Flocking Away From The Church Pt. 2
For instance, you may be asking yourself, “How could my friend, my family member, my pastor, my church (you fill in the blank) have fallen for this new age nonsense?
I would be remiss if I didn’t state that first and foremost, spiritual blindness almost always accompanies disobedience to God’s Word. Secondly, we could talk about the influence that positivism, emotionalism and psychology, play in some “pastors” watered down messages (they don’t qualify to be called Biblical sermons).
[Bob’s comments and commentary are here and throughout in brackets. Third, not to mention the carnal and spoiled “I‘m okay, you’re okay” pew protagonists who demand that the “Bread of Life” be liberally smeared with lots of peanut butter and jelly.These are the same people who will not and cannot read books without pictures. They need sense-stimulation but cannot endure brain-stimulation, deep spiritual arousal or conscience-conviction.]
Also, let’s not forget the gullible masses of well-meaning do-gooders who, looking for purpose in their lives, are manipulated into a secular-led social serfdom, fraudulently implemented to fight the war on hunger, poverty, illiteracy, oppression, depression, diet, drugs, debt, disease and what have you; not to mention the countless self-esteem building programs that are diabolically designed and marketed to save us from ourselves and propel us into the blissful state of “living the best life now.”
[Bruce Wells is, as the Brits say, spot-on once again. What is being preached in the Redefined Church is not only a social gospel, but the emphasis on positive/possibility thinking and self-esteem has replaced old fashioned sin-conviction and repentance.
This is lethal spiritually and morally in churches today where people who by their televison-and-movie-consumption habits indicate that they, like dumb children, enjoy eating dirt and drinking from mud puddles. Reality TV has replaced the reality of sin. Add to that the fact that “Secular Psychology” has replaced “Biblical Theology” and “Biblical Morality” in the pulpits of America and the world.
I can’t let this pass by. Allow me to quote from my latest book Modern Christianity Corrupted to simply augment what Bruce has stated so powerfully. We read on page 18, “Self-esteem is the key couplet in churches where worship service and prayers of confession have been destigmatized by removing all guilt and guilt-oriented references. As in, ‘Lord, we approach Thy throne of grace having committed acts which we do heartily acknowledge must be difficult for Thee to understand. Nevertheless, we do beseech Thee to postpone judgment and to give Thy faithful servants the benefit of the doubt until such time as we are able to answer all questions fully, and clear our reputations in Heaven.’”
I might add here before continuing with the book quotations, that the Redefined Church ‘s purpose today is to make the parishioners feel good about themselves, and not bad about their sins. Church people today look strangely and pitifully on that poor, outdated smuck in the corner of the Temple over there crying out in Luke 18:13,
“God, be merciful to me, the sinner.”
Churchy types now have a hard enough time admitting that they are “A Sinner” let alone “The Consumate Sinner.” The Redefined Church, in case you haven’t noticed, is on a furious positve-thinking, self-esteem crusade to shake the rap-sheet designation of “Sinner” once and for all. But try as they may, I John 1:8-9 and I Timothy 1:18 will simply not go away.
You know how children butcher names and words with their half-baked, ham-tongued attempts at speech. One of my sons is named Bradford, but his little sister Jackie couldn’t say that name, and it came out Bahzood. Over the years it was shortened to Zoodie which has stuck ever since. It still comes out of us from time to time. He flows with it, as if he has a choice. No matter how the ham-tongued Redefiners try to change “Sinners” to the far less demeaning word “Sinnies” (little sinners at worst), the fact remains:
“IN THIS WORLD WE WILL ALWAYS BE SINNERS, AND GOD’S
GRACE WILL ALWAYS BE AMAZING.”
Then continuing on page 20, “…self-esteem is not the sacred issue in Christianity. Esteeming others and above all esteeming God are the central and sacred issues of Christianity. We are not commanded to esteem ourselves, but to highly esteem others…Romans 12:3. Man’s universal tendency is to over-esteem self, and to under-esteem others.” That is why we read in Philippians 2:3,
important than himself.’”
Finally from page 33, “It doesn’t matter what bloodline you came from, or how smart you are, or how skinny or fat you might be. It doesn’t matter whether you are Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female, black or white, Dutch or Hispanic. It doesn’t matter if your degree is from Harvard or Podunk U. What matters is that we are loved and held dear in the heart of God. So we read in I John 3:1,
that we should be called children of God.’
