Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Steps of Jesus are Leading Away from the Church


The religion people called Christianity has had a crisis of identity and even definition. Over the years and especially since the Industrial Revolution men began to further their education. And many more common people began to read and write. And little by little the emphasis on the acknowledgement of written doctrinal truths became not only a focus, but an obsession. Eventually a Christian was defined completely by what he said he believed about what the Bible taught doctrinally, and what he lived was defined by a few moral issues. Eventually a believer was assimilated into the culture and Christianity as a whole was accepted as a normal religious expression that was compatible with many others.

And somewhere along the line morality, or specific moral issues, hijacked the faith. And instead of a story of God’s redemptive love, Christianity became a system of rules and theology. And slowly but surely Christianity became a system, a religion, and a part of one’s cultural existence. But in so doing it was stripped of its life and sacrifice and its remarkable love for Jesus which could be seen clearly in and through the lives of His followers.

Yes, major truths of the Scriptures are being attacked, and yes we are called to defend them. However we have settled into a predictable and self serving way of life that champions moral and political causes and regurgitates orthodox doctrines, but refuses to see the high cost of following Jesus. In fact, we have cleverly found ways to force the teachings and life of Jesus into a culture shaped bushel and still claim we shine His light. And even though we live within a culture of darkness with such unremarkable difference and such little impact, we still cannot bring ourselves to lift the mirror of the Spirit and look into our own face.

The evangelical landscape is filled with false teachers and heretics. To be sure, even the nature of Christ and the exclusivity of His gospel are being openly and subtly questioned. But we cannot feel content with just being guardians of doctrines. We must be living, breathing followers of Jesus who embrace more than written truths. Those truths that we embrace must find their source in Jesus and must find their release in our lives. That is a great mystery which has been all but eradicated by pragmatism and fix-it Christianity as well as doctrinally etched Christianity.

And this crisis within the church has expanded and taken many different forms. But the false teachers like Rob Bell and Joel Osteen will not listen to the Spirit. But I am addressing people like you and me. We who hold the Scriptures as the inspired voice of God must reexamine how we live what we say we believe. In fact, we must fast and pray and take another inventory about the very nature of the faith. Let us be very clear, no one can inherit eternal life but through a personal faith in Jesus, the Person. But if we are required to embrace a perfect doctrine and a systematic theology that is flawless, then no one will be in heaven.

But what about the reverse? What if your doctrine is very sound and your systematic theology has been carefully organized into Biblical alignment, but your life seems no different than your good neighbor who is an atheist or a Muslim? What if your spiritual life is most prominent because of the local church you attend, but your out of church experience seems very benign and innocuous? Is that what Christianity is all about? Is that what following Jesus means? In fact, is that Jesus Himself?

It seems like such a fine line and even splitting hairs, but are we following doctrines or following Jesus? And in reality those whose doctrine is their supreme spiritual phalanx fall short of the One they profess. And instead of a life filled with Jesus, their “orthodoxy” is the tip of their spiritual spear. I submit that although their doctrine may be spiritually pristine, their practice in unchristian. Is Christianity a belief system or a way of life or is it both? Again, it is clear from the teachings of Jesus that the Christian faith is a way of life based upon certain eternal truths with the chief cornerstone being the saving sacrifice of Jesus Himself. Through faith in Jesus Christ we die and we rise from the dead and are now a new creation whose life is dramatically different than the one we had lived.

But somehow the western version of the faith required all the right doctrine but made the new life an elective. The sinner who professes to believe on Jesus was allowed to create his own way to follow Him. There were a few major items that the church deemed worthy of agreement like abortion or traditional marriage or drug use and alcohol abuse, but all in all issues like love and grace and humility and prayer were left up to the individual to work out if he so desired. And ministry to the poor was valid but surely not a passion of the church. And in these last days the evangelical church has become very politically active and has without apology joined hands with unbelievers in an earthly cause designed to adjust the culture and make people’s lives more comfortable. And make no mistake, at the core of this political involvement is financial prosperity.

And so the faith that once left everything to follow Jesus morphed into a nice religion which made people good citizens and even allowed its adherents to pledge their allegiance to earthly countries and causes. The only waves they made were political. They showed no more love than some unbelievers and they were far less humble than some other unbelievers. They shouted their demands like the world and they organized great political movements which welcomed those who denied Jesus. They embraced capitalism and enjoyed all the accoutrements of a hedonistic culture. They became nondescript, even while living in an environment of utter spiritual darkness. It is a sad tale of spiritual woe.

But even while the church sold her spiritual birthright she still enjoyed a level of earthly success, self affirmation, and a collective sense of spiritual fulfillment. The church believed it was fulfilling its spiritual duty and was verbally standing for a few important moral tenants as well as a few doctrinal orthodoxies. And eventually the moral tenants superseded the redemptive doctrines. It wasn’t that the church outwardly rejected Jesus, it was just that He became window dressing and not the passion that once elicited disdain, persecution, and even death from the kingdom of darkness. The light had gone out although the “open” sign still hung on the door.

But take a major step back and allow your mind to consume this startling and almost inconceivable thought. The faith that professes to believe in and follow Jesus is no longer practiced at the institutional level. What that means is that the true faith has been so compromised and so diluted and so conformed to the dictates of the culture that for all intensive purposes it no longer exists at the organized church level except for a few very obscure outposts. Think about that for a moment.

I realize many of you still attend an organized church, but just think about what I have suggested. In fact, ask yourself this question: Did God ever want the church to be organized through the state at all? John Bunyan goes to jail for refusing a license from the government and yet churches today happily pay to become lawfully and dutifully recognized by the state. And much of the evangelical community not only accepts a license from the state, they pledge their allegiance to it and consider themselves as patriots. We have been so indoctrinated by the culture that we no longer even question almost anything. And because we have embraced layer after layer after layer of cultural compromise, they all have been grandfathered in by each successive generation. Jesus once taught about eating His flesh and blood and that people would see Him come in the clouds. And because of those words and teachings the Scriptures tell us many turned away from following Him.

Jn.6: 63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.
65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.
66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

They had been offended by His teachings and they could not follow Him any further. But today people have either changed His words, or ignored the enormity of His teachings and by doing so we have still made ample room for what we call “church”. But the issue comes down to this: What did Jesus actually say and teach, and are we willing to follow Him even unto death? After a large portion of His followers left, Jesus addresses His closest disciples.

Jn.6: 67 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?
68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.
69 And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.

And that is the issue for all who profess His name. After you have said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God”, then you must face the colossal implications and requirements of that profession. You must become diligent students of what He did and taught, and after you have thoroughly researched the teachings of the One you profess, you must forsake all and follow Him.

The only alternative is to repackage what He said and create a religious system that accommodates your own thoughts and desires while still using His name. And if that is your choice, that system is alive and well and will welcome you with open arms.


Anonymous said...

Thank you and Amen.

I agree with what is written here today and for over a year since reading here.

It's clear where the organized church is at. It's been compromised. But, as an organization, it will be as long as humans run it. Even the first church in Acts had contentions, people arguing with one another, and having to arrive at some kind of settlement. It's the way we, sinners, are. And I think the Lord knew that men, in their need to lord it over one another, would yield to demands of the day. I think too He knew that if the church grew, men would be overcome with greed and power-lust. He knew temptations of power and control would snare those 'lords'. And I think, He patiently waits for each of us to work out our own salvation independently.

I don't believe that those who 'stayed' in churches that were compromising with the world, or those who 'left' those churches were unsaved. I have to believe that they were judged based on their personal faith in God and their walk. If we look back in history, millions of unaware christians, some who couldn't read, and who were servile and submissive, didn't dare question their masters.

Very few men who are 'elected' into ministry can lead and still be totally faithful to Christ only. The world will worm it's way into their minds and the end justifies the means. Administrations always have a way to turn the church into a chain store mentality.

And so with that, I suppose all those good christians who remain in these churches, who have no control, and who are also fearful of criticizing the clergy, because of hearing, "do not touch the Anointed", are confused. I have to believe they can still be saved, and because they are the little people who have to work, survive, and support such men, they don't have time to study the word every day. I really believe, and this may not be scriptural, but I believe that all of us, whether in churches or not, and depending on each of our circumstances (which the Lord knows), can't see how we've been blinded and when the end of life comes, all we have is our belief that Jesus is the Son of God, and the redeemer of our souls, and that we can ask Him for forgiveness for all our sins, including unaware sins, those kind where we were used as pawns to keep the clergy in power.

