by that same culture. But in reality, this is not the church of Jesus Christ at all. The Spirit has left and Ichabod is written upon the church doors.

But what about us? Is it enough to be able to discern the most flagrant ecclesiastical departures in others? As Christianity disappears from the western evangelical landscape, what is God saying to us? Do we sit idly by and become blind to our own powerlessness? Can we not see that even though we refuse to descend into religious greed and entertainment, we ourselves are in desperate need of a revival? While we excoriate Warren and Bell and Osteen and all the usual suspects, are we content with the tepid and redundant expression of our own faith? We can see the chains on Jacob Marley but are blind to our own bondage?

That, my friends, is THE question. What is our responsibility before our Master? As the church departs, are we to stand still and watch with self satisfying and self justifying disdain? The Spirit desires to filet us open before Him and for us to surrender to reinvigorate our own spiritual lives. That process will require some sacrifice. It will demand our time and we will be faced with choosing to continue to allow television and entertainment to dominate our lives, or choosing to go a different direction. Prayer will have to become a priority. A major priority.

This business of prayer will have to become a journey. Prayer has fallen out of favor among believers except for some paltry expressions and some lip service. Most churches have no authentic prayer meeting of any length or substance. The preacher is no longer a man of prayer and his congregation embraces what is important by seeing what is important in the life of the shepherd. People no longer rise an hour early or stay up an hour later to pray. Prayer has been lost to the church except in a perfunctory and fossilized form.

But make no mistake. Prayer, true prayer, is never easy. And without an unusual commitment from the church leaders in their own personal lives, then most of the believers will remain content in their present spiritual condition. We will compare ourselves with ourselves as well as think more highly of ourselves than we ought when we compare ourselves with all the false teachers. Contentment is good when it is in the Lord, but contentment can also be a blindness.

Oh for the days when the church had an impact on its surroundings. Oh for the days when men and women believers marched triumphant to their martyred deaths. Oh for the days when the church was consumed with Christ and believers counted their lives as sacrificial servants. Oh for the days when God’s Word was a believer’s life and breath. Oh for the days when self denial was a privileged practice.

Unless we once again unearth New Testament Christianity, we will be left with scraps that do not nourish, do not fulfill, and most of all do not please nor represent the Crucified and Risen Christ. There is still a fountain. There is still God’s Spirit. And there is still a Savior who wishes to fill the church with Himself. If we will hear His voice, seek His face, and surrender to His will, then and only then can we say with authenticity that Jesus is our Lord.


Anonymous said...

The strong delusion that the Lord said he would send is already here. We are living and witnessing this prophecy in the West, at least.

There don't seem to be any christians who reach out anymore. The churches are filled with christians who've "arrived". They seem to have money, they travel, they go to conferences, they return and are asked by the pastor to talk about their adventures. They dress well, speak well, sing well, have nice white straight teeth. Their kids all have the best of everything, including sideline hobbies.

My first pastor, may the Lord bless him, was a married man of 40-some years, his wife always at his side. They had a big rocking chair in their living room. Anyone could come by unannounced, if they had a need, and be welcome to come in and the pastor and wife would sit and listen and pray. Even transient people, passing by in town would call them up and ask for money. The pastor would bring them into his home and preach Jesus, give them a bus ticket and send them on their way.

He and his wife would pick up hitchhikers, drunk ones, and preach Jesus. He'd be at the church a couple of hours before service started and prayed. These people knew how to pray out loud and get on their knees and really call out.

Since that time, my husband and I moved and I'm afraid we'll never find a small town church like that one where the shepherd had a real burden for his flock and unbelievers in the town he lived in.

It's like the tide has turned and 'sinners' have no place in the new church. Sinners are reviled and preached against, especially if a politician is in town. Sinners are 'out there' and want to come and take over our church, they say. Sinners want to take over the country, the world. They want to force our children to sin, invade our schools, courts, rights, freedoms, they say.

The church is upside down. Instead of reaching, they push away, like in Ezekiel 34. They want power and first rights, and they want their man/woman in a secular Office, so that man/woman will lift them up as a banner for the world to see. But, they forget Jesus is to be lifted up. And they forget that Jesus is lowly and humble. They don't want lowly and humble, they want self-righteous pride and visually seen and lifted high up. They want to mandate sinlessness. They think they have a right to go back to the Old Testament and claim superiority over others.

We visited a church several years ago, thinking it may be the one to settle down in, same denomination, but this time run by a younger couple. Rick Warren's books have invaded Bible study, the pastor air travels every two weeks, and leaves his church in the hands of a very tired young associate pastor couple who have young children. They are over their heads. The Head "Pastor" as he asks to be called, does not want people in his home. It must be by invitation only. In fact, this pastor has a dinner in his home once a years to meet and greet with members. But, a couple have to "register" and get a "ticket" because the pastor only allows 25 couples in his home at a time. So, it's first come/first served. This pastor doesn't stand outside the church and shake hands. He in fact doesn't want to meet people and keeps himself hidden in his Office. Staff and others do the public relations.

I hope this doesn't occur yet in every church, but the church I mention here is extremely legalistic and believe that only they are saved. They live by a dress and hair code, and take on the mantle of the first apostolic church, but this new generation of pastors can't see where they have become like the "world" in other ways.

So sorry, Bro. Rick, to rant on here. Thanks for your faithful teaching. I am going to make a greater effort in praying. I've lost my way lately.

Rick Frueh said...

