I noticed this morning in one of the local papers the following activities scheduled this week-end for some of the local churches:
One local church is offering an Internet safety program presentation. The Internet can be very helpful with education, purchasing, news and other ways, but it is also like walking through a mine field. One needs to be careful. Therefore, this is probably a good thing to do, even within the church scenario. There are many ways our children can be harmed via the Internet, and parents need to know what to do to protect their children and themselves.
Another local church will sponsor “Photography as a Prayer Workshop”, where they will “define prayer, basic photographic principles, and think together about the spiritual practices of photography”. Now I’m getting somewhat apprehensive. Understood, I don’t know where they are going with this, but I’m having to stretch my mind to comprehend any relationship between prayer and basic photographic principles. I also cannot seem to connect with the “spiritual practices of photography”, although I’m trying to keep an open mind.
Two churches are having a bean supper. All I will say here is that church folk sure do like to eat.
Two others are having a gospel singing. I have always noticed that many, many more people will turn out for a singing event (and/or to eat, see previous paragraph), than a Bible study.
One is offering free English classes to the international residents in the area. Now they are definitely losing me. What does this have to do with the function of the church?
Another is having “food, fun and games”. And again we eat, and have fun and play games. This is beginning to sound like the Corinthian church.
Another is having a fish fry and auction. Alas, we eat again, but this time an auction is included.
I thought this was interesting. This church is celebrating its 175th anniversary. They mention every pastor who has ever served since their beginning. They talk about their new steeple being added. They refer to their structural damage from a storm and the repair work. They inform us that they replaced the carpet with hardwood flooring and are now going to replace the hardwood flooring with carpet. They tell us about their new siding, new concrete surfaces to the entrance, parking lot, lighting, landscaping and retirement of debt. My Bible tells me that the Lord Jesus Christ is the head of the church, but there was no mention of Him. There was no mention of the souls He has saved. There was no mention of how others can come to know Him as their Savior. It was all about the building.
This next one is the crème de la crème of idiocy. They are celebrating the 50thanniversary of The Andy Griffith show on Sunday from 3 to 6 p.m. They will have memorabilia on display, trivia games on Mayberry knowledge and favorite episodes to watch. But that’s not all. They have also begun sign-up for the community basketball league for boys and girls ages five and six. The cost being $20 with scholarships available. This tops it all. Obviously, this group is big on entertainment. The Andy Griffith show?! What on earth does The Andy Griffith show have to do with what Jesus expects of His Church?! And instead of teaching children how to play basketball, as most all of the churches are now doing, what are they being taught about Jesus?
One other church was advertising that they are having a preaching service, and invited everyone to attend. One!
God help us folks! Is this what Jesus wants from His church? I have noticed church ads like these for a long time, but this time it really got to me. If this isn’t the epitome of classic Laodicean type churches, I don’t know what is.
I am not saying that the activities mentioned in these ads are intrinsically wrong. I am saying they are wrong for the Church. Again, none of the activities mentioned are bad. They are good, but any Christian who has studied the Word of God (the Bible) knows that this is not the direction that Jesus wants us to go. These things, other than the one lone church that invited everyone to come to the preaching service, can be done by the world outside the Church. Greater things are expected of Christ’s Church. It may be our opinion that these things are what the Church should do, but our opinion does not count. The only “opinion” that counts is God’s. So what does God expect from us? Let’s talk about that.
The Lord says to train up a child in the way he should go and he will not depart from it. Christian parents are to train up their children in the Word of God. The Church group should do the same, realizing that many of the childrens’ parents are not saved. Let the schools teach them how to dribble. Let us teach them how to face life with the Sword of God. Why am I such a stickler on teaching the Bible? The following passages will explain; “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12); Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” (Psalm 119:11; Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:105)
The Church is to come together to praise our Savior, to be taught from His Word, to assist each other in growing in Christ. We are to be fueled, so to speak from His Word, and then share the Good News about Jesus to a lost world, not just in the building where we meet, but in the world where we live. Jesus did not wait for people to come to Him, although many did because they wanted something, but He went out looking for the lost sheep. He trained His disciples and sent them out into the world as lambs among wolves (Luke 10:3) to tell others about Him. That is what He wants from His Church. Learn of Him. Share Him with others. I don’t think He had a meal after meal, basketball, The Andy Griffith show, buildings, a list of preachers, photography, the Internet, and all the other “stuff” in mind. I can hear it now, “but we fellowship in the Lord”. Answer me, and be honest. Is anything at all said at these events concerning Jesus? For example, I too have been to church suppers, and have yet to hear one word said about Jesus and/or anything in relationship to Him during the dinner conversations. Much of it is gossip.
Jesus told the first of the seven churches in the book of Revelation, Ephesus, that it had left its first love, referring of course to Himself. He further stated to the Ephesians, “Remember, therefore, from where thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works, or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick (lamp stand) out of its place, except thou repent.” (Revelation 2:5) Have we the Church left our first love? I think we have. We are not in love with our Savior anymore, and we show it by our actions, specifically our disobedience to His Word. We prefer to entertain and gorge ourselves. We try hard to appease the world by mimicking its ways, instead of “putting on Jesus”. We need desperately to return to our first love.
He told the last of the seven churches in the same book of the Bible that it was so full of itself and lukewarm that He would spew (vomit) it out of His mouth. Jesus told the Laodicean church it was neither cold nor hot. He reminds this church that it thinks it is rich, increased with goods, has need of nothing and does not know how wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked it is. (beginning at Revelation 3:14) A Christian would have to be living on another planet to not see that we are definitely living in the Laodicean church age. Many church groups have some or maybe all of the attributes of the seven churches, but definitely the predominate attribute of the church age today is wholly Laodicean.
It is not to say that all church groups today have left their first love or are lukewarm concerning the Lord, but those who still love Him and obey Him and reject the things of the world seem to be few and far between. Basically, they are very hard to find. Most, yes I said most, church groups today exude as about as much “true” Christianity as a pagan social club. It is clearly seen from just one local newspaper on one day showing church ads for one week-end that most of the church in general today is so humanistic and so far from true Christianity, it is no wonder that Jesus would choose to vomit it out of His mouth.
Let me add another thought. Jesus Christ is the Good Shepherd. If any local church actually follows the Good Shepherd in its call and direction, then the Lord Jesus Christ will be glorified.
The pastors who have been truly called by Jesus to shepherd His flock and who are obedient to His Word in doing so, will have churches in tune with our Lord’s commands. Remember, we are the body. He is the head.
Sadly though, some men have been called to shepherd and are not obeying our Master in their duties. They are like jellyfish with no back bone. They forget that those in such a position will be judged more harshly by our Lord for not fulfilling their duties per His commands. They will be judged for allowing the world to creep in among the flock and attack it. They will be judged for not standing up for what is right in the eyes of God. When I say they will be judged, I am referring of course to their works, not their salvation. (I am assuming in this example that they are saved by the grace of God and called to shepherd His flock.)
We’ve seen two types of shepherds, or pastors. There is another class consisting of those who are Christians, but have not been called to pastor. I personally believe that there are many who fit this description. Whatever the reason may be that they are pasturing a local church, it is not because they were called by God to do so. Some do so for the money, some for fame, some because they like to grandstand, some because they just like to hear themselves talk. There could be many reasons, but it is not the right reason. They are where they should not be.
Fourthly there is one final group I believe are erroneously in the pastoral field, those who do not know the Good Shepherd as their Savior, but yet have managed to wiggle themselves into the position of shepherding His flock. They are charlatans. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing. They know the right words to say to deceive the ignorant, and unfortunately much of the church is ignorant.
I must insert at this point that this is another tremendous reason for every Christian to be Biblically knowledgeable. Again, most Christians are not. The Lord tells us in His Word to, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15) In this country at least, anyone can get a Bible, even free, in different translations no less, for better understanding. There are many self-help books, such as Bible dictionaries, that can assist the Christian in their growth in the Lord. But most Christians, at least those who profess to be Christians, are too sorry and lazy to study God’s Word. They can tell you all about the drug-induced sports figures and bed-hopping Hollywood crowd, but don’t know diddly squat about God’s Word. I often wonder how many will be taken from the local churches when Jesus comes for His own at the Rapture. I shudder to think that probably most of the pulpits will still be occupied and the number in the pews see little change.
When I saw those church ads in the local paper that I mentioned at the beginning of this article, these are the thoughts that came to my mind. I have only hit the high spots. Many, if not most, of the churches have strayed from the path our Lord wants us on. Even though every Christian is commanded by Jesus to know Him, and we cannot know Him apart from listening to Him, and we cannot listen apart from His Word, Christians in general are not feeding upon the saving and life-directing Word of a Holy God. Also, they are not being properly fed from the Word by many of those in the pastoral field. Therefore much of the fault comes from the pulpit. The blind are leading the blind. The blind flock does not even know they are being fed to the wolves by the blind under-shepherds.
Is it then any wonder that so many choose to gorge themselves on earthly food, and starve spiritually from not eating the heavenly food? Is it any wonder so many choose to play games, instead of working while there is day (John 9:4) for the Lord? Is it any wonder that some put more importance in a building than the One it represents? Is it any wonder that some will honor a secular television show from Hollywood over the One Who saved our hell-bound souls?
Jesus also said to the Laodicean church, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Folks, I repeat, we are now living in the final stage of Church history, the Laodicean church age. The next event on God’s calendar is the removal of His Church from this earth to Heaven. It is called the Rapture. It does not matter whether or not you believe it. It will happen. He said so. Are you ready to meet Him, or are you going to be playing games, eating beans and fish, worshiping your church building and watching old Andy Griffith reruns while the true Church ascends with Jesus to the home He has prepared for those who are His? Today is the day of salvation. (2 Corinthians 6:2) There may not be a tomorrow.
The world teaches compromise. It is not politically correct to be dogmatic, at least if it concerns what God says. Romans 3:4 says, “God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar…”. It is past time for Christians to stand up and speak out. Right is right, and wrong is wrong, but the only measuring device is the Word of God, the Bible. Learn it. Know it. Live it. It is the very Word of the One who now saves (Acts 16:31) and will soon judge (Revelation).
If Jesus stood alone against the forces of evil, and He will, He would still be a majority. In the end, He will annihilate His enemies with just the Word of His mouth while His Church (the Bride) looks on. Let us pray for each other, praying that through the power of God’s Spirit within us, we will not follow the ways of the world, but will stay true to the one who bought us with a price that no man can pay. We should have the attitude that “this world has nothing I want”, so I will stand up for Him until He takes me home.
The church ads I mentioned are only a very, very small example of how the world (Satan’s crowd) has taken over many, many of the church groups. However, Christ’s true Church is alive and well. In Matthew 16:18 Jesus said, “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter (petros, a small stone), and upon this rock (petra, a large rock) I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Jesus is the rock of our salvation, to those who come to Him. He is the cornerstone (Mark 12:10) of His Church, but a stumbling stone (1 Peter 2:8) to those who reject Him.
If we truly are His, we will hunger and thirst for his righteousness (Matthew 5:6). The yearning in our hearts to hear what He has to say will constantly draw us to His spoken Word, the Bible. Satan is the master of deception. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) Beware of the worldly claptrap that is so prevalent in many local churches. Some of these churches are so full of this nonsensical garbage, it has filled the buildings within to the rafters, and is flowing out the front doors. Don’t be part of it. I would rather my wife and I sit on the back porch and worship Jesus alone (Matthew 18:20), than to have this unholy stench upon me. It would be worse than being sprayed by a skunk. Am I insinuating that I am better than everyone else? God forbid! No! I am always aware of the wretchedness of my being, but thank God I am cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God! I know I deserve the hottest seat in hell, but I thank God that He has given me what I do not deserve. It is called “grace”.
So, if you were placing a church ad in your local newspaper, what would it say?