Well the real church isn’t…
As I was driving home this afternoon, I decided to take the long route home which takes you past an old church building which has been around for the better part of the century. It’s a Uniting Church tucked in the back hills of the quiet little town I live in. I couldn’t help but wonder whether the folk who “belong” to that church each had a real personal relationship with Him or were they just “doing church” like it’s a ritualistic activity (like grocery shopping or maybe even worse, a chore) that is reserved only for Sundays and Wednesday nights. Wonder whether these people have genuinely repented of their sins or just answered an altar call to “accept Jesus” or followed the “4 Spiritual Laws”…. I knew the chances were pretty high because in recent times the Uniting Church has become very liberal in that they water down the core teachings of Christ. They now allow female pastors in their congregations and have accepted same sex “marriage” with open arms as being “diverse”, “relevant”, “loving”, “tolerant” and the new norm. I know that because another Uniting Church in the main town near me currently has a lesbian “pastor” presiding over the congregation. They have compromised, big time. I am sure, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that God is sitting up in Heaven right now and is deeply grieved by their abominable sins.
And it’s not just the Uniting Church and it’s not just the fact that they’ve allowed such abominable sins into their churches. In fact a lot could be said about the sins of the so-called mainstream “conservative” and “evangelical” churches today. Some of them are just no better than the Pentecostal/charismatic churches. Yes I’m talking about the Baptists, Methodists, Presybyterians and the Brethren. Sadly the great majority of churches today have left their original roots which were originally based on sound Biblical teaching and descended down towards wishy washy, false teachings that are designed to tickle the ears of the the church goers (or as my dad so rightly refers to them as pew warmers). It’s not an exaggeration to say that the teachings of most modern churches today essentially send their “members” straight to the gates of hell. Here are just some problems with the modern church today – this list is by no means exhaustive:
- Watered down, false, feel-good, prosperity, “Your Best Life Now”, “Gospel”
- Humanistic & socialistic thinking
- Redefining of the family unit and the roles of men and women
- Redefining of the true meaning of marriage
- Redefining of the purpose and function for the church of God
- Redefining of the pattern for the Biblical church as detailed in the New Testament
- Introduction of carnal rock ‘n roll music (i.e. Hillsong)
- Introduction of false doctrinal teachings
- Introduction and acceptance of same-sex “marriage” in the church
- Unbiblical age segregation
- Zero modesty taught or practiced
- Zero teaching on sanctification, the narrow way and “taking up our Cross” for Christ
- Inaction when it comes to addressing the issues of the day
- Christian purity is not encouraged or practiced
- and the list could go on and on…
Sadly the modern Church takes it’s cues from the world instead of the infallible Word of God that abides forever.
At the end of the day we end up with a pathetic, weak, unholy, unsanctified, disgraceful bunch of people who call themselves “Christians”, drive to a building they call ‘church’ on Sunday morning, “worship” God by singing songs from books (or high tech projectors) written by Hillsong, neglect to observe communion (which is instead replaced with a healing session) and listen to a short entertainment feel good session from a Joel Osteen wannabe preacher who should more rightly be called a clown and the rest of the week live their lives pretty much like their unbelieving neighbours. And then they wonder why God doesn’t bless them! Why doesn’t He? Why…? It’s because all these attempts are false fire and false excitement and God hates it! This definition of “worship” does not come from Him nor is it acceptable to Him!
What God wants to see in the church is true, sincere REVIVAL and REPENTANCE and that starts with us! After all the church is made up of people. It’s not a building with stained glass windows and a smooth and symmetrical cross with a limp, effeminate, long haired Jesus hanging on it! So, we need to understand what God requires of us as Christians. For a start we need to see whether we are truly saved. Have we truly repented (turned away from) our sins and accepted Christ’s finished work on the Cross as the only way that we can be saved? As the only way our sins could be atoned for? Do we realise that the Holy, spotless Son of God was beaten, spat upon, mocked and abused for our sins? Do we realise that He had massive nails pounded into His hands and feet onto a rugged Cross for us? Do we?
We need to exhort others to get right with God by digging into His word and communing with Him on their knees in prayer! We need to live sanctified lives that bear fruit. Lives that are pleasing to God. Lives that glorify God in everything that we do and that are a testimony to the unbelieving of the value of knowing God (as Jim Elliot puts it well). We need to understand that the Christian faith is more than Sundays, Wednesday nights and Youth Group! It’s a daily personal relationship with the living God that requires a lot of effort! It’s a narrow way that we must walk (Matthew 7:14). As Christians we are to take up our Cross daily and live for Christ (Luke 9:23). In Romans 12:2 we are exhorted to “not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind”. Renewing your mind is not an easy process. It’s a painful task. It’s about dying to self. Dying to the carnal humanistic teachings that you have been brainwashed with. Only once you have renewed your mind, can you then be truly transformed.
Leonard Ravenhill so rightly contrasted the early church and the church of today “The early church was married to poverty, prisons and persecutions. Today, the church is married to prosperity, personality, and popularity.”
Paul Washer in his must-see sermon “Ten Indictments Against the Modern Church” said “The doctrine of the carnal Christian has destroyed more lives and sent more people to hell than you can imagine! Do Christians struggle with sin? Yes. Can a Christian fall into sin? Absolutely. Can a Christian live in a continuous state of carnality all the days of his life, not bearing fruit, and truly be Christian? Absolutely not !—or every promise in the Old Testament regarding the New Testament covenant of preservation has failed, and everything God said about discipline in Hebrews is a lie (Heb 12:6)! “A tree is known by its fruit” (Luk 6:44).
The church doesn’t have to be dead. And what may be perceived as “The Church” is not really the church at all. In fact the true Church is a remnant of believers (no matter how small the size of this remnant is) around the globe who have come to faith in Christ through the true Gospel as taught in the Scriptures and are striving to live sanctified lives that are pleasing to God. The true church is also not afraid to swiftly correct error and stand by Christian principles.
In Revelation 3:1-6, we are told of the dead church at Sardis. God made it very clear that this church needed to “repent” (yes the word repent is found in the Bible) because their works were not found to be pleasing to Him or else He would come quickly as a thief in the night and snatch their “candle” away. Let that be a warning to the carnal churches today!
This passage also mentions the fact that there were very few people in Sardis “who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.”
In other words, there was a small remnant that was being faithful to God whilst the majority were living in continuous sin.
This is a perfect picture of the church today. On one hand you have lots of people doing the wrong thing and disobeying the Biblical pattern for the church and on the other hand you have a small faithful few who are worshipping God in sincerity and truth. Are we among the faithful few or are we among the rebellious majority? May God have mercy on us! If you are involved in a church that is not Biblical, then run from it! A sinful church is going to take you to hell with them! Examine your heart, test yourself. Are you truly in the faith? Are you living a life separate from the world? Repent and ask for God’s forgiveness then find out how He wants you to live a life that is pleasing to Him!