August 28, 2012

I was visiting with some Christian brothers this AM when one of them quoted something Billy Graham had said just a short time back ….. that he believed up to 90% of people sitting in the pews of America”s churches today are lost.  …… At first, I just accepted it as fact, because … after all, it’s Billy Graham! … But then it began to sink in … 90%! … That is an astounding number! … I then asked the guys what they thought … if they agreed with this unbelievable statement.  Since two of them were pastors, I was curious … and they both said they couldn’t disagree  ………..

All day long I’ve been wrestling with this thing …. 90%!!! … So, doing the only thing I believe one can do when faced with this kind of mental conflict or dilemma … I turned to God’s Holy Word …… and after a very short time of study, it was once again very clear to see that we are in the final days of the church age, and that the scriptures tend to support brother Billy’s summation of the condition of today’s church … here in America, at least. 

In just a quick overview, I found 20 separate passages in the New Testament alone that deals with different kinds of deception … and many point to this condition increasing in intensity in the  last days.  For example, in Matthew 24, the disciples asked Christ specifically what the signs would be concerning the end of the age. His response was … “Watch out that no one deceives you.” (verse 4).  He then went on to tell them that many will come in His name but will be spreading false teachings.  He continues in verse 24 by saying, “For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect …..” ….

As I said previously, there are many more places in scripture that say the same thing … but let’s take a look at some of the actual deception that is taking place right here in our churches today:

   *Wealth Teaching – Now these guys are unbelievable!  Simply, they tell you that if you give them your money, God will give you much more! …… After thinking about this for a minute, I’ve figured out how to eliminate the ‘middle man’ … you ……. they could just go straight to God themselves and get the money! …. But seriously, a quick glance gives us 22 scriptures in the New Testament alone that totally refute this teaching.

   *Feel good – Seeker Friendly Teaching – …… Avoid all things negative….. never mention anything pertaining to judgement … sin really isn’t considered in the bigger scheme of things … it’s simply about being well-liked, popular, wealthy in all things, and on & on. …….  So let’s for a moment go back in time to the 1st century when it all started.  To begin with, every one of the writers of the New Testament, with the exception of the Apostle John, were crucified, drug to death,  stoned, beheaded …… look just at Paul as an example.  He was little known, despised, and rejected by most everyone.  … This does not sound much like the way we paint the ministry today, when preaching is many times called a profession instead of a calling.  ….. Nowhere in the New Testament will you find that Christians are to expect to be popular and successful.  the servant is NEVER greater than his Lord.  Christ was despised and rejected, and even His own did not receive Him. … Then in His footsteps followed the heroes of the faith who were tortured and mocked, imprisoned and stoned, tortured and slain by the sword.   …. But I guess this all changed here in America … its OK now to focus on earthly things such as wealth & pleasure.   …… Before you accept all this baloney, look just to this scripture … John 15:18-19 says, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.  19) If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own.  As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.  That is why the world hates you.”  … Doesn’t sound like a popularity contest to me ….

   *The Emergent Church – Simply, this is a merging of all the ‘new’ ideas of our day … let’s all get along and accept all the different lifestyles such as homosexuality ….. let’s merge all faiths and belief systems such as muslims, buddhists, hindus, secularists, etc. into one big happy family. …. Let’s all live in harmony and fix the earth …. there is no consequences for much of anything … let’s just all get along … let’s all serve a universal god …. and call it tolerance & acceptance ……….. Man, I’m having flashbacks to the 60’s!!!

Of course, there are many, many more diversions to the truth such as the cults …. Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Scientology, and many more ….but for the sake of the length of this commentary, I will stop elaborating here. ….. But I do want you to think for a minute …. is what brother Billy Graham said true?… and if it is, are you in the 90% group he was talking about? 

I want to share two specific warnings from the Old Testament prophets concerning the condition of our world as we draw ever closer to our Lord’s soon-coming return ….

   *Ezekiel 33:30-32 – ” …… Come and hear the message that has come from the Lord.  31) My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to listen to your words, but they do not put them into practice.  With their mouths they express devotion, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain.  32) Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practice.”

   *Amos 8:11-12 – “The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign Lord, “when I will send a famine through the land – not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.  12) Men will stagger from sea to sea and wander from north to east, searching for the word of the Lord, but they will not find it.”

Simply stated, and why what Billy Graham says could be true, is this …. the majority of churchgoers today soundly reject all harsh judgement and prophetic warnings of a coming storm.  The American church is the most blatant “feel-good” church in all of history.  In most places, it is suffering a “famine” of the Word of God.  My heart breaks over the church’s tolerance of easy believism and watered-down doctrine, and the trivializing of the most important matters of a holy and glorious God. In order for any of us to get out of this ‘90%’ group, we MUST take the proclamation of the gospel as a Holy trust …. to take literally in every word it says … in every way!

I know that a large majority of people today say that being so literal is no longer necessary … that it is a “hard” gospel. … But I beg to differ.  … I believe a hard gospel would be one that leaves people in their sin and tolerates milk-drenched, undernourished, immature Christians – Christians who know little joy because they know so little of gospel truth. …. A Biblically sound word is NEVER a hard word … but a word of victory, deliverance and freedom.

Finally, some may not like what I’m saying here and may very well disagree with me.  OK … I understand that trying to walk scripture in a literal way is really difficult … and if we’re honest with each other, every one of us has some part of our walk that seems nearly impossible to fulfill … but we must remember that the Holy Scriptures are not optional … it is not our place to ‘adjust’ the Word of God to fit our individual lifestyles.  …  What we must do is first, love our God … and then, each other … (John 15:17) …….. Know that I will be praying for all of you …. and that you are walking in His word to the best of your ability…  and that you can confidently say that you are in the 10% group ……..  Hallelujah!!!

Until next time,

Red

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