I believe that the "Church", the Bride of Christ, is unseen, and has nothing to do with membership, or church attendance, or allegiance to any ministry or leader. All our human efforts will burn in the fire, yet our souls will be saved.

Yet, being of this mind has it's problems too, because if we become too independent, we can never be taught, or corrected. So, moderation in all things. Much to think on.

Chris Baumgart said...

Amen to your words above... Years ago, studying Charles Finney's work, I came across the term, " ultimate motive" and have used this continually in my walk with the Lord. Searching myself and better yet allowing the Holy Spirit to search my heart to find what the true motive is around applying my time, energies or finances to short term or long term goals. Am I truly serving to meet God's end through these means or gratifying myself? I will tell you I have bypassed many snares that would have lead me away from Christ if I hadn't measured what was the true motive before I made these or any commitments. Dedicating our resources to glorify God and His purpose needs to be our ultimate motive... No matter what.

Cherie c. said...


You said that you believe those in the Church are not in control, and are confused. Yes, they are, of their own free will.

How is it that they can read Scripture, the only inspired Word of God and still stay where they are? Willful ignorance is not an accepted excuse for staying in an Apostate Church, not when you have the very WORD OF GOD in your hands. I have first hand knowledge of what I am saying because not only was I one of them, but I worked with the so called "anointed" and saw their schemes. I was faced with a very difficult choice because the final choice I made cost me everything, and I mean everything. My marriage, my children, my friends. I faced the choice of staying in a situation that was eating me up inside for over a year, but I did not want to give up that fuzzy feeling that came with the compromise. The fact that my husband was in church at all I didn't want to see upset. But the church where he was getting fed, fed him bi-products and not the true Word of God. How do I know you may ask? I know because I live with a man who is worse than he was when he played softball on Sunday mornings. I live with a man who says cursing is not bad because the curse words are not mentioned specifically in the Bible, because I live with a man who sees kindness as a weakness and forbids me from helping people although this I tell him I cannot stop doing. He forbids a lot of things that I have to ignore because of my relationship with Jesus, but I pay a dear price for it too. I have the tv blasted in my ear sometimes to distract me from reading God's Word because my husband thinks I spend too much time reading it. I could go on, but I hope you know what I mean. He refused to read God's Word and when I recite to him word for word Scripture, he says it is from me, even when I show him the words on the page! This is willful, lazy ignorance. My husband is like many in the church today. The idea of church is the social aspect of it. The events, the camping trips etc. All the fun and none of the truth. Believe me, if the pastor of our old church once mentioned sin, he would have been out the door in a heartbeat. My husband is not a sinner so he says. He is a good person who believes in Jesus.

I feel your compassion for those who you say are confused and controlled, by they are not. I know because Jesus said so long before we were here:

2 Timothy 4:3
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;

Revelation 2, 3

He has told us this would happen. Although I know I am blessed to even to be able to see what is happening, I am not worthy, but His Grace, and only His Grace has kept me and you from this terrible occurrence.

Cherie c.

Cherie c. said...

I pray for my husband and sons everyday. I know what they are going to face if they don't repent. I do not read the Word of God looking for only the good messages, I look at all of it. I get told I am holier than thou, that I am negative. Yes, sometimes I may sound negative, but the Word of God says that Jesus was a man of sorrows as well as the Good News, but no one wants to hear that. They only want good news, not what they perceive as bad. They want confirmation that what they do and say and feel and think it alright with God, and when I tell them the Word of God and it is contrary to what they think, I get verbally attacked. They know of my relationship with the Lord, and that is why they come to me for some kind of confirmation that they do the right thing, but what they do is not the right thing according to Scripture.

Feel compassion on those still in the "church", but do not be fooled by them. I know first hand how the hierarchy feels about congregants, and it is not as a fellow brother or sister in Christ, it is as a money machine.

My last title, and only on an earthly level was assistant to the director of ministries and to the pastor. Yes of only one church, but the mega churches were there too. See Rob Bell was in our church through book and video, so was Beth Moore. We even had the son of a preacher who survived Vietnam who delivered the prosperity gospel from a wheel chair. Sunday School was changed to no Sunday School for the youth, and for the adults, Life Groups. Friday night scream band concerts in the church for the youth, and now they are being led by a person who came from the emergent church movement. Need I say more?

