–by Val Waldeck
Why does the Church today appear to be so powerless? Why are so many churches emptying? Why have young people fled the church? Why do some Christians consider ‘gathering together as the church’ to be irrelevant? What is happening in our generation?
The early Church started small and grew rapidly. Its influence reaches even our generation. The Bible counsels us to be careful about what we believe and teach – our eternal destinies and those who listen to us, are at stake. The first-century believers were passionate about the Lord Jesus Christ. They loved meeting together to worship God and encourage one another. They broke bread, prayed, and studied the Scriptures together. They met in homes, halls, wherever they could. Simplicity, purity, evangelism, and joy were their hallmark. Signs and miraculous wonders followed their ministry (Acts 2:40-48).
Why has the Church changed?
Today, the Church looks very different. Bishops, leaders, and laity sign petitions and bless places that encourage abortion. Killing children before, at, and even after birth is encouraged if the mother does not want her child. Lust, greed, divorce, and much more are practiced with disregard for God’s Word. Why is the Bible no longer the rule of faith and lifestyle?
We find the answer in the Scriptures. God warned us the last days would be exactly like this as many “depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” – 1 Timothy 4:1.
Satan’s strategy has never changed
When the devil met Eve in the Garden of Eden, he came as a deceiving spirit with demonic doctrine. He did three things:
He cast doubt on the Word of God.
“And he said to the woman, ‘Has God indeed said, you shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?” – Genesis 3:1-5. In other words, “Are you sure your interpretation of the Word of God is correct?”
He challenged the Word of God.
She responded that God had said, “You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die” – Genesis 3:3. He assured her that was not the truth. “You shall not surely die,” he said emphatically (Genesis 3:4)
He added to the Word of God.
“For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” – Genesis 3:5
This strategy has infiltrated the Church in these last days
As prophesied in 1 Timothy 4:1-7, these strategies are creating havoc in the Church of Jesus Christ:
Doubt about the inspiration and authority of the Bible is prevalent, even in the Church
“Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron. (v 1,2)”
The Word of God is being challenged outright
There are some who teach ‘religious philosophy’ based on their own thoughts and ideas. Their doctrine is not based on or affirmed by Scripture. It leaves those who listen at the mercy of people’s opinions. For example, “forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by the Word of God and prayer (v.3-6).” There are many modern examples embraced by both legalism and ‘freedom’ to do as we please. These include what we believe, how we dress, what kind of music we listen to, how we worship, etc.
Adding to the Bible is as common as denying its clear teaching
The Bible is considered old-fashioned and no longer relevant. Prophets have ‘new revelations’ that are more relevant than the Bible in their opinion. William Booth, Founder of the Salvation Army, said: “The chief dangers which confront the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, and heaven without hell.”
A quote from David Wilkerson
“There is a great host of preachers who have literally cast aside the message of the Cross of Jesus Christ! Be warned: It doesn’t matter what anyone tells you about a great ‘revival’ or moving of the Spirit taking place; it doesn’t matter how many multitudes are involved, or how loud their praises are; it doesn’t matter how ‘successful’ a particular ministry may appear to be. If the Cross of Jesus Christ is not the door through which people come, you can rest assured – it is not a work of God!”
Why are people so open to this kind of teaching?
The Bible tells us clearly what the problem is. Its root is pride and arrogance. What ‘I’ believe, think, and feel sets the standard. If it’s true for me, that’s all that matters. Here is a description of the last days from 2 Timothy 3:1-9. It describes our “Me-Generation” perfectly:
“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was.” – 2 Timothy 3:1-9
Not respecting sound doctrine
Gullible people follow these teachers. They are easily persuaded because they lack knowledge about the Bible. They have nothing against which to compare and test their beliefs. The result is lack of progress to spiritual maturity. Emotionalism, sentimentalism, fables, and fantasy replace faith.
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.” – 2 Timothy 4:3,4
What is the cause of spiritual immaturity?
I remember watching bank tellers training many years ago. They received bundles of genuine bank notes, with counterfeit ones slipped in. Familiarity with the real notes allowed them to recognise counterfeit notes. Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” – Matthew 4:4. Sadly, doubt about the Bible’s authenticity has caused many to stop reading the Bible. Bible reading and personal prayer are no longer deemed important. Many form their opinions from the words of men. Songs, books, and sermons are their daily bread rather than the Bread of Life. The result is spiritual immaturity.
A serious red alert
In some services, the Bible is hardly read, and the Name of Christ barely mentioned. Some preachers and teachers use the Scriptures to expound their minds, instead of using their minds to expound the Scriptures.
Families suffer. Children receive even less Bible knowledge. Parents concentrate on growing socially acceptable young people. By not exposing them to the Bible, they develop spiritually illiterate youngsters. This should be a serious red alert for the Church.
Don’t worry about offence
The faith of many is so weak, they have no passion to share it. Millennials say this is imposing their beliefs on the belief systems of others. Little do they realise the Gospel is the only hope for the world. The people we fear offending now will be very offended at the Great White Throne Judgement.
Should we share our faith with others?
“I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching . . . be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil your ministry.” – 2 Timothy 4:1-5
A word for our generation
“Keep a close watch on how you live and, on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you.” – 1 Timothy 4:16
What must we base our faith on?
“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:16-17
What should pastors and teachers be concentrating on?
“If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed. But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness.” – 1 Timothy 4:6-7
A final word for believers
The Lord is looking for men, women, and young people who will walk with Him in the light of His inspired Word, under the direction of the Holy Spirit. He is building His Church and those who seek to damage His Body will pay the price. “Don’t let others spoil your faith and joy with their philosophies, their wrong and shallow answers built on men’s thoughts and ideas, instead of on what Christ has said” – Colossians 2:8
VAL WALDECK is an Author & Bible Teacher. Visit valwaldeck.com
Article source: JOY! Magazine (June 2019)