Saturday, June 28, 2008

I Can't Hear You

I have been a Christian for 50 years. Yet never have I seen the attitudes I am seeing around me in the church world. It grieves my heart and it must also grieve the heart of God. I am talking about the “I’m right and you are wrong” attitude. It appears to be coloring every aspect of church life. It causes believers to be angry with each other, to leave the church and then go no where. I sometimes wonder how many folks are out there, who used to go to church every Sunday, joining their hearts in harmony to worship the God they love, but today finds them, at home, trusting the TV or radio to provide their spiritual nourishment. What’s the problem?
Eyes on Man
All too often the problems begin when we get our eyes off God and focus instead on man and his problems. We must ask ourselves when we find we are in the middle of strife in the church, “Why do I go to church?” Is it to listen to the preacher, to fellowship with my friends, to grow in my own ministry, to serve the Lord. Or is it to worship God? When we forget that the original plan of God was to gather the people together to worship Him, we often fall into patterns we call ‘worship’ but it often is not worship at all. While we are to be careful in what we adhere to in our doctrine, we must also be careful that we do not neglect the teachings of the Lord… And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul (Deuteronomy 10:12). For Jesus Himself told satan in the wilderness temptation… “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” (Matthew 4:10) When we cut ourselves off from corporate worship we invite all kinds of problems into our lives. Our focus at first seems to be self-preservation. We don’t want to be hurt or deal with people who continually seem to hurt us. So we remove ourselves from their fellowship. But all too soon, our wounded hearts rationalize that the risk is too great that we might experience more pain and so we go no where at all. As we focus on the problem man has caused in our lives, we are like turtles, pulling inside our shells to protect. But in fact we do more harm than good. We set a poor example for those who look to us for guidance. We fail to forgive, and we often live in continual pain because of it. Our children and grandchildren see that church and Christian fellowship is not important. We no longer have the encouragement of other believers to work together for the cause of Christ. Some fail to tithe. Others fail to serve. Some eventually turn away from God altogether...all because they got their eyes on the wrong things.
Ears to Hear
Too many today are getting caught up into cultic teachings. As the church becomes more and more passive in it’s approach to try to please everyone and not offend anyone, leadership often fails to declare the Word of God with boldness. People don’t know what they believe or why. When they pull away from the church they often turn to TV or radio and begin to listen to voices declaring their opinions instead of the Word of God. They lack spiritual discernment. I have met far too many in recent years who have slowly bought into such ministries as the “Shepherd’s Chapel” and Pastor Arnold Murray, and his non-biblical beliefs, which are based on the cultic “Serpent Seed Doctrine” which teaches that Eve had sexual intimacy with Satan to produce Cain, who began a ‘hybrid’ race of people who were cursed by God, called them Kenites, and are now the Jews, and dark skinned peoples of the world. This is pure racism and has absolutely no basis in proper Biblical interpretation!!! Yet folks watch his programs because he takes the Bible in hand and reads it verse by verse, explaining his ‘doctrine’ with the American flag behind him.
Another odd teacher some are heeding is Mr. Harold Camping on the Family Radio network. His voice comes across the airwaves via his 150 radio stations across the nation on this call-in talk show called “Open Forum.” Some find themselves buying into his odd doctrines which declared that Christ would return in 1994 but when that failed he re-evaluated and now has determine that the rapture will take place May 21st, 2011, and that the Lord will return on October 20th 2011. Some of his other non-biblical teachings include…. annihilation of the unsaved, the rejection of the total depravity of man in denial of Romans 3:12, no visible Return of Christ, no resurrection of the unsaved, no final judgment of the unsaved, no eternal hell, the Holy Spirit has already lifted from the church, God has abandoned his apostate church. Therefore he advocates that you no longer need to go to church—any church, just listen to his radio station and send your tithes to him, while you wait for 2011. One of his most ridiculous declarations is that no one in the world was saved between 1988 and 1994. We must remember the scriptures which teach us… (1 John 4:1 KJV) Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. We must be discerning in the body of Christ! We must know our Bibles. We must not neglect the teachings of Jesus Christ. One of the last things Jesus told his disciples is found in Matthew 28: 19-20 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” We are not to abandon the church, to stop making disciples, to stop baptizing the converts, because He, Jesus, is still with us, “even to the end of the age.” Time has not stopped and God is still with the church! The age of the church is not over! Just as we are to observe communion ‘’til He come”, so we must continually “occupy til he comes”. (Luke 19:13) We have work to do for God! There are lost souls who need to find the Savior. The Word of God teaches us “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 4:3-4) And this culture today is abounding in fables. The more Biblically ignorant the world becomes, the more they become the victims of unscrupulous teachers of lies and fables. That is why Paul told young Timothy in the previous verse, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.” ( 2 Tim 4:2) It takes courage to take a stand in the face of blatant error. Sometimes it causes divisions, especially when loyalties are stretched. We need a new generation of pastors and teachers who will fearlessly proclaim the Word of God, who will not be afraid to reprove and rebuke in love, those who are falling into error. Boards need to stand firmly behind their pastors as they preach the Word. Just as a shepherd would leave the 99 and go in search of the one lost sheep who has wandered from the fold, so must we, as servants of the Lord, seek to bring back into the fold, those who have wandered into spiritual error.
What are you listening to with your ears? Are you just listening for ‘something new and novel?” Or, are you carefully listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit who promised to lead us into all truth? One of the often repeated phrases given to John in Revelations in the messages to the churches was…”He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches;” (Rev. 2:7) The Spirit filled believer must be listening, not to the voices around him, but to the Spirit, who will confirm the Truth and reveal the errors. The Holy Spirit is still at work in the church and is still speaking to believers. He is going to do that until Jesus returns for his Bride, the church. That is why we must also be cautious today when we listen to those who call themselves ‘prophets’. Some would try to manipulate for personal gain. Others try to make a name for themselves. Both are wrong. The Lord left us with the Holy Spirit so that all of us could now serve the Lord as prophets, priests and kings. But that does not mean we fall into imbalance, to use it for selfish purposes. We are to ‘try the spirits.’ We are to ‘preach the Word.’ We are to ‘teach all nations’ and bring them to the truth. Jesus set the example… “And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things.” (Mark 6:34) Parents, teach your children and grandchildren the Word of God. Take them faithfully to the house of God and teach them to worship and value the presence of God. Pastors, stand tall in your pulpit, and with holy boldness, declare the message God has placed on your heart without apologies. You are guarding your flock! Teachers, wherever you teach, use your gift to declare the truth! Be a student of the Word! Be aware of the dangers in our culture. Warn the innocent! Expect opposition! Be ready with an answer and let the Holy Spirit give you an answer when you have none. Be faithful! Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up. You're not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It's the same with Christians all over the world. So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won't last forever. It won't be long before this generous God who has great plans for us in Christ—eternal and glorious plans they are!—will have you put together and on your feet for good. He gets the last word; yes, he does. 1 Peter 5:8-11 (The Message Bible)
J. Johnson

1 comment:

Channelofhealing said...

What a great blog,and a true post too, am blessed to have found yours too. thanks for the comment on my blog, much appreciated, I have also added you to my fave lists.