If my tone is a bit on the angry side it is not directed at you. I am angry because of loving sisters and brothers who feel as you do, but are being completely deceived. Please know, those who willfully remain in the church are not as controlled or confused as you may think. They have found what makes them most comfortable and they do not wish to change. Please pray for me because this is still a bitter area of my life because I live with three people I love very much and I am watching them perish because of the apostate church.

Love to all.

your sister in Christ Jesus
Cherie C.

Rick Frueh said...

When you get a prescription filled you do not take the entire bottle of pills at once. have patience and allow the Spirit to, work. Sometimes our frustration with others can block what the Spirit desires to do in us. I know.

Cherie c. said...

Sorry Pastor,

Sometimes I do get frustrated. Frustrated with waiting for the Lord to return. Some days what is going on in this world, at home, and other places just makes me so weary. I am still working out a few things, but I mean nothing demeaning to any brother or sister here or to you.

I know this is what Jesus meant when he said endure to the end, but some days I am just weak and to battle my flesh is difficult. My worry lies with those who are new to their walk with the Lord and the "church" is leading them down the wrong path. Those already in the church encourage them in that way as well. I have to equate it to watching someone play with fire thinking that because they are well versed in firefighting skills that they won't get burned. Aloofness is what I am saying. The attitude that all is okay, but you can see the cloud hanging over their heads.

I was in the grocery store last Thursday, the day the Catholic Church calls Valentines Day. A young worker asked me while I was shopping what I was doing for Valentines Day. I told this young man that I do not celebrate Catholic holidays and he quickly said he was a Christian and he celebrates. I told him that I was a follower of Jesus and that the Bible tells us not to partake in idolatry and paganism an I then encouraged him to read his bible, hoping he had a good one, and to let the Lord show him what I meant. I also told him I would pray for him. He stood back as if I hit him. I was near to tears that this young Christian was not able to accept what I told him. I did not say what I said in anger, I was almost motherly to him because I was filled with compassion for him because of the lies he is being fed at his church.

There are days I just can't look anymore. This must be one of them. If I have hurt anyone's feeling, please forgive me. Deception is so run a muck, and one of the deceptions is thinking those in the church are helpless to do anything to change their condition when the remedy is being held in their hands. Spent great amounts of time with our old pastor, his family and the director of ministries were almost our best friends. Almost every week we were together, and it was hard to believe what I was seeing happen before my very eyes. No one wants to admit those who you thought were brothers and sisters in the Lord are not. Its like what they say are the stages of grief:

Denial, bargaining, anger, depression and finally acceptance. That is what it is like to leave the church and those who disown you when you do.

Love to all
Cherie c.

Anonymous said...

Hi Cherie - I am Anon. - What you are going through, I pray God will find a way for you and your family.

I grew up with a parent who was very abusive, verbally, psychologically and extremely cruel. We were in a church system. My parents couldn't recognize how their actions were destroying their children, even though they went to mass faithfully every week.

When my elderly parent was ready to pass on from this world, I still had to endure much cruelty, but I was determined in my mind, to forgive her. Possibly her mental condition made her believe she could do no wrong, and she never asked for forgiveness, but I still forgave her, and when we knew she was very sick, I just prayed to God and asked him that she be drawn to him and that He restore her through His Spirit. I cannot even think about eternally being without God forever. I don't wish it on anyone. The pain of my life with this hellish personality disorder made me absolutely fearful and anxious, but I believe God is working on that if I let Him.

Even though we can see the idolatry and false doctrines in churches, those who were in them, would still have to prepare themselves near death, and I believe many people, who are near death, feel the Spirit of God drawing them to ask Jesus for forgiveness.

We don't know at what point in our family's lives when they may have watched something that drove them to their knees or ask Jesus to guide them in their lives; we don't know what caused them to back away, we don't know what will draw them to Him again. I remember this passage from Paul on how he prayed, from Phillipians 1 - "I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ; just as it is right for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart, inasmuch as both in my chains and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you are all partakers of me of grace."

I remember once a youth pastor told us how good it was to give the milk of the Word to babies, and how sometimes we tend to throw the hard meat at those who may not be ready. He said it would be like hitting someone with a slab of meat. Anyway, this christian walk is not an easy road, but with God, all things are possible!

Cherie c. said...


You are both a Blessing and a Joy. Thank you for your testimony and your encouraging words. Yes, dear Anon, with God all things are possible.

with love from your sister in Christ Jesus,
Cherie c.

Josef Sefton I pray Cherie that God's perfect love cleanses you of worry, frustration and any traces of anger and bitterness, so that you can daily praise God as the miracle worker. I know from my own life that I experience God's incredible grace more consistently when I stop fretting. Cherie, as you focus on the small spiritual gains that your husband and children are making, that refocus will bring increased joy to your heart. Praise God when these small spiritual gains occur! When we feel deep emotions welling up about our loved ones that are sapping our energy I believe it is wise to pass the burden to Jesus. It's wise to be patient with yourself Cherie, for your husband and sons are in the valley of decision. Be encouraged for as they see your consecration and dedication to God and experience your being more loving they will certainly have much to ponder. God bless you. said...

I pray Cherie that God's perfect love cleanses you of worry, frustration and any traces of anger and bitterness, so that you can daily praise God as the miracle worker.
I know from my own life that I experience God's incredible grace more consistently when I stop fretting. Cherie, as you focus on the small spiritual gains that your husband and children are making, that refocus will bring increased joy to your heart. Praise God when these small spiritual gains occur!

When we feel deep emotions welling up about our loved ones that are sapping our energy I believe it is wise to pass the burden to Jesus. It's wise to be patient with yourself Cherie, for your husband and sons are in the valley of decision.
Be encouraged for as they see your consecration and dedication to God and experience your being more loving they will certainly have much to ponder. God bless you.

michael said...

Well I'll digress a bit too to come to what I believe the Spirit of The Lord is saying through this article that should be expected living in this anti-Christ world.

I'm a Pomo Indian and my Tribe years ago decided to build a casino on our "sacred" land. Yeah I think I know what you might be thinking "how sacred is land now that you've built a casino on it"? Not sacred at all and because of the U.S. Congress and the passage of IGRA (Indian Gaming Regulatory Act) all Tribes that build casinos on their sacred land it seems to me defiles it?

But back to my pointing to the message. Being a "Christian" I could not see myself working as an employee of the casino when asked. However I could see myself as an independent Gaming Commissioner so I was hired and then schooled as one. There's a lot of legal training one goes through by federal statute and regulation as well as learning how all sorts of crime is committed at casinos. Also you have to go to monthly meetings at both federal and state government entities.

Well after some time the three of us commissioners were called before our Tribal Council. Several members of this tribal council went to required training as well and learned about all the crimes that 100% of the time occur at a casino both from the visiting criminal and within from employees (I'm not saying everyone that comes to a casino is a thief or that all employees are either). In fact it's a fact that most theft at a casino is by the employees at all levels from the G.M. down to the cooks and janitorial staff. Well the complaint from Tribal Council was they were not seeing why the Gaming Commission wasn't catching the thieves if we know theft is routinely occurring.

Now, here's my point by that using something Jesus said, here: "If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: "A servant is not greater than his master." If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. (John 15:18-21 ESV)

In the casino world there is crime happening 100% of the time and commissioners can be held to account for that. This world is anti-Christ at all times among all people groups so there must needs be the same sort of expectation in reverse that we will be hated and persecuted for being followers of Christ in an anti-Christ and fallen world.

These are the cold hard facts of our Life as Christ's own.

Cherie c. said...


I would enjoy learning about your tribes history. I venture to guess the government treated all Indian tribes the same way back in the 1800's?

Peace to you brother.

your sister in Christ Jesus,
Cherie c.

Evelyn S said...

A thought provoking post, indeed. Your words, Pastor Rick "The faith that professes to believe and follow Jesus is no longer practiced at the institutional level. What that means is that the true faith has been so compromised and so conformed to the dictates of the culture for all intensive purposes, it no longer exists at the organized church level except for a few very obscure outposts." This is an accurate assesment and challenges us who are anxiously waiting for the Lord's return to pay very close attention to a question asked by our Lord found at Luke 18:8 "When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?"