THE WESTERN CHURCH NO LONGER FOLLOWS JESUS
I have addressed a few areas which point to the apostasy of the western church.
EMBRACING FALSE TEACHERS
Do not be deceived. We are living in a time of great deception which has nothing to do with Israel or America or Muslims. The evil one has come by night and sown tares among us and these tares speak lies with a seared conscience and the people love to have it so. Yes, there have been earthquakes and heat waves and violence and wars and rumors of wars and pestilence and famine and other things. These could be signs of the end, however only God knows. We should be prepared regardless of any signs. But there is one sign about which we can be sure.
Matt.24: 11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
II Pet.2: But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.
3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.
II Tim.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;
4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
Matt.15: 8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
These can be verified. There is a great and horrific spectacle today. There are heretics and false prophets who are warning people about certain signs and therefore making themselves to be angels of light. How dare men use God’s Word and His warnings to fill their barns and line their pockets. One thing is for sure. God will one day bring swift destruction upon these filthy dreamers who have made merchandise of many gullible people and have twisted God’s Word and made it their own evil golden goose. God honors His Word above His name, and one day His wrath will be unleashed upon men and women who have corrupted His holy Word and worship their bellies as their god.
But you, my brethren, stand fast in His Holy Word and His holy presence. Close your hearts and ears to falsehoods, and maintain a broken and contrite spirit. The deception will only get worse. Keep looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith. The landscape is filled with heretics and false teachers, but we must watch and pray. I must warn others, but I will not get consumed with false teachers. I strive to be consumed with the Daystar as He rises with healing in His wings. Creation is groaning in anticipation of His coming, but we who are bondslaves to the Master mare loving His appearing. Come, Lord Jesus, your bride awaits you drenched in your blood and clothed in the garments of your spotless grace. Halleluiah! Behold! The Bridegroom cometh!!! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord!!!!!!!!!!!
Rom.12: I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Men will sacrifice sleep and entertainment and social interaction in order to gain apromotion at work and a financial raise. They will willingly sacrifice time and energy and even their health to achieve superiority in athletics. They will spend many hours attempting to get in shape and make them feel better about themselves. Some will sacrifice greatly in order to get a degree which may help them in a career. But how many professing believers sacrifice for Christ to say nothing of our entire beings being a living sacrifice?
And yet a professing believer in the pursuit of success and prosperity can sacrifice time away from his family, and literally drive himself to the brink of exhaustion seeking earthly benefits and all the while he might be considered a faithful and devout believer because he is a member in good standing at his local assembly. And in the light of Scripture just how is this possible?
Let us be painfully honest before the God of His Word. We have left the nourishing pastures of His eternal Word and we have been feeding sumptuously upon the fallen pastures of this present world. And the culture in which we live has slowly but surely become ours and has even made its way into the assembly of believers we call the church. And so now we compare ourselves with ourselves instead of the mirror of God’s Word.
But I ask you once again. What do we really sacrifice for Jesus Christ. How many stay up late to pray and worship or meditate upon His Word? How many will rise early and head for the secret place of the Most High? How many will go without food in order to suppress the flesh and enhance the Spirit? How many will give to gospel causes to the point of having to stretch pennies in their own lives? How many will suffer injustices to them personally by word or deed and refuse to even share it with another human being, but instead they offer up forgiveness as a sacrifice of praise?
The faith has rejected sacrifice and now is a faith which heralds self aggrandizement. The spectacle which calls itself Christian television cannot be more horrific and against everything Jesus lived and taught. It is a hideous and loathsome display of human idolatry and abject heresy. And perhaps millions will give money to these liars not because they desire to reach souls, but because they desire personal prosperity. You see the culture has taught the church that God wants us to be rich and that poverty is a curse regardless of the circumstances. And so sacrifice belongs to the weak and unproductive, but riches belong to those who believe it. So not only do western believers not desire nor practice personal sacrifice, we are complete strangers to even the concept of being living sacrifices.
Gal. 6 As for those who were held in high esteem—whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not show favoritism—they added nothing to my message. (NIV)
Years ago when some Hollywood star or some popular singer claimed to be a Christian they were invited to speak at churches all across the country regardless of how deep or how new was their confession of faith. Celebrity was the rage and professing believers flocked to hear whatever they had to say based almost completely upon their status as a celebrity. But it wasn’t long before that celebrity spirit began to be passed onto the preachers. Soon people would flock to hear a certain preacher and in some cases pay money to do so.
Some preachers had their own study Bible, a bevy of books, a catalogue of sermon CD’s, and even some memorabilia. The atmosphere was like a rock concert and the man or woman was treated like a god. This phenomenon has had many repercussions. Many celebrity preachers have followers who have come so far in their idolatry that they will believe almost anything their particular preacher says or teaches. It is truly an unholy spirit which makes the Word of God subservient to the words of man even though these preachers suggest they get their truth from the Scriptures.
Whenever we elevate any man or woman regardless of their charismatic personality or communicated prowess we enter into humanism at its very worst. And the direct result is the de-elevation of the Word of God and the deepest compromise of the ministry of the Spirit. This is running absolutely rampant in the western evangelical church. Yes it is mostly happening with false teachers, but there is also a celebrity spirit among the orthodox crowd as well. Even if a preacher is a faithful steward of God’s Word he must never be an idol or seen as an official “Oracle” of God. This is so damaging to the body of Christ, and if practiced over a number of years it begins to tear away at the fabric of personal growth in the Spirit. Consider the implications of this: There is a substantive difference between believing what preacher says and believing what the Word of God says even if they are identical.
It is one thing to recognize and benefit from Spurgeon’s gift of preaching, but it is another to see him as having a direct line to God that is not available to you and me. But it is so easy to become entrapped by the spirit of celebrity for several reasons. There is a competitive spirit that goes along with it. There is also a spirit of belonging to a clique, as well as some self righteousness and a subtle perception that when we champion certain well known preachers we are on their perceived spiritual level. The entire phenomenon is extremely subtle and in these days not so subtle.
If only we would fully embrace the truth that we are earthen vessels recreated by regeneration and now these earthen vessels should be lanterns for Christ and His glory, and we should constantly seek to remove ourselves from any limelight. That is a much greater task than we can imagine. Every fiber of our flesh desires importance and recognition and praise. Even when we are being used of the Spirit our flesh still demands through subtle means to be seen as wonderful and even the active agent in our service. But nothing could be further from the truth.
Everything we are, and everything we will one day become, and every act we do which reflects Jesus, all of it is of Him and none of us. Dare we take credit for things He has done through us by His grace? God forbid! Imagine the priests carrying the ark and people see all the gold and magnificence and even some of the illuminated glory and the priests begin to point at themselves. We could never imagine such a scenario and yet preachers and singers and politicians, all who claim to know Jesus, are consistently pointing to themselves. It is a disgrace and an utter falsehood. In the end, when the kingdom of God comes to earth and King Jesus sits on His throne, it will be clear to all of us that He alone always deserved all the glory, honor, and praise. And purely by grace we were privileged to be His servants both now and forever. Praise His matchless name!
MAKING FORGIVENESS MUNDANE
Col.1: 14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
The words roll from our lips like saying “I want fries with that”. This issue of forgiveness is so often treated as kindergarten theology and bumper a sticker phrase. Oh but my dear friends, divine forgiveness is not just some magnanimous wave of the magic wand. Forgiveness from a Holy God carries with it a monumental price without which no sinner can enter the Gates of Splendor.
Inherent within this act of forgiveness is a transaction and redemption purchased by a unsearchable act of selfless suffering, pain, and death. This has never been doctrinal child’s play. This enters a realm where angels dare not enter and in truth might never understand. The blood that was shed was the blood of God, and the motivation for such a sacrifice was the heart of Almighty God. Who really can know it? Who among dare suggest we have it figured out and can smugly stand and elaborate the finest detail?
If Christ had died for just one vile sinner like myself it still would be a colossal wonder and the mystery of all mysteries. But to know by Scripture that the Lamb of God died for all of us should make our hearts tremble and strip of us of a single molecule of pride as well as allowing us to surrender as eternal servants of the Glorious Savior. Let us never allow forgiveness become a mundane issue from which we who are now so mature we have moved on from that word and from that reality. That a vicious and wanton sinner should stand forgiven in the presence of infinite holiness cannot be completely fathomed by any so called theologian.
One infraction by Adam thrust the entire human race into spiritual death. It was so easy and required just one bite of the forbidden fruit. There was nothing sinister with that fruit, but there was the betrayal of the ages in Adam’s act. And in order for any man to have the Father’s forgiveness it would be a divine path that led the Suffering Servant through untold horrors and rejection. And from Emanuel’s veins we worthless rebels would find the only forgiveness that could ever be found. And that blood, that precious and holy blood, was tapped by punches and thorns and whips and nails and swords. And a human frame, beaten without mercy and covered in His own blood, slumps in death upon two Roman planks.
You want forgiveness? Then you must not turn away from this gruesome spectacle. In fact you must gaze upon it with true faith even though it may be through eyes filled with tears. No amount of remorse will do. No penance will bring you one step closer. No resolutions to do better can forgive even one sin. No, this sacrifice by God’s Holy Lamb is the only gate through which forgiveness is even possible. And once by faith we step into a land we never deserved and could never earn, let us never speak glibly about the glorious and gracious essence of our forgiveness. Again this is not some theology 101. This is the pinnacle of God’s revelation and the zenith of all the acts of the Creator God.
This is God, dressed in human flesh, and unveiling Himself and His love in a way which is foreign to human minds but which can free the imprisoned soul and place in his heart and upon his lips the word…forgiven. Selah.
EMBRACING UNHOLY BORDERS
Heb.11: 15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.
The visible church in the west has ceased looking for a heavenly country and has embraced a fallen country because it provides them with prosperity. There can be no debate about this fact. It is evident in our buildings, our church structure, our debt, our self indulgences, our willingness for war, and our indifference to the sufferings of people all over the world. Because the church considers itself American it willingly lives with nationalistic blinders which keeps it blind to the Spirit’s ministry and places borders on the gospel mission.
This deception is so strong that most Americans, believers and unbelievers, live with an unspoken and even a spoken assessment that American lives are worth more than any other lives in earth. This is a spirit of antichrist. It is this kind of earthly affection which ignores the plight of millions while feasting upon the fruit of our own hands as if God Himself was an American. Giving to the poor used to be a hallmark of the faith as lived, but now personal prosperity has muscled most of that out. God even commanded the Jews to not harvest the corners of their crop fields so that strangers who were hungry could be fed.
But now the church is concerned with stopping illegals because they might negatively affect the economy. This is the state of the faith once delivered to the saints. No longer concerned, much less consumed, with the plight of others we are willing to go to war to protect our own fields while billions starve. And we insist by the strength of our doctrines that we are following Jesus. We are not.
When did the Bride of Christ attach her heart to earthly, manmade borders and refuse to lift up her eyes and see the borderless fields? When we embrace such borders we become its slave and we are loyal defenders of a fallen kingdom. This is no small thing. In fact this is a monstrous sin which is not practiced in secret, but is lauded in public and encouraged in pulpits. And while committing spiritual adultery the church brings its whore to church with no shame at all. And the western church insists that it can dine with Christ and Jezebel together, and that Jezebel is actually a part of Christ. How can we understand such apostasy?
Just a simple understanding of Jn.3:16 reveals that God’s heart is not divided into countries. But man has created nationalistic divides and prideful camps, and the church has followed suit. It is so antichrist and it renders the church as a reflection of its earthly culture rather than that of Christ. Even in the Middle East where Palestinians suffer greatly the western church turns a deaf and uncaring ear because they stand for Israel unconditionally. And what is the motive for this? Do not be deceived, it all goes back to money. Western evangelicals believe God will bless them and their country if the support Israel in anything and everything.
But the core of the western evangelical church can be summed up in one word. Self.
Perhaps all the above can be summed up as a complete retreat, and even a denial, of Jesus. It is a clandestine denial which is camouflaged by theologies and doctrines and morality and many other diversions. The overarching question is this: Can we actually believe in Jesus and deny His teachings and not strive to follow in His footsteps? That is serious business. The western church has been assimilated by the culture and in so doing has left Jesus and His teachings. And therefore can any church which embraces the morality and politics and economics of the fallen culture around it be considered truly Christian? Or is that kind of religion a blurred facsimile of Christianity which when examined under the microscope of the four gospels would be found as a contradiction of all Jesus lived and taught?
Yes, that is a very serious question with eternal ramifications. Are we too entrenched or too afraid to examine our faith in that kind of blinding light? Can we continue to march to the redundant beat of the cultural drums and the spoon fed pabulum emanating from western pulpits which soothe the conscience and obscure the truth of Jesus and ultimately appeal to our own desires and dreams? Read the Sermon on the Mount through three times and see if what Jesus taught mirrors what the western church teaches and believes and practices. What you read may in fact have eternal implications.
We as orthodox evangelicals castigate the cults for changing the essence of the God/man called Jesus, but have we not done despite to that same Person? Is it enough to proclaim that Jesus was God in the flesh and the second Person of the Trinity, or must there be a parallel embracing of what He taught and lived that authenticates our doctrinal declarations? Will it be doctrinal orthodoxy standing alone that opens the doors to heaven, or must there be a life which seeks to follow the Christ of our doctrines as well?
And herein lies the eternal question. Who is Jesus, and what did He live and teach? That question goes way beyond a perfunctory doctrinal dissertation complete with all the doctrinal phylacteries and original language translations. Gather a host of Koine Greek experts and have them systematically translate the original texts with accuracy and integrity. Does that make them believing followers of Jesus? God forbid! There are those who tacitly embrace doctrinal orthodoxy, and then there are those who are militant students of doctrinal orthodoxy. But that does not make any of them disciples of the Jesus who they can accurately reveal with exegetical expertise.
You see, with the advent of the Industrial revolution, and with the rise of literacy among the common man, the church has become a bastion of doctrinal information and the orthodox banner called the statement of faith. However when it comes to receiving the teachings of Jesus as literal the church has overwhelming chosen to genuflect to the understanding of those teachings through the prism of western culture.
All of the above in this post clearly points to a horrific and astounding fact.
The western church no longer believes in nor follows Jesus.