A TRUTH USED TO DECEIVE
Rom.16: 17 Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.18 For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.
19 For your obedience is come abroad unto all men.
II Tim.3: 12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.
14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;
Eternal life. There it is. Through faith in the Lord Jesus we have been given eternal life with Him in a place called heaven. It is a reality that is most like a dream. It is glorious and it gained through faith alone in Jesus and what He alone has accomplished for us. I do not discount eternal life or the place called heaven. Even Paul said it was “far better” to be with Christ. However if we read the writings of the Apostle Paul and the entirety of the New testament we can see that there is much more to following Jesus than just stopping for a moment securing a place in heaven, and then continuing the life you were living.
The faith called Christianity has been defined almost exclusively by the doctrine of heaven. To be sure all those who have been born again will inherit eternal life in a place called heaven, but over the years the blind focus on a future heaven has significantly compromised the commands and dictates of the Spirit as it pertains to the life here and now. Christianity has become a ticket to heaven with everything else being like a smorgasbord. In other words take what you like in great quantities, and leave what does not suit your taste. That is not the faith that follows Jesus Christ. That is a man made religion which makes man his own master and makes Christ the Master only within the pages of doctrine and His Lordship only authoritative in that place called heaven.
And there is an unspoken but observable practice within the pews of evangelical churches. It suggests that as long as I make it to heaven I can serve Christ in a way which costs very little and which for all practical purposes only interrupts my western lifestyle a couple of times a week when I must travel to a gathering place. The doctrine of eternal security, especially as it has been taught in evangelical churches, has done much harm and given much false assurance to baptized church members whose profession and expression of the faith can barely be distinguished apart from the lives of unbelievers. Again, it is a teaching which makes heaven an already achieved goal and makes obeying Christ fully as an elective.
And here is a disturbing fact if we are even willing to examine what is happening, and in this case what is not happening. Millions of church members who have made some kind of profession of faith live completely by the dictates of their own desires and lusts. They do not read God’s Word, they do not pray, they sacrifice nothing, they seek success and material gain, and they never share Christ with the lost. And yet these same people who the church has pronounced as “saved” simply by accepting them as “members” are not being chastened by God at all. Most of them are well fed and satisfied western patriots who enjoy their church and live as somewhat moral unbelievers and yet endure no chastening at all. That, my friends, is a very frightening scenario which has alarming implications, or at least it should alarm us. But since the pulpits rain down assurances without any conditions these kinds of people feel no conviction at all.
Think about what has happened. The place we call heaven, the place where God dwells, has been used by the evil one to deceive millions. Eternal life must never be downplayed or minimized at all. It is the supreme gift of God through Jesus Christ. That is without question. But when the faith has become almost solely about making heaven and with following Christ here and now as an aside, then the teaching about heaven becomes a deception. And millions of people who want to go to heaven punch their ticket without counting the cost because most gospel presentations have no cost in them whatsoever. This is not what Jesus taught at all.
Let us be clear though. Jesus paid it all. No one can add or subtract from the redemption that was bought and paid for and finished by Christ at Golgotha. His resurrection openly revealed Who He was and what He had accomplished. Human works are not only irrelevant as it pertains to the blood that was shed, but if human works are added it poisons the gospel. But here is where there is a sacred and fine line. The Author of eternal redemption presents a far different picture of saving faith than does the church today.
Today one prayer spoken by a sinner who has been affected by music and adept altar workers is considered air tight. And after this sinner repeats a scripted prayer he is automatically given assurance that he is saved and on his way to heaven. And there is also a well orchestrated push to have him agree to be baptized. It is an incredible assembly line technique that puts Eli Whitney to shame. The church is so concerned with growth and buildings and budgets that it has by necessity constructed and evangelism which is streamlined and designed to close the deal quickly, effortlessly, and have sinners become members and givers. It is a western technique to be sure which cannot be found anywhere among the teachings of the Savior.
What altar worker says to someone who responds to a well oiled invitation process, “Have you counted the cost?” No, the object is to have that sinner say a prayer, fill out a card, and agree to be baptized and during that process give him full assurance. And that sinner gets the impression that he is now on his way to heaven and from here on out he can slide into being just like the rest of the church. Cost? Sacrifice? Self denial? Repentance? Who are we kidding? He has punched his ticket to heaven and if he begins to tithe, well then he is a true disciple.
But this is a very dangerous and diabolical church culture in which we live. I do not suggest we put sinners on a one year probation before they can get baptized. There is no Biblical time frame. However there are some clear admonitions concerning true believers and followers of the Lord Jesus. And we have millions of professing believers who join churches because of the loaves and fishes while others want earth and heaven as well. And the visible church has become a ecclesiastical business that captures sinners, quickly teaches them the ropes, and consumes them into the general assembly to dwell within the ranks of the unremarkable devotees of a western religion.
But the carrot continues to be heaven. What a convoluted mess! Heaven should be a great and wonderful teaching of the church. But when it becomes the exclusive target without presenting what it truly means to follow Jesus then heaven becomes an idol. That is a heartbreaking reality. Jesus is Lord not a Santa Claus. He paid for heaven and through faith it is a free gift, however exercising faith in Christ involves more than mumbling a few words. There is sacred bond between faith and works, and faith alone is not genuine faith. It is a fraud and that kind of fraudulent faith is being perpetuated upon the masses.
The American church has been built upon earthly material blessings and a promise of heaven without any hint of self denial and sacrifice. That is a fraud. When hordes of people can join churches and still live the American dream it publicly and Biblically renders that church as a religious institution without Christ. And millions of evangelical church members place their heads on their pillows at night content with the notion that their heaven ticket has been punched. After all, their adulterous hireling has given them that assurance. But in the end I fear millions upon millions will find their eternal souls were at risk all the while.
These are indeed perilous time in which we live. And the whiles of the devil are more sinister and potent than we could have ever imagined. We recognize deception when it comes in the form of redefining Jesus, or salvation by works, or another form of Scripture, but could we ever have imagined that heaven would be used to deceive millions? God help all of us…
II Cor.13: 5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?