A great and sad comment.

Lori Alexander said...

Secular psychology has replaced Biblical direction.

I agree with this statement 100%! When I mentor women, people ask my what my qualitications are and I tell them The Bible.

Shannon said...

My only comment to "Anonymous" is "Preach it, Brother/Sister! Amen!"
Your words bring tears of grief and sadness to many of us who read them I'm sure, as we've have experienced all you've written and more.
We are clearly experiencing the apostasy. There is to be no end time 'revival', but an even greater apostasy.
I pray the Lord would lead many to read your words and use them to open many eyes to the words of wisdom and Truth contained. In the meantime, I look forward to His soon return for us, His children, who are looking for Our Redeemer, Christ Jesus, to take us away from all the false teachings and growing/thriving false church. May He continue to protect us and keep us as the True Shepherd does. John 10:27


Shannon said...

I was thinking of the title "What Shall We Do?"
This I believe is much of the problem in the 'church' today. Believers are falsely taught that we must be "doing" for the Lord. The fact is, "we" can't do anything for the Lord. If He is not "doing" the work in/through believers, then it is all for naught. Psalm 127:1.

As for "the faith once delivered to the saints has slipped away".....This comment implies that we are keeping ourselves saved, in fact, He is keeping us, John 10:27-29. The Faith of Jesus Christ, the Fruit of the Holy Spirit, indwelling believers does not come and go, depending on our untrustworthy flesh to 'keep' the Faith.

Amen Lori!
Our qualifications is the Word of God!


Shannon said...

Rick, you stated:

"Most churches have no authentic prayer meeting of any length or substance. The preacher is no longer a man of prayer and his congregation embraces what is important by seeing what is important in the life of the shepherd. People no longer rise an hour early or stay up an hour later to pray. Prayer has been lost to the church except in a perfunctory and fossilized form."

And this: "Oh for the days when the church had an impact on its surroundings. Oh for the days when men and women believers marched triumphant to their martyred deaths. Oh for the days when the church was consumed with Christ and believers counted their lives as sacrificial servants. Oh for the days when God’s Word was a believer’s life and breath. Oh for the days when self denial was a privileged practice."

It's not important to see the physical church have a prayer meeting. What's most important is the person's heart positionally with the Lord.
The problem with big congregations is that the pastor cannot have intimate relationship with each believer in order to disciple and them them.
I believe Matthew 7:13,14 is in evidence. We are in the prophesied days of apostasy. Is anyone asking of the Hope that is in us?

Rick Frueh said...

"It's not important to see the physical church have a prayer meeting."

Tell that to the early church and to Christ Himself who characterized His church as a "house of prayer". Without a life of prayer all our doctrinal expertise is nothing but pride.

Shannon said...

Who was the Lord speaking to when He spoke the words of Matthew 21:13?

Rick Frueh said...

All of us.

Shannon said...

The church wasn't in existence yet, as Christ Jesus was still on earth, the Holy Spirit Who indwells every believer (making up the church) had not been sent yet.
1Peter 2:4,5

Hebrews 9:11
But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation).


Rick Frueh said...

With that reasoning, then everything Jesus said before the Day of Pentecost is irrelevant. That is untrue. Prayer has been and always will be a vital and indispensible part of the church life.

In fact, it was during a prayer meeting that the Holy Spirit came. I do not understand your willingness to marginalize prayer in the church.

Shannon said...

I was thinking of the verse of Paul's Galatians 1:14.

Since all of us having His Spirit are to be growing and learning from each other, please help me to understand the verses I have posted.

Yes we agree of the importance of our prayer life. It is indeed vital in our relationship with the Lord. Prayer is our communication with the Spirit of Him in us. Prayers energized by the Faith of Him in us is the prayer of a righteous man. He in us is Who makes us righteous positionally.
Perhaps I'm explaining my understanding badly. My point is that since believers ARE the Church, we have His Spirit indwelling us. Prior to the Spirit's coming to indwell believers, the Jews had to go to Temple to pray.
Now that the Holy Spirit of God has come and indwells us, we can/do pray anywhere/anytime/always. We believers do not need to 'see' with our physical eyes, others praying. The false church is 'praying' as well, looking much the same as we do, as they mimic. But the True Church prays everywhere/anytime.
The Pharisees prayed to be seen of men. This is why they went to Temple.
We are to base all of our decisions on what the Lord would have us do. That is the faith of God within us. We are not to make a formula of "how to do it" according to a religious system. How many of us has gathered together in a religious get together and prayer meeting, only to find God persuading us that it was not of Him. The religious leaders like to be seen among the public places with their long prayers but their hearts were far from Him. They appear righteous but they are white washed tombs. The early disciples were known by "the faith". They were persecuted because of "the faith". Their own countrymen persecuted them because they were no longer of this world and its religious system. We do not take the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and Acts as the teaching section for believers. This is history. We can learn from it but that section is not a "how to do it" book for believers. When the fullness of God comes into our spirit we are now children born from out of God. We walk by faith and not by sight.

1 John 5:14 And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask any thing according to His will, he heareth us

It is all of His will and not ours. We have prayer requests but we do not always ask acccording to His will, but our will. Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for (spiritual) good to them that love God.

As you have said, Brother, "I seek edification and deeper knowledge of Christ and His truth not a destructive and meaningless religious chatter. May God's Spirit open all of our hearts to Him."
This is my goal for myself as well, that He would keep me open to learning continually.