The Dumbing Down of American Churches.
March 21, 2009
Hosea 4:6 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
6 “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.
Because you have rejected knowledge,
I will reject you from serving as My priest.
Since you have forgotten the law of your God,
I will also forget your sons.”
It has become a sad day for American churches when stop teaching the Word of God. Too many pastors are speaking too much on “how to” topics or on the latest bookseller. They have turned from being priests and sheperds of their congregations. Instead they have become “religious Dr. Phil’s”.
People are spiritually thirsty. They have tired to find answers to the problems of life from the voices of the world(TV personalities, self-improvement books, psychologists). When they come to church, they expect to be comforted and consoled by God’s Word. Instead they are getting the same dribble coming from the world.
Pastors and their governing denominations are constantly looking for ways to increase church membership and their pocketbooks. They have a desire compete with other denominations. Those in positions of spiritual authority have toned down, if not completely eliminated the Word of God. They have replace relationship with the Lord to religious rituals to create an illusion of holiness.
The liberal intellectualism morphine drip is increasing. More theologians are drinking from the wells of human intellect. Their minds refuse to comprehend the simplicity of God’s Word. In pursuit of intellectualism and superiority among their congregations as godly men(note a little “g” and not “G”) they are denying parts of the Bible as questionable. Unfortuantely, this is a result from taking the humanistic bait from professors at liberal theological schools. Having a theological degree is not wrong, many Godly men have theological degrees. The problems occurs when some allow the degree to become a source of pride and when they decide to put their stock in human theories and intellectual pursuits between and sometimes above the Word of God.
Why are so many with theology degrees and teaching at theological schools going the opposite way of God’s teachings? I would suggest two ideas.
1. Self-Spiritual Control
They want to be in control of their spiritual walk. They take the free will given by God and use it as a means to do spirituality in their own way.
Zechariah 4:6 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
6“So he answered me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by strength or by might, but by My Spirit, ‘ says the LORD of Hosts. ”
God says otherwise. Spiritual strength is determined by submitting ourselves to God and not the opposite.
Spiritual control means a desire to have higher position above those they seek to teach. The sad side of this control is becoming a barrier between God and others.
Matthew 23:13 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You lock up the kingdom of heaven from people. For you don’t go in, and you don’t allow those entering to go in. ”
The mindset of spiritual elitism tells others, keep you place in line. Many religious leaders snub and place others beneath themselves. This is what happened in the Dark Ages. Many people were illiterate and could not read the Bible. The religous leaders could tell the people whatever they wanted, even unbiblical ideals, to retain power. Today, people can read the Bible for themselves and through the power of the Holy Spirit can understand all God desires for them. So how do many in religious positions of authority try to take control? They impose restrictions on whom may serve as pastors, they use their intellectual pursuits as methods for undermining anyone from pursuing what they have learned from God’s Word and wish to act upon the leading of God. If the religious intellectual pastors tell the people due to the training received at a theological institution and the self-imposed requirements of the leaders of a denomination, this is how the church will operate and how the members will cooperate.
2. Worldly Control
The outside world has much influenced the church instead of the church influencing the world. Those in spiritual authority have heard from their denominational leaders and the world to be more nicer. However, the “nicer” they are wanting to hear from the pulpits in not what the Bible teaches.
John 15:19 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
19″ If you were of the world, the world would love [you as] its own. However, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of it, the world hates you.”
Romans 3:12 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
Its time to get off our high horses. For many in the church it means getting out of religiousityand into a relationship with Jesus. Many it may be returning to a relationship with Jesus. In simple words to all in the church:
12 “All have turned away, together they have become useless; there is no one who does good, there is not even one.”
The world says there is many ways to Heaven, to those in the world believing in Heaven. God also states there is only one way to Heaven.
John 14:6 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
6 “Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
1 Timothy 2:5 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
5 “For there is one God and one mediator between God and man, a man, Christ Jesus,”.
The world just wants to hear the church say a fluffly noncondeming and nonjudgmental “i’m ok, your ok” message. They want to have a loving pussified Jesus. They want a salad bar mentality to the Bible. Only teach the nice stuff and leave out the parts that speak out against the their lifestyle. They either want the message of Christ dying on the Cross for their sins eliminated or they want a “universal salvation” message.( A message saying everyone gets into Heaven. So you can do whatever you want as long as you want, its all covered by the blood.) This worldly idea flys in the face of Romans 6.
Romans 6 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
The New Life in Christ
1 “What should we say then? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may multiply? 2 Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Or are you unaware that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way of life. 5 For if we have been joined with Him in the likeness of His death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of His resurrection. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that sin’s dominion over the body may be abolished, so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin, 7 since a person who has died is freed from sin’s claims. 8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him, 9 because we know that Christ, having been raised from the dead, no longer dies. Death no longer rules over Him. 10 For in that He died, He died to sin once for all; but in that He lives, He lives to God. 11 So, you too consider yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, so that you obey its desires. 13 And do not offer any parts of it to sin as weapons for unrighteousness. But as those who are alive from the dead, offer yourselves to God, and all the parts of yourselves to God as weapons for righteousness. 14 For sin will not rule over you, because you are not under law but under grace.
