Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won't be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. -- Ephesians 4: 14 (NLT)
I understand beloved. I truly do. There are days I long to just bring kumbya messages of the love and grace of God. His grace is so wide that it covers everything I have done wrong in the past, present and future. His love is so deep He was willing to sacrifice His only Son to die for me while I was still living in complete rebellion against Him. It is only because of the depth of that love that the sadness in my soul is stirred daily to the continual erosion of His bride; the church. It seems we are willing to jump off the doctrinal cliff for any new fad that comes along. Any new preaching that seems different. Any new chasing of an emotional high disguising itself as a move of the Spirit.
I hear the false calls for unity. I say false because the Bible says that we are not only to not have anything to do with the deeds of darkness but we are to expose them. We are to cry out to God day and night as watchmen set upon the walls of the church. I hear the well intended calls that we are all on the same team but the Bible makes it clear that we are not. Only he who does the will of the Father will enter the Kingdom. The arguments against are always carnal in nature because there is no biblical cause to stay silent in the face of apostasy -- none. The arguments are always centered on intentions -- as if God cares what our intentions are! Picture yourself making that argument in front of Jesus Himself. Would you even dare? I know I could not because I know that I am the wretch the song sings about. I write not from a position of any spiritual superiority but from a position of complete spiritual prostration. Without the Lord I am nothing. My righteousness is not my own but His. But I hear the calls. I hear the cries to not name names. To not make it personal -- as if this type of preaching or writing lends itself to glowing popularity and invitations to come speak. In my moments of weakness I want to go back to where the curtain was not pulled back and I hadn't seen that the wizard was a fraud. I want to go back to where I thought everyone was really on the same team. But then I remember that it doesn't matter what I want because my life was nailed to the cross and I am supposed to try and live for Him and Him alone now. While that task remains daunting in my own flesh, I merely reflect back to Scripture:
Let God's curse fall on anyone, including us or even an angel from heaven, who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you. I say again what we have said before: If anyone preaches any other Good News than the one you welcomed, let that person be cursed. Obviously, I'm not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ's servant. -- Galatians 1: 8-10 (NLT)
I read Scriptures sometimes that shiver my Spirit such as these and wonder why everyone doesn't realize the gravity of what we are talking about. Dear Lord -- how do we gloss over these verses? If an angel from heaven was to preach a different Gospel than the one presented in the canon of Scripture then let him be accursed! Maybe we do not appreciate the curses of the Lord because all we ever hear is how much He wants to bless us. Go and read the 28th chapter of Deuteronomy, at least the last 50 verses or so, and see what the curses were for disobedience to the 613 Mosaic laws! That is what Jesus Christ saved you and me from! Yet that is exactly what Paul says here should fall upon anyone, even an angel from heaven, should there be a false teaching presented.
That is why when I see someone like Todd Bentley packing 15,000 people into tent meetings where he punches people with stage four pancreatic cancer in the stomach and says the Holy Spirit directed him to I not only cringe but I want to vomit. I want to scream from the walls of the church -- watch out! When I see the ridiculous holy laughter movement with people rolling around on the floor making animal noises I want to scream from the walls of the church -- watch out! When I see the latest incarnation of the holy laughter movement in the form of Jesus Culture and their spiritually dangerous fire tunnels I want to scream from the walls of the church -- watch out! Watch out for the ridiculous notion that God is putting the Apostles back together through the false charlatans known as the New Apostolic Reformation. Watch out for people who want the title of prophet without the sacrifice. Watch out for people who are more concerned about your tithing than they are with your growth. Watch out for gold dust, gemstones, bogus glory clouds, worship that is over-sexualized, worship that focuses more on man than on God, new age mysticism, feathers being left behind by angels, or any other number of completely heretical and ridiculous things that are being passed off to the body of Christ as a movement from God. I sometimes feel like Jude must have felt:
Dear friends, I had been eagerly planning to write to you about the salvation we all share. But now I find that I must write about something else, urging you to defend the faith that God has entrusted once for all time to his holy people. -- Jude 1: 3 (NLT)
It is time to contend for our faith beloved. It is time to call wolves what they are -- wolves. What I have mentioned so far is the low lying fruit (or lack thereof). While it is disappointing how many people would fall for the Todd Bentley's of the world I think that most can see through it. But the true call for the watchmen on the walls of the church is the more subtle heresies. The smaller lumps of leaven. I get asked all the time why I pick on Joel Osteen. I expose Joel Osteen because whether he means to or not, he is leading thousands of people to hell. He does it with a great smile and an uplifting and encouraging word - don't get me wrong. But if this is your best life now then by definition you must be going to hell. I watched his show last week and in one half hour he completely abused two different portions of Scripture. What's the big deal? That is the Word of God beloved! Now, can some people come to Christ despite of Joel, absolutely. God calls who He calls. But how many thousands more sit in his church or watch him on television and think they are saved when they are not? Dear Lord, when did we stop caring about salvation! His message was about getting a bigger vision of who you are. Beloved - we need a bigger vision of who God is! Watch out for the million dollar smile teaching you secular self help techniques and carnal motivational schemes!
Don't let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority. -- Colossians 2: 8-10 (NLT)
Empty philosophies! High sounding nonsense! Beloved we are in a spiritual war and the church is losing too many battles. We are only complete through our union with Christ. Paul said that he only needed to know Christ and Him crucified when he preached! My pastor once told me that any message that could not be brought back to the foot of the cross is not worth preaching! I watch Osteen speak for a half an hour about how I needed a bigger vision of who I was, without mentioning Christ, and then actually ask me in the last 30 seconds if I wanted to "give my heart to Jesus." He said a micro-waved version of the sinners' prayer into the camera and declared that if you said it with him you are born again! What about sin? What about repentance? I cannot think of anything more ludicrous and insulting to God. Watch out!
Then we get to the run of Christian fads that sweep through the mainstream churches in America. We think that because it is a best seller it must be approved by God! Nothing could be further from the truth. The Purpose Driven Life is one of the all time best sellers in Christian book sales and it is nothing but heretical and communal teachings wrapped up in the name of Jesus. Rick Warren uses the Bible to try and support his personal opinions and does so without presenting any realistic representation of the Gospel. How can we have any purpose apart from Jesus? Watch out! Watch out for the newest fad to hit Christian churches. The Bereans were more highly thought of because they weighed everything Paul taught them against the Scriptures to make sure he was correct. Where has our own discernment gone? We weigh the latest teachings based upon the sales receipts and the number of churches that have signed on. That is how something as obviously heretical as the Circle Maker rises to the top of the Christian world. I have heard all of the carnal defenses for this work. I have heard the defense of Mark Batterson, as if that matters. I have heard the fact that some have felt that it enhanced their prayer life, as if that matters. I am sure that plenty of people feel that Joel Osteen helps them. I am sure that the 15,000 people at Todd Bentley's old tent meetings felt they were getting something out of it. The only thing that matters is Scripture and what God thinks about it. I am not going to rehash the Circle Maker here because there is an entire devotional about it on my website already. Suffice to say though that any decision to change one's prayer life should not be based upon a non-biblical, fictional character who prayed so petulantly before God that it sounded more like demands than prayer. Now, I know why America laps this up because we want to believe that God is our cosmic butler to get what we want and our cosmic bus boy to clean up our messes. Watch out! We need to learn to discern in our Spirit what is from God and what is not.
This brings us to the key verse for today. God spells it out very clearly for us beloved. What we are talking about today is the immaturity of the church. The fact that while the church has become overly focused on slipshod salvations and selling earthly prosperity we still have done nothing to address discipleship. Growing up into the full measure of Christ. Instead, our churches are filled with baby Christians feeding on rancid milk or goats who think they have been saved. We have become double minded people:
If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do. -- James 1: 5-8 (NLT)
There is too much wavering in modern Christianity. The church sees something sparkly and its attention is drawn away from the one true God and onto high sounding nonsense. Too often our loyalty is divided between God and the world. The key verse says it is our immaturity that allows us to be tossed about by every new wind of teaching. The Gospel message is sufficient beloved. It does not need to be changed or enhanced. It does not need to be updated for the next generation or massaged into cultural relevance. Those are all lies from the pit of hell.
For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes--the Jew first and also the Gentile. This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, "It is through faith that a righteous person has life. -- Romans 1: 16-17 (NLT)