Category Archives: apostasy

Who saw it coming?

I was just commenting a few weeks ago to a friend how that back when I was a kid we’d hear sermons at church about prophecies of the end times from the book of Revelation. We’d wonder what it would be like? Since then we’ve had books like the The Late Great Planet Earth  and later the Left Behind series. People put forth all sorts of ideas. We read about the beasts, the antichrist. Some older literature says that the beast will be the Popes or the Catholic religion. Some thought it would be communism or some future political power arising from a unified Europe. Others suggested a literal rebuilding of the old city of Babel in Iraq, others have suggested a revived Islamic empire. No one imagined that it might be America…

We read about a great apostasy. We imagined some external enemy – communists, maybe secular humanists, New Agers, or more recently, Muslims, coming after Christians, coercing people to join them. But we never imagined  what is happening now. We never imagined the destruction would come from within the church itself. We didn’t forsee the transformation into entertainment centers, run by secular business principles. Nor did we imagine the mysticism, occultism, and feel-good fairy tales that would replace sound Bible teaching. We didn’t imagine that worship would be replaced with sensual musical performances. Or that doing good deeds would replace the need for a Savior.

Who knew?

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The Jesus of our imagination

I just watched a youtube video of a pastor of a megachurch scolding some members of his congregation for wanting more in-depth Bible teaching. He excoriated them for being “fat” with spiritual knowledge and seemed to assume that that knowledge wouldn’t be used. He said we just need to know “Jesus” and didn’t need to worry about stuff like propitiation or justification but instead we should invite people to  church [presumably his] so they can know “Jesus”. It made me wonder what “Jesus” they will know? Seems to me that justification, propitiation, sanctification, and all those other big words are vital parts of understanding who the Jesus of the Bible is.

A lot of people do seem to be following a Jesus of their imagination. I remember talking with a guy who was cutting my hair who said that as long as you loved everybody and believed in “Jesus” you were okay. He thought people should just live how they wanted to and not be accountable for anything as long as they “loved”. (Unfortunately I have observed that actions which one person thinks of as “love” are not always perceived as “love” by others – but that’s another topic!) A young woman recently justified shacking up with a boyfriend by saying that “Jesus” understands how much she “needs” a man and wouldn’t condemn her for doing that.

Seems to me though, that one of the problems with everybody just imagining a “Jesus” they like, sooner or later somebody’s “Jesus” will conflict with somebody else’s “Jesus”. One “Jesus” is okay with indiscriminately mowing down the enemy combatant and civilian alike saying that “Jesus” will sort them out. Another man’s “Jesus” is okay with aggressive fund raising for a non-existent orphanage. Another person’s “Jesus” becomes the rallying point for political documents, actions, and causes while still others have a “Jesus” who is the rallying point for political documents, actions, and causes which are the polar opposite.

Can the “Jesus” we imagine really save us from the wrath of God? Can a “Jesus” of our imagination transform us? Can we trust a “Jesus” of our imagination? When circumstances change or we become old or sick and our minds and imaginations are numbed with pain, fatigue, weakness, what will become of the “Jesus” of our imagination?

Let us not “imagine” Jesus, let us know Him!

Philippians 3:8-11  What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ  and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

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Filed under Apologetics, apostasy, Biblical truth, signs of the times, sola scritura

Walking and Quacking like Christians

If it walks like a Christian and quacks like a Christian, is it a Christian?

Can we define a set of actions that a disciple would do and then systematically train people to do those actions? Will they then be Christian disciples?

Does participating in activities produce disciples of Christ?

Gary Gilley recently wrote an article entitled “Willow Creek’s Big Adventure” at:
http://www.svchapel.org/Resources/articles/read_articles.asp?ID=142

In it he discusses Willow Creek’s recent admission that they had been wrong. One of the executive pastors of Willow Creek, Greg Hawkins had this to say:

Hawkins defines Willow’s ministerial goal as “trying to help people who are far from Christ become disciples of Christ characterized by their love for God and other people.” This is a most commendable goal, but how has Willow gone about trying to accomplish this goal? “We do that,” Hawkins states, “by creating a variety of programs and services for people to participate in. Our strategy is to try to get people, far from Christ, engaged in these activities. The more people are participating in these sets of activities with higher levels of frequency it will produce disciples of Christ.”

But they discovered that 1) “increasing levels of participation in these activities does not predict whether a person will become a disciple of Christ.” 2) in every church there is a spiritual continuum ranging from unbelievers to fully devoted followers of Christ. 3) All have different needs but churches most filled needs of unbelievers and new believers, leaving fully devoted believers dissatisfied with church (this survey was done only on seeker friendly churches following Willow’s model.)

The solution?

“…we should have started telling people and teaching people that they have to take responsibility to become self-feeders. We should have gotten people, taught them how to read their Bibles between services, do the spiritual practices much more aggressively on their own because what’s happening to these people, the older they get the more they are expecting the church to feed them, when in fact the more mature a Christian becomes the more he becomes a self-feeder.”

Certainly people should know how to feed themselves. But Jesus also told the disciples to feed the flock. Paul told the pastors and elders to shepherd the flock. Will doing “the spiritual practices” produce disciples of Christ??? Somehow I think they still don’t get it.

It’s like we have tried to break down Christian behavior into bytes and then made programs to train people to do those bytes. And we seem to be assuming that it’s the doing of them that makes us Christians, or at least somehow that by training ourselves to do, act, and think like a Christian that we will become one. So we “do” church in ways to engage interest and get people to come to activities and join in the “training” assuming it will produce Christians. But will it? Or are we risking damnably deceiving ourselves??

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Filed under apostasy, discernment, signs of the times, sola scritura