Back in the 90's, the rock band Aerosmith had a song called Livin' on the Edge. The first verse starts with "There's somethin' wrong with the world today, I don't know what it is. Something's wrong with our eyes. We're seein' things in a different way, and God knows it ain't his. It sure ain't no surprise ..."
Now, I'm not trying to try to figure out the theology behind the song, but I couldn't help but think of those lyrics when I was thinking of the state of the world, but mostly the Christian church today.
Normally, I'd post something like this on my Understanding the Biblical Prophecies blog, but something about all of the apostasy in the Church is not just a prophetic happening, but is a sad state of the church, and it's influence or lack thereof on our society. I thought it would be in keeping with my old No Apologies Blog.
Something is wrong with the world today- and it is evident by what is wrong in our churches- or more importantly, the men and women who are the "heads" of the church. It has been throughout history, the church which has been the influence on society. Good or bad, the actions of society has been a direct result of the action or inaction of our church pulpits.
Back in the early days of America, the church pastors and elders could be found among and even as some of the signers of our founding documents. They could be found on the battlefields among those "Minute Men" fighting at a moment's notice against the British.They could be found in the earliest congress- not as career politicians, but as servants to the people, their flocks. They viewed public service as their God given duty to shape and help the new nation grow into a prosperous and morally driven land, begun for, Blessed by and "under God".
It was because of the Christian influence that so many people came from all over the world- for the freedoms. The fact that our basis was formed by the acknowledgement that it is God who created all equal, and that He has given each human the liberties espoused in the Declaration and our Constitution. People may argue, but the fact remains that it was because of our Christian heritage that all people had the freedom of worship or not to worship, the freedom of any religion. Ours was not a theocracy, because true Christians know that the only theocracy is ruled by Christ, and not men.
I wanted to start with the short history lesson because it does have much to do with what I am talking about when I said, good or bad, the actions of society has been a direct result of the action or inaction of our church pulpits. When pastors recognised Jesus as God, the Bible as the sole authority of the Lord's very Word, and when pastors taught the truth of Christ from the pulpit, and lived the truth in their private and public lives, in their communities and in their politics, ours was a Blessed nation. Where the people knew where those blessings came from. Once heretic ideas crept into the church, more modern gospels, designed to be inclusive to other religions, the old idea of the Bible being the Word was thrown out. It has come to where the people teaching, the leaders of the flock are ignorant of the Word, they don't believe it to be the Word.
We have leaders such as the bishop of the Episcopal Church who recently said "the evangelical notion that individuals can be right with God a "great Western heresy" that is behind many problems facing the church and the wider society," and spoke about "the great Western heresy -- that we can be saved as individuals, that any of us alone can be in right relationship with God." And of course she blames individualistic views of salvation for everything that is wrong in the church in the United States. The article goes on about humaneness, caring, sharing and being in harmony with all of creation.
This is clearly unBiblical teaching from a woman who, although may have attended theological seminaries and years of schooling, but has no clue of the Truth of God who gave us His Word.
We are saved by our INDIVIDUAL choice to accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. We are saved by our acceptance of the Grace of God, who sent His only Son to take on the sin of the world on the Cross. Jesus is the only way, and we can not depend on church memberships, the salvation of our parents, or other people's beliefs to be saved. We all must come to Him as ourselves to be washed by His blood, to be sanctified by Him. We must confess with our mouth that He is Lord and Savior. There is no other way around Him.
I agree that simply saying some words to the effect of "please Jesus, come into my heart" are not enough. There must be a genuine feeling and knowing of personal sin and the desire to repent and ask Jesus to free us from our sin, and acknowledge Him as our Savior and Lord.
Once saved, we do have the need and command to be with the body- other believers. We have to follow His command to spread the Gospel of Christ and to show His love, but without the individual choice to come to Him in the first place, the rest is useless.
We have mega star pastors such as Rick Warren, who although have sometimes enough of the Gospel message in his church, does not have much of a message of Christ outside of the church. The past few years have brought attention to Warren, and for him, it has been enough of a good thing. Unfortunately for the people he could be witnessing to, it has been at the expense of their souls. This man may be one of the most well known pastor of the world since Billy Graham. He has an incredible opportunity to tell the Gospel message of Christ to heads of state, to individuals and to groups of all faiths- but he doesn't use it. Instead of talking about sin, the cross and redemption by Jesus Christ alone, he talks of helping the world by interfaith ideas and love.
Again, in a world focused society, this is a good message, and it is important to show love to others and help the needy and the infirm. However, without the message of Christ, these people may be given temporary comforts of this life, but will be lost for eternity. Again, one without the other is useless.
People have a hard time, it seems distinguishing the difference between tolerance and truth, or between offending and saving. While only the Holy Spirit can convict hearts, we are denying people the chance of salvation when we don't tell them the truth of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. Some people are so worried that they won't be allowed to attend and be asked to speak at high profile events and councils if they include the Gospel message. They are more interested in image than salvation of the lost. Pastors of the modern postBiblical churches seem to be more willing to pay attention to human words than to follow and teach from God's Word.
It is no different offending those of other religious beliefs than those who practice sinful lifestyles. These days it is considered hate speech to tell the message of a Loving Creator, who willingly took sin upon Himself so we could all be right with God. Again, people do not accept anymore, that offensive and divisive word called sin. If they are not considering themselves as sinful, they do not need the message of a Righteous God- so they accept the touchy feely, love and peace only god.
We have the church telling the people that homosexuality, adultery, pornography, witchcraft, abortion and idolatry are all OK. That in our more modern society, these practices are normal, and that we are so different than the societies in the Bible were which prohibited such acts. For the fact is, that many do not take the Bible as the Word of God, so the parts which speak against these behaviors is ignored or brushed of as obscure passages. Those who believe in God's Word are considered divisive, narrow minded and bigoted.
We have people such as the Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School in Massachusetts, The "Rev" Katherine Hancock Ragsdale who thinks that the people who run abortion clinics are “heroes” and even “saints”, and considers the access to affordable abortion as "not a tragedy in sight - only blessing.” All the while comparing pro life groups as harassing and annoying. She goes on to explain about how their work of keeping abortion legal is not done- saying, "When doctors and pharmacists try to opt out of providing medical care, claiming it’s an act of conscience, our work is not done, " claiming that "others pay the price for their principles.""These are the two things I want you, please, to remember - abortion is a blessing and our work is not done. Let me hear you say it: abortion is a blessing and our work is not done. Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done. Abortion is a blessing and our work is not done. I want to thank all of you who protect this blessing...You’re engaged in holy work."
Clearly, I am missing something here. This woman is a Dean of a Divinity school, so obviously she is educated. She is also a "Reverend". What parts of the Bible which the Lord talks about children and His knowing them before they are born does this woman not understand? Again- she, like so many others are more concerned about individual and feminist ideas, that they ignore the Word of Him who Created them and every unborn child who has been murdered in their mother's womb. They place a higher priority on the woman's individual rights while ignoring that she is not the only person to consider when there is a life inside of her. It is teaching how to place more value on a temporary situation instead of helping the lost come to a Salvation in Christ and be with Him for eternity.
We have Pope Benedict XVI, who while visiting Jordan, spoke of his "respect" for Islam. The Vatican's official transcript of the Pope's comments at the Amman airport records him as saying:"My visit to Jordan gives me a welcome opportunity to speak of my deep respect for the Muslim community, and to pay tribute to the leadership shown by His Majesty the King in promoting a better understanding of the virtues proclaimed by Islam."
The Pope is not a diplomat, he is not a head of State. He is the head of the Catholic Church. He is to be an ambassador of Christ, not a politician. He is talking of respect for Islam, which we can respect individual people, but to say as a Christian leader that he respects another religion is not Biblical. We can not respect someone into heaven, but we can disrespect them as a human beings by not telling them the Truth of Christ, and in not doing so, chance them being condemned as unbelievers.
By someone such as the Pope to highlight another religious belief, is in essence pulling others away from Christ. It is denying the truth of Christ Himself and blinding non believers from the only salvation possible.
We can respect Muslim people for their contributions and culture. But we cannot respect a belief system that denies the truth of the gospel, insists that Jesus was not God's Son, and takes millions of souls and dooms them. The only way we as Bible believing Christians can truly respect others is by sharing the Gospel message of Christ's love and Salvation.
The Pope also made a more recent statement just before the G8 summit. He called for a "true world political authority" to manage the affairs of the world. At the same time, however, the Pope also warns that such an international order could "produce a dangerous universal power of a tyrannical nature" and must be guarded against somehow. So which one to choose?
Sounding like Obama , Pope Benedict says this new international order can be accomplished through "reform of the United Nations Organization, and likewise of economic institutions and international finance, so that the concept of the family of nations can acquire real teeth." He is also espousing the environmentalist ideas of global warming, suggesting "a worldwide redistribution of energy resources, so that countries lacking those resources can have access to them." He goes on, sounding more and more like algore than the Leader of the Catholic Church.
In short, much of Pope Benedict's speech sounded more like an endorsement of the soon to come Antichrist's One world government.
When those who are in authority in the Church ignore or are ignorant of the truth of the soon coming of Christ, and the end times, they teach that it is up to man to solve all the world's problems, and that we are in essence left on our own. There is no teaching that Christ will be coming soon to make things right.
There are many in the church today who believe that the end time prophecies are fiction, or symbolic. They think that those of us who believe in the prophecies are dangerous. They also have the ignorant belief that some how the church has replaced the nation of Israel as God's chosen. Hence the term the "replacement theology."
That is one of the reasons why so many who call themselves Christians are anti Israel and pro palestine. They do not see Israel as God's chosen, and to them, Israel is a trouble making, apartheid making evil doer who use excessive force against those who only wish to live in the land owed to them. To them, Israel is the enemy. Israel is what is wrong- and they are the ones holding up the peace process in the Holy Land. There is no belief in the very real fact that Israel has a huge part and is still the apple of God's eye.
People such as The Episcopalian Bishop, Jefferts Schori, church groups such as the NEA, mega church pastors such as Rick Warren and Joel Osteen, Emergent leaders such as Rob Bell, and political figures such as Jimmy Carter are all focused on the world, but using Christ for their own purpose. They are more interested in popularity, money to build bigger and bigger buildings, and receiving accolades from social groups and prominent people. They are the politically correct, but Biblically incorrect.
I am not saying they have no genuine concerns for people, they obviously do because they are always pushing for human rights, issues of the poor and social change, and they care about the world and push for better stewardship by joining with environmental groups.
The problem lies with, and I have addressed this in the past, is that they forget about Christ's reason for coming the first time, and will not recognize Him when He comes again. They are more focused on their will be done on this earth to make it like heaven, instead of God's will be done on earth as it already is in heaven. No matter how much we all want a better world- it will not be so until Jesus comes and makes things right.
The problem in the church is that those who are leading the people don't know themselves, the Deity Jesus, and His Word. They know that He is love, but they ignore that there is such a thing as Divine wrath. The thought of it makes them uneasy and it goes against their grain of thought that there is no real sin, so they work at erasing all thought of it, lest anyone of the world finds offense. They argue that God is loving and merciful, and therefore God's Anger is merely a fairy tale with which to scare misbehaving children. However, the same Bible which tells of God's Mercy speaks of His Wrath, and as a matter of fact, refers more frequently (much more so) to His anger than it does to His love.
"He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; but he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him" (John 3:36).
"Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience" (Eph. 5:6).
In these, and in other passages too numerous to mention, the fact of the Divine wrath is affirmed. And now in closing, let us think.
Because God is holy He hates sin, and because He hates sin His anger burns against the sinner. Notice though, He does not hate the sinner. His anger is against the sinner.
God's wrath is not some thing that's symbolic. His wrath was not symbolic when He poured it all out on His only Son, who was hanging on a Cross.
Everything about God is unique. His power is omnipotent. His wisdom is so great that no one can comprehend it. His love is unsearchable and long suffering. His grace is unfathomable. His holiness is unapproachable. And like all of these, God's wrath is incomparable, incomprehensible, infinite.And what will the wrath of the Almighty be like during the time of Tribulation? And what can humans do to withstand it? Nothing. It will overwhelm them. It will sink them into the lowest thoughts of hopelessness. It will be, in a word- unbearable.
The unsaved is moving down a very slippery path. It is not that God is not coming back- it is because of His love for all humanity that I am even still here, that we are still here, He is waiting for all who would come to come. But someday soon, He will come again.
The unsaved see little cause for need of immediately accepting Christ as his Savior. They imagine themselves secure, especially since they are not taught otherwise! They are not given the Gospel Truth from modern feel good and inclusive messages.
We never know when our time is coming. There is no chance after death. The only warnings people have are in this life- which are to be given out of love yes! But out of truth, which too many mega star pastors and those who are more concerned of worldly things are not telling!
It is up to all to warn our neighbors, our family, our friends. And even to the strangers among us- no matter who they are or what their beliefs. We need to be more worried about the unsaved spending eternity apart from God's pure love and grace than risk offending them.
"Seek ye the Lord while He may be found: Call ye upon Him while He is near."
"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved."