But you, my dear friends, must remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ said. They told you that in the last times there would be scoffers whose purpose in life is to satisfy their ungodly desires. These people are the ones who are creating divisions among you. They follow their natural instincts because they do not have God’s Spirit in them. - Jude 1: 17-19 (NLT) This Sunday is National Back to Church Sunday. It is a movement started by several Pentecostal and Baptist denominations to invite people to return to the house of God. It’s motives are pure but as with so many things our motives do not matter when it comes to the things of God. What matters is whether we are in obedience with God, in relationship with Jesus Christ, and striving towards Him every single day. Not with mere words and platitudes but with the two things Paul warned Timothy to guard closely - our lives and our doctrine. We can hold National Back to Church Sunday once per month and it may not matter for the Kingdom. The issue is not that there are too few people in church. It is that there are too few churches preaching the uncompromised Gospel of Jesus Christ. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” - Romans 1: 16-17 (NIV) When was the last time you heard a message about righteousness within the seeker friendly-purpose driven churches? It is non-existent. Instead we hear a mish-mosh of self help, new age, and motivational speaking wrapped around a message about earthly prosperity and enough Scripture cobbled together to make it sound pious. But realize what these verses from Romans teach us. It is the Gospel that contains the power of God to bring salvation to the lost. Not some three sentence feel good prayer. Not some SHAPE plan to plug you into ministry. We may not be ashamed of the Gospel in words but we certainly appear so in deeds. Think that might be a bit harsh? The devil is always in the details. The Pew Research Center summary of recent research spotlights the main reasons Americans don't currently attend church. 24% cite personal priorities—including 16% who say they are too busy. When you change the Gospel message from the need to know God for salvation to the want to know God as a friend - this is the end result. What does it say that 16% of people who do not attend church consider themselves too busy to ensure they have eternal life? Too busy to make certain that their names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life? A whopping 24% who feel they have a personal priority more important than knowing God! What exactly are we trying to sell them that they are not buying? As if that number is not disturbing enough, another 37% point to an issue directly related to religion—including disagreements with the beliefs of the religion or their church leaders, or beliefs that attending worship services is not important. Let’s deal with these separately. First are the people who disagree with the beliefs. The modern American church has an unbiblical obsession with relevance. Because the nature of church is now a man centered showiness it stands to reason that they are overly concerned with their appearance. I have heard mega church pastors insist that they need to compromise with the world so that they are not that “crazy church that has no relevance to the community they are trying to serve.” That is absolute heretical nonsense. We are called to serve God. “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. - Matthew 5: 14-16 (NIV) We are commanded by Christ to be different - not relevant! The very community we are trying to gain relevance to is the same community that is sending them to hell. What part of this are we missing? The end result of seeking relevance over Christ is that once you allow a little leaven in, it spreads throughout the whole batch. More importantly, people will recognize the compromise and stay away unless what they want compromised is tailored to as well. I have seen well intended Christians simply miss the mark when it comes to crucial doctrinal matters because they do not want their apple cart overturned. We like our disobedience. We like our sin. The reason why people rush to have their ears tickled by Joel Osteen or Joseph Prince is that they can keep their sins there. They do not have to go to that church on the corner. They can safely say they disagree but that’s ok because they watch TBN. Another direct result of the watering down of theology is that church simply loses its importance. When the church appears like the world because they are seeking relevance then the world doesn’t have any reason to get up on Sunday and go. I remember a brother in church had been sat down from the choir and then disappeared for a few months until he was allowed to return. When I saw him I said, “hey brother where have you been?” He quickly snapped - “I can have church at home!” My answer was a sad…“Yes you can but God can’t use you there.” When our entire premise for being is seeker friendly to fill the pews we teach people that this is somehow about them when it is all supposed to be about Him. I actually agree with a great many of this 37 percent who feel this way. Attending church is actually not important at all if you are not saved to begin with and attend a church that seemingly doesn’t care. The key verses today from Jude highlight what we are speaking about. Jude starts his letter wanting to discuss the glorious salvation found in Christ but felt compelled instead to write about the proliferation of false teachers infecting the church and how in the end times it is only going to grow worse. I know that many will read words such as these and scoff as the verses warn they will. Look at all the churches participating! Look at all the denominations represented! All I can say is there is always room on the broad path. They will mock and deride and scream division but these verses from Jude actually teach us that true division is caused by the false doctrine - not the people saying the doctrine is false! Beloved, what we see in the bless me theologies of the purpose driven and seeker friendly movements is the carnality of man trying to build individual church buildings instead of the Kingdom of God. So many churches now run on one version or another of these movements. So many churches now follow their natural instincts instead of the Spirit of God, which is clearly lacking. That is what Jude is saying here and we see it play out in our daily church lives. All we need to know is that on the website of the National Back to Church movement is credit given to a study that cites that 82% of unchurched people are at least somewhat likely to attend if someone invited them. That term unchurched is a Warrenism; made popular by the purpose driven model and it highlights all that is wrong with the heart of the modern church. Somewhere along the line it became politically incorrect to refer to someone as unsaved. Some brilliant person, using all of the carnal logic of man, thought that it might offend those who might otherwise be “seeking.” It speaks however to how far off base we have wandered. Beloved, the unchurched are still unsaved. When you mix this poor theology with the watered down gospel that saves no one - you end up with hundreds of thousands of churched people who are heading straight for hell. Back to Church Sunday may have had the best of intentions but without first fixing the church itself it will amount to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. You might feel a bit more comfortable in your new chair but the ship is still going down. Rev. Anthony.