A wake up call to the Churches
Today many so-called younger generation Christians or the “twentysomethings” no longer are interested in attending or want to be involved in the more “traditional” churches; and even if they do join they are less likely to support it with their time or talents, much less their tithes or offerings. Today’s pastor is moving in the direction of trying to attract a younger generation of believers, because they are, “the church of tomorrow” as the saying goes. Be that as it may, there is a group within the church, “the older generation” who is being pushed aside to make room for the younger. The older group is being told in no uncertain terms to move over for a new and younger generation. Of course as we all know that to offer criticism in any way, form or fashion to this sort of behaviour or activity is to without a doubt question the will of God. One cannot question the pastor’s or leaders as they are mandated by God Himself. But what is happening is that the leaders are saying we have to change our methods and the way of doing things, otherwise we cannot attract the younger adults, because “they won’t buy into the same old things”. In taking this stance most pastors and leaders are alienating the very older generation who has brought the Church to where it is today. Folks, please do not misunderstand me when I say that in their zeal to do whatever it takes to attract a new generation of unbelievers [who need to be saved] and younger believers to their churches, they are at the same time alienating the present and past generation of believers away from the church. And I am talking here of those who helped buy the land\property, build the church, establish different ministries within the church, and who faithfully supported the church for years. Sadly the statistics are showing exactly that. The eagerness of pastors and church leaders to reach a newer, younger generation is causing the older ones to give up, give in and leave, and also not to give their money any more. Something is seriously wrong when pastors cannot see what is happening in their assembly’s when the older generation of believers opt to not be involved, give less money or none at all, or too just leave. I know of pastor’s and leaders who are even arrogant in their attitude when they are questioned concerning this, coming back with answers like, “if they want to leave they can because the Lord will send others\more in their place”. What these pastors and leaders seem to have forgotten is that God has placed them in this position as a shepherd [pastor and elder] to tend to His flock. The flock is not yours pastor they are the Lord’s! He has given you the responsibility to shepherd, care, and feed and teach them, and to fetch them who have strayed from the fold. If you can remember the story told in the Bible about the one sheep that strayed off and lost its way, the shepherd [which you are to be] because he cared went looking for that one. That is what a shepherd should do no matter what the consequences. If you cannot or do not feel the need to do what is required of you by the Lord, and then I ask you the question. Why are you a minister, pastor or church leader? Some church pastors, ministers and leaders only shepherd or tend to a certain group in the church. I know this is a hard statement I am making, but sadly dear reader it is the truth. Those who regularly invite them [the pastor and his wife] to come over for supper, or to come around for cake and tea! Only certain members are visited by the pastor or church leaders when they are in a sick-bed or in hospital. God in His Word holds the shepherds [pastors] responsible to tend His flock [and that means all the flock no matter what the situation] and He will call them to order if they do not abide by His commandments as the Prophet declares, “Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD. Therefore thus saith the Lord God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the LORD. And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the LORD” Jeremiah 23:1-4. Pastors are you feeding, caring, tending and fetching God’s sheep that have gotten lost as His Word commands you to do? Something is wrong when these are the things that are happening in a congregation, and church leaders are not particularly concerned to go and find the lost sheep of God.
Thank God for the older generation of saints who have not given up on the Lord or ceased to believe in Jesus Christ. Although these seasoned saints are being told that the tools that God has used through the ages to bring them to faith in Christ; methods that enhanced their love and devotion for the Lord and encouraged them in their spiritual walk and growth in the Lord; methods that inspired them and motivated people to give, to go, to serve and to send; concepts that God Almighty has used to build His Church now for 2000 years are no longer relevant today. These so-called learned ones who are writing the contemporary church growth manuals are actually saying that the old disciplines of Bible study, dynamic expository preaching, the great hymns of the church and our faith are in actual fact barriers to unbelievers; hindrances that must be removed if we are to reach a new younger generation of lost. A very damning heresy that is being told to pastors by these church growth guru’s [experts], that if they want to attract newer converts or unbelievers they must soften up on their preaching on sin, to relax their convictions about the Blood of Jesus Christ, preach a little less about the Cross of Calvary and mostly they must change their music so that it sounds more like the music of the world. These experts are advising pastors too keep their “messages” short because today’s generation will not endure a lengthy sermon. They are being told to use current movie clips, interpretive dance sequences, and personal illustrations amongst other things to grasp attention. Dear reader the church all over the planet is being lulled to sleep with affluence, entertainment, and a form of godliness, but without the true power of God. There are many great churches if one looks at the size of the buildings, the budgets and the baptisms, but the majority of churches today are no more than religious organizations, trying to attract the world with their amateur theatre, synthesized music etc. All the while the faithful remnant, those who sacrificed their time, talents and tithes to see the church begin to grow and develop are now being relegated to the rear of the sanctuary, or they are being told to leave and systematically removed as those who no longer matter. Sadly that has become the situation in the church\assembly where I am a member. When the lost are not being saved there is something wrong. Let me tell you what is wrong! The gospel of Jesus Christ is no longer being preached and taught as it should be. The true gospel is not being taught, but rather hidden behind catchy phrases and all the market-driven drivel so much that we no longer have “good news” to tell them. Let me be blunt here with you. The apostle Paul said it very clearly. “For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and him crucified”, 1Corinthians 2:2. When the Cross is preached, when pastors preach the Blood of Jesus then we will see results. The only thing that will attract younger people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ is the preaching of the Cross. You see folks, whether these gurus of the church-growth methods want to know this or not; it is still and will always be the Holy Spirit, through the preaching of the Word in its purest form that will draw all men to God. Jesus said it himself. “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day”, John 6:44. Jesus did not say the changing of the music or the catchy phrases or quoting a few scriptures or whatever will draw men to God. He said that the preaching of the gospel in truth, under the anointing and inspiration of the Holy Spirit [the power of God] will draw all men to Him [Jesus]. There is nothing in the world, or any method of men other than the anointing of the Holy Spirit, preaching the Word of God and not a watered down gospel, can and will draw men to Christ. The Church must not compromise the Word of God. The new formula that these church-growth experts promote where the preacher has to lighten up on sin, change the music style etc; these formulas work and that is why we have the mega churches all over the world. But where the Cross is preached and sin is not wrapped in cotton-wool one tends to see smaller numbers of people in the church. No my friend the Church [each born again believer] must not compromise on sin, or its call to holy, and sanctified living through the Spirit of the Lord. By not being different from the world, today’s church-member is not being or even making any difference in the world. As we look back over the past century but especially the past 40 years, it saddens one to see how the Christian soldiers, pastors and ministers of our generation has allowed the standard of righteousness of the Lord to fall in dishonour. I remember about 2 years ago our pastor constantly addressed us who were part of the worship ministry, how we must behave and how we must clothe ourselves when standing on the platform etc; but now to appease a new generation of so-called believers those very standards have been thrown out the window so to speak. Anything goes!! This is all done in the name of attracting a new generation [the church of the future] of believers, [and the new thing that God is doing] who arrogantly does not tolerate the older ways\methods. Since a new generation of believers and worshippers have come in no more of the old songs; songs of the Cross, or the Blood or even the Rapture for that matter are sung about anymore. The so-called very blessed worship-leaders only come to church when it is their weekend to lead the church in Praise and Worship. What example are they promoting when not even the pastor can persuade them otherwise? My friend this is a fact that I’m mentioning here.
Like Lot’s family, today’s generation of Christians has become accustomed to the casual lifestyle of this godforsaken world. The so-called contemporary Christian seems to enjoy the more personal freedoms, the economic opportunities, the pleasures and pastimes of our society just as much as the un-believing public do. The new generation of believers seem to love the entertaining performances, the religious rituals and even so much more the un-convicting messages of Christianity more than they love the Lord. The truth of the matter is my friend, by the lowering of the standards of our faith; we have allowed the banner of the Cross to fall in dishonour. Sad as it is, the greatest disgrace to our Lord is that there is no great cry among God’s people that someone raise that standard up again. The reason for this silence is that most pastors compromise on this matter and mellow down on the sin-preaching, as not to offend. I thank the Lord for those preachers who still preach the Cross, the Death and Resurrection of Jesus, the Rapture etc. When pastors start to preach the message of the Cross, in its fullness then we will see growth within the church. Peter and the other apostles preached the Cross without compromise and the Bible tells us, “and the Lord added to the church daily as such should be saved”, Acts 2:47. In other words as mentioned above that when the message of the true gospel is preached the Lord will add the lost to the church. The Lord adds to the church those who are lost without hope unto salvation. True church-growth is not when already saved people come from other churches’ because they are not happy where they were. There are exceptions when people have to transfer from one city to another for work-related circumstances. Coming back to the Church-growth movement, the Church of Jesus Christ is, and was and still should be the most exclusive group of people on earth, instead of making the Church a sort of country club to be joined by preaching “easy believism”, because that my friend is apostasy, at its best. When preachers preach a message that does not offend, or when it tickles the ears [2Timothy 4:3] they have gone down the road of certain apostasy.
My experience within the church situation is that there is a tendency as to what the Apostle Paul remanded the church at Corinth for; dividing into little groups because of their personal preferences and opinions, arguing over who is the best preacher or pastor--- the very same things we hear of today. Paul made it clear in his reprimand to the Corinthians that this kind of behaviour revealed a lack of spiritual growth, and that they were “walking like mere men” 1Corinthians 3:4, and in their witness for Christ they were no different from those who were unsaved. During the years the spotlight of the glory shifted from Jesus Christ, the Saviour of all, to those men who could attract the most people to their meetings by their charismatic personality or their methods or styles of preaching or singing. And today so many churches try to emulate what these preachers started. This birthed the age of the mega-churches as we know them today. A preacher’s success is measured nowadays as to the size of his congregation. How large is the number of people who attend their churches. How large is the sanctuary that is built? How much income is generated from the congregants? How large is the Bible school that produce the preachers of today? One sits in wonder when looking at the programs where churches are packed with thousands of people, and the preacher’s preach their messages, yet those same preachers do not even know who their sheep are that they are supposed to tend, as taught in the Word of God. It is sad to say the least when a preacher becomes so big and famous that he cannot have or does not have time to meet with his flock on a personal level because he is so busy. Of course they have a dozen or more assistant-ministers who tend to these things. Through the years as these mega-churches [and the smaller ones who try to copy them] have escalated in numbers and converts there has been the tendency for a loss of biblical certainty and theological integrity as preachers have watered down the gospel to attract people. And sadly at best and more importantly, the glory that rightfully belongs to Jesus the Lord, and Him alone, has been diverted to man. Let me be blunt here, “God is not impressed by their mega-churches. Exalting Christ has now has taken a back seat as churches adapt to the changing needs of people. Today, churches are using every gimmick in the book imaginable to attract people to their brand of “Christianity”. Trite and trivial logos have replaced the only true Logos. We see such terms as “seeker friendly” and “seeker sensitive” has replaced “Christ exalting and God honouring!” Even our worship services are orchestrated to bypass the mind and to excite the emotions, for the only reason that everyone leaves feeling good about themselves. In doing this the members of the congregation learn absolutely nothing of the sovereignty of Almighty God. And I’m not saying this is the case in all churches, but is at best in most. See what the Apostle Paul teaches us in Ephesians 3:1-21, concerning the eternal plan of God and purpose for the Church. Paul tells us that the purpose of the Church is to bring glory to God and not man. No glory to the works of man, but to the One who began the Church 2000 years ago and still reigns sovereign over His Church today. Jesus Christ is the One who holds the Church together today by His power and love. The duty of the Church [pastors and leaders especially placed in these positions] is to bring glory and honour and praise to the One and only Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church. No glory and honour and praise can be placed on any man, because that belongs to Jesus Christ, the Son of God. God will not share that Glory with any man. Anything done by man, no matter how well intended will fall short of the glory of God, and will serve to only glorify man in the flesh. But when it is done in the power of the Spirit of God, and lifts up the name of Jesus Christ and what was achieved at the Cross, then this will draw men to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. Also it will glorify God throughout the ages without end. Through the years we have seen, and are seeing today, what happens when the standards are lowered! And neighbour this has happened and is still happening all over the church-world. But it is time we raised the standard of Jesus Christ in our own lives so the world around us can see our works of righteousness and be drawn to Him. The Church [the body of Christ] should follow the model of the true New Testament Church, as put forth in Acts 2:41-47. The people of the early church were in harmony with each other, in agreement over their fellowship, teaching the truth of the Word of God, praising God in their time of worship in the sanctuary, at home, in their workplace in thanksgiving to a Sovereign God, and in favour with believers and unbelievers alike, “and the Lord added to their numbers day by day those who being saved”. Folks I know this is hard hitting, but too many pastors, ministers and church-leaders have given in to pressure of being more acceptable to society as a whole, but so the more to pressure from their members, and the more liberal thinkers within the Church. Preachers have given up on being the true people of God by their compromise; all in the name of tolerance and have just blended with world. Scripturally many of them have “fallen away” from the truth of the gospel, 2Thessalonians 2:3. Too many preachers are preaching what the people want to hear, so they can keep their jobs, rather than preaching what they have been called to preach, and trusting God with their care. Spiritually, they have forsaken their call as Pastors and Teachers and, according to Paul’s exhortation in Galatians 1:1-10 of “being accursed”. The “falling away” begins as preachers begin changing the Word of God to fit the lifestyles of their members, rather than challenging the members to change their lifestyle to fit the Word of God. And young people, even many young adults with children, will begin to be attracted to those churches where their worldly lifestyle was not only accepted by the people in the church, but proclaimed as being acceptable by the man in the pulpit. Many preachers have stopped preaching the Word and turned the sermon time into a dialogue with a few friends. Casual dress replaced the tie and jacket. The velvety conversational voice replaced “thus saith the Lord!” Compromising for expediency replaced the absolutes of God’s Word, because that is what the people want to hear, and the numbers of people in attendance replace true spiritual growth as the measure of a church’s effectiveness. Dear reader, there is only One who is righteous and perfect…..Jesus Christ. He is our standard. He is calling out to His Body [the Church] to be perfect and righteous just as He is perfect and righteous. Although we live in these bodies of clay…on this earth…we can still be with Him in heavenly places. That can only be achieved when we surrender to His perfection and righteousness. So why are we listening to other voices? Voices that have forsaken the standard of righteousness! Why are we struggling against sin and the devil? We are called to be over-comers. Christ said it of Himself… “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”. We are to follow His example. We are to be lead by the Holy Spirit through the Word of God, not by preachers who jus feed us any amount of drivel. We are to test the spirits as the Bible warns us to do. Whatever the pastor is feeding you and me, we must examine it against what the standard of the Bible says. More and more we are experiencing a falling away from the true Word of God, and God is sending a wake-up call to all churches throughout the world. Every believer worldwide wherever he or she is affiliated must raise the standard of righteousness, and holiness in their own lives so that we may shine for Jesus Christ. Yes, we will be looked upon as peculiar, square or old fashioned, but my friend without holiness we cannot see God. Pastors and ministers must come back to the place of right-standing and holy living before God so that we can see a growth in the church-members and a harvest of unsaved being born into the Kingdom of God. Church leaders and believers in their respective denominations must live right before God so that the world may see that God and Jesus Christ is a reality. I include myself as part of this, lest many will think I am some holier than thou individual.
My friend, the spirit of the Antichrist is already here, and the Antichrist himself is not far behind. People are being taken captive by the lies of the world! We are living in the age of spiritual deception and we must pray for spiritual discernment today more than ever before. There are so many voices speaking in the church today – voices of conversation, information and proclamation. Is everyone speaking the truth just because they are quoting the Bible? Is everyone to be trusted just because they claim to be preachers or teachers of the Word? Of course not! But where is the “truth filter” through which all of this information must be sifted before it reaches our ears and tries to change our minds? We must learn to “extract the precious from the worthless” – we must learn to discern! I thank the Lord for the many church-leaders who are not willing to compromise on what the Bible still calls sin. And I am talking here of those so-called tolerated and accepted sins of our society, homosexuality and lesbianism. Need I expound on this, as the Bible calls it an abomination, Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:26-27. No I am not saying this of myself because God Himself makes this very clear concerning this particular sin. Not to mention the tolerance too this lifestyle of those within the Church, where some are being placed in leadership positions being ordained as so-called ministers of the gospel. In 1 Corinthians 12:10, the Apostle Paul listed “the distinguishing of spirits” as one of the spiritual gifts given to those who were filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit. While God does still manifest Himself in supernatural ways today, the fact is we all have that gift of discernment in the Word of God. John MacArthur says the following, “Spiritual discernment is the skill of separating divine truth from error”. In 1 Thessalonians 5:21, the Apostle Paul told us how to do that when he said we are to “examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good, abstain from every form of evil”, and in this context, the word “evil” is used to describe every form of the perversion of truth. In verse 20, he said to let everyone speak, even if it is in error. But be sure to test everything they heard against the truth. So whatever the pastor, minister or layperson teaches you, please examine it against what the Bible says. This is why it is so important that the true voices of proclamation be heard above all of the other voices in the world. The true preaching of the Word of God is that standard of truth by which we can measure all the other voices we are exposed to every day. Someone wrote the following truth: “The most urgent need in the Christian Church today is true preaching; and as it is the greatest and most urgent need in the church, it is obviously the greatest need in the world also”. Today, the Word of God is being watered down to make it more palatable to the people. We have paraphrased it, revised it, torn it apart and “topicalized” it to answer our questions about life and how we can be successful in it. But the more we have diluted it from its original texts, the less it is being read, and the less it is being obeyed, and therefore the less it is being respected. In fact, the Word of God has become so “trivialized”, even though it is still one of the world’s best sellers, it has lost its respect even among the thousands of books that have been written about it. Jude 1:3-4 exhorts us to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” By the term – “the faith” – Jude meant that body of truth that was handed down to us from the Apostles, preserved for us by the early church fathers, proclaimed by the voices of preachers and missionaries, and validated by the blood of many martyrs. We are not to add to it or take away from it. We are to share it with our lips, show it with our lives, and defend it to our death if necessary. For just as our western culture has rejected the notion of an absolute truth, so has the church, in many ways, rejected God’s Word as the absolute authority for our faith as well as the way we live our lives. Today, we find ourselves part of a “Christian” group that no longer holds a high view of God’s truth. And perhaps the greatest sin of all is that there is no great outcry from God’s people that someone please lift up the standard of God’s truth once again! Just this morning [10\12\2010] I spoke with a lady in one of our bigger malls here in the city I live. She was working in the section where all the music dvd’s and cd’s etc are sold. I noticed she was playing gospel music over the sound system. In the process of her attending to me I asked her do the people not complain because she dares to play this music over the sound system. She proceeded to tell me her manager approached her recently and told her to stop playing this music over the sound system, or else! She answered him like this. “Sir, you can dismiss me but this is how I start my day. You have a problem with God and now you are taking it out on me!” He turned around and hasn’t spoken to her again since, but he did not fire her. The beauty of her taking this stand she told me, is because many people who come into this big shopping centre are feeling down-hearted and just by listening to this music lifts up their spirits and blesses them. This is what I am talking about my friend. Raise the standard of righteousness and right-standing with God and stand on your principles and God will do the rest. I left telling her to keep the stand for what she believes is right…Hallelujah! Folks, as mentioned above - God is calling the church to wake up and prepare themselves for the day of reckoning is coming. To those who have compromised on the standards of God Word, God is calling you to turn back on these compromises. To the many that have changed the truth of the gospel of the Cross for the prosperity gospel message and the “tickling of the ears” turn around from this. Most of the Church has settled for the diluted requirements of men, rather than the high standards of righteousness in Christ. It is time for pastors to find out what those requirements are so they can carry it over to their congregations, and get the house in order. God has been warning His people for years to wake up, and prepare, for judgment is coming. Without a doubt we are living in the last days. The full cup of the manifestation of evil is about to come upon this world. Judgment is coming first to God’s own people, and everything that can be shaken will be shaken within the church-world. There is only one place of refuge from the coming judgment on God’s people and that is to be found only in our relationship with God’s Son. Like never before dear saints of God, we need to know what we believe and why we believe it. We need to learn and know the reverential fear of a Holy God, fearing above all the things that might disappoint Him. We need to walk in complete obedience to Him, and all that He tells and teaches us as written in His Word. We need to seek Him more and more, with all out heart and soul and mind. That we may be hid in Christ and be able to stand when everything around us crashes down. The prophets and dear saints of old only saw glimpses of what we are experiencing today and wished they could be here. And be assured my friend as the fullness of evil will be manifested here on earth so shall the fullness of Christ’s glory through His Church be manifest before the rapture. As evil starts to grow so will the glorious light of God’s Church shine forth in the darkening world? And be assured the darkness cannot stand nor overwhelm the Light of His glory. Yes the human race will become more evil and unrighteous, but God’s people will become more holy righteous. Whereas we do not see in scripture that the whole world will be saved we are commissioned by Christ to be witnesses unto Him in this world according to Acts 1:8.As the scriptures say so clearly, “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still”, Revelation 22:11. Pastors you are called to set the standard of righteousness in your church, and to shepherd those sheep you have been told to tend. Many pastors are going to stand in the Day of Judgment and give answers to the Judge of all the ages why they misled their flock.
Let me be even bolder by making the following statement! “What the Church [speaking to pastors and church-leaders and believers as a whole] needs to do is come back to the Cross”. Paul says in 1Corinthians 2:2, “For I determined to know anything among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified”. The message of the Cross is the foundation of Christianity. It was this message of the gospel that challenged the believers of the Book of Acts. As it challenged those early church believers so it must challenge the believers today. Paul spoke of this same challenge to the Galatians, “But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught [it], but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. That same revelation is to be received by today’s believer, which Paul received from Jesus Christ. Believers should be seeking God for a revelation of the Cross, so that message can be revealed to the world. This same revelation that was present in the Early Church is the call for Christians to respond and surrender to Jesus Christ, to consider their lives as lost and no longer holding on the anything of the world. This conviction can only come through the preaching of the Cross. This message of the Cross will get men and women to start searching the Scriptures, and get them to understand that true Christianity is about losing our lives so that Jesus Christ can live through us. Pastors and their flocks everywhere will then come to accept that the Gospel of the Cross is the key element missing in the Church today. Instead, compromise, sin, false doctrine, and emotional manipulation have today replaced the Church’s power, holiness and it’s separation from the world. The preaching of the Cross and nothing else will restore the Church’s glory as it is meant to be. Pastors, ministers, elders and church leaders must adhere to the need of the Cross in the Church; otherwise they will fall in the category as Paul placed the earlier church-leaders who apposed the Cross and the preaching of this message, as enemies of the Cross. In Philippians 3:18 he clearly states, “For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the Cross of Christ”. Are you an enemy of the Cross? Sadly, many but not all, are ready to accept the message of the Cross. Consequently, within the Church there are many who believe it is their religious duty to oppose the preaching of the message of the Cross. One of the fundamental doctrines of the Word of God that is being rejected even more so today is this message of the Cross. Neighbor, it is because of the Cross and only the Cross and what Jesus accomplished on the Cross that will suffice for salvation. Nothing else that you or I believe in, but the Cross alone will allow us entrance into God’s Kingdom. It is only through the Cross and the death and resurrection of Christ that will save us, nothing else.
In closing this writing let’s hear what the Apostle Paul exhorted all believers too, “Awake to righteousness and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame”, 1Corinthians 15:34. Wake up Church; wake up pastors and elders and church-leaders for the time is about to run out.