Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

   by Jeannette Haley

      One of the activities many Americans (including myself) enjoy during good weather days is going to garage, or yard sales. It’s always exciting to find something for next to nothing that you or someone else can put to good use. On the other hand, it’s also a good feeling to sell stuff that’s been hanging around the house, or cluttering up the garage that is no longer needed. It seems the old adage is true: “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.”

       While we in America may be living in a time of abundance of “stuff,” we are also living in a tumultuous time as well. On-going wars, plus recent events such as the massacre at Virginia Tech, bring to mind these words of Jesus concerning the end times: “But when ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by” Luke 21:9. Commotions, according to Strong’s Concordance, means instability, disorder, confusion, tumult. It’s more than obvious that there is an increase in these things on a daily basis, not only in our country, but around the world.

       Jesus outlined the events that would take place prior to His coming in this chapter of Luke, as well as in the other Gospels. What is interesting are His warnings to His disciples, or followers, of three things to “take heed” to in verse 34 of Luke 21. The first is that our hearts be not “overcharged” with “surfeiting.” What this means is to beware that our hearts are not filled too full of excess through intemperate or immoderate indulgence in something such as food or drink. It also means not to overindulge in any gratification of the appetite or senses, which is excess of this world.

       What is more than a little disconcerting is the insatiable appetite our young people (and not-so-young people) have for sensual stimulation from a myriad of sources including hallucinogens, movies and video games involving violence, demonism, and the occult, high tech innovations (that are too numerous to mention), pornography, drugs, alcohol, death-defying activities, sadism, masochism, Satanism and sex. We are living in a society where debauchery is becoming the norm more than the exception. Furthermore, those who saturate themselves in this type of lifestyle are proud of it. A bumper sticker on a speeding car that passed us on the freeway the other day read: “Pagan and Proud.” That pretty much sums up the attitude of a growing number of people.

       The next warning in this verse from the lips of Jesus pertains to our hearts being overcharged with drunkenness, followed by the third command that our hearts not be saturated with the cares of this life.

       How do these words apply to Christians? Keep in mind that Jesus spoke these warnings to His disciples; therefore, it is vital that the Church in these end times pays special attention to Jesus’ warnings. How many times have you read these verses and passed them off as pertaining to pagans only? The truth is, however, Jesus is warning those who profess to know Him unless “that day [when He returns] come upon [us] unawares.”

       The bottom line of what Jesus is warning His people of is excess of this world, or of hearts overflowing with the things of this world. God knows what things we have need of, but need and want (or covetousness) are two different things.  The Apostle Paul put it this way: “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence [passions], and covetousness, which is idolatry” Colossians 3:5. Paul identified, with weeping, “…that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things” Philippians 3:18, 19.

       It would be glorious indeed if the visible Church today stood separate and distinct from the world. However, as the remnant of true believers know all too well, the shocking truth is that the Church has lost her moorings and has become so utterly satiated with the world in its efforts to appear “seeker friendly” and “politically correct” that the lines between the Church and the world are no longer blurred, but obliterated altogether. We are living in a time of great spiritual harlotry, or spiritual fornication. Like the Laodicean church of Revelation 3:14-22, we are satiated with “goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that [we] are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked…” Revelation 3:17.

       The Church has always been besieged by the world, but it stood firm through three centuries of extreme persecution until Constantine cleverly brought about a marriage between religion and paganism, and set himself up as head of the Roman Catholic Church. Even the Reformers, as well-meaning as they may have been, brought with them a stream of polluted doctrines and theologies that did not exist within the early Church. These unscriptural beliefs, practices and superstitions still permeate the churches of our day, causing confusion, bondage, religiosity, false salvation and deception. The end result, as we are witnessing today, is replicate of the days prior to Jesus’ first advent when the Jews were divided into two warring factions—the Sadducees and the Pharisees. We can equate the liberal, worldly church of today with the worldly Sadducees, and the ultra self-righteous, legalistic church of today with the Pharisees. Jesus, the Light of the world, stands in the middle.

       The question is, where did those who proclaimed to be the “church” get off? The heart-wrenching answer to that question is tucked away in John 19:15: “But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him…We have no king but Caesar.”  How typical of the human heart, since the time of Adam, to cry out against the reign of God in one’s life as opposed to “Caesar” or the world (Satan’s systems in rebellion against God). “Give us the world! We want the world! We want to overindulge in it, to wallow in it, to partake of it, to heap it upon ourselves, to be so immersed in the sensuality, wickedness and filth of it that none could ever believe that we were made in the image of God. But, we’ll continue to be outwardly religious. We’ll go to the Temple. We’ll keep the feasts. We’ll put on a good show. The apostate church may not have audibly cried out “away with Him,” but inwardly she made this determination, and the fruit of that determination has been visible for anyone to see if he or she truly has eyes to see. The visible Church that once stood for separation, holiness, purity, godly living and all that exemplified Christ compromised, right down the line, bit by bit, piece by piece. “Away with Him! Away with Him!”

       She compromised her stand against sin. She compromised her stand concerning the judgment to come and hell. She compromised her obedience to the Word. She compromised her humble position by embracing every wind of doctrine in order to gain popularity, numbers and riches. She compromised her stand on morality so that she could be acceptable to the world. She compromised her foundation upon the Holy Scriptures, taking instead to her bosom watered-down, perverted so-called “versions” of the Bible. She compromised pure worship and adoration of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit by throwing out the great inspired hymns and anointed music passed down to us by the saints of God—music that for generations instilled sound doctrine, while she eagerly embraced meaningless, repetitive, shallow ditties including outright unholy sensually demonic hip hop, rap, and rock “music.”

       As if that isn’t bad enough, she has denied and mocked the integrity and power of God’s Word by eagerly buying into the religion of humanistic psychology without so much as the blink of an eye as to its demonic roots, or man-centered agenda. Through this unholy alliance with humanism, she has all too willingly archived the only solution to man’s problems—the written Word and the Living Word. However, she has cleverly justified her unfaithfulness through the deceptive leaven of the social gospel, along with her arrogant adoption of New Age environmental global causes and burgeoning political agendas.

       In many instances she has shamelessly fornicated with the lying idiocy of evolution, thus earning the title of fool. To her shame, she has blown with “every wind of doctrine” and embraced “doctrines of demons,” thus falling prey to the very thing that Jesus and the holy Apostles warned against. Contrary to the teachings of Christ, she has sought after signs and wonders, striven to conquer the “kingdoms of this world” in order to set up a “visible kingdom” so that “Jesus can return,” exalted herself through the world’s methods of competition and craftiness in order to build monumental, ecumenical, mega churches that are nothing more than money-making corporations, along with their television “Christian” counterparts. These Christ-less, Hollywood-style entertaining “who’s who” social clubs and TV personalities exist for their own glory and fame.

       The apostate church’s descent into the abyss of unbelief and compromise began centuries ago—slowly and perhaps less visible at first, but now, in her departure from truth, she has ascended to the “pillar of the world” and sits as a rich and untouchable queen. Revelation 18:7 says: “How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.”

       Success and riches, glory and honor in this world, by the world’s standards, are not God’s definition of “success.” Big is not better. Religious does not equal righteousness. Wealth is not worth. Good is not godly. “Churched” in no way means Christian. Ordained by man does not mean ordained by God. And, no amount of education for years in the finest seminary or Bible school in the world is equal to one minute of revelation by the Holy Spirit.

       The world has been crying out “away with Him” from the beginning. In order for the apostate church to attract the world, she likewise has had to cry out, “away with Him.” The real Jesus is too controversial. Instead of commanding His followers to build bigger buildings in which to invite people so they can become “churched,” He commanded them to make disciples, or followers of Him. The apostate church can’t afford such competition. It’s too simple and unsophisticated. Following Jesus means obedience to Him, not to a bunch of man-made traditions and religious customs. This means that the people are spiritually free. The apostate church can’t afford to lose control over the people. Loss of control means loss of revenue.

       The world is flocking through the doors of the apostate church because it’s attracted to the world, not to Christ. Deep calls unto deep. As with the world, anything goes within the liberal church. People mistake the freedom the social, seeker-friendly, emergent, liberal church offers to look like the world, act like the world, talk like the world, think like the world, and live like the world as “freedom in Christ.” No, freedom in Christ is freedom from self, sin and Satan, not “freedom” to wallow in the mire with the world. The wages of sin is still death.

       The Lord Jesus Christ stands in stark contrast to anything either branch of the apostate church (liberal or legalistic) advocates. Jesus didn’t come into this world to invite us to join a church. He didn’t come to entertain us. He didn’t come to make us feel good about ourselves. He didn’t come to make us rich and comfortable in this present world. He didn’t come to eliminate poverty, world hunger, environmental issues, and wicked governments. No! He came to “seek and to save that which was lost.” He came to die for our sins, and to reconcile us back to God. He came to call people to deny themselves, pick up their cross and follow Him. He came to call us to die, so that we might live unto Him.

       What is your church calling you to do? Is it calling you to serve the church, or Jesus? Is it asking you to worship it, or Jesus? Is it pointing you to itself, or to Jesus? Is it asking you to play church games, or is it challenging you in your life in Christ? Is your church bringing you higher in Christ through biblical teaching and preaching, or is it entertaining you into a spiritual death sleep? Is your church arousing you to get involved in causes (however good) or is it challenging you to be the salt and the light? Is your church bogging you down with religious duties, or is it pointing you to the freedom found only in Christ? Is your church winking at your sin, bad attitudes, and rebellion, or is it confronting you in every area of your life that doesn’t line up with the life that Christ is calling you to? Is your church established firmly on the Word of God, or does it water down the Gospel, preach “easy believism” and “cheap grace” that lead people to hell? Is Jesus there? Is the Holy Spirit there? Or, has Jesus heard “Away with him!” in the inner workings of hearts?

       You can be assured of one thing—Jesus is not returning for an apostate, harlot, bride. No, the King of kings is coming for a chaste and pure bride who has remained separate from the world, and who has not partaken of her fornications. “And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia. And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great. And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God” Revelation 19:4-9.

       Is He calling you?