Is the Change that has Come over the Church Come over you?
Anyone aware of our post modern world with its multi-faceted spirituality is seeing a change taking place. We are also observing the practices inside the church change. It has never been so quick and fortified than in the last few years. Since a good portion of the church has refused to be educated or understand other belief systems, an attack has been systematically launched, a concerted effort by those who are in the new age or sympathetic to the new age movement. Yoga, contemplative prayer, visualization, decreeing etc., are now seen. The heresies of annihilationism and universalism are now also taking place in wider scale. The prophet Hosea wrote to Israel what we may certainly apply to us today: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6).
The teaching in the churches has become a mixture, where even some good teachers are mixing psychology, humanism and worldly methods in their practice. Extra-biblical sources, personal experiences and feelings have become favored to improve ones walk with God. Feelings and the emphasis on the spirit, dealing with the heart without the mind is the norm because we are told our mind is our enemy in spiritual matters. This is what the New Age Movement and the occult have been teaching for years, that experience is a greater teacher than God’s word, which Jesus taught and called the truth. The Bible counsels us to guard our hearts because our own heart can deceive us (Proverbs 4:23; Jeremiah 17:9). God communicates to us through our intellect, not just by our feelings or our spirit. Any feelings should be secondary and checked to the Word. Knowledge is received through the mind; it is not absorbed by spiritual osmosis. You can’t “feel” error or truth. Knowledge and discernment is of the mind, they are objective not subjective. But these have been abandoned for feelings and a stirring of the emotions (soulish).
Certain Scripturesare used as proof-texts for aberrant doctrines and to promote a lie. Feel good sermons that boost ones morale and self-esteem and worthiness are the order of the day. We forget Satan does not make people feel bad, but has them feel good to deceive them, as he comes as an angel of light.
We have all heard the statement “eat the meat and spit out the bones,” but only the mature can discern good from evil. What parent would feed a new child a fish with bones and expect it to know what to do. This is not a good answer for the newborn, weak or immature in faith. Only the mature can do this and even the mature cannot discern the cleverness of things disguised. Each person needs to know what the biblical line is and make up his or her mind and not compromise by going over it.
Books that are defining the faith and refuting the new things that have become popular are becoming more rare. Many have had to self publish these books because few book publishers want to take a chance on something that might cause controversy. Instead what is being offered to us are books that recommend these teachings. Numerous speakers be allowed at our pulpits that are involved in these practices has also given it a big boost. It has made the church open to things we would never have considered twenty or so years ago. The Church is having a split on how to practice our faith. Now at a mature 21st century we are open to try new tools to advance the kingdom. Churches are now run by CEO’s instead of pastors that shepherd the flock, using successful business practices rather than the Bible. Do we go with these new methods and ways that the world uses for success or do we stay with what the Bible has approved and we have used for millennia?
Special “anointed songs” are created, soft music and repetitive choruses are sung to give an atmosphere for what the anointing to flow to the people. The worship songs are filled with repetitive words, chords, and rhythm it dulls the senses. The current style of music, the chanting of musical mantras is like the rosary put to song. No longer do we have music like the hymns that had us think about and reflect on our Savior’s character, life and his sacrifice for us, instead many of the popular songs focus on us and not Christ. In them we do spiritual warfare against Satan’s kingdom. We sing about our strength and authority, this is no longer worship to God. War is declared in the heavenlies and the church as mighty army has risen to occasion using all her weapons to fight off evil and triumph. The power of praises will chase the enemies of God away.
Miracles and power are sought after and great boasts are mounting. Apostolic offices are claimed to be restored as the power coming from ones hands transferred to others. Many people have no clue what a lying sign and wonder is. A lying sign or wonder is a miracle claimed to be from God but is not, it looks genuine but... A miracle in itself cannot reveal the source of its power. It must be tested, by knowing what the person whom the miracle came through believes. For if someone’s doctrine of Christ is wrong, God cannot express His supernatural power though that individual. C.D. Cole stated it well by saying “People who are looking for miracles as a sign or proof of God’s presence and favor are putting themselves in a good position to be deceived. What is supernatural is not necessarily divine.”
Unity has become one the more important aspects of the church. Unity is sought so we can make a greater difference in the world forgetting that people were changed mostly one person at a time with discipleship. This unity movement is sought to give the Church political and moral strength and influence so we can change society and reach our moral objectives. Instead of the world being seen as one of the grounds that is used by the enemy, it is instead being embraced.
Many overlook any doctrinal differences on purpose in order to find a common denominator for unity. Not having the true unity of the Spirit, they adopt a human-made unity. Chasing down unity as the “cure all” for our lack of effectiveness has changed our focus on the lost and doing evangelism. All our efforts are put in trying to show how we are together. When the fact is the church has never been less together and no amount of human effort will change this. Finding a mutual ground based on the lowest common denominator: claiming the name of Jesus is sufficient. This is not a pursuit of our highest calling and purpose, a quest for truth or doctrinal unity. Many of those who promote this new unity no longer hold the Scripture to be infallible and inerrant. They do not adhere to the essential core doctrines that Christ is God and the only way to salvation. Devil has have unity; his unison is a uniting of false religion, and it always opposes God’s way. It is another spirit that is trying to make us one as a visible church united with those who are not the church
If there is no truth, there is no unity in Jesus who is the truth and gave us His word. To reject this concept the Scriptures teach is to reject Jesus. All this takes away from the unity in the faith, making it more difficult for Christians to keep the true unity that we have in Christ.
