Thursday, June 4, 2015

The Anti-Church: The Business of Christian Education CVI

19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
Ephesians 2:19-22
10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.
1 Corinthians 3:10-15

            The Bible makes it clear that the foundation of the church is the apostles and the prophets, with Christ as the cornerstone.  Meaning, the Scripture, the word of God, the 39 books of the Old Testament and the 27 books of the New Testament, is the foundation of the church.  And all the Scripture talks about Jesus Christ. 
The apostle John testifies:

39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.  (John 5:39-40)

The apostles talked about Christ.  The prophets talked about Christ.  The main foundation of the church is Christ Jesus.  There is no other foundation for which the church must be built.  In other words, if a “church” is built on a different foundation other than Jesus Christ, other than the word of God, other than the 39 books of the OT and 27 books of the NT, then whatever it is, it is not a church.  It cannot be a church and it will never be a church.  Jesus Christ will not allow it.  For he is the true Master builder of the church.  He says so in Matthew 16:18 saying:

18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Jesus won’t allow anyone to build his church on the basis of the world’s philosophies, or other religion sacred writings, or other “prophets” and “apostles” he doesn’t approve, or the spirit of the age, or the trend of the today’s market, or any other thing.  This is firm and nonnegotiable.  Jesus is King, and his command prevails.

            The problem is there are so many “church” builders that pretend building church.  They are building using other foundations, yet they claim that they are building on the Christ.  They camouflage the fake Jesus and boldly proclaim that he is Jesus.  Jesus has warned his followers that there will be a lot of fake Jesus surfacing.  Matthew 24:4-5 records:

And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray.

Dangers are lurking especially in the so called church.  Fake Christs and fake prophets line up to seduce the simple so they may lead them astray.  Jesus, in Matthew 7:15, points this out:

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.

More warnings Jesus gives:

1“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.  (John 10:1-2)

Jesus is the good shepherd.  And at the same time he is also the door to the sheep.  As he claims of himself:

So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.  (John 10:7-10)

False prophets enter the sheep pen not through the true Jesus.  They enter through fake Jesus.  And their intention is not to keep the sheep safe and sound.  They launch attacks to the sheep, snatching them, killing them, and destroying them.  The true sheep won’t listen to the false prophets.  The true sheep run away from the wolves.  But the wolves come to devour.  So there are casualties.

            In his ministry, Paul met many false teachers.  And Paul had to battle them fiercely.  He knew what danger false teachers posed.  He knew what implications false teachers brought.  Take a look at his warning to the church in Rome:

17 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. 18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naïve.  (Romans 16:17-18)

Paul’s goodbye advice to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20-28-30 serves also as a warning of the coming of the false teachers:

28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.

Fierce wolves did come and they seduced the naive into believing lies.  For more than 2,000 years since warnings were given, wolves have continued coming and devouring the sheep of God.  It is sad that among the sheep live also those who are actually goats and even wolves in sheep clothing.  Their pretention fools many naïve sheep.  But they are not building on the foundation of Christ Jesus, for they have a different agenda.  For they are agents not from God, but from the devil.  Paul warned Timothy:

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, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.  (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

So Paul encouraged Timothy to keep being faithful in building on the foundation of Jesus Christ:

1I 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: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.    As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.  (2 Timothy 4:1-2 & 5)

The building of God’s church has been entrusted to his servants.  But there are a lot of fakers who pretend building, but in actuality they are tearing down.  God gives the gifts to the church so there are faithful servants of God to build God’s church according to his will.

11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.  (Ephesians 4”11-14)

In the same way Paul identifies the church as the body of Christ.  And for the church God has given the spiritual gifts for building it up.

27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues.

And the focus of the building of the body of Christ is for “the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God.”  This cannot be achieved outside of the revelation of God, which is his word, the Scripture.  The truth is the core of the building of the body.  Without the truth there is no unity.  When people think and believe what they want, unity can’t be achieved.  Unity resides with the proclamation of the truth.  And that’s why the church that God formed devoted herself in the teaching of the truth.  This is recorded by Luke in Acts 2:42:

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

The unity of the teaching of the apostles finds its center in Jesus Christ.  Though there are more than one apostles, they proclaim the message in unison.  Paul provides the reason:

There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.  (Ephesians 4:4-6)

The chief cornerstone is Christ Jesus.  And there is only one Jesus Christ.  He is unique.  He cannot be replicated.  He cannot be faked.  And he claims: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.   He is the truth himself.  And this truth unifies all his followers.  The Scripture, therefore, comes from one main source, God himself.

16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.  (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

The truth unites.  The Scripture is the foundation for achieving “the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God.”

            However, as we have known, for Jesus and his servants have warned his people, the devil cannot let God’s church alone.  He keeps interfering with the process of the building up of the body of Christ.  He sows the weeds.  Just like what Jesus says in Matthew 13:24-30:

24 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, 25 but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. 27 And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’ ”

The fake sheep, the wolves, the weeds, the false shepherds, they all interfere with the building of God’s church.  They too work very hard.  They proclaim their message too.  They adamantly insist that their teaching is the truth.  But their source is not God.  They have a different source for their message.  Their message at times appears like the truth.  But like any other deception, in the end it shows itself.  It bites and the result is devastating, just like when the serpent told lies to Eve.  The source of their message is the world, their own self, their imagination, and the devil’s word.  Jesus knows very clearly.  He has dealt with the deceiver himself.  Satan attempted to deceive him face to face three times.  The famous temptation of Christ by the devil is recorded in great detail by two gospel writers.  Matthew 4:1-11 and Luke 4:1-12 reveal the cunning deception of Satan.  His temptations appeared truthful, but yet were deadly poisons.  So Jesus recognized his work.  And he identified the devil’s offspring among his followers in John 8:42-47

42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. 43 Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. 46 Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? 47 Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

They are the weeds sowed by the enemy.  They are the ravenous wolves in sheep’s clothing.  They are the goats.  They are the false teachers.  They are the thieves and the robbers.  For even Jesus they want to kill.  They do not like it when Jesus confronted them with the truth.

31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”  34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. 38 I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.”

God’s church today too is filled with weeds, wolves, goats, and false teachers.  They appear good, nice, as if they are our brothers and sisters in Christ.  But their father is not God.  Their father is the devil.  They build on the foundation of the devil’s word.  They build on the foundation of the world’s fleeting knowledge.  Knowledge that even one of their own, a philosopher of science, Thomas Kuhn, says will never be absolute.  In fact, the knowledge as known today will absolutely be replaced by another when new knowledge is born.  Their tool is not faith, but their own imagination.  They do not build on the truth.  They build on their own theories.  Rev. John MacArthur warned Christians of the current reality of the infiltration of the fake Christians:

In contrast to Paul, contemporary evangelicalism has elevated human opinion and worldly, fleshly wisdom to an undue level. For most of the past century, evangelical theology has bowed at the shrine of academia, attempting to assimilate secular theology, philosophy, politics, psychology, moral relativism, evolutionary theory, and every other academic fad. Finding those things incompatible with the Bible and the simplicity of the gospel, Christians have too often been willing to twist and shape divine truth to try to make it fit. Multitudes have thus been drawn away from singular devotion to biblical doctrine to embrace human wisdom.[1]

This happens in the church, even today.  One of the most dangerous philosophies in this era is pragmatism.  This too has infiltrated God’s church and has deceived many.  Pragmatism has set its root in the church and gradually destroys the sheep.  MacArthur elaborates:

Do you see how the new philosophy necessarily undermines sound doctrine? It discards Jesus’ own methods—preaching and teaching—as the primary means of ministry. It replaces them with methodologies utterly devoid of substance. It exists independently of any creed or canon. In fact, it avoids dogma or strong convictions as divisive, unbecoming, or inappropriate. It dismisses doctrine as academic, abstract, sterile, threatening, or simply impractical. Rather than teaching error or denying truth, it does something far more subtle, but just as effective from the enemy’s point of view. It jettisons content altogether. Instead of attacking orthodoxy head on, it gives lip service to the truth while quietly undermining the foundations of doctrine. Instead of exalting God, it denigrates the things that are precious to Him. In that regard, pragmatism poses dangers more subtle than the liberalism that threatened the church in the first half of the century.[2]

The pretention is massive.  It masquerades as truth but it is lie through and through.  It pretends upholding the truth, but actually denying it.  It hides behind the façade of pretty face, eloquent words, and nice demeanor, but deep within it harbors hatred, jealousy, blind ambition, and hunger for power.  And there are a lot of other ideologies that have been used as the foundation for building “church” by these false teachers.

            These offspring of the devil are building not the kingdom of God, but the kingdom of the world.  And what they are building up is not the church, but the body of the devil.  They are building the anti church.  And their foundation is the anti Christ.  They reject sound teaching of the Scripture.  They refuse to believe in Christ.  They bail out on the truth.  They betray the Lord of heaven and earth.  John 6:66 records:

66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.

