(This is part two of a two-part series, with The first article entitled: “Part 1 – Signs of a Christian Cult,” and “Part 2 – Indeed has God Said?)
“Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden ‘?” Genesis 3:1
There is a causality within the quickly growing ranks of many of today’s churches, the authority of God’s Word.
It appears the serpent hasn’t altered his strategy much through the years and challenges us with the same approach as he did with Eve in the garden, “Indeed has God said?”
Firstly I must be upfront in that I have been slack in keeping up with many of the trends within today’s more recent church movements, have become somewhat isolated within my own comfort zone.
I offer no excuse for that, guilty as charged, forever leaning on the everlasting arms.
I would also like to make it clear that the intention of this article is for the addressing of errant doctrine permeating much of today’s church.
There is no intention to publicly or personally discredit any particular individual or ministry nor will any specific names be mentioned.
However if by chance as your reading the teachings of any church leader of whom you are aware is reflected, consider the possibility that might just be discernment at work.
There is a very modernized version of the gospel message being espoused …
It’s gone viral, it’s on the TV, it’s on the radio, all over the internet.
In my church? In yours?
Fresh vibrant charismatic personalities who are culturally in tune, dynamic communicators who are equipped with all the right buzz words, all promoting this very “today” version of Biblical truth.
And they are growing large followings, birthing Mega-Churches, watering down the gospel, incorporating the philosophies of this world into the doctrines of their churches.
Often we hear of a movement referenced as the “Emergent Church” or “Seeker Friendly” church.
Their overtly slack ( trying to be nice here ) use of the Bible has rendered it as being little more than a quaint collection of poetic metaphors joined with a number of colorful illustrations.
They state that the problem with the church is it has not been “inclusive” enough and has been too rigid in it’s adherence to Biblical doctrine.
They are espousing that the church needs to get in step with the postmodern ideologies of this world because it has alienated far too many of today’s free thinkers and fringe groups, almost sounds noble doesn’t it?
Among the many spurious ideals they are promoting is the suggestion that we are unable to interpret scripture, sound familiar? ( i/e Martin Luther vs. Roman Catholicism etc ).
Denying the ability to define the word they utilize cleverly worded statements such as “One can only know the truth subjectively”.
By so doing doctrine is thus fashioned by today’s culture rather than the authority of scripture itself.
To assist their flocks in this apparent dilemma they are so kind as to interpret scripture for them, given the pulpit they then spiritualize the word away to the point that it no longer means what it say’s.
Therefore by default it means what they say.
It doesn’t take a theologian to recognize that this modernized exegesis of scripture entails a number of departures from Biblical truths.
Red flags should go up to even the more casual students of the word, yet so many appear to be taken in.
A few of the easier to identify examples of error within this movements doctrinal positions is the rejection of an actual return of Christ to Earth to establish His kingdom or belief in a literal heaven or hell.
Some of them suggest further that ANY philosophical approach, ANY religious group or affiliation, ANY lifestyle choices whatsoever are compatible within Christianity, ultimately all paths will lead to the same eternal destination.
Yet was it not Jesus who said?
“I am the way truth and the life and no one comes to the Father but by Me” John 14:6
I’m sure many of you have heard the phrase “come as you are” and indeed as we “were” is how we all came.
And without doubt we all still wrestle with sin and the flesh and are completely reliant upon grace while in this life, yet by no means does that suggest that sin in the believers life is completely irrelevant ( a very Gnostic ideal ).
If it’s okay to simply “stay as you are” while professing to be a recipient of conversion it’s reasonable to ask, a conversion to what?
“Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” 2 Corth. 7:1.
“Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” Colo. 3:5
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” James 1:22
I’ve no doubt that most serious students of scripture realize there is a standard of conduct to be set forth within the church.
Although we’re all sinners saved by grace there still remains notable marks that distinguish one as truly being in the faith, followed with an even higher level of expectation when we begin talking pastors, deacons, elders etc.
Paul makes this more than clear in this one of many statements on the subject…
“But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.” 1 Corinthians 5:11
“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105
We are told that we live in a world of darkness, yet through His grace and mercy we are given light. We have been provided a way, the only way, to be one with the Truth.
We’ve only one real hope of navigating our way through this worlds spiritually silhouetted highways and byways maintaining the assurance that we are in indeed in the truth.
We must ground ourselves firmly within the Word He’s given us.
Myriads of modern ideologies and new age philosophies spun like the spiders web often entangle those who dare to venture out of the box of their worldly existence and ask the age old question, Who am I, Why am I here?
Despite the myth to the contrary truth is knowable, it begins with the person Jesus Christ who is Himself the living truth. Further we are given the Bible ( His Word ) a solid rock of reference, the believers go to source for direction and understanding.
The believer can rest assured that God will never guide them in any direction that is contrary to His word, our fail safe for discernment.
