The Sad Reality of Churches in America Today

Heresy is drastically on the rise across America. Mainstream media and some “Biblical Pastors” such as Joel Olsteen and Benny Hinn show us just how easy it is to create a “feel good” gospel centered around self rather than Christ. Man-centered theology is an oxymoron and should not be tolerated by any Christian. We must diligently watch out for heresy in your church and in ourselves, too. In Galatians 1:8-9, Paul was making his condemnation doubly clear, when he states basically the same sentence twice, “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.”

By stating the same thing back to back, two times, he is in effect giving them a harsher condemnation. He was making certain that the Galatians knew there was no fudging on this area. We see this in scripture only a few times. Like in Philippians 4:4 where he says “Rejoice in The Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.” His repetition also implies that having false pastors (preachers and teachers) in our church is something that could and would happen often and without notice. It seeps in so insidiously.
It is so hard to decipher if we are under sound preaching. We assume our pastor went to seminary and was taught only Biblical truths. We assume, and rightfully so, that they should know more than us and that they have our best interest in mind. However a look at the path the American mainstream church has taken, we ought to think twice and take another look at our own church. We must be good Barreans and do the work ourselves. But how would we know if we have placed ourselves under a pastor who is unknowingly teaching a false gospel?

Sadly many do not. They just go to church and bible study and let others tell them what they should believe. We assume that verses such as Acts 20:29 couldn’t apply to our pastor (a “fierce wolf”). This is why it is so insidious. It seeps in through self centered behavior that comes with power. Man craves it and it is one of the easiest ways Satan gets into the heart of man (even the elect!) Think about it. Does your pastor teach directly from the Bible or does he teach topically on every-day issues then throws a verse or two in? He may even throw 20 verses in, however you can always tell if what they are teaching is man-centered or God centered. How?

Are you ready for it? Be honest with yourself on this one. When you go to church are you interested in what the pastor has to say? Do you like what he is preaching? Do you feel good after the message? Did he give you sound advice on how to be a better person in society? The time has come my friends, where people want to hear from teachers about things that they need help with to feel good. “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions” 2 Timothy 4:3.

Men behind pulpits will rise up, preaching with passion using the Bible as their cloak. “And from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.” Read my books and do my studies they tell their people. Has your church turned into a self-help program? Many have. The monster churches (mega) of today are frightening. Yes, there are a few that are mega and still uphold the true gospel, but again, they are few. You can tell by the conviction they teach. A God-centered message is full of conviction, not ear tickling.

Consider Jesus’ own ministry. He did not say, “Come, hang out, I’ve got a bounce house for the kids, and we will be doing a carnival for the family, and oh, by the way, follow me, it’s fun, I love you and have a wonderful plan for your life.” Nope, I still can’t find any of that in the Bible. He said things like, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” (John 6:53) Jesus also said, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26)

Jesus also said things like, be overjoyed when you are persecuted on His account, and when someone hits you on the face, turn and allow him to hit your other cheek, and how about loving your enemies, or that all other religions are false (no tolerance from Jesus on this one), or that your pursuit of money is a pursuit against God. People should be up and leaving right in the middle of a sermon! That is the mark of a good pastor: teaching the truths Jesus taught might just cause people to leave. It weeds out the flock. It is a good thing! Jesus’ ministry had MANY people leaving from teaching that were too hard to hear. Man gets too hung up on staying in the black, filling the pews, having more “amens” during the sermon and more pats on the back after.

John 6:60 states “When many (MANY, not some) of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” And again in verse 66, “After this many (again MANY, not some) of his disciples (not just random people listening but his DISCIPLES) turned back and no longer walked with him.” {!!!!} This should knock the breath out of you. They turned back! They NO LONGER FOLLOWED HIM! Wow! Do you understand now? Take a good hard look at who you are placing your soul under to teach you about God’s Truth. They are just men. Not only do you need to make sure you trust your pastor and make sure you find a good one who is above all else humble to the Holy Spirit’s guidance, but also become a student of God’s word. Not a student of commentaries, but a student of the Bible. Read it. More now than you ever have before. It is THAT important!

DBR Thought of the Day ~ How will you rate yourself? How will God rate you? Are you going to Heaven or Hell?

“so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” – Philippians 2:10-11

One of my greatest sources of compassion for people comes from an eternal perspective. I look around at people in my life and people I pass by that I do not know and I wonder about their final destination. The Bible says the gate is wide and easy to Hell and that many will enter it. On the other side of that coin it says the gate that leads to Heaven is narrow and hard and that few will enter. It does not say it is narrow and hard but yet still many will enter. It says few. Did you know that the majority of the world when asked to rate themselves on any given thing, skill, appearance, ability would rate themselves 7 out of 10? Dig around the internet and you will find this to be true. It is wild because we all cannot be in the 70th percentile of everything, now, can we? It doesn’t work that way.

Did you know that 9 out of 10 Americans believe in God. Based on what the Bible says, few will enter, so how is it that that many people can be so wrong about God? Being a Christian and believing in the only true God grants me a level of peace and confident assurance in my salvation, however it also affords me a hard life. I hear pastors who say I can pray a good life and get good things here on earth, however when you look at Biblical examples that is just not true. They were tremendously blessed in their relationships with other believers, but outside of that they did not sit around eating grapes, with servants to cool them with fans, watching the court jester entertain them all day long. They did not sit around all day eating fast food in air conditioned rooms watching TV. They were persecuted.

When was the last time you were persecuted? When was the last time you went through a trial that you wished for death but knew it was not your time? I see us sitting around in our cush homes in Southern California and wonder if 9 out of 10 believe in God and we would consider ourselves an 8 or 9 our of a scale of 1-10 when it comes to our lives. They say the mission field is in other countries, but start looking around. The mission field is America. The church of Laodicea. The “Lukewarm” Church.

If you read the verse before the descriptions of the gates (see full text below) in Matthew 7 you will see the “Golden Rule”. “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” This comes right before telling us about the eternal outcome of the majority of the human race. So, here is my thought. The next time you are mad at your boss, or furious with your co-worker, or angry at your child, or resentful of your spouse, consider this: if they are saved, you are commanded to get things right, if they are not saved, this is the best they have. If they, for whatever reason, are not going to Heaven then cut them some slack. This world is the best they will ever know.

Let that angry woman at the check-out line go ahead of you. Hold the door open for that bitter man. Show your mean boss grace and build him or her up even when they deserve the opposite. Give them every courtesy you can in hopes that they may see a glimpse of God through you. Allow God to exact judgment. It is not your job. Your job is to be a light in this world because on that Day when Jesus comes, EVERY knee will bow and EVERY tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord.

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. – Matthew 7:12-14

“so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” – Philippians 2:10-11

Grace be with all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with love incorruptible. (Eph. 6:24)
Maranatha! (Come, Lord Jesus!)

~ Jen O’Sullivan