Devotional - What To Do When The Church Falls Away

Discussion in 'Thoughts for Today' started by anthony wade, Mar 1, 2013.

  1. I speak the truth in Christ—I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit—I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race,the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. – Romans 9: 1-4 (NIV)

    The Bible is replete with references and warnings of the false prophets we now see running rampant through the modern American church. These pages have seen more and more writings about this as the wave of heresy has become mainstreamed and those that dare oppose it are accused of sowing discord or being against unity. I write compelled by the Holy Spirit as Paul did in our key verses today. Paul was lamenting the fact that his own people were rejecting their Savior. He was sorrowful that their man-made religiosity was more important to them than their Messiah. He was anguished that so many would follow after so much false teaching and reject God Himself when He walked in their midst. That is what we are facing today as well in the church. It is the church now that is in covenant with God yet has more faith in their religions than their relationship with Jesus. It is the church now that chases after myths instead of staying true to the Bible. I speak the truth in Christ – I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit – I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. I have great sorrow when I look at what the people called by God’s name are willing to follow. I am anguished when I look at the Bride of Christ falling farther and farther into an apostate system. I am saddened because many will get to the last day and say Lord Lord only to be turned away like the five foolish virgins. I am grieved because of the manifold damage done to the witness of Christ in these end days which will result inevitably with less people coming to salvation. This is not a joke. It is about eternal life or eternal punishment.

    I was asked recently to write about what we should do as believers regarding false teaching in the church. Many who speak out are unfairly attacked as stated above for sowing discord amongst the brethren, something that God clearly hates according to Scripture. A staple of false teaching however is to misuse Scripture to fit their pre-determined end. The reality is that it is the false teaching that is sowing the discord. The exposing of it allows people to realize they may be following the wrong gospel and as such need to get back on the narrow path. The reality is we should want there to be discord amongst false teaching so that the souls of men would be justly saved and those that are straying from true Gospel would come back. Paul dealt with this early on in the life of the Church in Galatia:

    I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ. You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ.Let God’s curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you.I say again what we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed.Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant. – Galatians 1: 6-10 (NLT)

    Was Paul sowing discord in the Church he founded? Of course not. A movement started by a faction known as the Judaizers were poisoning the Gospel message and the Galatians were falling for it. Paul gives us clear instruction in unequivocal terms that if anyone presents any Gospel contrary to the true Gospel of Jesus Christ – let them be accursed! What if it was an angel bringing the false gospel? Accursed! This is serious business beloved because the eternal souls of men are on the line. So what should we do as believers when faced with such a growing apostasy?

    Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them. – Ephesians 5: 10-11 (NLT)

    The instructions are threefold. First, we must carefully determine what pleases the Lord. Carefully indicates that we must take great caution in what we do. Modern Christianity has lost this sense of caution when it comes to the things of God. Irreverence marks the times. It also indicates the seriousness with which any accusation of false teaching must be made. The object is not to disagree about pettiness or matters which have no eternal value. For example, while the old hymns are often beautiful there is plenty of contemporary worship music that stays true to Scripture and blesses God. Arguing over minutia as if it is heretical does not serve the purposes of God. It is when the principle message of the Gospel has been compromised that we have entered into heretical territory. When the emphasis is on works and legalism instead of the grace of God. When the emphasis is on prosperity and tithing instead of humility and servant hood. When the secular world has so infiltrated the church that you can no longer tell them apart. When the spirit realm is seemingly ignored and Scripture is used instead of exposited.

    So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better. – Colossians 1: 9-10 (NLT)

    We should be pursuing the complete knowledge of the will of God and spiritual wisdom and understanding. Not a spiritual experience beloved. What pleases the Lord? How can we find out? All of the answers are in His Word. When the church starts to chase after the latest Christian fad or church growth theory in lieu of actual Scripture – beware! Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. Where is the fruit? Be careful to not confuse social works with Spiritual fruit. Social works are important but the world also thinks they are important. Because a church has a clothing ministry or feeds the homeless is not an indication of Spiritual fruit. Carefully determine what pleases the Lord! Do as the Bereans did:

    And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth. As a result, many Jews believed, as did many of the prominent Greek women and men. – Acts 17: 11-12 (NLT)

    Searching the Scriptures to see if what they were being taught was truthful! That is what pleases the Lord and protects you! The second instruction is to take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness. I saw an interview recently with a popular preacher who was asked when it would be ok for someone to leave a church. His answer was only if they had another church to go to and they were called. That is absurd because it poses the notion that the church is somehow infallible. I know well intended believers who sit in apostasy willingly with some hollow rationales. I had one person tell me that she was waiting to hear from God before she left. I told her she had heard from Him already:

    And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God said: “I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people.Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord. Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you.And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” – 2Corinthians 6: 16-18 (NLT)

    Come out from amongst them! We tend to over-spiritualize things God has already clearly instructed us about. I have heard people use the excuse that they are praying but there is a big difference between praying and staying. You can pray (and we should) but that does not mean that you have to stay. Realize also what your continued attendance says to people who may look up to you. People who may not be as advanced in their walk. Please hear me well. I am not suggesting church hopping or leaving over minor details. We are speaking about apostasy – which means the church has fallen away from the Gospel. We are speaking about heresy – where there are teachings being made that are clearly opposed in Scripture. There should be an established pattern of such teachings. Everyone can agree to disagree about one thing or another but when critical portions of Scripture are ignored or marginalized then it is time to give the gift of goodbye. Never assume you are so grounded that you would never fall for false teaching. It is the small lumps of leaven that do the most damage because they sound so right. It is the Joseph Prince grace alone heresy that sounds so right but is fraught with so much danger. It is the Joel Osteen mantra that this is your year of blessing that makes us want to accept the teaching even though it is false. Realize that the majority of the false teachings in this country fall into three primary areas. They are prosperity, seeker friendly secularism, and experiential emotionalism. There is some overlap but there are distinctive patterns in each. Prosperity includes heresies such as word faith, name it and claim it, blab it and grab it etc. The main thing here is that the preacher is selling you temporal happiness instead of eternal joy. It seeks blessing upon blessing while not appreciating all the blessings God has already given us. There is an abuse of the tithing Scriptures to turn the church into a big pyramid scheme where the people on the bottom have to “sow their seed” if they are to expect God to bless them. God has warned us:

    You see, we are not like the many hucksters who preach for personal profit. We preach the word of God with sincerity and with Christ’s authority, knowing that God is watching us. – 2Corinthians 2: 17 (NLT)

    As with the hucksters, do not fall for the seeker friendly secularists either. Many a church has gone down this road today. The church has asked the advice of the world about how to grow the church despite the fact that Acts 2 says that God is responsible for who is added unto the number saved. The high sounding nonsense the church has bought into is that the Gospel is somehow no longer relevant to the next generation and we have to “reach as many for Jesus as possible.” Again, it all sounds nice but if you compromise the Gospel than you reach them with a compromised Jesus. That will be fine as long as everyone is singing kumbya but when the devil or the world comes against them they will discover they are not walking in any real power. You cannot pay lip service to the nature of spiritual warfare because you essentially do not believe it and then hold a prayer vigil and think God is going to answer. The Gospel is seeker friendly enough – it saves you from your sins and eternal separation from God. If that does not motivate someone to salvation than rest assured your next big Easter egg hunt and outreach most certainly will not.

    Besides the hucksters and the secularists, the other big apostate trend it targeted at the youth. Experiential emotionalism changes the relationship we have with Jesus. It uses its own brand of worship that is as heretical as the nonsense it preaches. Gold dust, gem stones, feathers from heaven, holy laughter, Jesus Culture fire tunnels, drunk in the spirit and any other number of rank heresies pollute churches across this land. The over sexualization of Jesus to confuse young girls and conversion of Jesus into our buddy for the guys. His Lordship is eliminated. His salvation is minimized. It is a bloodless and sinless Christianity that seeks fans not followers. Realize also that many of these will intertwine. Most seeker friendly models abuse the tithing principles and preach only the bless me theologies. In a lot of ways the experiential emotionalism is nothing more than a logical conclusion of the bless me theologies and the seeker friendly movement. Regardless, the message is clear for us as we see our churches adopt these permanent changes – we are to take no part in them.

    The last instruction is that we are actually supposed to expose these works of darkness. I know the cry amongst the wolves is for unity! Don’t name names! We are all on the same team! Except we are not all on the same team. I am not on the same team of someone who sells my Lord and Savior for a personal profit while leading people into hell. I am not on the same team as someone who tries to find people’s purposes for his church instead of sharing the Gospel. I am not on the same team as someone who sells the notion to people that this is their best life now. I am not on the same team as someone who thinks nothing of bringing the filth of this world into the bride of Christ. I am not on the same team as someone who pays no mind to the spiritual warfare raging all around them and likewise does not prepare their sheep for the battle either. I am not on the same team as someone who flies around in a personal jet while their congregants are battered for not tithing correctly. I am on Team Jesus and our coach is His Word.

    I understand this teaching is not easy. Most prefer to not be so cautious with Scripture. Most love their church; leaving it is a tremendously difficult decision. Most would prefer to not make waves and name names. That is because the watchmen on the walls of the church are few in comparison to those who stand astride the broad road that leads to destruction. As Paul said earlier, we do not say these things to please man but rather to serve God. I would guess that 70% of the modern church in this country have fallen away from the narrow path so the fact that more might disagree actually provides comfort. I have seen their disagreement which is usually disagreeable and devoid of sound Biblical defenses.

    Lastly, a word about prayer. Yes, prayer is desperately important and the Bible says we are to pray for everyone already and to pray without ceasing. So I think it goes without saying that when faced with apostasy and heresy we should fully submit ourselves into prayer. We should pray that the false teachers come a realization of the error of their ways. I pray that Rob Bell realizes that love does not always win. I pray that Rick Warren realizes his purpose was to preach the Gospel. I pray that Mark Batterson abandons his wildly heretical circle maker nonsense. I pray that the church of Jesus Christ comes back to the true Gospel – Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Prayer however should never be used as an excuse for inaction. We are to test every spirit and weigh everything preached against the plumb line of the Word of God. Keep what is good and discard the rest. We are to come out from among them. As difficult as it might be we simply cannot lend credibility to false teaching or expose ourselves spiritually to it. Lastly, we are to call evil evil and good good without worrying if people will come against us or not. The only issue is that the true Gospel of Jesus Christ be preached to all the world – period. Lastly, if we are worried about the wicked prospering – God says to ease our hearts:

    “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!” declares the Lord. Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: “You have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds, declares the Lord. – Jeremiah 23: 1-2 (ESV)

    Amen and hallelujah.

    Reverend Anthony – March 1, 2013

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