There is a lot of confusion in Christianity today. God is not the author of confusion.
For starters though, know I am not bashing every church. Nor just attacking for no reason and no benefit. The Bible says to mark them that are in error and cause division, to prove all things, to reprove, to rebuke, and to earnestly contend for the faith. The Bible says the fear of the Lord is to hate evil. There is nothing more evil than someone promising the way to eternal life only to make them more two fold children of hell than themselves. It is easier to pour in truth to an empty and eager vessel than to try and find to filter out gallons of poison first. Especially when the religious enjoy the poison they are drinking.
I am mostly addressing all churches together here. I am not picking on any. In my circles you may have some false converts, but at least you have REAL CONVERTS as well. In 90% of churches today, they aren’t even teaching biblical salvation! They have NO CONVERTS BECAUSE THEY SEE NO REASON TO CONVERT. Jesus says YE MUST BE BORN AGAIN. You need to be CONVERTED from the devil’s team to GOD’s team and become spiritually alive before anything else. When churches that stood by the Bible and stood and preached in the 1800’s this simple truth, and there weren’t the Joel Olsteen’s and TV Preachers and Billy Graham watering down the pivotal and simple command of Jesus Christ, people were saved GOD’S way and their lives changed and they found God, wanted what God wanted, and stood for something. Now we fall for anything. Except for good solid Biblical truth.
God is for unity. Forty different Bible versions does not produce unity. Five hundred violins all perfectly tuned to the master pianist will all be tuned to each other. There would be no confusion in the “church” today if every church was tuned in perfectly to the Lord Jesus Christ. The main problem is most are tuned to anything and everything but him. Most churches are more tuned to Hollywood’s drums than the voice of God. Jesus said my SHEEP HEAR MY VOICE. Jesus is the word that became flesh. The Bible is literally Jesus on paper. His words are LIFE. His words are truth. His word is what spoke the world into existence. You need to believe his word if you want to see God. Faith cometh by hearing the word of God. It gets preached from the pulpit or on the street or from a tract, it then goes to your heart, you let it take root, people’s prayers will water it, circumstances of life will fertilize the soil, and then God does the rest. The small seed of faith sprouts immediately at salvation into something living and breathing, and continues to grow into something real.
According to Dr. Doug Stauffer’s fantastic book One Book One Authority (see BibleDoug.com) the problem with the modern perversions of the Bible is this. Confusion. My sheep hear my voice. You will instantly recognize when a non KJV is read. Most churches today have replaced the KJV version for the latest Bible of the month. My sheep hear my voice but they won’t follow the voice of strangers says Jesus. If you are tuned into the KJV you will know when a non KJV is read. However if you read a new version, say the NIV, faithfully, you will not recognize when someone reads another version (unless it is the KJV!!!). That is true whether you hear the ESV or the Jehovah Witness New World Translation. A big explanation for the confusion is the elevation of man’s words over the Bible. The Bible is the authority. In the new versions scholarship becomes the authority. It goes from THUS SAITH THE LORD to thus goes the scholar. They want to be the authority and they claim you can only know what God’s word means if you go back to the original manuscripts. The original manuscripts are long gone, which means you have to find a guru to tell you what they say. And they are more than glad to volunteer to be in that position. A paid volunteer is the catch.
I am blessed to go to a top notch church but God led me there through many detours. I have been to many many churches since I was saved 11 years ago, and every denomination you can think of, and I believe the best church in the most biblically centered denomination that I have ever attended is the church God led me to in February 2006 and where I still attend today. (see OldTimeBaptist.com, an Independent Fundamental Baptist Church).
That doesn’t mean my church perfect (and I ruined any perfection it had when I joined anyway!), and it doesn’t mean we have arrived. It doesn’t mean we are good for the next 20 years. It doesn’t mean we can now sit on our laurels and holy huddle until the rapture. I just don’t want anyone to think I am biting the hand that feeds me or I am being a rebel and just whining and complaining I didn’t get my way.
