It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. -- Psalm 118: 8 (ESV)
In 1996 the church took a stand against the rampant immorality of President Clinton. They correctly stated that for Christians, character must always come first. That character counts. What we have seen since then is a not so subtle devolution into giving a wink and a nod to such blatant immorality in favor of supporting their favorite political party. In 2012 God gave Christians a ridiculous choice. Either a liberal Christian in Obama or a member of a satanic cult in Mitt Romney. The point God was trying to make seemed obvious and it is our key verse for today. It is better to seek refuge in God than to trust in man. Despite this message the church flocked to the Mormon candidate making all sorts of excuses for why he was the righteous choice. The Billy Graham organization even removed Mormonism from their list of cults. Why be concerned with the eternal destination of the souls of man when there is a carnal election to be won? Except Romney did not win so this year it seems God is giving the church an even more obscene choice. For while Romney was a Mormon, he was certainly capable of doing the job and was widely considered a gentleman. There were no moral problems to deal with. If character counted, Romney passed the test.
Not so much with Donald Trump. Now before the political-Christian crowd goes nuts this is not an endorsement of his opponent. Deflection is a carnal trick the world uses in politics where you answer a direct question about your candidate by regurgitating talking points about the other candidate. Christians should not be so intellectually vacuous and ethically bankrupt in their thinking. No one is defending Hillary Clinton as the "Christian" choice. They are however lining up to pretend Trump is. They claim he is now born again. They proclaim prophecy over him. They say he is the second coming of King Cyrus. Of course he is none of these things. He is by far the vilest man to possibly ever run for the presidency. It has been embarrassing so far to watch people who claim to be Christian fawn over such blatant evil and defend what is clearly indefensible. The latest incident is the revelation of a ten year old tape, when Trump was 59 years old, where he bragged about committing sexual assault. He spoke about moving on a married woman like "a b*tch." This is three months into his third marriage after cheating on his first two wives. We have seen the church move in just 20 years from "character counts" to "locker room talk" is acceptable.
The results are predictable. The world may be blind spiritually but they can see just fine carnally. They know hypocrisy when they see it. Yesterday there were two different reports on the hypocrisy of evangelicals to stand with Trump. These were aired on secular news stations that are broadcast nationally. The damage to our collective witness is becoming irreparable. It appears now that even the Mormon state of Utah is trending to Clinton because of the gross immorality displayed by Trump. The Salt Lake Tribune even endorsed her today. Glenn Beck, who is also Mormon, has endorsed Clinton. How sad is that the Mormon Church understands basic morality better than the evangelical church? Twitter was abuzz yesterday mocking "values voters" who clearly have no values.
This is not a devotional about this election however. The question today is how did we get here? How did the church go from standing up for moral principles to excusing a man who says he can grab a woman by the vagina because he is famous? The answer is quite simple beloved. This is what happens when you abandon the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Look at the time frame involved. From 1996 to 2016. The heretical book "The Purpose Driven Church" came out in 1995. This book was a blueprint for pastors on how to turn the church into a lucrative business opportunity, all for the glory of God -- wink wink nod nod. The focus of the church went from feeding the sheep to luring the goats. In order to lure the goats into the church however, you must remove one thing; the Gospel. You cannot preach the uncompromised Gospel of Jesus Christ because it is no longer considered "seeker friendly." You must remove the crosses from your sanctuary because it makes people uncomfortable. You must replace the true worship of God with self-centered entertainment. Instead of expositing the Bible to hear what God wants to say to His people, pastors became motivational speakers who rip the Bible out of context to "preach" about their pre-determined subject. Those subjects are always cool and relevant so that the goats want to come back the following week. The Apostle Paul however, said that he wanted to make sure that his messages were not of eloquent speech lest the cross be emptied of its power and the power of the cross is salvation.
So for twenty years we have seen the willful dumbing down of the church. Authority is not to be challenged. The work of a Berean? That's for suckers or as former mega church heretic Perry Noble liked to call such people -- jackasses. Experiential Christianity such as the NAR, Bethel and IHOP teach youth to trust their experiences and feelings over Scripture. The most popular TV preachers rarely use the Bible anymore. Joel Osteen "refers" to Scripture but rarely reads an entire verse in context. Joseph Prince claims every message he preaches was given to him directly by God, apparently when they have their weekly sit down over a nice latte. The younger generation is falling for the heresies of Hillsong while being raised on the Message, which is not even a Bible. Just this past month, Andy Stanley joined in the heresy avalanche by teaching that you cannot reach millennials with the notion that the Bible is infallible. That you had to appeal to their intellect. As if salvation was the work of the mind and not the Spirit. This was not too surprising considering he has already said that pastors should not be called shepherds anymore. Except God is the one who declared them shepherds:
And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. -- Ephesians 4: 11-14 (ESV)
Why did God give His church their leaders? Was it so they could give them really good political advice? So he could help them navigate this world better? What was the point of the church? Was it to constantly be trying to trick the unsaved to come visit you? The answers are all no beloved. The "what" is to build up the body of Christ. This is what ministry work is supposed to be. Please keep in mind this is to vertically build up the body -- not horizontally. This is not speaking about expanding the church but rather about maturing the church. How do we know that? The context! Is God saying to build up the body of Christ so we can expand the church structure? Sow into the new building fund? Construct playgrounds in third world countries? Nope. God wants the pastors/shepherds to equip the saints for ministry, to build up the body of Christ until we attain certain things. The things He desires His church to attain are the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God. This is vitally important because many in the false teaching landscape use unity as a trump card over doctrine when the Bible is clearly saying the opposite. There is no unity of the faith except through sound doctrine. Light has no fellowship with darkness. This is further confirmed through Scripture:
I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. -- Romans 16: 17 (ESV)
What causes the division of church unity? False doctrine! There is no unity of the faith without knowledge of the Son of God. Think about it! We are unified by what we believe and who we believe in. I hear all the time the notion offered by false teachers and their followers about Christian "love." That somehow it is loving to allow wolves to devour the sheep of the Lord. Hear me very clearly beloved. There is no love without truth. And why does God desire this of His church? Why does he want His shepherds to prepare the body of Christ to reach the unity of the faith and the knowledge of God? So that we might mature as Christians. To the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. Why? Because mature Christians will no longer behave as children. When they see such blatant immorality as we have seen from candidate Trump they will know better than to stand with such evil. They will understand that there are bigger things at stake then who gets to become the next king of Sodom.
Mature Christians will also no longer be tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine that comes along. The level of discernment is so pitiful in the modern church. Look at the ridiculous heresies we have allowed in. Holy Laughter, clairvoyance disguised as prophecy, gemstones, gold dust, glory clouds, angel feathers, prosperity gospels, "little god" word faith theologies, and encapsulating nearly every one of these is the cult of personality. We cannot even discern our worship music anymore. We allow songs that glorify us instead of God. Songs that demand blessings from God or turn Him into our girlfriend. We allow sermons that turn Christ into our buddy and wingman. Lord? Yeah that is not preached anymore. We have allowed human cunning, craftiness and deceitful schemes to sway our already wicked hearts into abandoning the Gospel of Jesus Christ in favor of the world filled with all of the desires our carnal hearts can ever want. I left my last church after I attended a planned weekend with a false prophet. He was billed of course as being a real prophet with an international ministry. I attended all three services that weekend and observed with an open Bible. The evil spirits he trafficked in were painfully obvious. The psychic tricks and fake healings were dispensed all weekend long and nearly everyone lapped it up. That is the end result of abandoning the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You cannot be built up in the fullness of Christ. There is no unity of the faith because there is no knowledge of God. There is just a loose collection of goats and baby sheep meandering around the Christian landscape looking for someone to feed them. But instead of the Gospel they get spoiled milk. Poisoned spoiled milk. That is how you get Christians for Donald Trump.
Let us just look at one microcosm within this election season. Everyone knew that Donald Trump was one of the most irreligious men alive. He could not cite a Bible verse, referred to 2corinthians as "two Corinthians"; called the communion bread his "little crackers" and openly said that he does not believe he needs to ask God for forgiveness. Then the false teachers and prophets started flocking to him. Not because he was God's choice but because he was good for their business. He soon had a spiritual "advisory panel" filled with some of the worst heretics on the planet. The leader of this troupe was Paula White. Mrs. White is a money grubbing heretic who has made over five million dollars by making merchandise of the Gospel. Realizing they need to lead Christians to vote for this reprehensible man you started seeing rumors coming out that Donald Trump had become born again; hallelujah and paint me skeptical. The false teachers started referring to him as a "baby Christian" to excuse his continued foibles. Soon it was discovered that the person who allegedly led him to Christ was none other than Paula White. Yes you heard that right. The claim was that Paula White, who clearly does know Jesus Christ herself, led Donald Trump to salvation in Him. Even a confused Christian with an ounce of discernment at that point should have walked away but instead Christians doubled down and the evangelical support for him grew. No matter whom he mocked. No matter what he said. To make matters worse Christians have joined in with lying in order to achieve their political goals. Smearing people and holding false witness. All in the name of Machiavellian Christianity where they think their ends justify their means. Why would they be so confused? Because the church has abandoned the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When you refuse to talk about the true Gospel you miss out on what God is actually trying to teach you. You miss out on Jesus. He is not all rainbows and sunshine beloved. He is truth and wrath, love and peace. Christianity is supposed to cost us everything but it is sold now like a cheap knock off on Broadway. For just 10% of your revenue you too can have this blessing dispenser of a god! Here is a verse you will never hear preached anymore:
Then Jesus told his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. -- Matthew 16: 24 (ESV)
Deny ourselves? When have you heard a church today preach that? It is the opposite right? That God wants you to have everything your greedy little heart desires. You just have to behave right. You just have to pray right. You just have to serve in a ministry and tithe right. That is not the Gospel beloved. It's the law. The very thing Jesus saved us from judgment under! I do not expect most in the church today to be able to understand and discern this. The Bible is not about you. It is about Him. It is not a guide for this life but a guide to overcome this life. The church today however as abandoned the true Gospel for false gospels that cannot save them because their sole focus is on this life. When you are constantly taught to be greedy for things in this world it is no wonder the church is in the shape it is in. It is no wonder it accepts the most absurdly heretical things to be said. Literally tossing the goats and baby sheep to and fro.
This is how the church can rally behind the pure evil that is Donald Trump. They have abandoned the only thing that could have brought them real discernment. They have abandoned the only thing that truly shows them good from evil. They have abandoned the only absolute truth in this fallen world. They have abandoned the very thing that would have taught them to pick up their own cross and deny themselves. They have abandoned the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Because they have, they believe the carnal desires of their hearts are actually what God wants. People in Christian circles like to speak about coming judgment because they have been taught they will be floating around in the clouds with Jesus when everyone else is being tormented. I have seen well intended Christians and even pastors offer the notion that both candidates this year represent the start of that judgment against a nation that has somehow left God. This nation however was never with God. Only the apostate church cannot see that because if they did, they would have to consider the very real possibility that the choices this year for president are not judgment against the nation but rather, judgment against the church.
Reverend Anthony Wade -- October 12, 2016