Jesus quoted scripture as the mark of authority which authenticated His messages throughout His ministry.
By so doing He also has set an example that not only is scripture the inspired word of God but it is also to be the mark of authority guiding our own lives.
During Christ’s 1st advent using the written word was how He did battle when tempted by the enemy, *** ( it’s worthy notation that the misuse of scripture was also how the enemy attempted to deceive ).
It’s no stretch to imagine that this should be our reference and example as to the importance of the proper utilization of God’s word in authenticating our church doctrines …
“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness“. 2 Timothy 3:16
Few would argue that God is “inclusive” in that He certainly desires that all should be saved “ ( this in itself I believe to be true ) yet such does not negate that the word also states He is a holy God and without receiving the only provision He has provided to restore fallen man back into communion with Him ( His Son ) we all are destined for an eternity apart from Him.
Whether that statement of fact is regarded as being “inclusive” enough to satisfy today’s liberal thinkers is irrelevant, we are not told anywhere that He has changed or will change His Word to be more accommodating to any self evolving modernized cultures, He remains the same yesterday today and forever.
Did you know that God Himself reckons His word to be of more value than His name?
“I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.” Psalms 138:2
There is no doubt our culture is changing rapidly, I myself can attest that it gets pretty darn confusing even for the believer, can only imagine how difficult it must be for those presently outside the faith who may be trying to distinguish which “truth” is the “actual truth”, confounded even further with statements stating that truth itself is unknowable and relative.
And I find it hard to argue that in today’s post modernized world lacking any consistent reference of moral absolutes “we the Church” may need to utilize a more “wise as serpents harmless as doves” approach to more effectively reach out to the lost.
Love is and always has been the greatest representation of the nature of God for indeed God is love.
HOWEVER, the compromising of His word rendering other Biblical truths concerning sin and judgement more palatable and user-friendly to increase the numbers of congregants within the church is NOT the answer.
We do not insist that a holy God reduce His standard of holiness in an effort to become more like us, we allow the Spirit to conform us into His image in the hopes of becoming more like Him, i/e becoming Christ like.
Repentance is the mandatory first step for a sinful man seeking reconciliation with a Holy God regardless of how unpopular or uncomfortable that prerequisite may become…
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness“. 1 John 1:9 ( Emphasis on “If” )
“No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Luke 13:3 (Emphasis on “unless” )
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Matthew 3:2
So you ask, how can I be assured that what my pastor is teaching from his pulpit is indeed the truth?
That is a great question.
How Can I Know That I’m NOT Being Deceived?
“And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you”. Matt 24:4
Consider how the Secret Service trains Treasury Agents to recognize the counterfeit bills from legitimate currencies.
One might first assume they study the counterfeit bills themselves, yet they come in so many variable forms, different papers, different inks etc that it would be not only exhausting but near impossible to cover them all, after all newer counterfeit designs keep emerging.
So What Do They Do?
Their agents in training are exposed to every nuance of the actual currencies , colors of the ink, feel of the paper, every intricate detail of it’s design.
By so doing the agent becomes so comfortable and knowledgeable with the real deal that when a counterfeit is introduced it’s quickly identified as such.
Such as it is with the Word, when the Word becomes deeply embedded within our hearts and minds we are not so easily confounded by the wiles of the enemy with every so-called new movement and wind of doctrine devised by man reliant upon his intellect verses the authority of scripture itself.
The believer has been given only one weapon, the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God, Eph 6:14-17, to then insinuate that the Word is not authoritative is comparable to a soldier being given a weapon that shoots only blanks on the battlefield while being told it is a viable weapon, simply ludicrous.
Follow the example of the Berean’s ( see Acts 17:11), study your Bible, consume as much of the Word as is possible so that when you come face to face with that next heretical teaching designed by the enemy himself to lead you away from the truth and into deception, you will quickly recognize it for what it is – a lie.
The time the prophets spoke so much about is quickly being thrust upon us, the many signs we’ve been given suggest the time of apostasy has already begun…
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth and be turned aside to fables” 2 Timothy 4:3-4
In conclusion know this and please have no doubts about it, God loves you.
He desires nothing more than to be in fellowship with you and He has provided us all the means necessary to restore our relationship with Him.
Despite this fallen world’s claims to the contrary there is an absolute truth and we are all given the means necessary to know that truth, open your Bible and see for yourself.
You are so very important to Him that He sent His only Son to bear the penalty that we ourselves deserve.
But we must first come into agreement with Him, confess that we have sinned and fall short His perfection, receive His pardon, His only Son, Jesus Christ.
He hasn’t left us orphans nor are we sheep without a shepherd hopelessly trying to find our way in a world of darkness.
He’s left us with His Spirit which lives within, and His word which guides us through-out, until His soon return.
“Part 1 – Signs of a Christian Cult” LINK