"As the Church Goes ..."
There is an old adage that says, "As the church goes, so goes the nation." "As the church goes, so goes America." As the church goes, so goes the world.
The mission of the church is to spread the gospel of Jesus. The church is to be the beacon on a hill, a light to the world attracting all people to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; attracting them to His ways; to His forgiveness; to His never ending love for all mankind.
And in past generations, the church has had much success in carrying out it's mission.
But, somewhere along the way, the church lost its bearing. It ever so slowly, so insidiously, changed direction and veered from 'the old path,' onto a path that we, as believers and lovers of God, hardly recognize.
This is not to say every contemporary church and its religious leaders have gone astray. There are churches today that still cling to the 'old path.'
Jer 6:16 says: "Thus says the Lord: Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls."
So, what is the 'old path'? It's the path on which God wants all people to walk.
It's living the way God intended us to live - the way Jesus taught us to live: In love, in righteousness, in obedience to God, desiring justice for all, forgiving those who have trespassed against us, and having a heart's desire to obey God in all that He commands.
In short, walking the 'Old path' is living a life of godliness while rejecting all forms of sinfulness.
So, why has the contemporary church strayed from the old path of Godly living, exchanging it for the path of worldly living? Just like the Israelites who always seemed to stray from God, history appears to be repeating itself.
Ecc 1:9 says, "That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun."
There appears to be several reasons why 'worldly ways' have been allowed to infiltrate the church ... the church ... which was once considered holy ground.
I've listed 7 reasons and conditions of the heart. Some may 'blend' into each other and are self-evident.
(1) Self-will over God's will.
"I want what I want, and I want it now." "It's Sunday and I want to go golfing." "I don't want to go to church. I worked hard all week and Sunday is my day of rest."
(A classic example of self-will over God's will. God's will is for His people to attend church in order to learn of Him and His ways).
(2) Rebellion. (Being stubborn and stiff-necked falls into this category).
"God's ways are too restrictive. It's more pleasurable to engage in sinful activity." Rebellion always got the Israelites into trouble with God, as it does us.
In Isa 65:2-3, God expresses His frustration with the Israelites: "I have stretched out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, according to their own thoughts; a people who provoke Me to anger continually to My face; ..."
Heb 11:25 talks about the 'passing pleasures of sin,' the end of which is a man's destruction. And Prov 14:12 tells us: "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death."
Some believers and religious leaders deliberately twist the words of scripture to fit their theology. So, the meaning of scripture changes from its original intent.
(Ex) "Allowing a homosexual to stand behind the pulpit as pastor in our church is acceptable." " The bible says, 'God loves everyone, and He shows no partiality." "So, no one should be excluded from preaching because of sexual orientation."
What an unbelievably corrupted interpretation of scripture!
God's word says in 1Cor 6:9 says, "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolators, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God."
So, then, how can a church be so brazen as to grant a homosexual or any of those mentioned in this verse the spiritual authority over it as pastor?
And quoting, 'God shows no partiality' in regard to allowing a homosexual to preach in church," is misinterpreting and misrepresenting the meaning of that portion of scripture. In Acts 10:34, Peter tells the people of Joppa, "In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality."
But the entirety of Peter's statement is being omitted: He said: "In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality, but in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him."
Peter was speaking to Cornelius telling him that God will not reject anyone who seeks Him, Jew or Gentile. Peter's statement has nothing to do with who may, or who may not, preach in church.
So, the word of God is being compromised to fit the theology of those who want homosexuals to stand behind the pulpit as pastors.
Q: How is it acceptable in God's eyes that anyone stand behind the pulpit and preach the word - when living unrepentant and in willful disobedience - to the very word he's preaching to others? Why is this even a matter of contention?
Q: Are churches allowing such things because they want to be accepted by the world? Demonstrating they are changing with the times? Don't they realize by conforming to the desires of this world, they are making themselves enemies of God?
Jas 4:4 says: "Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God."
And the same holds true for a woman to stand behind the pulpit and preach within the walls of a church.
Many in church leadership choose not to address this topic because it's not an issue of salvation. And, it is controversial, having torn apart some congregations.
Many in the contemporary church believe it's perfectly acceptable for a woman to assume the role of church pastor. And yes, some women can preach rings around some men. But, this is not an issue of discrimination, but of compromise and disobedience to the word of God.
Just because a woman has the ability to preach does not give her, or the church who appoints her, permission to compromise God's word. And the word is very clear regarding this matter. Once again, this is not an issue of chauvinism or discrimination, but rather obedience to God's word!
1Cor 11:3 says, "But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God."
Eph 5:23, "For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church
1Tim 2:11-12, "Let a woman learn in silence with all submission." "And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence."
Paul is referring to women not being allowed to have spiritual authority over men. But, some men take advantage of this teaching and use it to mistreat women, corrupting what Paul is saying.
Within the church, there is a five-fold ministry: Teachers, evangelists, apostles, prophets and pastors. From the beginning, many Godly women in the bible and today, have held positions as teachers, evangelists, apostles and prophets. And Debra was not only a prophetess, but also a judge. However, women are not to hold the office of pastor. Why? Because a pastor is given all spiritual authority over the church and flock he leads - over all the men, women and children.
This may seem harsh and outdated by contemporary standards. But, it still does not give anyone permission to alter what the word proclaims so clearly ... just because the world , or a church and its leadership ... consider God's word outdated and culturally irrelevant.
God never changes. In Mal 3:6, God Himself says: "For I am the Lord, I do not change ..." And nor does His word. It does not change with current culture. The only thing that changes regarding God's word is 'man's opinion' of scripture and his 'corrupted interpretation' of it.
-How can a woman be appointed pastor when the bible says she's not permitted to have spiritual authority over men?
-A church who appoints a woman as pastor is compromising God's word -perhaps to appease the world or its congregants who agree with contemporary values - but in the process, laying aside God's word.
-And when will church leaders call out this behavior for what it is? No, it's not an unforgivable sin. But it is compromise and disobedience to the word.
-Could it be the world has been standing on the church's holy ground and defiling it for so many years, the church no longer recognizes what compromise looks like ?
-Does the compromising church understand what 1Tim2:11-12 is telling us when it comes to appointing a woman as pastor?
Q. Why do Christians care what the world thinks of them? Instead, why don't they care more about what God thinks of them?
Jesus told us the world would hate us because it hated Him.
He tells us in John 15:18-19: "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you." "If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet, because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you."
-Many Christians wonder why God doesn't pour out more of His gifts onto the church: healings, miracles, discernment, tongues and interpretation of tongues?
Why would God pour out His gifts onto a church that cares more about appeasing the world and what the world thinks ... rather than obeying Him?
How many churches in America have any holy ground remaining on which to stand?
The Lord wants His church to be a "light in the darkness," not a compromiser.
But, how can the church be a light to a dying world when the church itself is in darkness?
How can the church be a hospital and comfort to the world --when it rejects the prescription of the 'Great physician?' Some churches even deny the Deity of Jesus!
Has the lamp stand already been removed from many of the contemporary churches Jesus said He would do while speaking to the church at Ephesus in Rev 2:5?
"Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place -- unless you repent."
The seven 'lampstands' in scripture represent the seven churches in Asia at that time.
And a 'lamp' in the bible symbolizes the LIGHT of God, wisdom, intellect, and good works -- The presence of the Holy Spirit.
How many churches in America have lost their 'light?' The Holy Spirit left them?
Isa 59:2 says, "But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear."
And many wonder why today's church has no power. There can be no power without the presence of the Holy Spirit!
(4) Frank disobedience.
"I don't care what God's word says. I'm going to do it my way." If a passage of scripture doesn't fit a person's theology or just doesn't want to accept it, does he just ignore it or tear out the page? Perhaps that person just thinks or says openly,
"God doesn't know what's best for me - I know what's best for me."
Hosea 10:13-14 says, "You have eaten the fruit of lies, because you trusted in your own way ... Therefore tumult shall arise among your people."
Isn't this tumult happening in America and in the American church today?
And Hosea 11:7 says, "My people are bent on backsliding from Me."
There are so many areas where the church is disobedient. We must ask God for discernment to recognize where the church is derelict in its duty to obey God.
(5) Murmuring and complaining.
Chuck Pierce said this about murmuring and complaining:
“The greatest snare in the wilderness is murmuring and complaining over your present (situation) before you reach the place God has for you.” We see that with Israel. From the time they came out of Egypt they murmured and complained continually. Every situation they came into, every testing they faced…their one response was to murmur and complain! And that was ultimately what kept them out of the promised land!"
Phil 2:14 tells us: "Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world ..."
How many times do we sit and listen to a brother or sister complain about such things as: the weather, the family, the job, the boss, or the neighbor?
How many times do we ourselves complain about similar things?
As believers, we should understand God sometimes takes us through situations that are uncomfortable or even painful. But, He is allowing it to bring us to a point where we trust Him completely, for all things. God is teaching us to "walk by faith, not by sight." (2Cor 5:7)
We must give God the opportunity to work in every situation, or we will miss out on the spiritual growth He intends for us. By allowing a trial to come into our lives, God is giving us an opportunity to learn and to trust Him for all things.
