The Faithful Church

 Greetings to all in the name of Christ.  This is a very important message. Greg and Diana Lesperance are two committed Christians who are, like many of us, frustrated with the state of the 21st century Church.
What follows is their excellent piece on the reasons for this new movement.  They are very serious about this, as many others are.  Everything seems to be against us. To break us. To keep us from the Truth of Christ and His Church.  Many Christians feel helpless as there are so many forces attacking the real Church in these last days.  Many have given up, many of who will never return.
Are you frustrated with the state of the Church today?  And the 21st century society which is now anything goes.  There is no right or wrong, only what you feel makes it right.  And so many false teachers who exist only to rob us of our money and our faith.  Yes, it is frustrating.
If you are among the frustrated, please read and sign and become a part of the Faithful Church.  God bless all of you.

 

SIGN THE PETITION:

We the undersigned, Christians from across the spectrum of denominations, independent churches, home churches, and even those scattered sheep who have no church home at this time, have determined that we must “stand fast” (2 Thes. 2:15) on the Gospel of “grace and truth” (John 1:17). We are speaking now in one voice, in TRUE unity, because, by the Spirit of the Lord, we believe we must “lift up a standard” (Isaiah 59:19, 62:10) against the flood of compromise and corruption (2 Cor. 2:17) that has entered our churches. The church is in a “time of departing,” but we refuse to leave the “faith that was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1:3).

Many of us, in various ways, have tried to share our concerns. We have preached sermons, held conferences, written books, blogs, articles, letters, and created videos, dvd’s, and radio programming to confront the deception that has bombarded the church. In return, many of us have been cast out, called before councils, publicly rebuked, and scorned by shepherds and church leaders who have rejected our pleas.

A separation has been growing in many of our hearts for a long time. Just as in a marriage, when a partner has been unfaithful, and unrepentant, eventually there must be a public divorce. It is with great sadness that we must announce that we are coming out of the “evangelical” identity and forming our own identity as the “faithful church.”

This is not the first time a separation like this has happened. There have been times in the history of the church
when a remnant of Christians found it necessary to come out from the larger body of Christianity when that larger body
had gone astray from the faith. For example, we saw this with Martin Luther and the Reformers. After all attempts to purge Roman Catholicism of its wrong doctrines, men and women of God finally separated themselves and formed a new group which is now known as Protestantism.

During the period of the development of the historical/critical movement, when many Protestant “Christians” claimed that the scriptures erred, a small group of believers opposed this attack on truth and became known as the “fundamentalists.” They refused to question the veracity of the Bible and broke away from those churcheswho had departed from the faith and are now known as the “mainline” denominations.

Under the rise of the Third Reich, another group of believers found it necessary to break away from the larger German Evangelical Church. They declared in the Barmen Declaration that they rejected “the false doctrine, as though the church could and would have to acknowledge as a source of its proclamation, apart from and besides this one Word of God, still other events and powers, figures and truths, as God’s revelation.” They stood on the Word of God in the face of Nazism, and left behind a heroic witness as the “Confessing Church.”

We could also point to the division caused by the abolitionists, or the division caused by opposing the Gnostic teachers, or the division caused by the teaching of Jewish Christians who wanted to blend the law with the Gospel.

The lesson of history is undeniable: division in the church has been necessary in order to preserve a sound, strong, and dynamic faith! (1 Cor. 11:18-19) But we also want to emphasize that division is caused by those who depart from the faith, not from those who remain steadfast.

Those Christians who remained faithful to the truth of the scriptures were the heroes of history!
Believers who stood on the pure Gospel were bravely willing to be burned at the stake in the flames of the Inquisition or die in Nazi prison camps. They were also willing to face the scorn of those who claimed to have intellectual superiority over them, and trusted in the words of the Bible even when there seemed to be justification to doubt. They were faithful to the charge that was given to them by the apostle Paul:

“I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine . . . “ (2 Tim. 4:3)

Sound doctrine matters! We will not forget the men and women who have been martyred in order to preserve the truth of the Gospel. After their great stand, their courageous sacrifice, would we just allow the wolves to consume the little flock on our watch? No! We will have the faith of our fathers, and follow the encouragement of Paul, who was beheaded for his faith:

“Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.” (1 Cor. 16:13)

Over the last decades evangelicals, who, in the past, have been committed to the fundamentals of the faith, and to the innerrancy and sufficiency of scripture, are now compromising the truth in order to develop political power, pursue social justice, or achieve a “dream” of ecumenical unity. While these may seem to be admirable goals, we have to remember that the church must always remain faithful–no matter how great the cause seems–if grace and truth have to be compromised.

In this era of “unity” our separation will seem to be in complete opposition to the Zeitgeist (the spirit of the age). “COEXIST” is the idealistic rallying cry of our day. But our allegiance to Yahweh (Jehovah) makes us unable to give equal recognition to other religions. We believe there is a true unity, which fulfills the prayer of Jesus found in John 17, but that “oneness” can only be realized by those who are sanctified (set apart) by the Word of truth (John 17:17). We also believe the scripture forbids us to make unholy alliances and commands us to come out from among and be separate from those who don’t believe the truth. (2 Corinthians 6:14-11)

Therefore, because the Roman Catholic Church still promotes false doctrines such as celibacy, the priesthood, indulgences, purgatory, and transubstantiation, we cannot join with Pope Francis and his call for ecumenical unity. We reject the concept that the church can be unified around a “core orthodoxy,” and instead, maintain that ALL of the truth must be loved. (2 Thes. 2:10) We cannot claim that the ecumenical movement is a move of the Holy Spirit when the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth (John 16:23)! This isn’t to say that the faithful church agrees on every area of doctrine, but we can all agree that the Bible is the final authority and it stands complete. We will not add or take away from the truth.

We want to please our Lord and hear the words, “Well done, thou good and FAITHFUL servant.” (Matthew 25:21)

We want to be a faithful bride without spot or wrinkle or any other blemish, holy and sanctified–by being washed by the water of the Word (Eph. 5:26-27). We want to be prepared to be equally yoked with our Bridegroom–who is called “Faithful and True.” (Revelation 19:11)
We don’t want to be found unfaithful!

How has the evangelical church been unfaithful?
1. We’ve corrupted the Gospel with business principles, psychology, mammon (through the prosperity gospel), Old Testament law, science (such as evolution or quantum theory), philosophy, eastern religions, fiction (such as The Shack), man-made traditions, new revelations, dreams, and visions that lead to new doctrines, environmentalism, political ideologies, and on and on…The union of worldly, fleshly, revelations with the pure Gospel was warned against by the apostle James:“Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?” (James 4:4-5)

2. We’ve joined with other religions in the hope of bringing about peace and prosperity. This was the root sin of the ancient Israelites also. The prophet Hosea was once commanded by God to marry a harlot as a picture of
God’s relationship with his people. Although the Israelites continued to worship YAHWEH, they worshiped other gods also. This caused God to cry out, “How long will my people be incapable of PURITY?” (Hosea 8:5) To God this was the same as a woman who was married to one man, but added other lovers to the relationship . . . and it broke His heart. After all, what is the true source of peace and prosperity? Is it unity with other belief systems (such as Mormonism, Islam, or Catholicism), like a modern-day Tower of Babel, or are societies prosperous when they love Jesus and obey his Word?

3. We’ve added mystical experiences to the blood of Christ. When we add contemplative prayers, soaking prayers, labyrinths, the “silence,” centering prayers, breath prayers, or any other additional work, to the work that was finished on the cross through the shed blood of Jesus, it’s as though we are offering the equivalent of “strange fire” on the blood altar. It takes us away from pure grace and leads us to dead and useless works. Only the blood can take us into the presence of God. (Hebrews 10:19)

4. We’ve given heed to false prophets and false teachers. These men and women claim to be hearing from God, yet their prophecies seldom come true. If we accept them, we go against the warning in Deuteronomy 18:22.

“When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.”

Why do we need an extra-biblical revelation from God? Why do we need signs and wonders? Just like the Pharisees, the Word wasn’t enough. They needed signs. And because the Word wasn’t enough, Jesus called them adulterous. (Matthew 12:39, 16:4)

The ancient Israelites were adulterous when they added the gods of the surrounding nations to their worship, but Paul said the serpent’s seduction would cause our minds to be “corrupted from the simplicity (singleness, purity) that is in Christ.” (2 Cor. 11:3) Satan deceives and seduces us in our thoughts. The high places where idol worship once occurred aren’t in the cleared-out groves and under the oak trees; the high places are now the regions of the mind and intellect where Satan wars against the truth.

“Casting down imaginations, and every HIGH THING that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;” (2 Cor. 10:5)

We believe the indictment against modern-day evangelicalism is the same as the indictment against the
ancient Israelites… we are committing SPIRITUAL ADULTERY. We are allowing our minds to be seduced by “high” things that “exalt themselves against the knowledge of God.” When we add these “high things” to the Gospel we are being UNFAITHFUL to Jesus, the Word that became flesh.

The prophet Jeremiah cried out against Israel’s spiritual adultery. He said that during the reign of King Josiah, God asked him: “Have you seen what faithless Israel has done? She has gone up on every high hill and under every spreading tree and has committed adultery there.”  (Jeremiah 3:6) And yet, when Jeremiah tried to convey God’s heart to the people, he said the people rejected his message.

“O Lord, are not thine eyes upon the truth? thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved; thou hast consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction: they have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return.” (Jeremiah 5:3)

As our nation becomes more and more desperate, and we see the increase of crime, corruption, and injustice, even after decades of pleading with God and praying for revival, perhaps we need a new perspective. Perhaps instead of pointing to the unsaved, we need to repent of our own sin and unfaithfulness toward God. This was the warning given in 2 Chronicles 7:14. If we read a little further down in this famous chapter we discover that the sins of the people that God warned would cause Him to “shut up heaven” were forsaking His Word and worshiping idols (unfaithfulness). Is it possible to suppose that the reason God is not responding to our prayers could be because we have been unfaithful to Jesus and the Word?

Therefore, because we want to be pleasing to our Lord Jesus, our “first love,” we are “coming out” from the larger evangelical community and gathering the little flock back together to form a network of “faithful” churches. For the sake of the scattered sheep who struggle to find a church they can trust, for the sake of our children who have developed relationships within congregations and then had to withdraw with broken hearts, for the sake of the new believer who may be easily led astray, and for the sake of our Christian witness, which will only become weak, irrelevant, and lukewarm if we don’t separate, on this day, August 25, 2016, we declare our love and faithfulness to Jesus and make a commitment to keep His Gospel pure and undefiled.

We won’t have any other loves!*If you have a concern that you may have been unfaithful to Jesus, his Word, or to the charge that we’ve been given…it’s not too late! There is still grace for you to turn. You can still be “found faithful” (1 Cor. 4:2) The prophetess Huldah told King Josiah he wouldn’t receive the judgment of God because “his heart was tender” and because he cleansed the land of idols. He repented and became faithful to God. (2 Chron. 34:27)

IS YOUR HEART TENDER?

Faithfully in Christ,

Greg and Diana Lesperance

Why Trump Would be a Catastrophe

Joel C. Rosenberg posted on the eve of the Iowa Caucus,  thirty-two reasons why a Donald Trump presidency would be a catastrophe for America.  Read article here

After the results this month it appears that a likely nomination of Trump is becoming at least an educated guess, the more the voters need to know about Trump and why he should not be president.  The man is dangerous to the republic, perhaps even more so than Obama has been.

Trump’s supporters are almost fanatical about him.  On February 23, I replied to a posting by the blog “Chicks on the Right,” who dared Trump voters to ” So please, if you would, explain your defense of Trump on:

  1. His turnaround on Hillary and his past campaign contributions.
  2. Obamacare.
  3. How do conservatives defend this?  Trump’s attacks on George W Bush a couple weeks ago at the South Carolina debate were despicable. Please defend that.
  4. rump has, just in the last couple months, managed to PRAISE both Putin and Saddam Hussein.  Please defend that.
  5. Trump’s supporters applaud wildly and basically soil themselves with delight when he talks about China and his plan to stop allowing American jobs to be outsourced and whatnot. But when he’s asked to defend the fact that his clothing line is manufactured in China? He BLAMES CHINA. For real.
  6. Trump says he plans to be “neutral” when it comes to Israel/Palestine”

My reply on Facebook to this was in part:  It’s as if his supporters aren’t listening when he talks and says idiotic things like “I could shoot someone on 5th Ave and not lose any votes.” Do they read up on him? Or are they just in some kind of celebrity worship trance that can’t be turned off by the snapping of fingers? It’s just bizarre behavior that may require a mass intervention as if your family and friends trying to get you out of a Kool-Aide drinking cult before it’s too late.

With that, here are Joel C. Rosenberg’s thirty-two reasons:

 

It really is mind boggling how so many could be so blind when it comes to a presidential candidate.  I really don’t get it!

3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2 Timothy 4:3-5)

Can the principal in those verses be applied to the political world?  Just something to think about.

Donald  Trump is dangerous. Period.  As Rosenberg wrote:

I realize some — maybe many — of my readers will be angry at what I’m writing. But I have to be honest with my readers about the enormous threat Mr. Trump poses to all that we hold dear. His arrogance, narcissism, greed and lack of respect for women, minorities, and anyone who disagrees with him disqualifies him to be President of the United States. I do pray for Mr. Trump that he will either truly come to personal relationship with Christ through repentance and faith, or — if he has already made that decision — will humbly seek discipleship and grow in his new faith. But even if he’s a new convert, he is not ready to be president

God help us if the people are blind enough to elect Donald Trump.

 

 

The 21st Century Version of the Downgrade

Jeff Maples from Pulpit and Pen published this article today, titled Five Observations of the Modern-Day Downgrade.  Read Jeff’s article here .  (Please read before reading this)

The first Downgrade occurred in the late 1800’s. Defending against the event was Charles Spurgeon.  At the time, Spurgeon wrote this:

Believers in Christ’s atonement are now in declared religious union with those who make light of it; believers in Holy Scripture are in confederacy with those who deny plenary inspiration; those who hold evangelical doctrine are in open alliance with those who call the fall a fable, who deny the personality of the Holy Ghost, who call justification by faith immoral, and hold that there is another probation after death, and a future restitution for the lost. Yes, we have before us the wretched spectacle of professedly orthodox Christians publicly avowing their union with those who deny the faith, and scarcely concealing their contempt for those who cannot be guilty of such gross disloyalty to Christ.

Sound familiar?  It should because that is what is happening today!  Only it is far more wide spread than it was in Spurgeon’s time:

The difference between the downgrade of Spurgeon’s time and the downgrade of today is mass media that does a great job of spreading false doctrine and false teaching through “Christian” TV, “Christian” radio, Contemporary “Christian” music, where lyrics don’t matter as long as the tune is catchy, sermons that rely on showmanship that uses such things as props and reading out of popular “Christian” books in place of Scripture, Christian” bookstores where the false teachers sell their wares through their books and magazines. The victim is the non-discerning , immature believer. No wonder the likes of Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, T.D, Jake’s,  Steven Furtick, Sarah Young, Joel Osteen, Ed Young,Jr, Sid Roth, Jonathan Cahn, Christine Caine, Jesus Culter, Bill Johnson, Brian Houston & Hillsong,  Mike Bickel and IHOP, Beth Moore, Joyce Myers, and all the rest of the wolves who get rich and famous and can buy million dollar homes and private planes. That is why this downgrades far worse than the one in Spurgeon’s time.

Christians are being starved thanks to all the deadly antic of today.  The only thing that can feed them is the preaching of the Word of God and Christ crucified!  No props are needed.  As Jonathan Aigner wrote yesterday on Patheos:  With one big book, a loaf of bread, and a little wine, we have all the materials we need.

Remember the God inspired words of Paul to Timothy:

I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry (2 Timothy 4:1-5)  

Preach the word. Period.  No fluff, no props, the Word of God is sufficient to preach the Gospel.  A lot of ears are itching and they are only seeking those who will coddle them, who will feed them with false doctrines and false Christs.  They will turn away.  And they are.

Peter wrote: But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. (2 Peter 2:1)

And today there are many more false prophets out there than first century Christians could even imagine.  And their ranks are increasing and with that, the number of their flocks are increasingly in danger, spiritual danger as they buy into the lies and false doctrine coming from the pulpit today.

Beware then of these false teachings.  They will kill your spirit

 

The Abrahmic Covenant — Introduction

I wrote this back in 2010 in an effort to help understand why Israel is Israel, how it all began.   There is nowhere in Scripture, except in Genesis, that God chooses a special people and uses them to create a nation.  God chose Abraham, a shepherd.  He was nothing special, he was, as all humans are, a sinner.  This is about an unconditional covenant that God made with Abraham and his descendants.  It is about a process that began 3,998 years ago, culminating in the birth of Isaac

Between the time God created all that is and the birth of Abram, the world had been through a lot.  God had pronounced his creation “very good.” (Genesis 1:31)  That didn’t last very long.  Sometime between the creation week and the birth of Seth, one hundred and thirty years (Genesis 5:3), man had fallen into sin.  Paradise was lost in an instant as sin, corruptness, evil and death had entered the world.  Man had lost his personal relationship with God.

Still, despite the Fall, God made a promise during his judgment of the serpent (Satan), Eve and Adam. (Genesis 3:14-19)  He told the serpent that sometime in the future, the seed of the woman would “bruise (strike, crush) you (the serpent/Satan) on the head.” (Genesis 3:15)  This was the first promise of a redeemer, the Messiah that would be fulfilled by the life, death and resurrection of Christ.[1]

Centuries later, man was out of control in sin.  God decided to end all life on earth.(Genesis 6:17) However, He found a righteous man in Noah.(Genesis 6:8)  Noah and his family, plus representatives of all land animals and birds, were saved from the destruction of the global flood.  Still though, despite the lessons that should have been learned by the repopulated earth, man continued to sin.

