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. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. - Romans 16: 17-18 (ESV)
The dictionary defines an agnostic as a person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God or of anything beyond material phenomena; a person who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God. The truth is that very few people are actually atheistic. The polls usually show about 6-7% of the population truly refute the existence of God altogether. The reality is that most people are agnostic. They can accept the fact that there may be a God or divine power but avoid having to deal with what He might want by pretending He is just too big for them to truly understand. Satan has done a great job of convincing agnostics that they are in fact "good people" by developing a society where we constantly compare ourselves to others. That a good God would surely not deny good people eternal life. The problem is we should not be comparing ourselves to other sinners trying to see if ours is less than theirs. God is holy. That is the standard we have to compare ourselves to. This is how God views our sinful state without the blood of Christ:
What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.""Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to receive." "The venom of asps is under their lips." "Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness." "Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery ,and the way of peace they have not known." "There is no fear of God before their eyes." - Romans 3: 9-18 (ESV)
While the scourge of agnosticism can be understandable in a world that loves its sin more than God, it is disturbing to realize that swaths of the modern church are essentially living in a state of virtual agnosticism. A state of seemingly not being concerned about what God might actually want. In the days of Jesus there were plenty of people who had religion but denied Christ and He addressed them by quoting the Prophet Isaiah:
You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: "'This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'" - Matthew 15: 7-9 (ESV)
As it was so it still goes today. People honoring God with their lips only while their hearts remain afar off. False teachers selling the commandments of men as Biblical doctrine. How else do you explain people following such blatant and heretical teachings? Millions of people every week cramming into huge buildings to hear their favorite Christian personality assure them they are going to heaven without preaching an ounce of sound biblical doctrine. That is virtual agnosticism. The result of seemingly not caring to check if what your favorite Christian personality is preaching is actually what God has said. I will give you some easy examples. When Joel Osteen preached at Yankee stadium he brought his typical feel good message that is rooted in what is known as word faith heresy. This is where he teaches that our own words have the same power of creation as God has. To that end Joel preached that night that the Bible says that we are to call things that are not as though they were. In other words, if you do not have money, speak that you do. The 50,000 plus all applauded. Who wouldn't? Who would not love the notion that we can command reality? From the Garden of Eden forward it is the same lie Satan has used over and over again. That we can be like God. The problem is that is NOT what the Bible says. This is the verse in question:
As it is written: "I have made you a father of many nations." He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed--the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not. - Romans 4: 17 (NIV)
Does this verse say that we are to call things that are not as though they were? No! It says God has that ability! Is this a big deal? Of course it is! What we accept as truth forms our doctrine. It forms our belief system. How many people have walked away from the faith because after speaking to their wallet they were still broke?
This week popular word faith and prosperity huckster Joyce Meyer said that people who partner with God will live a life free of anxiety. Beloved. God does not partner with us. If He is your co-pilot then you are sitting in the wrong seat. He is in the Lordship business. That means He is supposed to be in control. This friend of God theology is ruining entire generations of people who think they are believers but they do not understand the fundamental base of our relationship with God. He is not our buddy. He is not our guru. He is not our favorite philosopher. He is not our partner. Jesus Himself lamented this confusion:
"Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord,' and not do what I tell you? - Luke 6: 46 (ESV)
Why indeed. Why do million of people who claim to be Christian sit under blatantly false teaching every week? Because they are virtually agnostic. They accept that there is a God but do not seemingly care to get right what He wants. They would rather sit under Joseph Prince and be told they are destined to reign. They would rather sit under Joel Osteen and be told this is their best life now. They would rather sit under televangelists telling them God wants them rich beyond the limits of their own greed. They would rather be wowed with false signs and lying wonders like those in Samaria who reveled at Simon the Sorcerer until Phillip came to town. They would rather anything than a preacher who brings the uncompromised Gospel of Jesus Christ. They would rather hear about this wonderful purpose God has for them as long as it doesn't include picking up our own cross and dying to self. Crown of glory - send it my way! Crown of thorns? Hush you legalist! If that does not describe an agnostic I do not know what does. The only difference is a real agnostic can still come to their senses and realize they better find out what God wants. Someone who is suffering through virtual agnosticism has no clue. They think they are serving God but they do not realize it is a god of their own making and their own choosing. Jesus also warned us about this!
But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is! - Matthew 6: 23 (NLT)
We have multitudes showing up every Sunday and lifting their hands to a God they do not know, nor care to find. They have been convinced that their darkness is light and how deep is that darkness when this is the case? It is deep enough that when they stand before Christ and talk about the great works they did in His name, He will send them away for He never knew them! Beloved these are no small matters. These are matters of eternal life and death. The way is narrow and few are those who find it. Few! That is not by God's design but rather because of the agnostic stubbornness of our own wicked hearts.
Look at the key verses today. We hear a lot about division in the church today from the very false teachers who do the dividing. Pointing out that someone is teaching falsely is not causing division. It is when someone opposes sound doctrine! When Joseph Prince tells you that God is never angry with you he is causing division in the body of Christ by teaching something contrary to what God has said. When Joyce Meyer teaches you that you need to partner with God she is causing division. When prosperity hucksters try and get your money by selling curse protection from God they are causing division. When Bill Johnson tries to sell you on glory clouds, gem stones and angel feathers he is causing division. These are all obstacles they are creating because they are contrary to true doctrine. What should we be doing? Avoid them! If we are truly not agnostic in our hearts then we will not only avoid them but we will mark them. We will be on the watch for the wolves who seek to devour the sheep of God. The wolves will offend us. They should cause us to rise up and stand in the gap. They should make us want to protect the true Word of God. To make sure we are defending true doctrine. I know churches that refuse to allow open criticism of any other preacher. They must not be reading the same Bible:
For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sounddoctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. - Titus 1: 7-9 (ESV)