The Devil's Delight: Deceiving the Church
By Jan Markell
I received an interesting e-mail today from a pastor and would like to build on it. The e-mail reads, "Your ministry has been a wealth of information during my sermon series preparation on the 'death of discernment.' There is so much to cover. I liken it to our recent trip to New York. We saw 50 major landmarks and we only scratched the surface."
The pastor continues, "There is no way I can cover all the deception issues in a sermon series in less than three years. What would you consider to be the top ten issues on this topic?"
It will take him three years! Is it really that bad? It may be. And I'm glad I can add to a good pastor's sermon material!
The Bible prophesies that the church of the last days will be characterized by apostasy. Paul said that the Antichrist will not be revealed until "the apostasy comes first" (II Thess. 2:3). Jesus prophesied that "many will fall away" and "most people's love will grow cold" (Matthew 24:10, 12).
Dr. David Reagan, one of our "Understanding the Times 2008" speakers, asks, "How have we reached this crisis point in the church? It is rooted in the German School of Higher Criticism which invaded this country big-time in the 1920s. According to the 'scientific approach' of this school of skeptics, the Bible is not the revealed Word of God. Rather, it is man's search for God, and therefore it is filled with myth, legend, and superstition.
"Today this viewpoint dominates the seminaries in America. The Bible is studied not to be believed and obeyed but to be analyzed, dissected, and criticized. The result is that the Scriptures have lost their authority."
The pastor who e-mailed me asked for the top ten areas of deception. The possibilities are legion. When we have voices out there like Brian McLaren stating that "everything must change" -- in his book by that title -- the old ways of doing church are mocked along with sound theology. The invasion of these post-moderns is alarming.
Writer and researcher Berit Kjos says, "Infiltration and deception have been tools of conspirators through the ages, and the church has been a primary target! After all, God warns us that 'the whole world is under the sway of the evil one' (I John 5:19). One of his most effective schemes is to redefine God's Word and divert Christians from His unchanging truth to man's shifting ideals."
The world and church have let Oprah Winfrey shape the culture with her me-centered gospel. Her "New Age" terminology is viewed by many believers as "Christian." Throw in Emergent theology and its post-modern message that emphasizes feelings over doctrine. Add to the mix the push for unity today and we have a freight train on the move and out of control. The conclusion is that "felt needs" trump everything. Oh, and don't forget the "seeker movement" message of "gospel lite" so that Christians today can hardly find the true gospel anywhere.
Biblical Christianity never became outdated even if Emergent leader Brian McLaren implies that it has. Biblical truth will continue to be scorned by those who consider themselves to be intellectual (I Cor. 1:20), and it will likely be rejected by those who seek the praise of man over the praise of God (John 12:42,43). But the Spirit of God is always at work in the hearts of men, giving life to human spirits by the same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead (Ephesians 1:19).
Will you contend for the faith today as we are asked to do in Jude 3? It will cost you something. You will lose loved ones. You will be tempted to cave in and keep quiet. You will feel very alone. I know these things because endless e-mails from the four corners of the earth come into our office stating this is the case. If everyone who felt alone would get together, I promise you we wouldn't feel alone! We would fill many football stadiums.
The pastor mentioned above closed off with a good word: "Don't spend too much time focusing on the deception but rather, on the truth." May I add, don't stop being a "watchman" or "contender for the faith?"
So don't despair and do plan on a great reward for standing up for truth rather than the razzle-dazzle gimmicks that tell us we can get closer to God if we walk the labyrinth or practice centering prayer. He's living inside of us. How much closer can He be to us than living within us?
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