Murmuring and complaining causes us to miss out on what God has for us at the end of the trial.
And as Chuck Pierce said: Murmuring and complaining was one of the reasons the Israelites were kept out of the Promised Land. What is our Promised Land? Will we be kept out because of our murmuring and complaining?
(6) False doctrines and teachings.
Certain teachings from the pit of hell have been allowed to creep into various churches and seminaries brought in by heretics who go against God's word.
Paul tells us in Gal 1:8, "But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed."
In other words, 'Let the curse of Deuteronomy 28 fall upon him!'
2Pet 2:1-2 tells us: "But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction." "And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed."
And Phil 3:18, "For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ ..."
(7) Charlatans standing behind the pulpit ... actors ... who portray pastors.
These are the people who bring some of the most shame to the church and to the name of Jesus. And these are some of the people whom 2 Tim 3: 5-6 speaks:
"... having a form of godliness (when standing behind the pulpit) but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households (by either preaching in church or through the airwaves) and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts."
These are the people who shamelessly attempt to convince their congregation to purchase luxury items for their personal use.
These 'disingenuous self-pleasers behind the pulpit' don't seem to care about the needs of the flock. They only seem to care about how the flock will sow into their wants and desires.
2Pet 2:3 says: "By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words ..."
Some of these ruthless charlatans teach fables and false doctrine to their congregation. They tell them: "God told me that if you sow (such and such amount) into this ministry, God will heal you and give you back 'seven times' what you have sown!" And if the flock is told these lies enough times, they begin to accept the lies as 'truth.'
2Tim 3:3-4 addresses this: "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears ... they will heap up for themselves teachers, and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables."
Hitler proved how well this technique works by telling the German people over and over again how the Jews were like rats that needed to be exterminated.
We know the rest of the story.
Has the world infiltrated the church this much?
I'd like to share some excerpts from an article written by Pastor Mark Creech in the Christian Post. Pastor Creech says this:
"Today it's much like the situation described in Hosea chapter 4, where Hosea said that God had a case against Israel. (That) there was "no truth, no faithful love, and no knowledge of God in the land!"
"The Lord laid much of the blame on the priests and the prophets (religious leaders) of that era, charging they were destroying the nation. God rejected them because they were derelict in their duty to Him, failing to teach the 'knowledge' of God to their posterity. Instead, they encouraged others to sin to satisfy their own appetites." (My comment: Like the sons of Eli the priest, Phinehas and Hophni, also priests who had adulterous relations with temple prostitutes in plain sight (1Sam 2). How many of today's religious leaders prostitute God's word by approving of gay pride parades, drag queen shows, or even caught in sexual sin themselves?
"Through sexual indulgence and insobriety, sanctioned by religion, the people had lost their ability to think straight. Doesn't that sound a lot like America today? ..."
"When I survey the landscape of church leadership, most apparent are the 'Bishops of spiritual and sexual idolatry,' Vicars of socialism in their religious garb,' Ministers that resemble snake oil salesmen more than prophets of God, and Clergy who pretentiously claim some kind of higher spirituality by refusing to address morally reprehensible social and political practices ..." .
Pastor Creech ends by saying this:
"If the pulpit is weak, the church will be weak. If the church is weak, righteousness will fail, and so will the nation. As goes the church, so goes the nation."
Yes, as the church goes, so goes our nation. As the church goes, so goes the world. And it is becoming all too obvious as to what direction the church and America are headed.
So, as we witness the fall of the church and this country, what about those who remain faithful and obedient to God?
What will become of us, God's remnant church, as the chaos and darkness close in?
God's word is replete with 'promises' given to us because of His love for us, His faithfulness, His mercy and forgiveness and because of His very nature:
-promises of always being there and never forsaking us (Jehovah Shammah)
-promises of peace (Jehovah Shalom),
-promises of providing for all our needs (Jehovah Jireh),
-promises of healing (Jehovah Rophe),
-promises of being our Shepherd and friend (Jehovah Rohi)
God has assigned a task for each of us to accomplish in these last days. We are soldiers in His army and duty-bound to follow through with our assignment, regardless of what He asks of us.
And one of the keys to living in these uncertain times is having 'blind, unquestioning faith and trust' in our Savior and Lord.
So, regardless of where the church and America are headed, believers have the assurance God is with us and that He will never leave or forsake us ... as long as we remain obedient and trust Him with all our heart.
Prov 3:5-6 says: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."