The Church of Cheap Thrills :: By Dr. Donald Whitchard

In my last column, I expressed a growing frustration concerning the effectiveness of what I have no doubt many men called of God have experienced. For some reason, they are too afraid to be honest and question the whole mission of proclaiming the gospel to a world that would rather be content in its attitude of smugness and arrogance. The world believes that we who are called the children of God through the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross is a fool’s dream and is not grounded in the harsh but supposedly “real” world that they have designed to fit their warped views of life.

It’s become too easy to point a finger at the obvious wickedness of the human race and their rebellion against the standards of a holy God. Over the years, I can’t help but notice the downward spiral course of immoral behavior and blatant wickedness that people have decided to wallow in, deliberately oblivious to the indisputable fact that there is something wrong with this world; but pride and hatred of God’s standards will not allow them to see the fact of the ever-increasing rise of evil and hatred of the holiness and attributes of our great God and Savior.

If the wicked of this world could devise a scheme to get rid of God, they would. No one wants to be reminded of the flaws of their behavior, nor do they wish to be convicted of the glaringly obvious nature of their rebellion against what the LORD expects of them. This is why people hate the Word of God and who it represents.

The Scriptures are not the product of human origin (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:19-21). Why would we want to write a book exposing just how wicked we are? Why would we want to write a book stating that there is only one way to God (John 14:6) when we think that we can do what we would consider “good” deeds and thoughts to enter heaven?

We tend to forget that it is the word of God that gives us the standard by which to effectively guide our miserable lives and show us that we can’t even take our next breath without His sovereign will. We want to form in the recesses of our wretched minds the idea of a God who will “live and let live” and allow us to behave in any way we please as long as we give this “God” lip service. No one in their sinful state of life would even dare to conceive of a God who expects total obedience, devotion to His standards, and love for Him because of the sheer fact that He had mercy on us when we don’t deserve it in any way, shape, or form.

The apostle Paul put it in writing that these days in which we live would be characterized by such behavior (2 Timothy 3:1-9). The world is reaping a harvest of dung and garbage, thinking that such things are fit to eat and will strengthen their resolve to live in a cesspool of their own making, believing it to be a spa of cheap but effective luxury. It is essentially like bathing in putrid water that never cleanses, but brings forth a horrid, damnable stench that can never be eliminated by our own efforts and paltry strength.

It is obvious to those of you who are reading this that I am angry over what we as a society have become. When we champion the killing of a baby up to the time he or she is delivered and laugh and clap about it, we have become no better than the Nazi butchers who systematically killed 6,000,000 precious Jewish lives.

In fact, we have reached a state where we can boast and brag about the “right” of choice, resulting in the deaths of more than 60 million innocent lives since 1973. Pro-choice? That’s a hell-spawned lie. The baby didn’t choose to die. Do we honestly think that God will simply wink at this and choose to supposedly “bless” us, as the politicians tend to yammer at the end of forgettable speeches and mind- numbing whistle stops in towns that they forget about once they are elected?

Remember, in the eyes of these people, we were referred to as “deplorable” and tended to “cling to their religion and their guns.” These God-hating weasels don’t stop to think that words have consequences; and as a result, we have a deliberately wicked political party who can’t or won’t accept the outcome of an election that was supposed to go their way.

We have psychologists and social critics who champion the right of grown men to act out their sick fantasies and have sex with innocent children, referring to such behavior as a “right” and a belief that “all love is to be celebrated” where it knows “no age.” The “gay rights” movement has become an unmentionable cancer in our society that has eroded the concept of right and wrong behavior.

I have a question. Since when did homosexuality become right behavior, if we are to accept that this is how we should behave? To say that men and women are “born” that way is to essentially say that God is a liar and that He essentially created people to develop their own concept of what is good and acceptable behavior apart from what He has established in Scripture.

The same principle applies to those who do not wish to be the sex for which God designed them. The “transgender” movement is nothing more than grown adults and some children being allowed by a corrupt society to play “dress up” and further confuse children as to who they are according to the dictates of a holy God. In our arrogance and godless thought, we think we know better than our Creator. Truly, the blunt statements of Romans 1:18-32 have come to light in this day and age.

What was in the past seen as horrendous behavior is now celebrated and applauded by the world; and if you don’t march in lock-step with their ideology, you are an enemy, a bigot, a homophobe, or whatever they decide to label you as in order to quench the effects of what is expected by the sovereign Lord. If, as a Christian, I am to be slandered by these malcontents for challenging their warped sense of reality, it is good to know that I am not alone in my convictions (2 Timothy 3:12).

In spite of the blatant wickedness of this world, there have been God-called individuals who were unafraid of evil and were sent by Him to challenge and rebuke ungodly behavior. This bold work resulted in men, women, and children being convicted by the Holy Spirit and being led to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Now, the question I have for the modern church is, “Where is that holy boldness today? What happened to our effectiveness in changing the mindset of the unsaved through the truth of the gospel?”

