When the Church becomes like the World

I was working out in the gym today and saw a segment on the M&J Show (some talk show in the morning) on one of the TVs on the keys to a happy marriage.  They had some secular marriage counselor.  She used a four word alliteration for the keys, acceptance, affection, appreciation, and something else, I don’t remember right now.  What struck me like a lightning bold was the fact that I heard a sermon from a pastor whose church we were visiting two weeks ago who used the exact same alliteration, the exact same words, and as far as I could hear on the TV show, much the same content.  His was a sermon entitled Fireproof: Dare to Last, which consisted of the Four Ingredients to Make a Marriage Last a Lifetime.  Of course he threw in a few Scriptures, mostly taken out of context, to make his four points and to make it look Biblical, but the content was the same as the secular marriage counselor on mid-morning TV. 

This is a crime when the world and the church speak the same message with the same words.  2 Timothy 4:1-4 states, I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 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, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.  This text is very relevant today.  This pastor may be a Bible-believing Christian, and I know he is, but he is condemning his congregation to hell by preaching worldly fluff rather than the substance of the gospel.  People’s souls are way too important to be left to the 4 ingredients to a fireproof marriage. 

These types of sermons play on the fleshly desires of sinful human beings, reinforcing their pride and the American “I can do it myself” attitude, while neglecting the care and feeding of the souls of the people.  This is nothing short of criminal negligence.  It deceives people into thinking they are saved by God but are no more saved than the man in the moon.  This pastor made a feeble attempt to have some sort of gospel message buried in one of the points, but failed to follow through.  At the end of the talk, he did some sort of “altar call” about a commitment to marriage, but he ended up considering it as a decision for Christ.  There was no gospel presentation, and I was confused about what people were actually raising their hand for.  Can people be saved from their sins and reconciled back to God when they don’t even know what they are believing in?  I doubt it. 

In 1 Kings 19:10-18, and Romans 11:4, the Scriptures refer to Elijah complaining to God that he is the only prophet that honors God and even the authorities are looking to take his life.  God  assures him that He still has a remnant of 7,000 that have not bowed the knee to the false god Baal.  I know that there are many churches around the world that are the remnant.  But it seems to me that at least in America, the typical “evangelical” church is no longer evangelical, but psychological.  After all, evangelical is from the Greek word meaning good news or gospel.  The American church, on the other hand, has sold out to a feel-good, felt-needs, pop psychology that is devoid of the gospel of Jesus Christ, but having the appearance of godliness but denying its power.  It is unethical and incorrect to refer to most American churches as evangelical when the evangel (or gospel) is nowhere present in anything they say or do.  In fact, most of what goes on in American churches nowadays is what Paul blasted the Galatian church for in his letter to them.  He accused them of following a false gospel of Christ and… (fill in the blank here).  Grace and works.  They say from the pulpit, ” I can do it with a little help from Jesus. I can have a better marriage if I just follow these four ingredients, and pray that Jesus will help me.”  This is not the gospel of grace, which is a complete work of God and you play no part in it, lest you should boast about how you helped God.  This may be the American gospel of self-help, but it is not the Biblical gospel.  And Paul said in Galatians 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.  This is strong language tantamount to saying that if someone preaches a false gospel, then let them go to hell.  This is how serious the preaching of the true gospel really is.   

People in those churches for the most part are happy and content thinking that they are getting a good Bible message when in fact their souls are in peril and they are on the verge of Hell, without knowing it.  This is the greatest deceit of the Devil, to convince people they are right with God through comfortable, self-centered, practical and uplifting messages, when they are heading straight to eternal damnation through a lack of the gospel truth or a gross misunderstanding of it.   What if a doctor came in to your hospital room and gave you a good uplifting talk about the benefits of good health and a better marriage, but didn’t speak directly to you about your condition however hard that may be, and what exactly needed to be done in order to fix your fatal illness?  A feel-good speech about a secondary topic, no matter how important, does not even make one feel good when death is knocking at the door.  Pastors and ministers need to preach Christ and Him crucified, in season and out of season, because their people have one unfelt-need that puts them in dire straits.

Charles Spurgeon, the prince of preachers and the pastor of a megachurch long before America knew what they were, stated, “SERMONS should have real teaching in them, and their doctrine should be solid, substantial, and abundant. We do not enter the pulpit to talk for talk’s sake; we have instructions to convey important to the last degree, and we cannot afford to utter pretty nothings. Our range of subjects is all but boundless, and we cannot, therefore, be excused if our discourses are threadbare and devoid of substance. If we speak as ambassadors for God, we need never complain of want of matter, for our message is full to overflowing. The entire gospel must be presented from the pulpit; the whole faith once delivered to the saints must be proclaimed by us. The truth as it is in Jesus must be instructively declared, so that the people may not merely hear, but know, the joyful sound.”  Preach the Word, as Paul instructs Timothy.  Preach on marriage, finances, relationships, and other topics through a faithful exposition of the Scriptures, not with pop psychology and a few scriptures thrown in to make it appear Biblical.  But preach the gospel message of salvation in Christ first and foremost.  The souls of men and women are too important to be left to worldly pop psychology drivel and nonsense.

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3 thoughts on “When the Church becomes like the World

  1. This is an excellent post!

    My husband and I attended a marriage (tele)conference this past Saturday, hosted by Focus on the Family, with 5 speakers: Gary Thomas, Beth Moore, Del Tackett, Gary Smalley, and John Trent. Their messages were Bible-based, insightful, and very good. I’ve written blog posts (three so far) from my notes (will do the remainder as I have time, probably the next day or two), which you’re welcome to read if you would like. Here is part one, and there will be links to the other two posts I’ve written so far.

  2. Sometimes the visible Church looks more like a Tower of Babel than the Tower of Truth it is supposed to be. Thank God for leaders who know that opinions, speculations and entertainment are nothing but fluff.

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