“GOD’S BELOVED CHILDREN! HOW GREAT IS THAT? WHO
COULD ASK FOR ANY MORE SELF-ESTEEM THAN THAT?”
(End of book quote.) Bruce talks about watered-down messages that don’t deserve to be called Biblical sermons. The emphasis today on positive thinking and self-esteem in the church have become great secular strongholds that godly pulpits and preachers must beat down by strong, true Gospel, sin-convicting preaching, lest the cross of Christ continues to be shrunk, the blood of Jesus Christ continues to be diluted, and the consciousness of sin becomes non-existent.]
In the end, I have come to the conclusion that there are basically two things that drive it all; and believe it or not, they are the same two things that brought about the very fall of man back in the Garden of Eden. I call them “The Two R’s.”
This life we lead outside of Paradise; this carnal prison we endure day after day, waiting for our Lord’s return or departure to Him, whichever may come first, is, in my estimation, more than just a well-deserved punishment, more than the natural consequences of sin and more than a mere experiential education into what is good and evil; it is the test of faith.
You see, Eve took from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil because she wanted RESULTS, thereby setting aside the Word of God for her own desires. Adam, on the other hand, who, the Bible says, “was not deceived,” knew what Eve had done and the coming consequences of her disobedience. So, being tested by the awful circumstances that lay before him; the terrible dilemma of having to choose between the woman he loved and the God he worshiped, Adam unfortunately chose to follow Eve in his desire for RELATIONSHIP rather than obeying God’s Word and trusting Him for a solution.
By attempting to save the life he loved, (his life with Eve) he lost it. His worship and service had turned from the vertical to the horizontal; and ever since that fateful day the Lord has been teaching and testing those of us who claim Him, both individually and collectively, to see if we REALLY BELIEVE HIM and are willing to take Him at His Word, even when it costs us Results and Relationships.
[My, my, I have never seen it quite like this before. Brilliant! Oh yes, we have seen and preached it in principle, but never so succinctly and definitively as this. Awesome insights into the Word by Bruce Wells from the Genesis account of Adam and Eve’s fall into sin – RESULTS and RELATIONSHIPS!
For a pastor in these days of the Competitive Mega-Church Frenzy to get caught up in the numbers game (results) – counting heads in the pews, he is setting himself up for compromising the truth by telling people what they want to hear and not want they need to hear, so as to fill up the remaining vacancies. You know, the latest craze and rage in terms of popular themes. But then that always leaves Jesus out of the picture, for since when was Jesus ever “popular” or “the hottest thing going?” You don’t kill/crucify the latest American idol now do you? Rather, you go beserk over and worship him.
We can be so deceived like Eve was in her “RESULTS FIXATION,” that we will try to sensationalize our preaching even to the point of corrupting the Word of God into a get-rich scam. $$$$ always draws crowds. A lot of razzle-dazzle, flim-flam and dollar signs with no substance of truth always brings them in, not from fields of sin, but for pots of gold.
“NOVELTY (THE NEW AND IMPROVED) IS ALWAYS THE
PARENT OF SUCCESS AND EGO-PLEASURE.”
“THE EGO-FIX AND BUZZ OF NUMERICAL GAIN AND SUCCESS
(RESULTS) SOON EXPIRES UNTIL WE GET ANOTHER FIX
THROUGH MORE INCREASED NUMBERS.”
Have you ever noticed that RESULTS OBSESSIONS/ADDICTIONS in the ministry prevent us from being truly thankful to God for the people He has already blessed us with. It is amazing how that happens! I noticed in my ministry that when this addiction sunk its teeth in me, I thanked God in my life with about the same dull spirit of thanks to the woman in the dry cleaners when she handed me my cleaned and pressed pants. It was more Politeness than Passoinate thanks.
Why have I lost my truly grateful spirit to God? That is because:
BECOMING AN EGO-BURDENOF HAVING TO GROW
SOME MORE. WE ARE THEN NEVER ABLE TO
BE TRULY GRATEFUL FOR WHAT WE
HAVE ALREADY BEEN GIVEN.”
“ANY PREACHING OR PROGRAMS THAT ARE DESIGNED TO
TICKLE THE EARS OR STROKE THE EGO WILL THWART
THE SPIRIT AND CORRUPT THE TRUTH.”
Oh to hear Governor Jennifer Granholm or President Barack Obama say something like that!
When is the last time we gave a strong sermon series on the Ten Commandments in the midst of this rebellious (iniquitous) and antinomian society that has now crept into the church and cries out for sugar-daddy pastors, cotton-candy preachers, and lollipop sermons. Perhaps never, because while the silent sinners out there in the church are hooked on mammon, booze and pornography, we are more interested in growing numbers and getting our mug-picture in Google Images.
Count on it:
THAT THERE IS NO ROOM LEFT FOR THE HOLY SPIRIT
WHO COMES TO GUIDE US INTO GOD’S TRUTH
FOR GOD’S GLORY ALONE.”
We all must make the choice between God’s Truth and God’s Glory as our burning obsession, or results and relationship as our siren call to human fame and glory.]
“So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter,
‘Simon, son of Jonas, do you love Me more than these?’ He
said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ He
You see, here Jesus was telling Peter: If you love Me, you’ll give them the Truth, the whole Truth – My Word – “the Bread of Life,” even when it is difficult, disturbing, divisive and damaging to your Results and your Relationships; implying that if you love them only or love them more than Me you’ll withhold the Truth, some of it or all of it, for the sake of Relationship.
Aside from the spiritual, what is this life but a conglomerate of people and things that constantly stimulate our senses, emotions and appetites. And, what does the natural man do from the moment he arrives here on earth until the time he is buried beneath it; but endeavor to acquire as much of both as he possibly can!
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying Results and Relationships. They are wonderful gifts from God. It is when we give them priority over His Word; diminishing or withholding the Whole Counsel of God, so as to increase, enhance, preserve or protect them, thereby allowing otherwise good things to come between Him and us. That is when Results and Relationships become wicked obstacles and a curse to the Christian and the Body of Christ.
“But seek first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and
all these things shall be added to you.” – Matthew 6:33
[Ring-Ring-Ring! Here Bruce again rings the bell as I come running for supper – to feed on the Word of God. I have, as no doubt you have, preached many times on John 21 and Jesus’ tit-for-tat three-time question of Peter as it were to confront and mercifully cancel Peter’s three-time denial of Christ. “Simon, son of John, do you love Me? Feed my lambs. Simon, son of John, do you love Me? Feed my sheep! Simon, son of John, do you love me? Feed my sheep!”
“Let’s Get Down” as the hip crowd says today. The very first time that Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me,” He added, “more than these?” Who or what are the “These?” I am sure that this comprehensive, undesignated pronoun “These” used by our Lord included “Results” and “Relationships.” In other words, “Peter, do you love me more than all earthly success and friendships?”
Here we go, and boy, this is where the rubber literally pounds the pavement:
AND FRIENDSHIPS OF PEOPLE MEAN MORE TO US THAN
THE DEMANDS AND FRIENDSHIP OF CHRIST.”
THOUGHTS AND DEMANDS OF FRIENDS DURING SERMON
PREPARATION, THIS IS THE STRONG INDICATOR
THAT WE ARE STRANGERS TO GOD AND
FRIENDS WITH PEOPLE AND
Going on, let this get the strongest of holds on us:
WHO AND WHAT WE REALLY LOVE WILL ALWAYS
COMMAND AND GOVERN WHAT WE PREACH.”
“Peter, do you love me more than these? Feed my sheep.” To answer that question sincerely and affirmatively, we will have to be able to resoundingly say:
THE NEED TO RECEIVE HONOR FROM MEN.”
And we might just as well get it out in the open and tell it like it is:
DISAPPOINT EVEN IN THE LEAST.”
Today, one can easily assess the validity and faithfulness of any Christian, pastor, minister, preacher, teacher, evangelist, group, church, organization or movement by simply observing what is most important to them. If they are more concerned with Results and Relationships than proclaiming and obeying the Word of God, they are clearly failing the test of faith we all must take; and are running after the very things (good things, mind you) that separated us from the Lord in the beginning; which is why I believe Jesus left us with this warning:
and loses his own soul?” Matthew 16:26a
*William MacDonald, “Think of Your Future,” 1956, Page 37,
(Quoted in “Were They Expendable?”By Clay Cooper, Brown
Gold Publications, Chico, CA, Page 3) Walterick Publishing
Ministries, Inc., Olathe, Kansas – Used By Permission
[Coming soon in the series by Bruce Wells is “Flocking Away from the Church, Part 3: The Herd Mentality.” Don’t miss a word of it, as it will rattle your bones and shake up your mind. Everything that can be shaken will be shaken, so that what is of God in us will remain.]
In His strong love,