Churches are a funny thing. It seems that in general our attitudes toward the bible, Church, and Christianity in general are not consistent with our every day behaviors. For example, I have been highly offended by Wal Mart. They are consistently out of my son’s favorite popsicle Mighty Minis. (actually my boys call popsicles “oppcorns”!) They keep running out of Orange Yoplait, the only kind my one son Elijah eats. Elijah seems allergic to vegetables and anything healthy besides, and this is as close to fruits and veggies we can get with him. High fructose corn syrup and all. To top it off, I bough a package of the only Sahlen’s hotdogs they had and only when I made them did I see they were the reduced fat kind. That means reduced taste. If I am going to eat something that isn’t healthy, I am not going to eat a lousy tasting version of it and save 50 calories. Instead, when forced to only eat a non-fat non-taste version, I just will not eat it at all then and save 500 calories. In my opinion they tried to pass off the reduced fat kind by hiding them within the regular dogs to get rid of them and I just didn’t see the fine print. Further, every time I buy a product that has a “SAVE $1.00” coupon on it, they forget to take it off and use the coupon. They just are not meeting my needs. Now I have been offended. Yet, I did not decide to never come back and start shopping at a Wal Mart down the road.
Yet we do that to the church all the time.
What needs to be addressed is the church in general is a land of confusion in a confused America. Some of that hits home and affects my church like the way the common cold spreads. I’m not just talking about doctrine, but bad attitudes, worldly thinking, carnal minds, discouragement, fear, insecurity, etc. I am mostly concerned for the circles that at least want to obey the Bible in the best way they know how. And for our country.
Churches that have been teaching major heresy for thousands of years aren’t going to change. Their members are clueless but these churches are the counterfeits of the devil and they are trying to be the loudest voice calling all the shots. I am more concerned with the churches that were strong and have little by little picked up small hitchhikers along the way that need to be sent packing. The churches that we affiliate with can pick up the bad habits of other churches that picked up some bad habits and before you know it, it spreads like wildfire. I can’t speak for other churches but I believe mine seems to be making some solid choices and building momentum and going forward. Good. In general the movement I am in needs to keep going in that direction or the onslaught of churches being carried downstream by the tidal wave of compromise and worldliness will take our church right with it in 20 years.
I am trying hard to be balanced with the church. I am a street preacher and many street preachers have disdain for the church. They tend to think they don’t need a church to be their authority. Yet I see many churches have disdain for the street preachers and it’s members are paralyzed by fear to go to the streets and highways. I see the need to be balanced. The church is not a fire shelter from the inferno outside. It is a fire station that trains firemen to go out into their communities and rescue the perishing. It is meant really to train men to go out into the world and put out the fires that are burning down our land one man at a time. Not bring people into the church engulfed in flames for the preacher to hose them down.
That is the one crisis in the good churches. The Preacher is pouring his heart out with messages to get his members on fire to go out and put out the fires of hell. He gives all he has and the people think it is his job to reach the world and their job is just to listen. He expects them to obey his preaching. They expect him to be happy they heard the preaching. Obedience is shuffled around like a shell game and nothing gets done that impacts eternity. Everyone thinks witnessing is someone else’s job. Instead the truth is witnessing is a command and when we obey we grow as we go.
Christianity is not a bunch of do’s and don’ts. It is not an I HAVE TO life of drudgery. It is not an I GOT TO lifestyle of forced labor. I get to live a clean life when before I couldn’t say no. I get to go to church. I get to serve the God of the universe.
I desire to reach the lost of the world because God’s desires are replacing my desires. Street preaching to the masses. Jesus was an open air Preacher. During the great awakening it was the open air preachers that really awoke the country. But not stop there. One on one witnessing and personal evangelism. Witness at work when God opens doors. Give out tracts everywhere you can to sow good seeds. Discipleship training. Rescuing the lost outside the church doors and equipping the saints inside the church walls. Week in and week out until Jesus returns. At church be a good testimony, go there to worship and get filled up on God, and then go back into the world fully loaded. Train fishermen but make sure you are fishing yourself and not just talking about 20 foot marlin you caught 20 years ago that is now stuffed and hanging on the wall collecting dust.
Sinners don’t come to church unless you put so much sin in your church they feel right at home. Serve Sam Adams on tap and let them light up during the hard rocking worship hour and sinners won’t have that uncomfortable conviction that makes churches today want to apologize. We are supposed to be different and a refuge from this world. The world’s way is the way to disaster. The church is not supposed to follow it’s pattern.
Bottom line, is America won’t turn to God because there is too much chaos and confusion in the churches. The churches in general are powerless and don’t have the answers for a world with questions. They see the church as just “take take take”. They think we have to bring in our paychecks and with a gun to our head fork over 10% of our income or else. If we are in a good church that causes us to dress and act differently they say it is a cult.