And Jesus just told them the truth that would change the entire course of history, that he was the Bread of Life, that he was the Messiah of God, the Lamb for the sacrifice that would atone his people from sin.  They did not believe.  They rejected Jesus.  And these were the people who followed Jesus after he performed the miracle of the feeding of the five thousand (cf. John 6:1-26).  That’s what sparked Jesus speaking about bread.  And this is what Jesus says in John 6:26-27 to open the lengthy conversation that points to him as the Bread of Life:

26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. 27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”

So, what at first appeared to be genuine followers of Jesus were actually proven to be fake.  In the same way, within the visible church we find many people who appear as if they are followers of Christ, but in actuality they are followers of the devil.  Philippians 3:18-19 also provides us with similar warning of these fake sheep:

18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.  19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.

Even among the twelve disciples of Jesus that he handpicked himself was a follower of the evil one.  Jesus reveals:

70 Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the Twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” 71 He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the Twelve, was going to betray him.  (John 6:70-71)

The weeds grow together with the wheat.  They grow strong too.  People who farm know of this reality.  Even in this modern day of farming, we know that the weeds always come back.  No matter how hard and meticulous the farmers take the weeds out of their land, either by tilling or spraying, they always come back.  And when they come back, they come back stronger than the previous year.  They have adapted very well to the condition so they have built resistance.  Their survival technique is amazing.  The faking gets more polished.  Their DNA mutates in order to beat the attempt to get rid of them, but their core nature stays, weeds.  They multiply fast.  The weeds are there to stay.  They are there to interfere with the growth of the wheat.  They are there to grieve the wheat and the farmer.  They absorb the nutrients needed by the wheat.  They are there to kill the wheat.  And they cannot be permitted to grow strong.  They cannot be permitted to multiply.

            Now if we go back to the analogy of the church as the body of Christ, the wolves, the goats, the false teachers in the church are all like cancerous cells.  They live in the body.  They feed off of the body.  They absorb the much needed nutrients that the healthy cells need.  As they grow they begin their destruction on the nearby cells.  They work hard in converting the healthy cells into becoming like them.  Cancerous cells essentially are rogue cells.  They are mutated body cells that have refused to obey.  But the antibody cannot take care of them because they camouflaged themselves very well so that the antibody recognizes them as part of the body.  They were, but not anymore.  Just like the followers of Jesus in John 6, they appear as if they belong to the body, but their true nature is known when they eventually can’t hide their refusal to obey anymore.  But often the discovery of cancerous cells comes late, because it is usually known when there is disruption in the body.  When cancer is discovered, it often has caused a huge damage, and not seldom it has taken over the body.  For cancerous cells, similar to weeds, multiply very fast.  And they are unstoppable because the antibody won’t attack them, even though they have turned into foreign cells.  This is the danger of cancer, which the cells have properties similar to the healthy body cells.  Its inner working is swift in which it “persuades” the healthy cells to turn into becoming cancerous.  Once they are persuaded, they detach themselves from the control of the body.  They refuse to “die” and be replaced by new cells.  They keep growing.  They keep surviving.  They want to live on their own.  And they are killing the body slowly.  But they do not realize that as they are killing the body they too will kill themselves.  For they cannot live outside of the body by themselves.  But as they live detached from the control of the body, they are at the same time destroying their host.  They are then function like parasites.  But this parasite does not originate outside of the body.  It comes from within.  This is why cancer is extremely destructive.  So the most destructive anti church often does not come from outside.  The most destructive anti church often is homegrown.  These people believe they belong to the body, but yet they refuse to obey the Master.  They can’t live outside the body and yet they are destroying the body as they need it.  They project their own purpose which is contrary to the purpose of the body as ordered by the Head, Jesus Christ.  And their purpose is based on their own ideas.  They even dare to manipulate and exploit the word of God for their own gain.  These people are those whom Jesus says to be saving their own life but yet losing it.  For in order for them to survive they have to attack the body.

