October 7, 2011

Twice the Son of Hell - Part II: The Culture-Driven Church

[Continued from: Twice the Son of Hell - Part I]

Many reach in and grab onto things from the culture-driven church with both hands more because it is the “in” thing to do rather than the fact that the church presents the Gospel. If the Gospel is put forward in a culture-driven church it is usually a lukewarm presentation. The character of a culturally acceptable church by its nature has "less Christ" and "more world" or it generally does not attract the culture…it repulses it.


It’s because the message of the Gospel by its nature is repulsive to those that are dying in their sin.

“For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” ~1 Corinthians 1:18

So how do we know we are in the faith? How do we know that what we hear brings life and not death from a watered-down Gospel in a culturally-driven church that has been tweaked and modified to dovetail stylishly into the modern mindset like the latest Fall fashion?

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood. ~1 John 4:1-6

We know the reason half-truths and errors are tolerated and listened to in our churches, books, magazines and pulpits in many places. It is because they are easier to listen to then the truth. People would much rather hear things easy on the ears even if it means “toning things down” or diluting truth until it is no longer truth. When I now read “Christian” books, I check to see if there is at least one mention of the Gospel, Christ or something from the Bible in it or…I will not even consider it Christian. Many will now accept what is considered Christian even when it is only marginally Christian or Christian in name only. Why? Because it is easy on the ears, easy on the eyes or it comes wrapped in bling or what the majority considers cool, trendy or “with-it”.

Sorry folks, this is not to be our basis for acceptance of “truth”. Hip does not establish hard won orthodoxy, doctrine and dogma. Our authority for making proper decisions is the Bible.

We need to connect with the culture by connecting them to Christ, we are not to mimic and conform to it by connecting ourselves to the world. We are to stand in contrast to it at least in our speech and behavior. Anybody remember the statement, "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden" (Matthew 5:14)? Why a light on a hill? It is because we are to recognizable in contrast to our surroundings...not blend into them!!! We are to stand in contrast in deed and word so that it brings glory to the Father. If we are indistinguishable from the culture…then we are the culture. The culture is of the world. We are not of the world just as Christ was not of this world. Our citizenship is in Heaven. We are not to accept what the culture believes is truth because godless culture cannot possibly know spiritual truth because these truths are spiritually discerned and those of the world do not have the Spirit…they are spiritually dead in their sin. We cannot accept the world’s version of the truth…because it is not truth…it’s a lie.

“This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for, “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:13-16 [further reading fills out the explanation but you get the picture]

This means the world’s truth that comes across through books, pulpits, radios, MP3, etc. as watered-down flowery speech is empty speech or empty spiritual calories.

Tastes great-less filling brand Christianity 

The speech and so-called "wisdom" of the culture devoid of the Gospel is worthless no matter how much it is valued by the world. It may flow with eloquence and rhetoric about God but mentions little or nothing of Christ or the cross. Many with large soapboxes wax poetic about how love wins but fail to tell you that it is love through the truth of God's grace that saves us from ourselves and eternal punishment. The "feel good" books, articles and TV shows that tell us how to become a better "you" in 5 easy steps while failing to explain that it is nothing that we "do" that gains us salvation. Salvation is not by works lest any man should boast. These "postive thinkers" that want to have a Christian "conversation" with everyone and anyone end up leading many down barren and fruitless paths of philospohical relativism and "feel-good" plurality. Once they reach the end of their path or after their "conversations" they inevitably realize that the only thing they did was water-down their Faith to meet the culture and the culture could care less.

We need to be able to discern when things are wrong no matter how cool, hip or relevant it seems. The devil tempted Eve with an attractive fruit from and attractive tree. David stumbled horribly over an attractive woman most would’ve considered “eye candy”. The devil tried to tempt Jesus with the riches and prestige of what??? The world!!! Jesus’ response should be our response in the same situation. He went to the Bible and used the truths in the Bible to shut the duplicit words and ideas down. He shot them dead in their tracks.

Turning stone to bread: Jesus’ response?
Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone.'" ~Luke 4:4
Offering Jesus all the Kingdoms of the world? Jesus’ response?
Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.'" ~Luke 4:8
Challenging Jesus’ to throw Himself off the Temple: Jesus’ response?
Jesus answered, "It says [in the Bible]: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'" ~Luke 4:12

We need to recognize the errors in actions and in the words of those bent on deception or the ones being used as unwitting tools...and then correct it…not accept it. If we do not recognize and correct then we are actively perpetuating erroneous teaching by allowing it and therefore become enablers and spreaders of false teaching and twisted Scripture. This is exactly what the devil did. Even the devil knew and used Scripture and Scriptural knowledge folks…although he knew it, he used it incorrectly. If we do the same how is this any different than Satan regardless of intent? Satan appeals to what appeals to our senses in this world and our senses can deceive us unless they are run through a Biblical and spiritual filter. Small variations in wordage in statements change meanings and we need to understand this. We cannot afford to just accept everything that comes down the pike that claims to be Christian without matching it to the perfection and gauge of the Scriptures and to the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Without a correct bearing in Christ we are quickly led astray.

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping. ~2 Peter 2:1-3

Is your truth the Truth? Have you measured what you have seen, read or heard against the Word of God? Are you just allowing your pastor, your parents, you neighbor, friends or spouse to guide your thinking? Are your ideas and thoughts firmly entrenched in a cultural or biblical mindset? Are you engaging the Scriptures directly and engaging God or someone elses version of it that is often wrong. There are no intermediaries between you and God the Father except Christ alone. You are responsible for your own salvation when reckoning day comes. Jesus doesn't accept, "Its my pastor's fault" or "It's my parents fault" when we stand before the throne in judgment. These types of excuse may work well in the culture but in judgment before Christ they will solict a exacting, "I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness!" (Matthew 7:23)

You need to sharpen your own pencils and do your own homework. Your relationship with God is between you and Him, not you, God and someone else or their book, television show or even their sermon. The relationship in the church at large is for koinonia and fellowship but judgement for salvation is individual. The gate is narrow and only one can enter it at a time. You cannot bring along you pastor or your parents even though to some extent they will recieve judgment for what they have taught you that was correct or incorrect.

In the end Truth is critical. Doctrine and orthodoxy and strict adherence to core salvation issues are also critical. These are the point of contact with the real world. People died to maintain and defend the doctrines and orthodoxy of our faith. Many were burned at the stake and tortured to death to preserve what many are willing to throw out with yesterday’s trash in an effort to stay hip and trendy. Don’t let that person be you.

It breaks my heart to see people presented with two options, one wrong and one right and they continually pick the wrong one. They pick it often times even after they are told which one is the correct choice. Each wrong decision pushes you farther afield from God. You need to get it right. In salvation there are no second chances no matter what you've heard from other people flapping their gums.


Don and Shelly said...

Andy, I couldn't agree more. Unfortunately, the contemporary American church has, in many ways, become worldly in their attempt to be "relevant." Woe be to the false teachers that are leading so many astray...

Andy Pierson said...

Yes. Some think I like being caustic like I am in this article. They believe I am divisive when I post stuff like this. I take no pleasure in seeing folks run rogue of the Bible and not even realize it and when I actually say something about it I am criticized for being too harsh. It weighs on me after a while when I am constantly approached in this manner and I have prayed through it and solely told the truth in love. I am then criticized having told the truth for not delivering it in a more loving manner. If I didn't love people I would lie to them and let them perish in illusionary lies that often claim to be Christian...and are nothing of the sort. Blessings Don and Shelly. Andy P

Don and Shelly said...

Andy, despite the any push-back you're spot-on concerning this. Keep it up!

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