Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Churches Without Jesus


I Cor.1: 22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:
23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.
25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

We live in an age where many churches in America who would call themselves Christian no longer need Jesus and His cross to continue to operate as a church. The bulk of sermon topics are of an earthly nature and Jesus is an aside if anything at all. The gospel is not a core message and if it is mentioned at all it comes as a final appendage to the sermon. You see, preaching Christ and Him crucified is no longer in vogue among evangelical churches. Finding your purpose, helping you succeed, achieving your potential, getting God’s favor, and a host of messages associated with money have replaced the Son of God. Lifting up Jesus no longer excites the evangelical base like money and politics and earthly success does.

And so we have thousands of churches who could easily continue without ever mentioning Jesus again. They are earthbound and focus almost exclusively on man and his desires and his needs. To exalt Christ can only be found in studying church history. Professing believers still have their hearts firmly planted in this world and although they may attend church they seek to hear things that might help their earthly lives. And much of what they hear could also be found in the self help section of the local book store.

This is the highest spiritual treachery that can be found in a church that calls itself “Christian”. And the so called preachers that oversee and perpetuate such betrayal will be held accountable before Him who will be our final judge. When you basically use Jesus as a membership card in order to be called Christian but then you preach and teach and live everything but Jesus then you are a monstrous traitor to the faith. And many of these hirelings also change Jesus and His teachings into something He is not and they make His teachings some kind of encyclopedia of cultural interest.

But let us again be painfully honest. The carnal man does not nor can he desire Jesus. The carnal and fallen nature desires everything in this world. He compares himself with other worldlings, and he wishes his life could meet all his lusts. He wants more and more of this world, and he wants to be recognized for his earthly wisdom and successful strategies. He has an insatiable need for self affirmation which he can only find in the things of this world. He wallows in the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.

And this phenomenon is running rampant within the evangelical pulpits and pews. You see, if you are not in a spiritual war against all that then you will quickly succumb to it. I am not being hyperbolic in my assessment. Living in this world, and especially living in a hedonistic culture which is completely against Jesus and all He taught, presents a formidable challenge, albeit glorious in His sight. If we labor in faith to remain unspotted by this present world, even though our endeavor may never be perfect, we still honor our Great Redeemer. You see, my friends, this is no game. This is no religion. This is as serious as it gets in the realm of the spirit.

When the church collectively in any culture strays from the gospel and begins to craft all kinds of relevant messages without lifting up Christ and Him crucified, you can be assured that the faith once delivered to the saints is no longer being practiced. It does not matter if the preacher reads from the Bible before his message, and it does not matter if a statement of faith seems somewhat orthodox. It does not matter if they sing worship songs that use the name of Jesus, and it does not matter if they baptize people. If the church does not have the Lord Jesus Christ as their core foundation, and if He is not obvious and prevalent throughout all their ministries, and if He is not constantly being lifted up in their pulpit, then that church is a place where religion marries culture and the result is an unholy union.

Cannot you not see just how demonic such spiritual adultery is? I mean He who suffered and died in our place has given way to paths of earthly success? Have we lost sight of the blood? Are we blind to His agony and His wounds? Has the cross become just jewelry and serves as little more than a religious talisman? The great heart of God sent His only Son for our ransom and now we leave Him and go a-whoring for earthly harlots? Have we no conscience? Are our hearts so cold that we cannot even hear the Spirit calling us back to He to whom we owe our very lives?

God comes in the flesh and walks among us and suffers the sling and arrows of fallen man and yet endures all until He rides into Jerusalem knowing full well the cheers He hears will quickly turn to calls for His life. And yet still He comes. Still He walks toward an agony which no one can possibly know. And all this for His enemies!! This is no quick beheading; this is what will seem like eternity and in some ways it surely is. This death will be infinitely more than just one man dying for one man. This is the Incarnate Son of God suffering for all men and in that He entered into a sacred suffering which will never be fully understood and can never be duplicated.