That isn’t the main issue. A church should be so different that people can call you a cult. I know what a cult is. I know I am not in a cult. And if you were in church long enough and saw how few people actually did what they were told to do you would see it is not a cult. The bible says God puts leaders above us for our protection. The pastor’s authority is God given. If I am pulled over by the police I don’t say, “I don’t have to listen to you! You are in a cult because you make everyone obey you!”. No they just have authority I don’t have. The police have no authority apart if you take the badge away. A preacher’s authority is that Bible.
The main issue is there is no longer a clear voice of truth ringing out from the church. There is not even agreement over “what must I do to be saved” today between 2 Baptist churches on the same block. I will address that in future articles. Salvation is a person. The Bible says CHRIST IN YOU, the HOPE OF GLORY, and HE THAT HATH THE SON HATH LIFE. Some churches or denominations teach otherwise. They teach salvation is in a pew (i.e. church membership), or in performance, or in a pool of baptism, or in years in purgatory, or going to a Priest, or pretending to be holy.
Even though I go to a good solid church, church in America has such a bad reputation that many are turned off from attending anything. Hollywood loves to make the mass murderer lunatic prolific in bible verses. The media loves to portray the average Christian as a deranged brainwashed kool-drinking weirdo. They claim to have science on their side. Yes, but that side is the side of lies and science falsely called. Evolution is not science, it has been called a fairy tale for grownups. Yet they corner the market and make it look like we left our brains at the door. They can’t see that only when we become Christians can we think for ourselves. They are intimidated because when we get saved we can now cancel our subscriptions to the world’s journalism because we no longer have to pay them to program us.
True Christianity transforms us and frees us from the culture around us that is against God. Today’s church has no transforming culture so it has no culture of it’s own so it just borrows one from the world. That is why the new evangelical/mega church movement has switched gears to be “seeker sensitive”. The lost people enjoy drinking and carousing and rocking out to loud rock music, so their thinking is we must have drinking and carousing and rock music in the church so the lost are comfortable. That is foolish. The church is supposed to be light and a safe haven of rest from this wicked world. If I was drowning in a lake, I would expect the lifeboat I was pulled into to not be full of water.
I go to an Independent Fundamental Baptist Church. This wasn’t a decision I made lightly. When I first got saved, I spent my first 3 years in the mega church/ modern church/ charismatic movement after being Catholic my whole life. The general rule of the modern church is 1) Anything goes. 2) If it builds a crowd it must be of God. 3) Never ever attack a fellow Christian or church 4) The Catholics are wonderful Christians and 5) You are only allowed to bash the Independent Fundamental Baptists and 6) All Bible versions are created equal and if someone claims one is better (KJV!!!!!!) they are part of the lunatic fringe.
I believe God showed me something yesterday in my previous blog post. People often say they don’t need to go to church to worship God. I am just as close to God in my fishing boat they say. I can worship God at home they say. The thought I had was this though. I used to be a sports nut before I was saved. One of my “gods” that had my heart was the god of sports. I enjoyed playing them (and that is fine in itself but just don’t love it more than God and don’t skip church to go to little league!) I wanted to be with my god. It wasn’t enough to just watch it on TV, I had to be at the game where the action was. That is like what happens when you get saved. You can find God sitting by a stream, you can hear God when you go out and witness, you can find God reading the Bible. Yet there is something more that you want and that is being in the house of God and being at church. Before I was saved, Christmas and Easter were more than enough for me. Giving $1 was a lot, giving $5 was unthinkable.
Now I am saved and want to be at church. Sunday school 10am, Sunday morning 11 am, Sunday night 6:30 pm. Wednesday night 7pm. I want to do more because I love it. I don’t do all of these all the time but I enjoy them all and do what I can when the opportunity arises — adult choir, Saturday visitation, Sunday prayer meeting, Saturday prayer meeting, special weeklong meetings, Family conference, Mission conference, Camp meeting, meetings at other churches, and more.
The lost will drive all day and spend every dime to see a sporting event or a musician. They will watch game after game after game. They will watch hours and hours of TV and never get tired of it. Why is it so strange that instead I would want church? You will only find out if you get saved.
I am a fanatic. True. But at least my team wins it all in the end.