Steve Gallagher, founder of Pure Life Ministries, speaks candidly and Biblically about the dangers found in the church today. Western Christianity has enjoyed prosperity and no real tribulation for decades.
This prosperity has produced many ailments. Instead of being a place of refuge for the believer, many places that claim the name of Christ have become nothing more than a den of iniquity and a house of entertainment. Steve comments that the church has given itself every pleasure and we no longer take a stand for what is right.
Leonard Ravenhill is the type of preacher that is needed today. Yet, many places no longer have times of prayer. Churches are kept afloat by sermonettes or entertainment, not because of the clear message of the Gospel. The Gospel is all about Jesus Christ, and not about what we bring to the equation.
May God daily, even hourly, bring His holiness to our attention so that we will humble ourselves before Him. If we are ever to see revival, which we desperately need in this day and hour, we must get back to the basics.
Let us consider another inconsistency, but let me first warn the reader that it may cause some real heart searching, especially if you have children.
The scene is the same just about every week. Families struggle to get up on Sunday morning. Many have not bothered to prepare their hearts throughout the previous week, and especially the Saturday night before. This quickly becomes obvious as the rest of the morning progresses.
Breakfast is rushed and the parents are shouting at the kids to “Hurry or we will be late to church.” With a final flurry of activity, everybody runs out and jumps in the appropriate vehicle. On the way, the driver is pushing past the speed limit and hoping that a policeman is not sitting over the next hill with a radar gun. In the back, the children begin to bicker and then fight. The parents both threaten to stop the car to take care of the problem that does little to straighten out the children. The little ones are mostly immune to the threats because they have already figured out long ago that the parents don’t really mean what they say.
Every now and then, a word of wisdom may grace the conversation. One of the parents will remind their offspring that “we all need to settle down as we are going to worship the Lord.”
Arriving at their chosen place of worship a few minutes late, the parents send their children off to a little classroom. In the room, they only manage to get through 45 minutes due to the seemingly endless supply of snacks and juice. During the class, they may receive a pithy little lesson which may come complete with puppets and pages to color.
2 Thessalonians 2:3, Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion (apostasy) comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction (ESV).
1 Timothy 4:1-2, “Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared (ESV).”
The apostle Paul provided us an insight into what the future would hold for the church. His warnings were not written because he had nothing better to do than to try and scare the believers of the 1st century. The church was in its infancy, yet the problems were already present. Just about every book revealed another aspect of what they faced, and the issues were real.
For example, in Romans, he reveals a great deal of doctrine, but he also pointed out the reality that sin in the life of the believer was real. It would not be eradicated in this life but we could be thankful that we, as believers, would not be found to be under any condemnation. Nothing would separate us from the love of God, who had adopted us into His everlasting family.
Could anything have prepared the early church for the events that transpired in Corinth? Despite the debauchery that was a part of the Roman Empire being found in the presence of brothers and sisters in Christ, Paul had to remind these precious believers that although many had participated in various sins, they were now clean. They had been washed in the blood of the Lamb and justified. Their accounts had been settled and they were no longer enslaved to the slimepits of the world in which they once loved to wallow.
The problems that were addressed were game-changers. As each scroll must have been unrolled, read, and shared, each local body of believers had to have rejoiced that their names were truly written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Paul picked up his quill though and continued to warn each group.
To the believers in Thessalonica, he lovingly encourages them by pointing out that the Lord had not yet returned. In fact, one of his greatest joys was the testimony that this local assembly had before the inhabitants of the city, and yes, even beyond the region in which they lived. This was a group that did not allow their testimony to wane. Were they perfect? Were they super pious? Did they live on some spiritual plateau where they had become free from the ensnarements of sin? No, no, and no! The Thessalonians were real people facing real threats from an empire that hated the God of the Bible first.
However, Paul then gets another parchment and writes to a young pastor named Timothy. This letter is different. He gives pastoral counsel and godly wisdom for how this young man can shepherd the flock of God carefully, biblically, prayerfully, and lovingly.
In the middle of this epistle though, Paul uses a phrase to show the importance of what he is about to share. “The Spirit expressly says…” We understand the inspiration of the entire Word of God, yet, under that inspiration, his words point out a solemn truth that was meant to be a word of warning to Timothy.