Charles H. Spurgeon wrote “To what end, therefore, are these strainings after a hollow unity, when the spirit of fellowship is altogether gone? At any rate, cost what it may, to separate ourselves from those who separate themselves from the truth of God is not alone our liberty, but our duty”(C.H. Spurgeon, 1887)
Compromise seems to be everywhere. Some believe that the Holy Spirit is not limited to the Christian Church but is found at work in other religions as well. A professed Christian who subscribes to this type of unity is a chameleon: He is someone who seeks to find agreement with everyone and embraces it despite apparent contradictions to his faith. In society it’s called political correctness-in the church it’s called spiritual correctness, in plain language it is compromise that leads to spiritual harlotry.
We need wisdom to endure for these last days, wisdom not to be entrapped by the persuasive words of fools.
We need boldness that will keep us separate from the tolerance that is affecting everyone to unite. True wisdom however, is based on God’s eternal absolutes--any other alternative will eventually fail. Sadly the blame often lies on the church leadership, who are not serious enough about their faith, they have no vision to help the members begin a plan to read and study the Bible through. Instead they have opted for methods that are borrowed from human wisdom for success. Its leaders are substituting new rules and interpretations for Biblical truths. They tell you something God never said to get you to do something God never said to do.
Out of the 7 churches inspected by Jesus in the book of Revelation, it is the church of Laodiea that becomes the dominant one in the last days. The very word “Laodicea” means people’s opinions, ideas; people ruling in place of God. Yet they say of themselves “How can we be doing so bad if we are doing so good?” This is a self-reinforcing observation that brings one to justify them-selves with the concept that their good not only outweighs their bad but that God approves of whatever they do.
The church has Levels of luxury and comfort unseen before in history and it is eating away at her from within. This is the church that boasts of its prosperity and effectiveness. “I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing.” Yet Jesus sees what is really taking place and his response is “and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.” Laodicea had no commendation only rebuke. It is the only church Jesus has absolutely nothing good to say about. So he tells them “Therefore be zealous and repent.” “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” He doesn’t give up on them, he is faithful while they are faithless.
These are perilous times for those who want to live Godly and follow the Word of God. In these days we all need to examine ourselves to see where we are continuing in the faith. Has our love continued to grow for the brethren or grown cold? Do things that once mattered to us still matter. Are we willing to lose friends to side with the truth? Has the world removed us from our relationship with Christ? Has our church or a teacher we have been listening to increased our relationship to Jesus Christ or gained our affection more than Jesus Christ and his words?
Churches have estranged many, they once did expository preaching and taught through the word to disciple their people to go and do ministry. Now they have something new and different that's in. Numerous churches have changed their programs and alienated many of the mature in the faith in exchange for the young and enthusiastic. Mega churches are swallowing up the small congregations like big wharehouse outlets near a mom pop store that has been there for 50 years. What are the small churches to do? They can either do what the big churches are doing and get with the program or be eaten up. No church is immune to this intrusion today and we must be on guard from this taking place and carrying us away to somewhere we never though we would end up.
Are you in a church that is led by faithful shepherds committed to obeying the commands to contend for the faith and address the issues, even warn their people of what is taking place - from the pulpit? It is not going to get better but worse as we see it increasing as a flood now. As the Scripture says “But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them…” (2 Tim. 3:13-14).
A pastor is responsible for teaching the truth in his own church, and he needs to know the condition of his flock. Jesus makes it clear about a shepherds commitment to others and not to himself; a false shepherd does not keep watch and protect the sheep from harm. Shepherds are watchmen, shepherding a literal sheep flock requires vigilance and a sharp eye for danger. You can tell a true shepherd by his stand against error. They will denounce falsehood from their pulpits if necessary. But we all need to be careful who we associate with and how open we are. Prov. 12:26 “The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray.” Remember Bad company corrupts good morals.
Still amidst the church’s shortcomings, ignorance and apathy, God is stirring hearts throughout the world, saving people by those who preach the ancient uncompromising gospel of God’s grace through the death of his Son. Those who are set apart, who have “kept Your word” (John 17:6) are still making disciples for Christ and impacting peoples lives one at a time.
It is more important than ever to be in a good church among people you can trust and be able to minister and be ministered to. The mature servants of the church that we call leadership are there to equip us “that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head-Christ” (Eph. 4:14-15)
Every wind of doctrine- the trickery of men-cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting. Not words of warning you often here from a pulpit anymore. In fact, many of the warnings seem to be missing these days.
Jesus often used everyday surroundings for his stories,
for instance the wheat and tares as used as examples of spiritual
truths. In the time period between
Pentecost and the second coming, it is the mystery kingdom where the tares grow
with the wheat--deception is among the truth.
We all want to be fruitful which means we need to be faithful. I have received so many letters from people telling me their story about what has taken place. What I have written certainly does not cover it all. Despite the disappointments going on around us, some even personally affecting us we have need of endurance. Let’s put on the breastplate of faith and love (1Thess. 5:8). Humility and patience are the fruit of a spiritual life. My prayer: “May the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the patience of Christ” (2 Thess. 3:5) as we watch God's plan unfold.