And the innocent lamb in days gone by dies quickly and without any knowledge, but the Lamb dies in excruciating pain and uncommon mocking and shame, and this Lamb knew full He was dying for those who did not deserve it. And He knew that those of us who would be redeemed by faith would so often disappoint Him and yet still He suffers and still He dies in our place. Oh the glory of such an event! Oh the majesty of such a Lamb! Of the soaring praise that such a Son should receive! And yet in the face of this blood soaked glory the church has sought things that those who reject and mock our Lord seek. It must be the sin of all sins that we call apostasy.

Let us as individual believers steady the course and remain submissive to our Wonderful Lord as we reject the treachery being practiced in most of the visible churches, and let us keep our hearts broken before Him. This is not a time to retreat and become silent. This is a time to praise His name form the rooftops and to worship Him and Him alone while turning our backs on this present world and all its fallen systems. This is a time to deepen the stakes and lengthen the cords of our tabernacles and follow Jesus wherever He may lead. The days are evil and the evil one is roaming about attempting to convince people they can enjoy and frolic in this present world and still follow Jesus.

That is a damnable lie and we must fervently reject it every single day. But take heart and heed, my fellow travelers, Jesus is coming back soon and His reward is with Him. Many will wail in fear and rightfully so, but we must remain faithful to Him and Him alone. Praise be to the Lamb that was Slain and the Risen Christ! Maranatha!


Anonymous said...

Very true Pastor Rick, of the times in which we live. Hardly anyone wants to be reminded if the cross - they seem to gravitate toward the speakers in slick suits and private jets. I suppose it is a sign that the age of grace in coming to a close...Just as only 3 people were saved from the destruction of Sodom...Just as in the days of Noah. Many people who anticipated Christ's return are dying out, and we are left with the 'think not' generation - this is a scary and somewhat lonely thought.

Cherie c. said...

"And He knew that those of us who would be redeemed by faith would so often disappoint Him and yet still He suffers and still He dies in our place."

That's me! And it tears at the heart of me when I choose to allow my flesh to take over. I am wretched and I can hardly look at myself in the mirror some days.

"And the so called preachers that oversee and perpetuate such betrayal will be held accountable before Him who will be our final judge."

I see this and I ache inside for them to repent knowing what they may face, it is tragic.

"The carnal and fallen nature desires everything in this world. He compares himself with other worldlings, and he wishes his life could meet all his lusts. He wants more and more of this world, and he wants to be recognized for his earthly wisdom and successful strategies. He has an insatiable need for self affirmation which he can only find in the things of this world. He wallows in the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. "

And I see in this my children and my husband and I am undone. It's like seeing them in a house on fire and they won't listen to me. I can hardly breathe sometimes I am so afraid for them. I know that one day if they do not repent I will have to stand and watch them walk away. I choose to follow the Lord, because He loved me first, this wholly miserable human. To send His Son from a place, we can not imagine, is so awesome, to die for me!? How can anyone stay standing and not melt into guilty tears of both conviction and joy at the same time I will never understand? How can anyone look upon the people of this world and not have compassion, I will never understand.

Cherie c. said...

I must be weird because when they are mocking me or telling me I am out of touch with reality because of my faith, I love them all the more. Cannot explain it, it just is. I pray all the harder, if that is possible for them. Begging God to have mercy on them. To hear my youngest son tell me he doesn't want to hear about "my God" because it is not the same as his and he believes he is saved, I want to be sick because I am so afraid for him. Then the doubt comes and I feel so terrible, that I spent even one moment thinking if they are right. The Word says otherwise, but I still at times fall back into sin because they are my family.

Then I read the Word and right out of the gate I come upon

Mark 10:29
And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's,

And it just hits me right in my heart and I am so convicted the sting is almost unbearable. How fickle I can be. How I hope He has mercy on me.

How hard it is to not do that which I ought to do. It is all too easy to fall back. You would think by now I would be able to do better, but you see; I am still in this flesh so that is why the Gospel has to be preached not just to the unsaved but to those who are. It is too easy to forget our first love. It is too easy to fall back into sin. It is too easy to let sentimentality creep in unawares and make you compromise. Whether you are awake or asleep, the flesh is constantly at war and that is why we need to be reminded of our sin. Then add to that battle satan, who is deceiving all the time. Who you are in Christ is a wonderful thing, but you must never get ahead of Him because we are not Him and we are corruptible.

I am only in Christ what the Gospel says. Other than that, I pray that I do not forget who I am without Him. For it is remembering that that keeps me on my knees. No matter how hard we try, we can never fully understand what the cost was for Him.

Church today says that if you're not living your best life now, you have no faith. That if you contend with illness your faith isn't strong enough. I don't know where they got this from, they are very big on the OT, but all I know is what the Word says, and I have not been able to find that message anywhere. I read Jesus saying to repent, be baptized and carry a cross. A cross is a symbol of shame. A cross is where my sin was nailed. Church......the best is yet to be and it isn't here. My joy is in my future with our Lord and Savior and Father God!

Sorry to be so wordy, but I needed to share.

Brothers and Sisters, Grace and Peace to you from our Lord Jesus Christ and our Father God.

your sister in Christ Jesus,
Cherie c.

Anonymous said...

2Corinthians 6:1 We then, as workers together with Him also plead with you not to receive the grace of God in vain.
:2 For He says: "IN AN ACCEPTABLE TIME I HAVE HEARD YOU, AND IN THE DAY OF SALVATION I HAVE HELPED YOU." Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
:3 We give no offense in anything, that our ministry may not be blamed.
:4 But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses,
:5 in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings;
:6 by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love,
:7 by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left,
:8 by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true;
:9 as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed;
:10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.
:11 O Corinthians! We have spoken openly to you, our heart is wide open.
:12 You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections.
:13 Now in return for the same (I speak as to children), you also be open.
:14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?
:15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?
:16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM. I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE."

What can I say, do we need the fellowship with others to the detriment of our souls? Jesus said at the end of Matthew 28:20 “I am with you always, even to the end of the age”.


Cherie c. said...

Church is Biblical and necessary only as described in Scripture, not as man has made it:

1 Corinthians 16:1
Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.

Philippians 1:1
Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:

2 Corinthians 1:1
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia:

Acts 2:42
And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

Acts 9:31
Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.

Acts 11:26
And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.

Acts 14:23
And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.

1 Thessalonians 2:14
For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews:

Need I go on?

:What can I say, do we need the fellowship with others to the detriment of our souls? "

Are you hard hearted toward the brothers and sisters in Christ? Is Hebrews 10:20-25 to be ignored?
Or is it Joel that you are one of the some who's manner is to forsake the assembly? I hope not because you would be in error.

Paul used to say he desired to be with the church. I would find it blessing to fellowship. Don't you?

20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;

21 And having an high priest over the house of God;

22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)

24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:

25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

I am thankful for the remote form of fellowship we have in this blog. The Word would not tell us to gather together if it wasn't good for us. Just because others have corrupted the church doesn't mean we should abandon it. We just need godly leaders.

Anonymous said...

Amen Mr. Joel. Alleluia and Amen!
Praise be to our LORD Jesus Christ Who is to Come!

Anonymous said...

Cherie, what I was referring to were the established churches that do not have Jesus as the center of their worship. My wife and I now meet with four separate groups. Starting Saturday afternoon with one and then the other three starting Sunday at 11am, 12pm and the last at 1pm. We are not forsaking the assembly, but we do avoid assembling with those that do not care to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The established church's congregants are simply comfortable in their places and have no desire to get out of that rut and do what Jesus commands us to do.

By no means am I saying not to gather with those that have the mind of Christ. But Jesus has lead us to do what we are doing now and that is assembling ourselves with those that need to hear Gospel.

Cherie, you can do the same, pray about having the Lord guide you to someone that needs to hear what you have learned about Jesus. Then you will have the assembly that you desire and it is still in line with all the scripture that you just listed.

A few days ago I was starting to feel useless and not worth much. Satan comes in and starts with his usual stuff of you are no good look at you, you can barely get around the house and that staph infection you have is a cause of something you have done. Look at you why would God want something like you as wretched and broken down as you are. I do not stay like that for long, because when things like this happen, it drives me to the feet of Jesus, into the Throne Room of God Himself. I pour out my spirit to Him and The Lord lifts me up. We all have some type of disability. That is we have sin that keeps us from doing what we need to do. But, if we keep our eyes on Jesus and the Cross that gives us salvation, we go to the foot of that cross, we repent of our sins, and the Blood of Jesus covers us and we are cleansed of our sins. Which allows us to be used by God for His will to be done.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations Cherie, what you have just written is, in my opinion, very good and necessary.

I sense that your`e going deeper and deeper into God's word. I support you completely, for those who profess Lord Jesus as their Lord and Savior musn't be afraid of fellowshipping but ought to ask the LORD to guide them to the right people to fellowship with, for He truly is a reliable shepherd!

Reine Gnade

michael said...

Haven't read any comments "yet" in response to the article. I will after making my point.

Jesus tells the story of the ten virgins. I believe your article today captures the essence of that story? Five virgins had oil enough but five did not.

As I weigh your article I'm reminded of John's writing at Revelation 18. There in those words we are led to separate from the world and the "oil" that lights the world's lamp! In fact we are to bring a harsh judgment on fallen Babylon paying her back double!

You mention a course of action in this article that seems to me is double payment on fallen Babylon which is praise and prayer and sinking deep our tabernacle stakes in the rich soil of God's Grace.

Like you point out I too don't hear much about the suffering savior, His shed blood daily washing away our sins or messages centered around the teachings of the Apostles about being blessed when we are persecuted for His Righteousness sake or counting it all joy when temptations befall us or gladly suffering the sufferings of Christ as we bear one another's burdens!

There are two groups of people that are clearly identified in the book of the Revelation during the unfolding events as each seal is broken or curse is poured out on the world. One group are the Saints who are singing praises glorifying the God of Heaven for His judgments. These are those facing the throne of Heaven. Then there is this other group, earth dwellers, these are the ones crying out in horror and in anguish seeking to run away from the Presence of the God of Heaven. While the one group are willingly running to Heaven's Glory the other group in terror are running away from Heaven's glory!

Jesus said some amazingly hostile things during His ministry, such as these things:

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. (Matthew 10:34-36 ESV)


The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil. (John 7:7 ESV)


“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. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’ (John 15:18-25 ESV)

Every time we lift up our hearts in prayer or praise full of thanksgiving in such a way the world sees Christ's light of truth in us they are guilty!

May the Good Lord release more and more of that fresh oil and may we receive it more and more ready to trim our lamps when the sound of last trumpet blasts!

michael said...

Joel, I'm reminded that a vine or a tree started as one seed! You are blessed to have four trees growing! Maybe one or all of them will become a vineyard or forest? That's in God's Hands but I encourage you to give those groups your whole heart and soul like we read about in the Scriptures!

Cherie c said...

I hope I am mot sinning when I say I envy you Joel. 4 fellowships! How rich you are. May God use you for His Glory, I know you are a blessing to me dear brother.

I however can only start a woman's fellowship. Not allowed to with men. Men must do the leading if mixed fellowship, as it should be.

I keep bringing before the Lord some kind of woman's bible study and fellowship so I can minister to younger women. A show tgem tge truth ftom God's Word about the evil of feminism. Please pray for me. As a professional business woman I have learned many things and one of them is to be a keeper of the home, and be with your children. Feminism is what has hurt the family unit. So much to be done. Woman pastors should repent. Woman are not suppose to be leading a church. So very sad indeed.

I will pray for your fellowships Joel, may God keep the enemy out. Good Bless.

your sister in Christ Jesus,
Cherie c.

Anonymous said...

Michael, all Blessings, Honor and Glory belong to Jesus the Christ. If it were not for His sacrifice and shed blood this would not be happening. Jesus is everything, do not look at what I do, but look to Him that directs our paths. Jesus must increase, while I decrease. God uses for His Glory that which the world despises.

When God points to a place and says go here, you go, without question. That is why we have four places to go to.


Anonymous said...

Cherie, please do not envy me for what you think I am doing. The Lord is the One doing the work, I am just repeating what Jesus has already said in the Bible.

This all started about two and a half years ago with one home. But the Lord had in mind that there were others that needed to here the Gospel also. That is why it is now four homes.

Please keep praying about meeting with the younger women. Remember it only takes one to get started. Put out of your mind those restrictions that you have put on yourself. God will not mislead you.