When I began teaching in a ministry capacity over 25 years ago, you would not have been able to convince me that the blood-bought church would be where it is at today. Were there cults to deal with? Yes, of course. Were books being written based on, at best, shady theology? Again, we affirm that there were such books.
However, had you told me that so many churches and even entire denominations would depart from the faith in such record numbers, I would have struggled to believe such a thing to be possible.
To have been told that the proliferation of local assemblies would involve being willing for many ministers to become a Judas and sell-out their testimony and the Word of God for the purposes of entertainment or for profit, I would have told you that you were crazy.
Believers have gone from a hunger for the Word of God to having itching ears. They want to hear nice platitudes that make them feel good about themselves. Churches no longer want to hear about sin, righteousness, and the coming judgment. Padded pews keep people comfortable while they learn how to have a higher level of self-esteem. We are now so full of ourselves in many churches today that there seems to be a self-imposed moratorium on the Holy Spirit’s working in our midst.
Today, an overwhelming number of pastors and churches are more interested in hearing “Judge not!” from each other than they are interested in hearing God say, “You have been weighed in the balances and found wanting. Judgment is coming!”
Above all else, we have smoothed sin over to the point where churches are looking for ways to embrace it, instead of calling sinners to repentance. Step on board a blogsite, Facebook post, Twitter feed, or whatever medium you choose and dare to speak out and proclaim the truth of God’s Word. It won’t take more than 4 or 5 minutes before people who have never spoken to you before arise from the dark mists of the internet to shout you down. “How dare you judge?” “Who do you think you are? God?” “We are called to just LURVE everybody without question!” Et cetera, et cetera, ad infinitum, ad nauseum.
And the words of the Spirit to the church at Ephesus rings out saying, “You have left your first love. You no longer hold Christ preeminent over all others and to the exclusion of all others.”
Sadly, the clarion call to repentance has mostly fallen on deaf ears and now we have truly become closer to the model of the Laodicean church, “You are neither cold, nor hot, but you are lukewarm. I will vomit you out of my mouth.” There is not one good word that is ever said about the church at Laodicea. They had passed the point where there was no turning back. The writing was on the wall.
Today, I look at the 21st century church and realize that the 1st century church would not recognize us today. They would probably wail with despair realizing that we are not prepared for persecution. From the pulpit to the pew has capitulated to the world so much that some may well be willing to sit in the arena looking down on those being sacrificed to the lions.
It is heart-breaking to realize that if and when persecution comes the words of warning will fall on mostly deaf ears. Brother will turn against brother, children against parents, parents against children, and so-called believers against true believers as they ignore the reality of the dangers that were there all along.
Dear believers, if you are not willing to stand for something, then you will fall for anything. We must seek forgiveness from our Lord and with humility dust off our armor. We need to prepare for the fight of our lives and become like Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress when he was willing to face the dangers of Vanity Fair.
The world mocks our “standards” when they look just like the standards to which the world adheres. Why should they want what we claim to have that makes us special if we look the same on Sunday as we did while partying with the world on the Saturday before? If our music, words, actions, and attitudes look no different week after week, month after month, and year after years, then we cannot claim to worship and adore the only One Who has the power to make us a NEW creation in Christ.
God does not save us to leave us wallowing in our sins. That simply means that the world can change to accept all the wickedness it wants. Even, the so-called church can accept all the evils of the world and call evil to be good or good to be evil. However, the day will never come when it is acceptable to God.
To conclude, the 21st century church of the future is failing as the church for the present, and they are a far cry from the church of the past. Are there any who will mourn when our children reject biblical Christianity because of the hypocrisy they see from parents? Will any be willing to weep as did Nehemiah over the sin that surrounded him? Will those who are true believers recognize that while Paul recognized the sin within his own life that grace abounds so that we no longer have to live as slaves to sin anymore than he did?
My prayer remains that God will begin a work of revival within my own life and heart so that I will be conformed to the image of His Son Jesus Christ. Then, I want to see the Holy Spirit move in a way that helps other true believers realize that there are still 7,000 who have not bowed the knee to Baal. The end result is that when those who come after us look back, I want them to say with full confidence that the church of the past left a testimony for the true Church of the Future!
I just listened to this sermon segment from David Wilkerson on anguish. I wholeheartedly agree and have to ask, where is the anguish in the church today? We weep and wail over an election, but where is the weeping and wailing over the sins of the people in our nation, our communities or even in our local churches? We should be driven by anguish to deep prayer and an unquenchable desire to share the gospel, yet the Church is more consumed with making friends with the world. Please watch this video and ask yourself, where is the anguish today?
There will be many who would question my thoughts on this post, but before you comment or leave mad, I would implore you to consider the words of Scripture to see whether we have been truly led astray or whether what we set in front of our eyes and our children is really nothing more than harmless, mindless entertainment.
Let’s consider a few “harmless” movies and see if this is truly honoring and glorifying God in what they portray. These little insights can be found from Plugged In Online, which I highly recommend the reader to use when considering what will be shown to the family while enjoying a bowl of popcorn or ice cream. We will consider some of the worst aspects as there are plenty of people who will seek to point out the good that can be learned from watching the slurry that exudes from every pour of Hollywood.
Avatar – This movie has been covered in a recent post, but a few aspects to consider – “Both men and women wear little more than loincloths, and the race’s catlike tails don’t fully obscure their backsides. Neytiri and other Na’vi females wear ornamental coverings that don’t really conceal their breasts…a female pilot wears a tight, cleavage-revealing tank top. [Characters] are seen unclothed while strategically wrapped in vines. [The two main characters] consummate their relationship in a sensuous scene that shows them kissing and intertwined. They sleep together afterward and are said to be ‘mated for life.'”
Valentine’s Day – Great chick flick, right? Words better describing this entertaining movie for couples would be fornication, adultery, homosexuality, etc.
Dear John – another tear-jerker of a movie? – Again, fornication plays a part of this movie as does taking both the name of God and the Lord Jesus Christ in vain.
How about for the kids?
Where the Wild Things Are – only rated PG but manages to use the “d” and the “h” word along with taking the Lord’s name in vain a few times. What in the world are we teaching our children when this becomes acceptable? By the way, what is the operative number of times needed before the movie gets turned off????
Sherlock Holmes – Surely, just a remake of the old Basil Rathbones, right? Well, only if you throw in far too many sexual innuendos, drunken and debauched behaviour, and the Lord’s name taken in vain.
The Twilight Saga – Perfect for those nights your teenage girl wants her friends over for a great “Christian” sleepover. After their ears are filled with enough swear words to last a month along with the Lord’s name in vain, their eyes will have enjoyed the allure of vampires and humans longing to be with each other no matter what the cost.
2012 – For those who take an avid interest in wanting to know how the world will end according to Hollywood in 2 years, you will have 2 whole years to ingest the following details taken directly from Plugged In Online – “One f-word. Four s-words. Nearly 20 misuses of God’s name (paired with “d‑‑n” at least five times). Jesus’ name is abused twice. “A‑‑,” “h‑‑‑” and “b‑‑tard” are also blurted out. An obscene gesture is made.”
Dear reader, that is enough for now as we have not the time nor the inclination to review all movies both current and past for those who come to DefCon. However, the question you need to ask yourself is not, “Does this movie allow a good expression of the modern culture?” It is not, “Will I have a great time with my family or my wife as we waste the next two hours?” It is also not, “Does this movie portray POSITIVE elements that outweigh the ‘handful’ of bad things that might be in the movie?”
We are to be seeking to live a holy life in EVERY area of our lives before God and succumbing to the wiles of the evil one (via Hollywood and the silver screen) is a great way for your home to end up as a failure. It is about far more than just being entertained and having a great date with the wife or a “family” night at home (or at the movies) with the kids.
The questions should be, “Does EVERY aspect of this movie glorify God and bring honour to His HOLY name? Does this movie fill my mind with images that create lustful desires or does it point me to live more like Jesus Christ? Does this movie fill my ears with words that make my soul cringe or does it use wholesome speech that edifies my soul (you can also use this for preachers like Mark Driscoll as well)? Does this movie demean sex and the holy covenant of marriage or does it exalt the God-given responsibilities which help my spouse and I to be thankful for what we have learned and that we can implement in our own marriage?
In the words of several of the Psalms — Selah. Meditate on these things!