From Slaves of Sin to Slaves of God
15 What then? Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Absolutely not! 16 Do you not know that if you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of that one you obey —either of sin leading to death or of obedience leading to righteousness? 17 But thank God that, although you used to be slaves of sin, you obeyed from the heart that pattern of teaching you were entrusted to, 18 and having been liberated from sin, you became enslaved to righteousness. 19 I am using a human analogy because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you offered the parts of yourselves as slaves to moral impurity, and to greater and greater lawlessness, so now offer them as slaves to righteousness, which results in sanctification. 20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free from allegiance to righteousness. 21 And what fruit was produced then from the things you are now ashamed of? For the end of those things is death. 22 But now, since you have been liberated from sin and become enslaved to God, you have your fruit, which results in sanctification —and the end is eternal life! 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Let’s be blunt. The world is opposed to the Christian faith and believer. If they cannot get rid of us, then they have another option, getting the church to meld in with their teaching. There is a reason why God said the church is not of this world as stated in John 15:19.
Yet, many religious leaders and denominations have backed down from teaching all of the Word of God. They want to be seen as financial strong and receive pats on the back. Biblical teaching is laid aside for temporal financial gain and acolytes.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-8 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
1 Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to Him: we ask you, brothers, 2 not to be easily upset in mind or troubled, either by a spirit or by a message or by a letter as if from us, alleging that the Day of the Lord has come. 3 Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way. For [that day] will not come unless the apostasy comes first and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction. 4 He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he sits in God’s sanctuary, publicizing that he himself is God.
5 Don’t you remember that when I was still with you I told you about this? 6 And you know what currently restrains [him], so that he will be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; but the one now restraining will do so until he is out of the way, 8 and then the lawless one will be revealed… ”
Now in verse three, it talks of a great apostasy. Apostasy is another word for falling away. The church as a whole, is falling away from God. When the church and the world join, the church looses its’ purity. As believers, the Holy Spirit resides in us. Their is only room for One in our lives. When it boils down to being a believer, the world has to leave as we allow Jesus to rule in our lives. Yes, we are to love people. Yet, true love means telling the truth about Jesus to others.
John 3:16 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
16 “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. ”
We as believers are share the love of Christ with the world, yet we cannot be tainted by the false love of the world. Sometimes this means we have to speak out when those in the church go against the Word of God(in love and always in love). Compromise with the world is not true biblical love. It may mean for many to leave the church they attend. Some of you may have to leave the church you have been attending for many years. It may mean seeking God to find a church teaching and following His Word. A compromising church will not survive. In the book of Revelation, God tells the church of Ephesus to go back and start over with their love for Jesus.
Revelation 2:4-5 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
4 “But I have this against you: you have abandoned the love [you had] at first. 5 Remember then how far you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. Otherwise, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent. “
So many churches in the begining have started out great. They were led by the Spirit of God and stood for the Word of God. Unfortunately, they have been wore down by the world. In a effort to be more loving the world, they have left their first love, Jesus.
Matthew 6:33 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.
Many churches have to decide. Are they going to make Jesus first in their lives? You can never truely love anyone until you love God first. True love comes from God. He will always give you greater ability to love the world to Him.
These two controls(self-spiritual and worldly) have gripped many pastors and denominations. Unless, these pastor and denominations humble themselves and come under the control of the Holy Spirit, the will cease to be a church under the authority and blessing of Jesus Christ. In the final days of the priest Eli, there was a grandson born. His name has negative implications due to compromising among the nation of Israel.
1 Samuel 4:19-21 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
19 Eli’s daughter-in-law, the wife of Phinehas, was pregnant and about to give birth. When she heard the news about the capture of God’s ark and the deaths of her father-in-law and her husband, she collapsed and gave birth because her labor pains came on her. 20 As she was dying, the women taking care of her said, “Don’t be afraid. You’ve given birth to a son!” But she did not respond, and did not pay attention. 21 She named the boy Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel,” referring to the capture of the ark of God and to [the deaths of] her father-in-law and her husband.
The time will come when many churches and individuals will not take part in the Rapture.(The compromising churches like Ephesus.) The churches and individuals having a personal relationship with Jesus will be taken in the Rapture and not experience the Great Tribulation.
1 Thessalonians 4:17 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
17 Then we who are still alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will always be with the Lord.
Isaiah 55:6 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
6 “Seek the LORD while He may be found;
call to Him while He is near.”
James 4:6 (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
6 But He gives greater grace. Therefore He says: God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble