Here is my “State of the Church” post. As I have stated many times before, we live in a post-Christian era; the times that Jesus declared in Luke 18:8, ” Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” I truly hope I am way off-base in my assessment of the state of the “church” in the USA. I hope and pray that God is much more liberal in His perception of Christian living and obedience than I am. A lot of people will miss hell, if that is the case; I DO NOT want people to land in hell when they were deceived by the devil of that domain and his false prophets and teachers. They themselves are deceived and go about deceiving those in their congregations. ( 2 Timothy 3:13) Where does the “buck” stop? Are we personally accountable to God for what we listen to, week after week ( and thereby give “silent affirmation” to). Does God give most Christians a “pass” and hang the judgment solely on the heads of those who are ordained to lead their sheep to green pastures? I say that true Christians are told over and over again, “BE NOT DECEIVED”!! Romans 12:2 states, “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”. There is only one way for a Christian to be “non-conformed” to this world. That is achieved by reading and studying the Scriptures, which renew (think- gives you God’s perspective) a transformed (Christian) mind.”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”. (2 Corinthians 13:5)
I believe the Lord’s Supper (communion) should be celebrated each Lord’s day (Sunday) and the message brought home, with “passion”, by the minister overseeing it. The message I am speaking of is this; EXAMINE YOURSELVES, DO NOT TAKE THE SACRAMENT WITH KNOWN SIN IN YOUR HEART AND LIFE. We need to keep a “short account” with the Lord Jesus, I do believe. I know that the church pews are filled today by “professors” who have been taught a weak, watered-down view of personal holiness and accountability to our creator, Jehovah God!! These “professors” sin is “minimized”, from the pulpit, by false teachers who tell them they are OK with God because it was all taken care of by God’s “grace”; past, current, and future sins were washed away by the work of Christ at Calvary (there is another article there- the use of the word “Christ” instead of Jesus Christ or just Jesus)!!! We Christians have the ability, by the Holy Spirit that is within us, to overcome and become somewhat victorious over our “sin nature”. It is a daily “battle” against our old nature. It is one that must be fought, if Christians are to experience real, spiritually-healthy, Christian living, and a personal accountability to God. 1 John 1:9,10, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us”. Hebrews 4:12-16, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do. Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need”.
Verse 9 of 1 John 1 is taken out of context by many of the “easy believism” false teachers. It is said to be a “salvation” verse and prerequisite for salvation, when nothing could be farther from the truth of Scripture. This verse, taken in context (as we ALWAYS should do), is to Christians; about the “reality” that we are still sinners. We need to repent and be restored DAILY to keep a close walk with God, to stay humble, and to grow in the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ. Sinning, by omission and commission, is a fact of our earthly life. Perfect holiness or sanctification is a great, worthy goal to strive for at all times. But let us get honest with ourselves and admit that we need that “daily” cleansing from the filth of sin to finish the race of faith as a victor. Hebrews 12:1-4, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.
We have not achieved martyrdom yet for our faith in Jesus, so He must do the cleansing, when we confess and repent. THEN, we get graciously restored and made white again by Jesus’s advocacy with the Father. I don’t know about you, but my “whiteness” is usually getting dingy in a few hours, so confession and repentance is definitely an almost continuous process with me. Can I get an “amen” here? I believe that all Christians are left with a “thorn in the flesh”, to keep us humble. Otherwise, we get “religiously” proud, kind of like the Pharisees and Sadducees of Jesus’s earthly time. And therein lies the biggest trap and danger of vocational Christianity (religion for a salary). Religious pride and legalism are insidious, egregious sins of the church universal. A lot of times, our “good works” are just balm for our egos; we serve meals and give clothes to the homeless without giving them the truth of the gospel, the “good news” of Jesus Christ; the transforming power of the “new birth”. Matthew 25:32-46 is a judgment, by Jesus Christ, at the start of the millennium, at which He will judge the nations of the earth on their treatment of the Jews, God’s chosen people. Many pastors choose to use these verses as “legal ammunition” to shoot the flock and put them under condemnation that God never intended for His children. That kind of scenario is “real legalism”. It is used by false teachers to put Christians “back into bondage”, and is part of what I call a “social gospel”; a method to reform the world by the “good works” of “social” programs and ministries. In my opinion, what happens with a social gospel is the opposite of what Jesus declares in the Great Commission. We end up giving them bodily provisions instead of “living water”, which is the spiritual solution, and what everyone “really” needs. Good works is substituted for real evangelism and discipleship. We pat ourselves on the back and our egos are satisfied and inflated.
I am going to give you some examples, from my personal experience, to show you what it looks like in a church congregation when a liberal (political) social gospel is featured and the real gospel “backburnered” or completely disregarded. The first thing you would notice and encounter is a lack of any focus on evangelism and disciple-making. Jesus gave us three “major” orders; (1) to love God and obey Him and His Word (2) to love others as we love ourselves (3) to evangelize or possibly better said, “make disciples”. If disciple-making (what I call “real evangelism”) is not the main focus of a church congregation, then they are taking a ” broad” road, and the church is “dead” (think Sardis). It does not matter that they have large numbers and a big budget, they are spiritually dead. Period!! What causes such a “sorry” state in a church assembly. Unbiblical leadership is my answer to that question. At the assembly I attended with the grandkids and their parents, the pastor adheres to what I consider a liberal, unbiblical, social “gospel” which I can only describe this way; it is a “politically correct” message that puts a very wrong “spin” on how God intends for His people to be “fed and led”. PC church on steroids!! I do not know (or want to know) the church structure there, but this pastor has been there 29 years so I believe he does basically what he desires to do. It is his “baby”! It is a “reformed” model that they use and push (foist) on the congregants. “Reformed religion”, the Young, Restless, and Reformed (YRR) is the “modus operandi” at this assembly. The church is mixture of Sardis and Laodicea. It is “wealthy and dead”. There is no disciple-making going on there because this formula (reformed religion-Calvinism) is what is believed, taught, and focused on. The “elect” will come!! So, they go about doing “church” without the Holy Spirit’s power and blessing. “Traitors they are, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (2 Timothy 3:4, 5). This church must be filled with “tares” or else it could not have the support and numbers that it has. Large numbers of people and the size of the offering are not a “gauge” of the spiritual health of an assembly. This pastor never closes a prayer in Jesus’s name! He usually just says “amen”, but sometimes says ” in Christ’s name” (that itself is another article). What is wrong with that “picture”, folks? He does not preach “Easter” sermons, about the greatest occurrence for Christians, the resurrection of Jesus our Lord. There is an old testament word that I believe is warranted here. “Ichabod”!!! Possibly, the “glory of the Lord” was never there.
Well, that was my rant on the “state of the church”, 2017.
Barb and I have started attending a Wesleyan church in our town, and we have “high hopes” for this church experience.”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”. (Hebrews 10:25). The day of our Lords return is near. I pray that you have a place where you can truly worship Him, in Spirit and in Truth.