            As the cancer grows within the body, its roots penetrate deep within the healthy cells.  Removing them would be difficult.  It might damage the body.  And quite often in order to get rid of the cancerous cells one needs to damage the healthy cells of the body.  The fake sheep has befriended the genuine sheep.  They also have mingled with the genuine sheep and become family with them.  The relationship grows stronger between the fake and the genuine to the point where breaking it would be painful.  The cancerous cells have spread throughout the body.  Removing them would cause severe pain.  But the call of the church to separate themselves from the world remains.  Since the fake sheep won’t obey the true shepherd, they then must find alternative.  And their only alternative comes from the world, the enemy of the Lord.  So they bring into the body of Christ the values of the world.  Paul warns the church:

14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,

“I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people.
17 Therefore go out from their midst,
and be separate from them, says the Lord,
and touch no unclean thing;
then I will welcome you,
18 and I will be a father to you,
and you shall be sons and daughters to me,
says the Lord Almighty.”
(2 Corinthians 6:14-18)

This is in accordance with what Jesus says in Matthew 10:34-39:

34 Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

The essence of the church is to separate herself from the world.  Such is her nature.  Peter composes a wonderful definition of God’s church:

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.  (1 Peter 2:9-10)

Just like Israel was called to separate themselves from the world, the Israel of God – the church – is continuing the same theme here.  This is our true nature.  How can we become like the world?  It is absurd for God’s church to adopt the value of the world.  We are called precisely to stay away from the world.  It is against our own nature if we are to be saturated with the world.  Paul admonishes God’s people:

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.  (Romans 12:2)

And in the same line, Paul also reminds the church:

1Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.  (2 Corinthians 7:1)

The goal then is clear, holiness.  No unholy people may dwell in the house of the Lord.  Holiness must be the goal of every single Christian.  In agreement with Paul, Peter has also taught in 1 Peter 1:13-21:

13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, 15 but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you 21 who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

The word ἐκκλησία which is translated as church means “called out.”  The church is called out from the world.  But we are not of this world.  Jesus sends us into the world.  John 17:16-18 records Jesus’ prayer:

16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.

The world is full of lies.  It is filled with deception.  The people of the world don’t know the truth.  They dwell in their own corrupted imagination.  They follow their twisted desires.  They run wild in their own devises.  But God’s church is to separate herself from the world.  In order to be made holy, the church needs to be sanctified.  This is the next step after being redeemed in Christ.  And sanctification can only happen through the truth, just like what Jesus himself says.  The word of God is the truth.  Rejecting the word of God, therefore, is rejecting the truth.  A.W. Tozer warned his readers of the cunning work of the devil:

Whenever Satan has reason to fear a truth very gravely, he produces a counterfeit. He will try to put that truth in such a bad light that the very persons who are most eager to obey it are frightened away from it. Satan is very sly and very experienced in the forming of parodies of truth which he fears the most, and then pawns his parody off as the real thing and soon frightens away the serious-minded saints.[3]

The truth of sanctification is now being shunned by many people who call themselves Christians today.  They hide behind the word “grace” and “love” and thus excuse themselves from refraining themselves from sin.  So they continue to dwell in sin while at the same time forcing God to forgive them as they point finger at God saying: “Aren’t you gracious?  Aren’t you loving?”  They manipulate the word of God and twist it to accommodate the value of the world.  This is what MacArthur found:

James Davison Hunter, a sociology professor at the University of Virginia. Hunter surveyed students in evangelical colleges and seminaries, and concluded that evangelical Christianity has changed dramatically in the past three decades. He found that young evangelicals have become significantly more tolerant of activities once viewed as worldly or immoral—including smoking, using marijuana, attending R-rated movies, and premarital sex. Hunter wrote,
The symbolic boundaries which previously defined moral propriety for conservative Protestantism have lost a measure of clarity. Many of the distinctions separating Christian conduct from “worldly conduct” have been challenged if not altogether undermined. Even the words worldly and worldliness have, within a generation, lost most of their traditional meaning.… The traditional meaning of worldliness has indeed lost its relevance for the coming generation of Evangelicals.
What Hunter noted among evangelical students is a reflection of what has happened to the entire evangelical church. Many professing Christians appear to care far more about the world’s opinion than about God’s. Churches are so engrossed in trying to please non-Christians that many have forgotten their first duty is to please God (2 Cor. 5:9). The church has been so over-contextualized that it has become corrupted by the world.[4]

MacArthur is exactly right.  Many churches today have become corrupted by the world.  They have been saturated with the world to the point that we can’t see much difference anymore between church and the world.  Many professing Christians do not operate on the basis of God’s word.  They walk the path of the world.  They use all the fancy terms and theories of the world so that they would be accepted by the world.  And soon they become leaders of the church.  And then in their corrupted self they begin corrupting the church.  They make policies, decisions, based on the values of the world.  Their vocabularies quickly change, from the vocabularies of the Scripture in to the vocabularies of the world, of business, of science, of sociology, and so on.  So the very warning that God gives through Paul in Romans 12 is ignored.  The church has conformed herself to the pattern of the world.  How many churches today in the world follow philosophies of the world rather than following the word of God?  There are churches that have laid their foundation upon “Positive Thinking,” a certain theory that gained prominence in the 20th century through its prophet Norman Vincent Peale.  There are churches that embrace inclusivism believing that humans can find the true God through other “faiths” too.  There are churches that support gay lifestyle, gay marriage, and even dare to chastise God and rebuke him as homophobic.  Oh they do all sort of disgusting things in the church.  Feeding off of the church on the notion of God’s grace and love, while at the same time killing her slowly by removing the very goal God has set for the church – holiness.  Oh God will save them anyway, so they claim.  And in the name of “unity” they force those who are faithful to God to conform to their idea of tolerance.  And so they cannot tolerate those who reject their intolerance of their view.  I hope you get this.  They are the weeds we have talked about.  They are the cancer in the body of Christ.  They are the anti church.  They come from our own rank, but they are actually ravenous wolves (cf. Acts 20:29-30; Matthew 7:15).  Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the prince of preaching in the English speaking world, the great Reformed preacher from the Baptist Union, lamented the corruption of the church:

I trust I am not given to finding fault where fault there is not; but I cannot open my eyes without seeing things done in our churches which, thirty years ago, were not so much as dreamed of. In the matter of amusements, professors have gone far in the way of laxity. What is worse, the churches have now conceived the idea that it is their duty to amuse the people. Dissenters who used to protest against going to the theatre, now cause the theatre to come to them. Ought not many [church buildings] to be licensed for stage-plays? If some one were to see to the rigid carrying out of the law, would they not be required to take out a license for theatricals?
I dare not touch upon what has been done at bazaars and fancy fairs. If these had been arranged by decent worldly people, could they have gone further? What folly has been left untried? What absurdity has been too great for the consciences of those who profess to be the children of God, who are not of the world, but called to walk with God in a separated life?
The world regards the high pretensions of such men as hypocrisy; and truly I do not know another name for them. Think of those who enjoy communion with God playing the fool in costume! They talk of wrestling with the Lord in secret prayer, but they juggle with the world in unconcealed gambling. Can this be right? Have right and wrong shifted places? Surely there is a sobriety of behaviour which is consistent with a work of grace in the heart, and there is a levity which betokens that the spirit of evil is supreme.
Ah, sirs! there may have been a time when Christians were too precise, but it has not been in my day. There may have been such a dreadful thing as Puritanic rigidity, but I have never seen it. We are quite free from that evil now, if it ever existed. We have gone from liberty to libertinism. We have passed beyond the dubious into the dangerous, and none can prophesy where we shall stop. Where is the holiness of the church of God to-day? … Now she is dim as smoking flax, and rather the object of ridicule than of reverence.
May not the measure of the influence of a church be estimated by its holiness? If the great host of professing Christians were, in domestic life and in business life, sanctified by the Spirit, the church would become a great power in the world. God’s saints may well mourn with Jerusalem when they see spirituality and holiness at so low an ebb! Others may regard this as a matter of no consequence; but we view it as the breaking forth of a leprosy.[5]
The anti church people have turned God’s church into another social club of the world.  They “lip-sync” the word of God and so denying its authority.  They talk like Christians, but they behave like non Christians.  They keep Christian jargons such as love, grace, and mercy, but deny the truth of God’s justice, righteousness, and holiness.  They redefine the meaning of love using the world’s notion of love.  They gradually remove the Scripture from the pulpit, and install puppet preachers to satisfy their ears that demand psychology, cheap theology, politics, and so on.  They replace hymns with rock concert songs that they call as praise songs.  They claim they are praising the Lord, but in actuality they are amusing themselves.  This is what James Smith calls as the “mall mentality” in his book Desiring the Kingdom.  They go to church but not with the purpose to worship God.  They come to church to be entertained.  They come to church as if they come to a therapy.  The term that Christian Smith assigned for such behavior is “Moral Therapeutic Deism.”  And such mentality arises from the sinful desire to elevate oneself to the level of God or to bring God down to our level.  A.W. Pink correctly identified the problem of our era:

One of the most flagrant sins of this age is irreverence. By irreverence I am not now thinking of open blasphemy, or the taking of God’s name in vain. Irreverence is, also, failure to ascribe the glory which is due the great and dreadful majesty of the Almighty. It is the limiting of His power and actions by our degrading conceptions: it is the bringing of the Lord God down to our level.[6]