During the life of Peleg, the great-great-great grandson of Noah and the great-great-great grandfather of Abram (Genesis 11:10-27), the earth was divided. (Genesis 10:25)  That event was the building of the Tower of Babel and the “dispersment of the nations.”[2] God had confused the language of all humans, causing the abandonment of the project. (Genesis 11:7-9)

Several generations later, God found Abram, the son of Terah in Ur of the Chaldeans. (Genesis 11:7-9) he called upon Abram to leave his “country, relatives and father’s house” to go to a new land where he would be made into a “great nation.”(Genesis 12:1-2)  Thus began God’s covenant with Abram that would eventually lead to the nation of Israel and Christ.

This series will discuss God’s covenant with Abram as told in Genesis chapters 12, 15 and 17.  It will not be a chronological, verse by verse description of the events.  Instead, this series will be more of an analysis of the points of the covenant as told to Abram/Abraham by God.   In the end, I will demonstrate that the covenant is still in effect, thereby rejecting the proponents of replacement theology, which claims that this covenant has been replaced by the Church.  First, I will discuss the various types of covenants of the ancient Near East in order to show that the Abrahamic covenant is eternal and without conditions.


[1]. John MacArthur, The Macarthur Bible Commentary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2005), 17-18.

[2]. Ibid., 27

What is a Covenant?

Theologically speaking, a covenant is “a gracious undertaking entered into by God for the benefit and blessing of humanity, and specifically of those who by faith receive the promises and commit themselves to the obligations which this undertaking involves.”[1] There are three major categories of covenants in the Old Testament.  They are the Royal Grant, Parity and the Suzerian-Vassal.[2] (See comparison chart below)

These covenants can be either conditional or unconditional.  Ron Rhodes describes a conditional covenant as a “covenant with an ‘if’ attached.”[3] For example, Adam and Eve could live and keep their relationship with God as long as they continued to obey God’s command concerning the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  If they disobeyed, they would die, at first spiritually and eventually physically.  As we know, Adam made the wrong choice.
An unconditional covenant places no conditions on its continuance.  The only party obliged to keep it is God.  In His covenant with Noah after the flood, God promised that He would never destroy all life on earth by water and used the rainbow as the covenant sign.  However, as John MacArthur writes, this “was qualified by the means of water, for God has since promised to destroy the earth with fire one day. (2 Peter 3:10-11, Revelation 20:9, 21:1)”[4]

A COMPARISON OF OLD TESTAMENT COVENANTS
COVENTANT Royal Grant Parity Suzerain-Vassal
TYPE Unconditional Conditional Conditional
FEATURES King’s grant to a loyal servant

Involved land or other benefits

Perpetual

Between equals

Binding to mutual friendship or respect to each others spheres and interests

Participants called each other brothers

Between a great king and a subject king

Great king claims absolute right of sovereignty

Demanded total loyalty and service

Vassal must “love” his suzerain

Conditional on vassal’s faithfulness and loyalty

EXAMPLES Noahic (Gen 9:8-17)
Abrahamic (Gen 15:9-21)
Davidic (2 Sam 7:5-16)
Abram and Abimelech (Gen 21:25-32)
Jacob and Laban (Gen 31:44-51)
Abrahamic (Gen 17)
Mosiac (Ex 19-24)

Source:  Date adapted from All-In-One Bible Reference Guide. Edited by Kevin Green. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008), 168-169 *


[1]. Gleason L. Archer Jr., “Covenant,” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, ed. Walter A. Elwell (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2001), 299.

[2]. All-In-One Bible Reference Guide, ed. Kevin Green (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008), 168-69.

[3]. The Popular Dictionary of Bible Prophecy (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2010), 11.

[4]. The MacArthur Bible Commentary, 25.

It should be noted that the source incorrectly defined the Suzerain-Vassal covenant as unconditional when, in fact, it is not.  Also of note is that the Parity covenant cannot be entered into between God and humans as it is between equals.  Humans are far from equals with God.

Next week will be Part 2 of this series.  In Genesis 12, we will read of God’s first contact with Abram, and the promises He made to him and his descendants.

Thoughts on Modern Corporate Worship

I’ve been thinking lately on corporate worship.   There is so much that is just bizarre out there these days with many churches concentrating on entertainment in order to get people in the door.  You’d think the church sign would read “Hey! Check Us Out Because We’re Awesomely Cool and Relevant And Stuff!”  Too many want to be like Hillsong, Jesus Culture and others who are technically great musicians but are many times lacking in theology.

One book I’m reading these days is The Church Awakening by Chuck Swindoll.  He uses Acts 2:42 often to describe what the essentials are to be done in corporate worship:

42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. (Acts 2:42)

Teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayer. This is the first we see on how to do church. And they had the best teachers, the apostles, the ones who were with Jesus 24/7. Who better to teach the first Christians? And as time went on, who better to teach Christians in the future, first by those who had direct contact with the apostles and it spread from there. Granted, there is probably little, if any, direct relationship to Christ’s apostles today—and no, the pope is not in a line from Peter, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.

Yes, different things have been added as the centuries came and went. But to this day, teaching, fellowship (probably what one would call fellowship today), breaking of the bread—the Lord’s Supper done each and every Sunday, and prayer—all four elements are essential in corporate worship.

One paragraph says a lot about corporate worship in so many churches today:  “If we sacrifice the essentials of teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayer on the altar of strategy, creativity, entertainment and “relevancy,” we have abandoned the main reasons the church exists.  We should build on those essentials, not attempt to replace them.” (Swindoll 82)  That pretty much sums it up.

I came across this article a week or so ago:

8 Reasons the Worship Industry Is Killing Worship

From this article:
“The singing is the “worship,” the preaching is…well, we’re not sure. It’s not really worship. No corporate prayer, no creeds, no confession.”

“It spreads bad theology” I think that speaks for itself.

“It’s made music into a substitute Eucharist. Most evangelicals, along with the mainline Protestants who are looking to commercial Christian music as an institutional life preserver, use music as if it were a sacrament. Through their music, they allow themselves to be carried away on an emotional level into a perceived sensory connection with the divine. Music is their bread and wine.”

An example of bad theology—“Build Your Kingdom Here” by Rend Collective. Why?
Worship Songs Rated website explains why this song received zero stars:

“God is in the process of establishing His Kingdom now in the reborn spirits of men who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. He will not establish His physical Kingdom on earth till Christ returns. He will not “heal our streets and lands” until the Millennial Kingdom.”

And–“Two of their phrases in this song show it is from a Dominionist/Latter Rain perspective. “Change our atmosphere” and “Holy Spirit, come invade us now”. The “atmosphere” of the world will not be changed until the Millennial Kingdom because right now it is under the dominion of the evil one. The Holy Spirit does not “invade” people, and if they are being forcibly “invaded” it is another spirit.”  (Worships Song Ratings)

Once more from the article: “its sole purpose is to make us feel something. The industry, as with the mainstream music industry, must engage us on a purely sensory level to find widespread appeal in an entertainment-addicted culture. It must make us feel something on a purely emotional level. It strikes a match for the initial excitement of the spark. It must hook us in to be profitable. And so, the quality of theology, poetry, and music suffers accordingly. And we trade the beauty of God’s story for the initial excitement of sensory stimulation. Singing love songs to Jesus is not the point of gathered worship. I find Robert Webber’s definition helpful: Worship is doing God’s story.”

Another book I’m currently reading Spiritual Anorexia: How Contemporary Worship is Starving the Church by Doug Erlandson. Much in this article is also mentioned a lot in Erlandson’s book.  Erlandson is from the Reformed tradition who ended up in a “contemporary” church. He does express much concern over contemporary worship of today.  He states “Corporate worship is thus a two-way street. On the one hand it serves to strengthen our faith and renew our resolve to be transformative kingdom builders. On the other hand, it is an act of reverence whereby we seek to exalt the Name of the Triune God and thereby bring glory to Him. It is thus our offering of gratitude and submission.”(Erlandson, Kindle location 407 of 2490)
Erlandson describes the elements of traditional corporate worship as “Through the centuries corporate worship has included such diverse elements as the call to worship or the gathering of the people, the reading of the Word, the recitation of the creeds, the preaching of the Word, the Eucharistic, and the exhortation and benediction whereby the congregation is sent into the world to proclaim the transformative reign of Christ.” (Erlandson, Kindle location 565)

Today, the call to worship is the worship leader calling out through a microphone something like “ARE YOU READY TO WORSHIP?”   And the church band breaks out into an upbeat, catchy tune by one of the many hip, rocking Christian singers and groups, which may or not be (usually not) be deep in correct theology which gets the congregation standing and clapping all caught up in the tune, the melody, the loud guitars, the beat of the microphoned drums.  So what if it’s full of bad theology as long as it’s relevant!  Right!?

