Saturday, October 5, 2019

What in the World is going on in Modern Christianity?

What in the world is going on here?  What sort of mass madness has taken hold of us over the last 20 years?  It seems like so much has changed.  So much has gone down hill so fast.  So many firm foundations have rotted away.  And so many are coming out to speak about it, including recently Joshua Harris and the song writer from Hillsong.

But this is only the latest evidences of a descending roll from prior unity.  We once generally held to an understanding, throughout Christianity that we're on the same team, we have shared beliefs, and we're going to work, if not together, at least separately toward similar goals.  But we've seen that change a great deal.  We often speak of western Christianity as a conjunction of evangelicalism, mainline protestantism, and Catholicism.  But in the past ten years we've seen the group we affectionately consider to be mainline protestantism, that center-left coalition suddenly wax wildly apostate.  And of course the central issue they've placed at the center of their apostasy, their departure from biblical truth, is the issue of LGBTQ.  That's the direction they went around 2010-2013, and have continued along those lines, for the most part.  There are always exceptions, but there it is.  And we've seen that develop over the last ten years, since the original departure, into a new central ideological framework: social justice ideology, which conjoins critical theory with militant political activism, merging the two under the exceedingly tipsy banner of Christian justice work.  Of course Christian justice work is a wise and good thing, but the ideologies taken, are simply secular social theories, that form the nexus of a political ideology, and a political agenda often referred to as progressivism.  Essentially this path, from my viewpoint, simply turns these churches into outposts for the propagation of progressive ideology dressed up in Christian language.  The social justice mandate becomes the central focus, and Jesus and the gospel are tagged on to the side to give credibility to the social justice warrior gospel of hatred, division, racism masked in fighting against racism, and the tearing down of the larger society due to perceived systemic injustices.  And not only has this new gospel taken hold of mainline protestantism but there are forces within evangelicalism that are being seduced by this battle-cry as well.

Of course this is only one of many problems we face today.  The next concern is of course the well noted and explored reality that evangelicals, mainline protestants and Catholics, though claiming a Christian worldview, do not actually hold particularly Christian worldviews, and do not regularly attend church services either.  The decline of a biblical understanding of the world around us as Christians has led to luke-warm Christianity.  We've seen a decline in church attendance.  And we've seen a message being watered down whether in the pulpit or in the music played in the churches.  Will historians exploring the rubble of what had once been western civilization compare hymns and sermon preached and written a hundred years ago with hymns and sermons prepared today and indicate with shock and surprise that the more recent works are entirely inferior to those produced in the past?  It seems quite possible.  With the advent of internet culture, and the interesting affect of cultural characters rising to the top, we see Christians who gather great popularity, but then later fall in disgrace, or renounce their Christianity, or some aspect of their lifestyle is revealed to not accurately display the logical outworkings of biblical Christianity.  This is not particularly surprising, but it is of note given the influence of these leaders.  We've seen one after another dropping to scandals, including James Macdonald and Bill Hybels.  Perhaps God is revealing these things to us, so that we are not led astray.

It is certain that we are living in the last days. But then again so were Paul and Peter, the end days are simply the recognition that Jesus Christ will return very soon.  And I believe it's more likely than ever that Jesus Christ will return, to rule and reign on this Earth.  We have to live that way.  We have to really live that way.  

So often in my past I've taken God's instructions, his commands in the scriptures as suggestions, or nice ideas, but didn't really take it particularly seriously.  The time for that is over.  It is time to take God's word seriously, and live it carefully.  We've seen such an antinomianism take over in the churches of our day and age, where it's just "believe in Jesus." And that's all.  One and done. Once saved always saved.  And it's a lie, and a snare, and it's deadly dangerous to those who love Jesus to think in those terms.  We must repent, and believe.  We must give our whole lives and whole hearts to Jesus.  We must live by God's commands, believing in Jesus yes, but also living in holiness, and repenting daily, and paying our tithes diligently, and witnessing about Jesus to our friends and neighbors.  This isn't a game.  And we have to take it seriously.  I take it deathly seriously, because I know what it's like to walk in darkness.  And I've seen a great light.

The theology of our day and age is pathetic, not all of it, but some of it, the foolish concept, in which they try to paint you into a corner, by saying that if you consider anything but believing in Jesus as the message of the Bible then you're trying to "add to your salvation."  It's nonsense, and this sort of false dilemma where repentance it pitted against belief in Jesus is found nowhere in the scriptures.  But to say we must repent, and witness to our faith, and pay our tithes, and live in holiness, are biblical New Testament instructions, they are not "adding works to our salvation."  We are saved by the blood of Jesus. And we wear his righteousness as our perfect white robe.  But we also have duties as Christians that we must fulfill, commands from the scriptures, from the New Testament, and they must be lived out.  And if we don't, we are in danger of the fires of hell.  This is clear in the scriptures. Don't let anyone try to paint you into a corner with the false dilemma of faith vs. repentance.  They are one in the same, united in the equation of salvation, always held together by the scriptures as how we must respond to Jesus.  

So, what is going on after all in modern Christianity? Why so much chaos? I would answer: So what? So what if there is so much trouble in the Christian world of the west?  The same was true 2,000 years ago in the early church. There were constant problems.  So be it.  Let those who are wicked, continue to be wicked, and let those who are faithful, continue to be faithful. We ultimately can't control how others live. But we can control how we live.  We can and should influence people. And we do everyday, when we share our faith (which is much more than just living it out).  It's a good start to live it out, and vital, but we must open our mouths and speak the truth of Jesus.  Often times we try to comfort ourselves in our silence by saying "the way we live speaks for itself."  It does show someone that something is different about you, but you must also share the gospel, the word of Jesus. It is by hearing that people believe and are saved, not by your example alone.  I'm so, so, so tired of the foolish saying falsely attributed to St. Francis Assissi, "Preach the gospel at all times and if necessary use words."  That is such a foolish saying.  There is no gospel without words.  Jesus was and is the word of life.  As Peter said to Jesus,"To whom would we go? You speak the words of eternal life."  Now imagine if Jesus only did miracles and healed people.  Certainly it would've been impressive, but they wouldn't have had the word of Christ,the words of Jesus that bring life.  They wouldn't know the gospel.  They would just wonder why Jesus did such nice things.  Speak the gospel, live it too, but don't just live it, speak it also. 

Could this time we live in be the great falling away spoken of in the end times? Could it be the time that is spoken of in 2nd Timothy 3:2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy...?" Could it be the time that it says "they went out from us, because they were not of us?" 1st John 2:19. Maybe so. Perhaps these symptoms are universal to the time of the church age, in which we live. But something feels different. Then again I'm sure they felt that way in Nazi Germany during the rise of Hitler. I'm sure they felt that way during the time of Mao Zedung in China's history. I'm sure Richard Wurmbrand thought something similar when communists infiltrated and took over the government of his home country of Romania. Only God knows when the end will come.  But I truly believe it is much sooner than we think.  Jesus Christ will return, I know this for a fact, and I'm working hard to make sure I am ready, and so should you. We must be awaiting his return, with eyes open, carefully considering how we should live, for the days are evil.

Truly the days are evil. We think we're so enlightened in our day and age.  But what will future generations say, when they consider the hundreds of millions of unborn babies murdered quietly in the abortion mills, while we apathetically carry on with our days sipping java and giggling about the latest trends?  Will they ask in classrooms, "But teacher, how could they have been so careless with so many being killed?"  I imagine that they will ask those questions, much like we wonder how so many could follow Hitler into genocide and world war.  And the answer is in part, the common people didn't really know what was going on.  And I don't suppose we do either.  

I've noticed many Christians I know, are more influenced by Netflix than the Bible.  They're more influenced by CNN and MSNBC than Jesus Christ.  They're more prone to consider the latest reality show, or football game than the majesty of God or his coming kingdom.  They're more prone to evangelize for an essential oils pyramid scheme, evangelize for the gospel of Jesus Christ.  More motivated for romance and money, than to live by God's word and live in holiness.  How sad it is to see so many living this way.  We're not as much Christians anymore are we? We're employees, students, movie goers, consumers, and tech-junkies with occasional secondary thoughts and ideas along vaguely Christian lines. Don't be that. Be a real Christian. Be 100% sold out for Jesus, with laser-focus on Jesus, seeing the world in truly Christian terms. 

But I write all these words for one simple purpose, to tell you this: Don't be led astray by them. Don't fall into the trap of thinking you can live with one foot in the world and one foot in Christianity.  Don't ignore the conviction of the Holy Spirit telling you to live differently from the world, and even the other people in your church.  Live a truly holy set apart lifestyle, even if people in your church make fun of you. Find others in your town, online, wherever, who hold to the full gospel, to true holiness, to excitement and energy in sharing the gospel and living out what they preach. Give tithes and offerings regularly even if no one else does, off the gross of your income, not the net.  Study the word diligently, not just the feel good verses that modern preachers focus on, and they only ever preach the feel good verses, and never the hard ones, woe to them, they've rejected the word of God, and created an idol that is pleasing to their ears and their hearers ears. Don't let that be you.  

Be different. Be holy. Wait carefully for the return of Jesus. Study the word of God.  Don't give up. Even if every person in your church is a luke-warm apostate with pride flag t-shirts on.  Keep following God fully, even if you have to do it alone. Because ultimately when you stand before God to give an account for your life, it will be between you and God, no one else.  God be with you.  And don't give up. If you're reading these words, you're the only hope of the church in these last days.  I know you have little strength, but you have kept the word of Christ and have not rejected His name.  God has prepared a place for us, and He will make those who mock us, ridicule us, and shame us to fall down at our feet and declare that God has loved us.  Soon the Lord Jesus Christ will come and set up His kingdom, until then, come Lord Jesus. Amen.