Yes exactly, irreverence.  The mall mentality is at work.  People come to church like they come to mall.  They treat God like they enter into a shop in a mall.  No, for them God is not king.  For them they are king.  Such is the mall philosophy, “customers are king.”  So these fake sheep come to church want to be satisfied.  They crave sins and they make use of church as a place that would give them the license to sin.  They come with troubles and pains because they continue living in sin.  And so they demand therapy.  They do not want to be reminded that they are sinners.  They would go ballistic if they are told to repent.  They think they are king, so the pastor of the church must serve them.  God’s servants are then abused and bullied, shoved around, oppressed, as if they are their slaves.  They force God’s servants to teach them lies.  They persecute God’s servants so they would praise sinners and give them what they want.  They deviously place their foot on God’s servants’ neck and threaten them to tell them that they could continue to sin since God is love.  No they do not have any desire to repent.  Their deepest motif is to enslave God.  They want God to be their therapy counselor.  They do not want to listen to God.  They want God to listen to them.  They want God to give them what they want.  They think they are entitled to be given forgiveness and grace.  When God does not speak of grace but of judgment, they mock God.  They leave the church angry.  And they go to a different church, shopping for church that would give in to their demand.  For them God is like a vending machine.  You put a coin or two, and the result is predetermined, they would get a coke or a juice or a chocolate bar, etc.  They cannot take it when God decides something contrary to their desire.  No, their goal is not holiness.  Their goal is promiscuity.  They want the license to sin.  They want to be like the world.  And the world cannot stop sinning.  So they too do not wish to stop sinning.  Talking about the true God?  No, for them there is no God.  There is only moral discussion.  There is only discussion of what is good and what is not.  And the basis for such discussion is their preference.  The Bible?  The word of God?  They do not acknowledge it as authoritative.  For them the Scripture is outdated.  Written for an extinct era.  Intended for an obsolete culture.  Modern people abide in modern findings, so they argue.  But yet they stay in the church.  So following Derridean philosophy, they redefine the Bible.  Every single passage of the bible is reinterpreted according to the eye of the beholder.  Reading the same passage yesterday and today can mean totally the opposite.  And for them it is fine.  For they are the authority.  The bible is just a dead book for them.  The authors are dead so they claim.  Only the readers are alive.  So they believe they have all the rights in the world to ascribe meaning as they see fit into the Bible passages.  Yes they are the anti church.  They are the cancerous cells who live like parasites in the body of Christ.  They have produced their own prophets and teachers.  Peter warns the church of this reality with strong words.  Please heed his warning and read carefully this long passage from 2 Peter 2:

1But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.
Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, 11 whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord. 12 But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, 13 suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you. 14 They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! 15 Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing, 16 but was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness.
17 These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved. 18 For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. 20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”

O Church of God, beware!  Beware of the fake sheep.  Beware of the anti church.  They look like they are building together with you, but in reality they are tearing down.  They infect the healthy cells and spread their cancer all over the body.  And soon the body will wither and no more.  It will be conformed into the world.  Once the process is completed, church will no longer be worshiping God, but it will just be another social club, where the members can do whatever they wish.  That is how they launch their coup d’état of the body of Christ.  And they can be someone sitting next to you in the church pew.  They can be one of your elders.  They can be of the Sunday school teachers.  They can even be the pastor.  So how do you know which is which?  We go back to basic.  The standard is the word of God.  Jesus is building his church on the foundation of the word of God, of which he is the WORD of GOD himself.  All the prophets and the apostles speak about him.  He is the core foundation of the church.  The word of God is the grid of which you screen everything.  Through the word of God you may know which is sheep which is goat.  Stay away from the anti church.  Those who have ears let them hear!  Amen.

[1] John F. MacArthur Jr., Ashamed of the Gospel: When the Church Becomes Like the World (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1993), 110.
[2] John F. MacArthur Jr., Ashamed of the Gospel: When the Church Becomes Like the World (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1993), 81.
[3] A. W. Tozer, I Call It Heresy!: And Other Timely Topics From First Peter (Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread, 1991), 67.
[4] John F. MacArthur Jr., Ashamed of the Gospel: When the Church Becomes Like the World (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1993), 102.
[5] Spurgeon, Charles Haddon, “A Dirge for the Down-Grade, and a Song for Faith,” The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Vol. 35 (London: Passmore and Alabaster, 1889), 267–68.  Taken from John F. MacArthur Jr., Ashamed of the Gospel: When the Church Becomes Like the World (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1993), 86–87.
[6] Arthur Walkington Pink, The Godhood of God (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1999).

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