Devotional - False Conversions, The Elephant In The Church

Discussion in 'Thoughts for Today' started by anthony wade, Jun 3, 2013.

  1. Let me now remind you, dear brothers and sisters, of the Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then, and you still stand firm in it. It is this Good News that saves you if you continue to believe the message I told you—unless, of course, you believed something that was never true in the first place. I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said.He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. – 1Corinthians 15: 1-4 (NIV)

    The English language is filled with colorful metaphors used to describe situations that arise in our daily lives. The “elephant in the room” is one such metaphor used to describe an obvious situation no one wants to talk about. The metaphor being that you could not miss an elephant sitting in a room so you must be purposefully avoiding talking about it. The church has many elephants which most avoid talking about but the one that nearly everyone is silent on is false conversions. The unavoidable fact is that there are a large and growing percentage of church-goers today who believe sincerely that they are saved but are not. Remember these chilling words from Jesus:

    “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.’ – Matthew 7: 21-23 (NLT)

    The truth is that the modern church has become very adept at using the name Lord without teaching what it means to have Jesus as your Lord. Just because every third word is Jesus does not mean anything. Note the contrast Jesus is drawing for us here. Not everyone who says Lord gets to enter the Kingdom and then He says away from me – you who break God’s laws. Drawing a sharp distinction between what we say and what we do. This puts the whole “grace alone” heresy right on its ear. I can almost hear the shouts of “legalist!” David Wilkerson once said that that the first weapon used by false prophets is to cry legalism. There is a huge difference however between legalism and obedience. Legalism says the rules are needed to gain access to eternal life. Obedience recognizes that God’s laws are there for our own good. Legalism strips the Spirit out of the law. Obedience is about being in tune with the Spirit.

    Back to the Matthew Scriptures we see that these people being denied access to heaven spent their lives in what they thought was service to God! They may have even seen and performed miracles in His name! It was suggested to me recently that maybe these people were merely lying to Jesus and He responded that He never knew them but I think that falls short of the mark. I do not think that anyone will be able to stand on Judgment Day and outright lie to Christ. No, I think these people clearly thought they had been converted when in reality they had not. These should be some of the most sobering passages for believers today. And please, this is not an exercise in doubting one’s salvation. There is nothing like the assurance confirmed through the Holy Spirit that one is saved. There should however be proof. There should be a regeneration of our heart:

    For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another. But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. – Titus 3: 3-7 (NKJV)

    It has become chic to preach on the end of these verses while ignoring the meat. Every other preacher loves to speak about being justified by grace and becoming heirs of God. Not so much however will you hear about putting to death the old man we once were. That foolish, disobedient, deceived and lustful man (or woman). We have certainly been justified through His magnificent grace but not without being first regenerated and renewed through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Without the regeneration you simply have someone who is being taught they have been justified without confirmation from the Spirit of the Living God. So then who does the confirming? The church. Over the past several decades, the church has embraced some of the poorest theology ever imagined and is now in the business of selling it.

    The first such poor theology is the sinner’s prayer, which Wilkerson once said has sent more people to hell than all the bars across this country combined. The logic therein is that the person in the bar at least has not been convinced he is saved. He still may seek God. The falsely converted however, they think they have already found God. The Bible warns specifically about this:

    “Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is! – Matthew 6: 22-23 (NLT)

    Read that last part carefully. Beloved, there is nothing darker than someone who has convinced themselves that their darkness is actually light. You cannot reason with that person. You cannot witness to that person. The fastest growing mission field today is found in the pews across this country. That is because we have convinced people that all they need to be saved is to say a simple two sentence prayer, often devoid of the crucial elements needed for salvation, and then we brashly declare they have joined the family of God! In the Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren presents salvation one time. In that one instance, he asks the unsaved readers to pray simply, “Jesus I believe in you and receive you”, after which he declares – welcome to the family of God! Really? Without a discussion of sin and repentance? Without a discussion of the blood and the sacrifice of Calvary? It’s not just Warren; it is pervasive throughout the purpose driven churches in this country. We have been sold lies as the Gospel and have bought into them.

    How is that possible? Just look at the key verses today. The Apostle Paul is warning us about false conversions thousands of years ago. He wants to remind the Church at Corinth about the Gospel they received from him and make their stand on. But then he acknowledges “unless you believed in something that wasn’t true in the first place.” There is no magical prayer that imparts salvation beloved. I said the sinner’s prayer in 1998 but did not give my heart to God until 2002. I have no doubt where I would be heading if my life had been required during that four year window and it is not heaven. What are we making our stand on? What Gospel have we bought?

    The seeker friendly, purpose driven model is not designed to bring people to the cross. It is designed to bring people to a church building. It is a business model disguised as kingdom business. Warren no longer refers to people as unsaved but rather as unchurched. That should be all we need to know to ascertain where his focus is. It is not on salvation but rather church membership. I have heard the defenders of Warren and Osteen decry any criticism under the blanket that he does some good things. That he once gave a sermon that was on point. It is almost as if some believe that a false prophet is always false. That everything someone says must be false in order to be a false prophet. Nothing can be further from the truth. The truly insidious false prophets and teachers are the ones like Joseph Prince, who sound so right so often but underlying the message is nothing but pure heresy and poison. Remember, the active ingredient in rat poison that kills the rat is less than 1% of the total ingredients. Listen, I have no doubt that the thousands of attendees at Rick Warren’s church are purpose driven. I have no doubt they are being used by the church. I just wonder how many prayed that simple little two sentence prayer and were welcomed into the family of God. I wonder how many have crucified their old man. I wonder how many are regenerated. I wonder how many will get to Judgment Day only to ask Jesus incredulously, “didn’t we serve in two ministries for You at Saddleback Church” only to be told He never knew them.

    I am sure that the 45,000 + people who attend Joel Osteen’s “church” feel better about themselves. I am sure that they are motivated. I am sure they believe this is their best life now and that God wants to supernaturally bless their lives. I just wonder how many think they are heaven bound when they are not. I have heard the Osteen defenders swear that they know someone who knows someone who was saved through his ministry. The law of averages alone indicates someone is going to get genuinely saved because they were so desperately seeking the true God. But what about the rest? What about the tens of thousands of people who I imagine think they are heaven bound? Sure they could be. They might be. Unless of course they believed in a gospel that was not true in the first place. As if to clarify, Paul finishes the key verses be reminding us exactly what the Gospel is. What is the very first thing mentioned? That Jesus died for our sins! What is rarely mentioned in seeker friendly, purpose driven churches? That Jesus died for our sins! Don’t take my word for it. Here are the words of Warren himself from a ministry article he did for pastors across this country, just this year:

    Always either start a sermon series on Easter or the next week—and make sure it’s a series that meets the felt needs of an unchurched person. Yes, they need the gospel and a relationship with Christ. You and I both know that’s their foundational need, but most people will come to your church because they have a need for friendship … want a better marriage … want to be a better parent … want to feel they’re living a life of significance … or there may be some other need. When you do a series like that, let Easter visitors know in your letter. It’ll give them a reason to come back to your church.

    Do you see the inherent problem with seeker friendly, purpose driven thinking? The Gospel is supposed to offend. It is supposed to divide. But according to this, the number one problem the unsaved person faces is that they are unchurched. Warren’s statement here is that the Gospel is not a good enough reason for people to come back to your church! So they will be a better parent but still go to hell. They lead a life of significance right up to the point that they go to hell.

    For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! – 1Corinthians 9: 16 (NIV)

    It is not woe to me if I do not teach them to feel significant. It is not woe is me if they do not come back to my church. The Bible teaches us that we plant the seeds but God gives the increase.

    So the elephant still sits in the pews across this country. No one wants to talk about it. No one wants to realize the danger of it all. The seeker friendly, purpose driven model grows the church horizontally, not vertically. People ask me sometimes why my discernment ministry focuses so much on these poor theologies. The answer is false conversions. The reality is that I would guess 70% of churches today are implementing some version of Warren’s teachings. We are raising up a generation of “pastor-ceo’s” who are trained to use carnal metrics to try and measure spiritual success. Number of “salvations” is an actual reported statistic. A “salvation” is based upon someone coming up for altar call. That is why the sinner’s prayer is dumbed down to a two sentence quickie. This is the single most important decision a person can ever make in this lifetime. More important than getting married, switching careers, or moving to another country. This is the single most profound event in someone’s life. To truly realize your sinful state and the holiness of God. Yet we have managed to turn it into an assembly line and a ledger entry – 10 salvations today – whoo-hoo! Never mind that nine of them had no regeneration. Never mind that nine of them are still going to hell. You think nine is too many? How many is an acceptable number?

    The purpose driven and seeker friendly models do not care because next week there are a new batch of people to call up for altar call. There are new “salvations” to count. Here is a Bible and some literature; quickly sign up for baptism class so we can get you into membership and you can discover your purpose! Don’t believe me? Let’s go back to the words of Warren himself:

    Help them get connected in your church. Let them know about some of the significant assimilation ministries in your church — your membership class, your small groups or your Celebrate Recovery ministry (which I hope you have!). You might do this on your website and simply share the link in your letter or you might have some of this basic info in your letter.

    Assimilation ministries? You just can’t make this stuff up. And for the defenders, please realize that this is not an attack upon the person of Rick Warren, or Osteen, or Prince – just their teaching and they are just the obvious ones. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that in the Purpose Driven Life, Warren says that doctrinal views won’t matter on Judgment Day. For someone whose doctrine is all muddied up with humanistic thinking and carnality, it is no surprise at all. Of course, God has a different view on the importance of doctrine:

    Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. – 1Timothy 4: 16 (NIV)

    Only two things Paul warns Timothy to watch closely. His life and his doctrine. THAT is how important what we believe is. We are to persevere in our doctrine. Because if we believe on the wrong gospel, then we run the risk of being falsely converted. If we think God exists to provide us with earthly prosperity then we may have believed upon the wrong gospel. If we believe this is our best life now and that God wants to supernaturally bless everyone, then we may have believed on the wrong gospel. If we believe that it is more important for a church to be relevant to a dying culture, or provide significance instead of the Good News of Jesus Christ, then we may have believed on the wrong gospel. This is not a game beloved. Playing church may feel good now but when we stand before Christ…

    Reverend Anthony Wade – June 3, 2013

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