When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest." - Matthew 9: 36-38 (ESV)
Beloved, these pages often proclaim what we who can discern know full well. We are living in the end times as outlined in our Bible. Of this I have no doubt. Jesus is coming back and He is coming back soon. It always amazed me in the Pentecostal experience that such a declaration was always greeted with a resounding chorus of hallelujahs and amens. It is not that I am not thankful or looking forward to the time when Jesus comes back. It is that my heart bleeds for those who still are on the outside of salvation looking in. Those who are either fully agnostic in this world as well as those who sit deceived under the plethora of false teachings we see continue to exponentially grow. This of course is no surprise because the mega-church, seeker friendly, purpose driven mindset is contrary to Scripture:
"Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. - Matthew 7: 13-14 (ESV)
Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. - Luke 15: 7 (ESV)
Heaven rejoices over the one who comes to repentance because few find the narrow gate. Not stadiums filled with people who repeat a prayer that cannot save them. I say this as a backdrop to a larger point. There is a growing phenomena when looking at the masses of deceived who sit under false teaching to do so with contempt and disdain. I understand the frustration because some of the heresies the crowds swallow seem so egregious we are left wondering how anyone can fall for it. How can anyone believe such nonsense as holy laughter or glory clouds? How can anyone listen to preachers trying to convince them that Jesus was rich and therefore they should be too? How can anyone believe pastors who try and claim that we are all little gods and that our words have the same power of creation as the Father? How can anyone listen to blasphemous testimonies of visiting the throne room of God and meeting the Father face to face? In short, how can anyone allow themselves to be so deceived? Today I want us to consider two important considerations before we turn our back on those who need the Gospel message desperately.
The first consideration is that the vast majority of the people we see filling stadium churches and shouting hallelujah are not actually saved to begin with. I know this is the elephant in the room no one wishes to consider but the truth is what the truth is.
Now I would remind you, brothers,of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand,and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you--unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, - 1Corinthians 15: 1-4 (ESV)
Pay very close attention to these verses beloved because they reveal a deep truth no one preaches about anymore and that is it is fully possible to have believed in vain! The dictionary defines vain as being useless or producing no result. How fitting for those who follow a false teacher preaching a false gospel. It is useless. It will not produce the desired result of salvation! I do not think it is coincidental that the other definition of vain is to exalt oneself. Let us reason brethren. Those who follow false gospels are exalting themselves over God. They do not believe in God as much as they believe in their own vanity. To think that God wants you to be a millionaire while Christians are martyred around the globe every day is pure vanity. To be amazed by magic like glory clouds and gold dust without recognizing it brings no glory to God is pure vanity. This is nothing new beloved:
But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, "This man is the power of God that is called Great." And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. - Acts 8: 9-11 (ESV)
Simon so wowed the crowd that they too attributed his magic to God. We do no different in churches every Sunday. False prophets sputtering visions over our heads while they lay their demonic hands upon us and we all fall back as if the Holy Spirit has done something. There are most certainly false gospels that far too many have believed in vain. They continue to believe them. They defend them to the hilt because they are worshipping the preacher or the church instead of God. This is how so many will stand before Jesus saying "Lord Lord." What does Jesus tell them? He never knew them! They were never saved to begin with! The father of the purpose driven movement, Rick Warren, thinks all someone has to say is nine little words and he is welcomed into the family of God! Joel Osteen never preaches about sin and the need to repent yet always closes his show with a sinner's prayer that no one can possibly mean nor understand. Yet right after he declares them born again! So when I see these mega church crowds seemingly unable to discern truth from what is leading them straight to hell I weep. I weep because they cannot possibly know the difference:
The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. - 1Corinthians 2: 14 (ESV)
Beloved the goats that fill the pews in this country cannot discern the lies of the false teachers because they do not have the Holy Spirit indwelt! It is the Holy Spirit that leads us into all truth contained in the Word of God. Can you imagine the profound sadness many will feel on the last day to discover they have been duped? That everything they were led to believe was a lie? That the Christ they had been told to follow was false? More importantly, that now it was too late? Oh the first consideration we must realize when we see the deceived is that they have been deceived from the moment they set foot into a church that was not preaching the whole Gospel of Jesus Christ. That they have been promised a salvation they do not possess. We should not look upon this people with self-righteous condemnation. We should not look upon them with anger or contempt. We should look upon them with reflective sorrow and deep pity for they have believed in utter vain.
Secondly however, we need to consider that there are also sheep in these congregations who have been led far astray. Consider the key verses for today. Jesus looks out at the multitudes. Who are these people? They are believers! They are sheep according to the passage. The first consideration for us is that we must view them as Jesus does; with compassion. They key verses say that Jesus had compassion for them. It seems compassion is a dying commodity in the church these days. We have plenty of compassion for false teachers but not so much for the sheep they slaughter. The dictionary defines compassion as a concern for the sufferings and misfortunes of others. I have heard Christians dismiss people who sit under false teaching by blaming them. Condemning them. Saying they get what they deserve. We tend to forget that we were all destined to get what we deserved until Christ. We cannot truly begin to love the deceived until we change how we view them. It is easy to blame them but hard to love them with the compassion of Christ.
Jesus also tells us why He has compassion for the lost sheep. He provides three very important reasons. The first is that they are harassed. The dictionary defines harassed as to be "troubled by repeated attacks, incursions, etc., as in war or hostilities." Beloved we are at war. We are in a spiritual war every single moment of our lives. The devil would like nothing more than for us to follow the wrong leaders, believe the wrong teachings, and be led astray as the sheep of the Lord. Some of us do better under attack than others. Not only must we view the people differently through a compassionate lens but we must realize and see the false teachings for what they are as well - an attack: