The Emerging Church Crisis
There is a emerging crisis within Christendom. It's apostasy. Not the kind of apostasy that involves a person of faith rejecting the faith. This type has been happening since the days of the early church. The type of apostasy that is emerging within church culture today is almost more dangerous than the flat out rejection of the faith. It is an apostasy in which people of "faith" are engaging in the partial rejection of God's truth. Rejection of the parts that are uncomfortable, inconvenient and not in line with present cultural norms. The harsh reality is, that this type of partial rejection, IS full rejection of God's truth. Many are being deceived into thinking they are of the faith, though they are only accepting a fraction of the truth. When we understand what Christ came to die for, what He commanded for all those who place their faith in Him as Lord and Savior, this deception begins to grow much clearer. Let's look at what Jesus said as He walked the earth:
33 So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple.
24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
21 He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”
There is a theme threading through these verses: Full submission to the authority of Jesus Christ and His commands. The foundation that all followers of Jesus must build upon is self-denial. It's called repentance. A conscious turning from one way to another way. To be a disciple in the first century, was to willingly enter into a relationship where one put themselves fully under a Rabbi's authority. They submitted to the Rabbi's scriptural interpretation for all areas of their lives. Why? They wanted to emulate the Rabbi's life. They wanted to turn from their old ways and follow a better way. Discipleship was embedded in the Jewish culture. It was something sought after. High value was placed on the honor of being accepted as a disciple and willingly leaving their old lives behind.
Now, here in 2019, the harsh reality about the culture we are all living in, is that, service to self is elevated above all things. "Live your truth." "Follow your heart." "You deserve more." "You are perfect just the way you are." We are being indoctrinated with a false truth. An anti-disciple mindset. Any type of moral standard that gets in the way of "self actualization" is being rejected. Absolute truth is being traded in for individual truth. Any truth considered "oppressive" is not a truth to be accepted. If a certain belief doesn't jive with an individuals life, understanding or standard, it is quickly rejected or dismissed as irrelevant. This is what the Bible defines as the spirit of lawlessness.
2 Thessalonians 2:7-12
7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
We are given a warning. These are serious words that we either toss to the side or embrace. Lawlessness is rooted in having no love for the truth, period. To love the truth is to accept the whole truth, even when it may not be fully understood, convenient, socially acceptable or self-serving. But, what is happening within church culture, is the push to be socially acceptable and relevant at the expense of the truth. Culture is wanting motivation and validation, not correction. People are desiring emotional experience, not life giving submission. Many churches unfortunately are placating to the culture at large.
As they bend to cultural pressure, many churches are serving up "truth" that is partial and acceptable to all. Church goers, as a result, are not being made to hear and learn the more difficult truths of God's Word. They aren't trained up in how to integrate these truths into their lives. These church goers are not being equipped to deal with adversity and rejection due to their faith. In contrast, they are actually being taught to avoid offending and "judging" because, "Jesus would never do that." "He was all about love." True, But God's love has been re-defined. His love is no longer about protecting us through His truth, but now, God's love is all about grace. Grace that enables us to live according to our own truth. This is a false faith shrouded in godly vocabulary . The Bible speaks to this and warns the church:
2 Timothy 3:1-5
1 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!
Paul is speaking to the church. He was saying this would exist within the church. Make no doubt about it, we are living in a time that this is now happening and growing exponentially. To have a form of godliness and to deny its power, is to accept the self empowering parts and reject the distasteful parts. Ultimately, it is a denial of the authority of God's Word and rejection of Him as Lord. It's merely a form of belief, but it's not true faith. This form of godliness is apostasy and is a present crisis. Entire denominations are engaging in the denial of the authority of God's Word, leading countless numbers into deception and lifeless belief. They are giving people what they WANT to hear, not what they NEED to hear.
2 Timothy 4:1-4
1 I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: 2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.
This culture needs Christ's true disciples to be disciples. We can't be afraid, intimidated or complacent. Souls are at stake. We need to love the way Christ loved. We need to submit to Christ as Christ submitted to His Father in heaven.
41 And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.
He gave His life for ours. He took our sin upon himself for the hope of all humanity. He willingly died a horrendous death so that we could truly live. So as Christ commands us to deny ourselves and to pick up our cross and follow Him, He is serious. The price He paid points to the weight of sin and what we have been freed from. The price He paid points to the reality of what unforgiven sin leads to, Hell. Eternal separation from the glory of God. Eternity is real. Our souls will live forever in one of two places. Jesus paved the way to heaven with His blood. We have been purchased, we are not our own. That's an amazing truth! We can now live for Him, empowered by the Holy Spirit. We can experience abundantly life as we submit fully to Christ's authority. His grace guarantees that He is always with us, in us, sanctifying us, and working through us. We serve the King of the universe! Let's be bold! Let's rise up and live in a way that brings all the glory to our King. Let's makes more disciples that can bring His glorious truth to this culture. For such a time as this, we have been called. Do not fear for the Lord is with you!
Pastor Russ Faillaci