For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God's word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ. - 2Corinthians 2: 15-17 (ESV)
We are living in the end times. Anyone who has ears to hear can testify to these facts. The earth groans with the birth pains described by Jesus. The love of most has indeed waxed cold. The increase in wickedness abounds both inside and outside the church. With the advent of social media, the Gospel is reaching the four corners of this earth. The great apostasy is clearly underway as people who call on the name of Jesus no longer adhere to His standards or His Word. The proliferation of false teaching in the church has exploded exponentially in the past decade alone and the harlot church embraces them all while the remnant starves for the Word. Just consider the shadow of something so brazenly heretical as "holy laughter" and the spasmodic jerking of the "Brownsville Revival" are still defended in many Christian circles and have paved the way for ever increasing acceptance of the demonic in the name of Jesus. Just this past month we have see the Miley Cyrus song "Wrecking Ball" and the disco song "I like to Move It, Move It" be performed during worship at mega churches. At Perry Stone's church you had the youth dancing maniacally around a replica of the ark of the covenant; eerily similar to when the Israelites danced around the golden calf. Perry Noble re-wrote the Ten Commandments claiming God never commanded us to do anything, Rob Bell is teaching on the Oprah Network about "Mother God" and the boy who came back from heaven admitted he lied and made the whole thing up. That is just the past few weeks.
These are dangerous times beloved. The devil is working overtime to lead people astray. To increase the amount of false conversions. As we head toward the second coming of our Lord and Savior it is imperative that we know who it is that leads us. The role of shepherd in the Bible is an awesome responsibility. Traditionally it was considered the lowest form of occupation but to God, he who is last will be first. It is not to be taken as lightly as many today take it. While you can make a living from it; it is not a job. Pastors are meant to lead, tend, and care. They are called to lay their own lives down if necessary. They are due double honor because they are judged by a higher standard. Every week pastors have the honor of seeking the Lord and being led by the Holy Spirit to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If they stay true to that then God will add to their numbers as He sees fit. Do not cast that aside pastors. Do not sell it out for 30 pieces of convenience or expediency.
What do I mean? I mean do not give in this time to the collective marketing efforts from this world's most shameless hucksters and peddlers of God's Word. They are coming after you again you see. They set the stage with the Bible Miniseries. In that they were very careful to avoid anything controversial. They ignored the entire creation account to avoid having to discuss sin. They avoided the reason why Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed to avoid having to discuss homosexuality. They actually cut a verse in half to avoid discussing the exclusivity of Christ:
Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life.- John 14: 6a (ESV)
These are the words uttered by the actor playing Jesus in one of the most important scenes in the entire miniseries. The problem is it is only half of the verse. The powers that made this miniseries decided to avoid having to be seen advocating for the second part of the verse:
No one comes to the Father except through me. - John 14: 6b (ESV)
Therein lies the problem. I can overlook some of the more silly departures from Scripture, like when the angels sent to Sodom were apparently ninjas but if you cannot accurately portray John 14:6 then you have no business making this movie.