As shown in Erlandson’s description of what corporate worship was, the reading of the word and creeds are mentioned.  What exactly constitutes the reading of the Word in so many churches?  Pretty much reading a couple verses between songs and the sermon. There is nothing wrong with a formal reading is there?  Or what is wrong with one of the historic creeds being proclaimed?  Or the Lord’s Supper being held more than quarterly?  Or a benediction that consists more of “see ya next week!”?  (Those are rhetorical questions just to make the reader ponder the questions.

Thankfully, there are still churches that haven’t gone down the road of entertainment first.  There are still many churches which preach the Word of God with no frills and other assorted nonsense that one would only find on a stage or in a circus.  And it is just not corporate worship where this is happening.  Consider a Facebook page for a retreat of sorts of Christian teens:  “We can’t wait to spend the weekend with 125 of our closest friends, staying up late, climbing the rock wall, doing the challenge course, dominating BONKERS!, hearing the Bible taught, and learning a little bit more about what it looks like to follow Jesus!”  Should not reading and teaching the Bible and learning more about Jesus be the number one reason to attend?  One would think that would be more important staying up late.  There’s another post on that page that says there will be “relevant” teaching, which usually isn’t relevant about Christ and the Gospel or doctrine.”

Why is it that fewer churches use their corporate worship to exalt God, raise Him high and proclaim His gospel? Churches that equip the saints to defend the faith as Peter described: 15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence (1 Peter 3:15) or to spread the Gospel to all through the Great Commission:

 18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”  (Matthew 28:18-20)

Isn’t that what the body of Christ need and deserve their churches to do?

In conclusion then, this quote from Chuck Swindoll sums it all up:

4 I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. (2 Timothy 4:1-2)

“Methods may differ, and taste in music may fluctuate. But there’s an appropriate limit churches must recognize. Churches don’t need to try so hard to be so creative and cute that folks miss the truth. No need for meaningless and silly substitutes that dumb down God’s Word. These may entertain people—even encourage them—but rarely will they convict the lost or bring believers deeper in their maturity. Teaching the truth takes care of all that. Remember Paul’s words: “reprove, rebuke, exhort” (2 Tim. 4:2). Those are not politically correct terms. Why? Because GOD IS NOT POLITICALLY CORRECT. HE NEVER INTENDED TO BE.” (Emphasis mine) (Chuck Swindoll, “The Church Awakening: An Urgent Call for Renewal,” pp 89)

It’s up to denominations and to individual churches to decide what is and is not important in how the worship and how they preach. Which way best feeds the sheep?  So pray for your pastors, worship leaders, elders and all those in church leadership.  They have no easy task.

 

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The Coming Day of the Lord

The Coming Day of the Lord

3 Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” (2 Peter 3:3-4)

Right now, Russia and Iran have military in Syria, fighting to support the Assad government.  Peter wrote that there would be mocking of prophecy in the last days…..but this situation is very prophetic.

38 And the word of the Lord came to me saying, 2 “Son of man, set your face toward Gog of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him 3 and say, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I am against you, O Gog, prince of Rosh, Meshech and Tubal. 4 I will turn you about and put hooks into your jaws, and I will bring you out, and all your army, horses and horsemen, all of them  splendidly attired, a great company with buckler and shield, all of them wielding swords; 5 Persia, Ethiopia and Put with them, all of them with shield and helmet;(Ezekiel 38:1-5)

This passage identifies the nations that God will move against Israel in the last days.  Rosh is identified as modern Russia while Persia is modern Iran.  Currently in Syria, assisting the Assad government against Syrian rebels, are the military of Russia and Iran.

Another foreign power now inside Syria is China.  Many believe the 200,000,000 member army of Revelation 9:16 to be China.  There are those who believe that this army is actually made up of demons.  But, the fact remains that China is now in Syria. However, this is too early in the sequence of events as this force isn’t released until the sixth trumpet and the Euphrates dries. (Revelation 9:14)

But do you notice someone is missing?  The United States is kind of in Syria, bombing ISIS every now and then.  But the nation appears nowhere in Bible prophecy.  Of course, America could be part of “ And all the nations of the earth will be gathered against it..”   In context:

It will come about in that day that I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples; all who lift it will be severely injured. And all the nations of the earth will be gathered against it.   (Zechariah 12:3)

All nations will rise up against Israel, including the United States.  I know that fact doesn’t sit well with a lot of American Christians who believe that just because the US is the most powerful nation on earth at the present time, then it has to be in the Bible!  Except for this possibility:  maybe the US is not in prophecy because the nation at the time the Rapture occurs and the Tribulation begins is just a shell of its former self for whatever reason.  The US would just not be as important at that time.  But that’s for another post.

What we are now seeing is the stage being set, the alignment of the nations coming together.  That Russia and Iran have now positioned themselves at the northeast border of Israel. Something will happen soon despite the mockers of 2 Peter 3:3.
Yes, we pray for Israel, for the world.  But the deal is in stone. We cannot shift God’s timetable.  He has His schedule. Only He know when these things will happen (Matthew 24:36)  We can only be ready by believing the Gospel, that Christ died a horrible death on the cross, shedding His blood to wash away all sins and rising from the dead on the third day, that those who believe shall be saved and spend eternity with the Lord.

Meme Theology

Anyone who has been in the cyber world knows what a meme is.  They are usually a picture with a message in them.  In the Christian world there are plenty of memes floating around on Facebook and other sites, some good some not good.  This is about the not good.

This is one example:

I’ve seen this used by those who are not believers.  Why?  Because they think that even if you don’t believe, you’ll be ok with God just by being nice, a good person, and doing good works.  That sounds great right?  Well, not really.  This falls under the “if is sounds too good to be true it probably isn’t” category.

There is some debate if the pope actually said this.  But he has said or alluded to the basic concept of this statement.

The basic salvation theology of the Church of Rome can be broken down like this:  you get to heaven if you keep all the sacraments, keep all the commandments and do good works.  Sounds simple right? Well it isn’t.  And all that is not needed.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and  that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 1For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

Clearly, works are not enough to get to Heaven. No, despite the rules of Rome, all you need is faith through grace.

Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.   (John 14:6)

It is the simplest verse in the Bible to understand, but many act like it’s not in there.  The Church of Rome adds works to it, that is not how salvation works.  Just being a good person is not enough.  Only if you believe in Christ crucified and risen will you spend eternity with Him!  Regardless of what Rome says or atheists say, there is only one way there are no other options!

For example, consider these quotes of the late Mother Teresa.
““All is God—Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, etc., all have access to the same God.” (12/4/89 Time Magazine Interview with Edward Desmond, pp. 11, 13)

“I’ve always said we should help a Hindu become a better Hindu, a Muslim become a better Muslim, a Catholic become a better Catholic” (A Simple Path, p. 31).

That is not the point of being a missionary.  You preach your faith as you help them, despite that many will not choose Christ, some will.  Why keep them dead in their false religions?  That is not how it works,  by doing as she did, she let people remain lost forever.

If anything, the pope is preaching universalism, not Christianity.  John 14:6, as referenced above, tells us there is no other way to salvation but through Christ crucified and risen and believing it and trusting Him!  No amount of good works, Catholic doctrine,  no amount of money, nothing we can do on our own will save us!

This current pope is now on a tour of Cuba and the United States.  The news media is covering this trip non-stop, praising this pope for being so humble and soft spoken.  An American  priest actually constructed a model of the Vatican out of thousands of Legos:

Although it is impressive, it is applauded the riches of the Church of Rome.  It was built from the money gained through the unbiblical sale of indulgences, a system that the RCC has been using for centuries.

The Church of Rome owns billions of dollars worth of property.  Their priests, bishops, cardinals and popes wear extravagant vestments made of the finest fabrics. They use altars and communion chalices of gold.  All paid for by indulgences.

As a side note:  “But was not Solomon’s temple most magnificent? Yes, but it was uniquely designed and commanded by God.”  “”No such pattern or approval was given by God for any other religious structure.” (Hunt, Dave (2014-09-24). The Nonnegotiable Gospel (Kindle Locations 246-247). The Berean Call. Kindle Edition. Hunt, Dave (2014-09-24). The Nonnegotiable Gospel (Kindle Locations 241-246). The Berean Call. Kindle Edition.)
No other religious building in the world was designed and commanded by God besides the Temple of Solomon on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.  But I regress.

The meme of the pope and the quote is dangerous doctrine.  No one is saved by good works, no one.

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and  that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

And yet, just like John 14:6, this passage from Ephesians is very easy to understand…..yet so many ignore them both.

Do not place your trust in the RCC or the pope.  As for memes—be very discerning.