Sunday, August 2, 2009

Apostasy and The Emerging Church

Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.Let no one in any way deceive you, for {it will not come} unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,
2 Thes. 2:1-3 NASB

What is "apostasy"? It is simply a falling away or retreat from the gospel that was taught by Jesus, and the instructions given to us in the Bible. Now that seems to be something that most people would think could never happen. Christians abandoning the precepts taught in the Bible? Yet some of the largest and most popular churches in America today are doing exactly that; rejecting or trying to reinvent the teachings of the Bible. What I find truly amazing, though, is that few recognize this is not a new tactic by Satan to attack the Church.

Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, "Has God indeed said, 'You shall not eat of every tree of the garden'?
Gen. 3:1 NKJV

I find it interesting that Satan's first attempt to introduce sin into the world was to cast doubt upon God's own words. Yet here we are, how many thousands of years later and Satan is doing the very same thing, only changing the wrapping on the present so to speak. What believers find today are either purpose driven churches which ignore large portions of the Bible which reveal a different portrait of God than the one they want to see, or the Emerging Church movement,which by their own admission, says Christianity needs to be "reinvented", re imagined, and reconstructed to appeal to the world today. But under the guise of becoming more appealing to people of other faiths, they are in essence laying the foundation for the one world religion of the Antichrist. Am I the only one who thinks these people are in essence saying God got it wrong in the first place? Sort of like, " thanks God, but we will take it from here and make it better"?

But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or [if] ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with [him].
2 Cor. 11:3-4 KJV

Obviously God knew full well as we approach the end of this age, believers would in fact begin to follow false teaching by the the pastors we should be able to trust. Why is this? Two reasons. One, Satan knows we want to hear what we want to hear.

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but {wanting} to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,
2 Tim. 4:3 NASB

Two, all too many believers would rather trust what they are taught, and not put forth the effort to do their homework and study the scripture to make sure that the teaching they receive is in accordance with scripture. This allows Satan to do his work by corrupting some who teach.

For such [are] false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore [it is] no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
2 Cor. 11:13-15 KJV

So where does that leave those who desire to be genuine followers of Christ, worthy to be known as "Christians"? I think the answer might be in what Paul called the "simplicity" of Christ in the passage above. How is it simple? Let me share the way I have chosen to teach the gospel to youth during my ministry over the years.

One thing I have found all high school age kids have in common is their desire to get a drivers license. I was no different, and have personally been a car nut since I was 16. I have even been fortunate to have owned a few "rods" over the years. So why do I bring that up? Because Jesus taught about cars. Really. CARS

C. Confession. The first thing we need to know is our responsibility to confess our sins before God.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9 NKJV

A. Acceptance. Secondly, we need to accept the gift He has given us, and ask Him to come into our lives.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:
John 1:12 NKJV

R. Repentance. Third, we must repent of our sins, which means not just saying we are sorry, but turning away from them and attempting not to repeat them.

The Lord is not slack concerning [His] promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, [fn] not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
2 Pet. 3:9 NKJV

S. Sanctification. This is the process of growth we strive for in trying to become more like Christ in our daily lives with the help of the Holy Spirit.

But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth,
2 Thess. 2:13 NKJV

Now maybe you think that is an overly simple way to present the gospel, but I truly believe God never intended salvation to be complex. There is no reason to try and change what the Bible teaches just because we don't like it, or are uncomfortable with it, or think we can make it better. After all, what did God say through Paul and Silas?

So they said, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household."
Acts 16:31 NKJV

Watch out for those who try and reinvent the simplicity of the Gospel.