Yet make it they did and then they took portions of it and created the Son of God major motion picture, which made almost 60 million at the box office! Never mind that one review of this movie expressed exasperation at the fact that every scene was an inaccurate depiction of Scripture. Never mind that again, Jesus is made out to be a hunkier than thou Pantene Shampoo hair model. What was more troubling is how this movie was marketed directly to churches. How pastors sold out their congregations and showed this nonsense inside their churches. How sermons were given based upon a movie that did not even stay true to the Word of God. And since they made so much money the first and second times around, they are back for a third time with the upcoming miniseries, "AD"; which is supposed to mirror the Book of Acts. This series is due to kick off Easter Sunday and pastors are being asked to purchase the "AD Church Kit", which includes 12 video sermons to go along with each week's episode on television. Did you get that? So for twelve weeks, you turn your church over to this miniseries and twelve other speakers to drive home what people will be watching at home. Speakers like Mark Batterson, who wrote the unbelievably heretical book, The Circle Maker. Speakers like Christine Caine from the equally heretical Hillsong Church. This is not surprising though considering the lineup of celebrity pastoral endorsements this has already garnered. TD Jakes, Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, Andy Stanley, Perry Noble and Ed Stetzer (who recently has been accused of knowing the story of the Boy Who Came Back From Heaven was false but kept selling it anyway). This is a who's who of mega church heresy beloved. This alone should send any discerning Christian running away but instead they use these people to market it! And marketing it they are. There is a full on press to pastors everywhere to abandon their pulpits for twelve weeks and turn it over to this nonsense. I plead with pastors to take their sacred responsibilities more seriously than that. I make this plea for several reasons. The first is that we need to be vigilant about the company that we keep:
Do not be deceived: "Bad company ruins good morals." - 1Corinthians 15: 33 (ESV)
I mean this plea sincerely. Beloved pastors - God sees your work. He sees your sacrifices. He sees every sweat upon your brow and prayer offered for your sheep. I beg you to beat back the demon of envy. Do not look favorably upon one man's ministry simply because of carnal metrics. Broad is the path that leads to destruction. Narrow is the way the leads to eternal life and few are those who find it. The fact that tens of thousands of people go to a particular church is not a sign of God's favor. Be faithful with what God has given you. Preach the Gospel. Do not fall for the Warrenesque lie that you are a CEO and you are responsible for the horizontal growth of your church. You are not! You are responsible for the vertical growth of your sheep. Read Acts Two and you will see in the final verse that it is God who is responsible for the horizontal growth of your church. If you have 200 sheep and the vast majority end up in heaven then you will receive a "well done my good and faithful servant." Not so for the man who has 50,000 and the majority end up standing before Jesus on the last day saying, "Lord Lord." Do not aspire to the Warrens, Osteens, or Nobles of the world. Stay true and tend to the sheep God has allotted for you. Do not fall for the lure of earthly success. God sees you. He sees you.
Secondly, you should want nothing to do with Roma Downey or her husband. Besides being rooted in Catholicism, Downer openly admits to her ties to new age mysticism and contemplative spirituality. She holds a Masters Degree in "Spiritual Psychology"; which is a new age degree. Moreover however, she has earned no trust with the two preceding productions. As outlined before, neither the Bible miniseries or the Son of God movie were true to the Bible. Do not fall for the "artistic license" argument that is always floated about. As if we have the artistic license to change what the Word of God is. We do not! While I do not expect the world to understand that, I would hope those claiming the mantle of Christianity to refuse to accept mangling the Bible. The key verses today outline for us what we are supposed to be. We are supposed to be the aroma of Christ for the unsaved. We are supposed to be the fragrance of God for those who are being saved and to those who are perishing. These are no small matters beloved pastors. Look at what Paul says next though! We - you - are not like so many, peddlers of God's Word. No pastors; we are commissioned by God and in the sight of Him we speak in Christ! I cannot impress strongly enough the severity of the matters to which we speak. You are not a mere peddler of the Word of God! Realize that over 100 million viewers watched the Bible miniseries, where Mary Magdalene was portrayed as one of the disciples and Jesus could not say that He was the only way to heaven. I beg you to realize how much that matters. Downey then took that success and parlayed it into a 59 million dollar box office take with the help and complicity of pastors across this country. What was the aroma for the unsaved from that movie? That Jesus is easy on the eyes and easier on your sin? Repent, peddler of God's Word! That is what Downey is and if you think she is done here; think again. She is already planning for a fall series on the supernatural. She is asking people to tell her their stories of angelic visitations, miracles, and divine interventions. Beloved pastors, a peddler remains such only as long as someone is buying. Do not be found purchasing her wares. Thirdly, what is being peddled is ultimately false:
But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. - 2Peter 2: 1-3 (KJV)
Through covetousness with feigned words they will make merchandise of you. Make no mistake about it. That is exactly what they are trying to do. They are trying to make merchandise of you and your sheep. They shamelessly make no bones about it. This is the new wave of preaching infecting the church. Where the Bible is now about you instead of Him. It is about how you can make your temporal life better instead of making your eternal life permanent. It takes the Gospel and flips it on its ear. Here is an excerpt from the "apply" section of the week one lesson plan:
As the stories of Acts come to life in a new and exciting ways, you may find questions coming up such as: