Do you think most things are OK in the Church at the moment? All the problems are in my poor mind only?
I could ask ‘What planet are you on?’ but instead I will just spend this newsletter showing you again how Christianity today ‘Ain’t the Same’ as that described in the New Testament.
1. I know that many Churches are not preaching salvation.
2. Many Church leaders are silent on homosexuality and abortion.
3. Many young Christians are continuing to party just like the world.
4. Many Christians don’t live as Christ wants.
5. Many Church leaders are not acting as watchmen.
6. Many Christians are ignorant of Scripture.
I could go on and on, but instead I will return to my aim in this letter which is to ENCOURAGE you in your Christian life and build you up in these last days of darkness.
Some of the above issues are expanded on below so you can see, if you have not already, that we are clearly in the age of apostasy as foretold by Jesus and the apostles 2000 years ago.
Come soon, Lord Jesus!
Joel Osteen’s Preaching
Joel Osteen is pastor of the largest Church (25,000) in USA. And what do the people hear? Well the gospel they hear him teach is not the same one that Paul, Peter or the other apostles taught.
Osteen’s influence is phenomenal worldwide, and it has seeped into and begun to saturate the Australian Church too.
Many pastors in local Churches have fallen for the bait – just give the people what they want and start counting the seats and the money.
His idea of teaching the gospel is not to deal with sin and repentance, because, in Osteen’s own words, his goal is to ‘give people a boost for the week. I think for years there’s been a lot of hellfire and damnation. You go to church to figure out what you’re doing wrong and you leave feeling bad like you’re not going to make it’, Osteen said. ‘We believe in focusing on the goodness of God’.
Very seductive, isn’t it?
I hope you can see that this problem is not just one of interpretation or emphasis – this ‘encouragement gospel’ cuts away at the very heart of the true Gospel. It is a satanic counterfeit, indicative of the last days.
Of course God is good and of course the Holy Spirit encourages us – no-one would deny that.
But not until He first of all convicts us, convinces us of our sin, and demands our repentance and submission to Christ.
Sin in the Church
In many Australian Churches today there is a lack of concern about sexual immorality, adultery and ‘living together’.
The underlying problem is that most Church leaders are afraid to deal with sin in any substantial way. They are unwilling to purge the rebellious among us, and preachers are often disinclined to speak against the sins common in our society, in deference to ‘love’.
So much of the focus of sermons seems to be about the different blessings that God offers us who believe.
I acknowledge that no-one is perfect, but our God commands us to be perfect. [Matt 5:48].
We know nobody can achieve this standard but we shouldn’t accept this as an excuse for not trying in ourselves or in others.
The Bible tells us that only the Lord is our righteousness – we have none of our own. [see Jer 33:16 and 1 Cor 1:30]
I think that the heart of this matter has to do with how poorly and weakly we view God’s holiness. Because without Christ’s holiness we will not see the Lord. [Heb 12:14]
Church Leaders are Watchmen
During your Christian life you may have had the need to point out to the current leaders in your local Church that there were problems they were not addressing on a Biblical basis.
This is always a very dangerous thing for a layman to do because most leaders – Christian or otherwise – don’t like to be re-directed to the truth when they have ignored or disobeyed it.
This is why we Christians must make sure we are on solid ground first [read: Biblical ground] before speaking out.
Those who question their leaders are often asked: ‘Are you willing to be submissive to the Church leaders, as in Hebrews 13:17?’ ‘Obey your leaders and submit to their authority.’
If you are asked this question, make sure you remind them that the rest of the verse is also relevant:
‘They keep watch over you as men who must give an account.’
In other words, unless our Church leaders are fulfilling their God-given roles as watchmen of His truth over the local body, and protecting us, then they are not worth obeying because they are not following God’s Word.
Join a Bible Study – Prayer Group
My advice to any Christian who realises they are not being taught or learning the real Word of God in their Church, is to join some like-minded believers in studying the Scriptures.
You will not hear or be able to act upon the real Word unless you do this. There are many parts of the Bible encouraging us to study so we can obey the Word. And the more we study the Bible in humility with a teachable spirit, the more we will see there is room for improvement.
Don’t fall into the trap of studying someone’s book or watching some video – these things are sometimes produced to DETRACT from the Word rather than point you to it.
Bible study, fellowship and prayer are the keys to Christian maturity, and there are no short cuts.