The late singer and preacher Keith Green wrote a song entitled “Asleep in the Light,” decrying the apparent lack of compassion by those who would call themselves Christians, preferring to be content in the membership they have while the world around them is heading for a horrible eternity without Christ in a real place called hell, which is not preached from most pulpits today.

In the name of political correctness and acceptance by the world, who don’t really care about us in the first place, we have decided, in our naïve, ecumenical thoughts to invite the blatant sinner to fellowship with us without challenging them to renounce their sin and surrender to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. It seems to me that today’s churches are more concerned with not rocking the boat than standing up for holy, uncompromising living.

If anything, I blame the church for dropping the ball in these episodes of abhorrent behavior, opting instead for what I see are “cheap thrills” designed to entertain us, make us feel righteous, and get our minds off of the purpose for why we exist.

What do I mean by this? It’s simple, really. Churches have embraced emotional experience instead of following the directives of Scripture and the need to pray, to study the Word of God, to develop godly behavior, to live a life that brings glory to the LORD, and to be a good witness. We would rather have an emotional high, thinking that it is a move of the Holy Spirit that satisfies our self-esteem than being convicted of our own sins and repenting of our apathy towards those who are wallowing in their sins and heading to hell.

I also see an unhealthy emphasis on “signs and wonders” instead of lives being forever changed by coming to the understanding and awesome wonder of knowing the holiness and character of the great God who created us, and Who wants to have a meaningful and deep relationship that begins with our conversion and carries on into eternity.

Churches are being satisfied with what they refer to as “a move of the Spirit” that tends to result in questionable behavior such as speaking in incomprehensible gibberish – thought to be the gift of “tongues” – which is an erroneous interpretation of Acts 2:4 and is the inevitable foundation of a downward spiral into foolish and, quite frankly, ungodly behavior that the world looks at and mocks. There is a “spirit” moving in many churches, but is it of God?

The early church was not founded upon emotion and experience, but worked in the world to present the gospel to people who were sick and tired of the way they were living and desired to have true peace. They emphasized Jesus and not events that make us feel high and good, spiritually speaking. We have forgotten the importance of discernment and to test the spirits to see whether they are from God or the devil. We have forgotten the scholarship and inquiry of the Bereans who carefully examined the teachings of the apostle Paul and lined them up against the truths of Scripture.

Many who call themselves Christians are chasing after an unsustainable feeling in the name of being “spirit-filled” instead of getting into the Word and maturing in the faith, seeing the Lord Jesus as more than “fire insurance.” Pastors need to be uncompromising in their declaration that Jesus Christ is Lord and that He is coming back to rule, reign, and destroy all those who would deny and fight against Him. We who are called of God to preach the Word must, in this day and age, be courageous in the line of fire. Whether trouble comes from the world or those who call themselves believers but are no more saved than the garden-variety pagan, we cannot falter or give in.

We are not to deliver cheap, tawdry lectures on morality, but to unashamedly proclaim the glory of heaven and the reality of hell and the truth that Jesus Christ is LORD now and forever.

There’s something else that gives me concern. We need to quit making the church look like a coffee bar or theater where we can sip our lattes and be entertained by so-called “preachers” who dress in tight jeans and t-shirts, delivering interesting talks, but who are woefully negligent in the teaching of the Word and the care for souls as well as emphasizing the serious need to get right with God or else suffer the consequences.

Our LORD did not die a horrible death on the cross so you could relax, sit back, and have a cup of mocha while the world around us is dying of spiritual hunger and our brethren around the world suffer for the sake of the gospel.

I realize that I may sound out of date and not relevant in a world where religious self-centeredness is disguised as acceptable Christian behavior, but I have a genuine desire to see God move in churches where there is genuine sorrow for sins and a desire to live a life pleasing to God, and seeing to it that the gospel is given to those who need assurance that God is there and that He loves them in spite of themselves. I’m tired of churches that have become places where you get a pat on the back for your ability to respond to self-appeasing teachings that satisfy your ego, but neglect the necessity to be spiritually mature and be of service in these last days as time and opportunity slip away with every tick of the clock.

There is work to be done, and we can’t afford to merely occupy a pew, but to wake up and to strengthen the things that remain. Let God be honored and glorified now and forever.

The world and the malevolent being who rules it will be destroyed and be regulated to the ash heap of eternal death along with all who embrace evil. We have to remember in our weariness and constant battle that we serve a victorious Savior who will make all things new. Keep watching and stay faithful. Be someone who challenges the status quo of churches that have been asleep or have forgotten their purpose.

In the meantime, please pray for pastors and congregations to stand firm in the face of adversity. Strive for holiness and remember that, when we fall, He is always there to pick us up and help us to sharpen our sword, and carry on with confidence.

I needed to write this to essentially encourage myself and maybe those of you who need to be reminded that, in the end, Jesus wins. I pray that this has been of use to those of you who are committed to the work of the LORD but are getting weary. There is coming a day of rest and peace. He promised us such a time; and for that I say, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.” Amen.