ELEPHANTS IN The church 2

ELEPHANTS IN THE CHURCH

Part Two

By Jeannette Haley

“And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul:

 but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

 – Matthew 10:28

In Part One of this series we looked at one of the “elephants” in the church today that is greatly ignored and which nobody wants to talk about. The name of that “elephant” is Sin, and Sin has a friend named Hell. Postmodern preachers don’t want to talk about hell for fear of people leaving their church never to return, and when people leave, they take their money with them. Besides, the twin subjects of sin and hell are definitely not politically correct, nor are they “positive,” and to most “modern thinkers” these subjects are unnecessary because, as everybody knows, they are outdated and archaic.   

      Mega church pastor, Joel Osteen, explained why he doesn’t preach on hell. “[People] already feel guilty enough. They’re not doing what they should, raising their kids—we can all find reasons. So I want them to come to Lakewood or our meetings and be lifted up, to say, ‘You know what? I may not be perfect, but I’m moving forward. I’m doing better.’ And I think that motivates you to do better.” What a telling statement! Obviously, Osteen doesn’t believe in the literal hell Jesus talked about, but instead he assumes that mainstream Christianity’s belief in hell is for the purpose of “doing better” which neatly defines his so-called “Christianity” as a “do-better,” works-based religion, which is a cult. His cavalier attitude also dismisses the need for the redemption found only in Christ, His work of salvation on the cross, the triumph of His resurrection, and the reality of His second coming for a church that is “without spot or wrinkle,” that only His blood could cleanse and present pure to our holy God.

      As a point of interest, according to pollster George Barna: “76 percent of Americans believe in heaven, and 71 percent believe in hell. Only 32 percent believe that hell is ‘an actual place of torment and suffering.’ 40 percent believe it is ‘a state of eternal separation from God’s presence.’ 64 percent believe that they will go to heaven and only 0.005 percent believe that they will be sent to the flames.” That makes the subject of hell basically irrelevant to the “Christian” mindset of today.

      While none of us wants to haul ourselves to church every Sunday morning to hear weekly sermons on hellfire and brimstone, the subjects of sin and hell are vital, basic biblical doctrines. If it wasn’t important our Lord and His disciples wouldn’t have talked about it. However, as much as we might wish it would just fade away into the mists of the past, it’s just as real and as relevant today as it has ever been because Jesus said, “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” Matthew 4:4. Jesus was quoting from Deuteronomy 8:3. Every Word of God is truth whether mankind likes it or not. Our Lord said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” Matthew 24:35.

      Great error and serious consequences occur when the church ignores any basic biblical doctrine while at the same time elaborating on other essential doctrines. For example, by diminishing the clear warnings in Scripture concerning hell and eternal torment while repeatedly emphasizing God’s love, people begin to remake God into a being that resembles themselves. E. A. Johnston, in one of his sermons, stated, “Listen friends, the church in America killed off the doctrine of hell when they changed their view of Almighty God from a God of justice to just a God of love. That’s why you don’t hear many sermons on hell these days. I challenge you to visit any major city in this nation and visit a number of different churches there in different denominations within that city over a period of time and come back and tell me how many sermons you heard on hell. I bet you won’t hear one. The main problem with the church in America today is that her view of God is too small. We’ve shrunken God down to our size or smaller. We’ve put him on our level. Why, we wouldn’t send anybody to hell, that’s too extreme and because we believe God thinks and acts like we do, why, surely he wouldn’t send anybody to hell either. Why, that’s not politically correct. God is on our level today because we put him there, at least that’s how many view him.”

      Since the subject of sin and hell is no longer in its proper place in the true Gospel message, the way has been paved for counterfeit “Christian” leaders to redefine the Gospel to fit the cultural tastes of “modern man.” Instead of proclaiming the Good News to lost, hell-bound sinners, the Gospel has been given a whole new set of “clothes” that fit in nicely with the fashionable heady and high-minded pseudo Christianity of today. All dressed up to appeal to the prideful sensitivities of the deluded, this “new Gospel” only offers what itching ears want to hear, and, of course, people (both inside and outside of “churches”) certainly do not want to hear about hell, be taught what the Bible says about hell, or take the subject of hell seriously. It causes one to wonder if Jesus Himself were to come and stand up in one of the many “emergent,” “seeker-friendly” mega churches around the world today and preach on hell if He would be tolerated for more than one minute. I don’t think so! Tragically, the “Good News” has lost its appeal because the “bad news” is not so “bad” anymore. All you have to do to feel good about yourself is to “try to do better” (whatever that is), and love yourself. It used to be that lost, hell-bound sinners knew they were lost, and once they were “found” by the Savior of their soul, and their burden of sin washed away by the blood of the Lamb, they were filled with “joy unspeakable, and full of glory” as they praised and worshipped the One who had set them free and cleansed them from sin’s ugly stains.

      “Modern man” (which every generation naturally sees themselves as being) is still “fallen man” and as such carries within the Adamic nature, the “old man” who is self-centered, self-loving, self-absorbed, self-exalting, and just plain selfish. Few seem to recognize that anything of the “self” (or the flesh) that is not born again of the Spirit of God and regenerated (made into a new man after Christ) is an enemy of God and is in total rebellion. Worship of God and God alone is replaced with idolization of the god of self, and one’s “felt needs.” Furthermore, the truth is that each generation of rebellious “modern man” merely redefines or refines the ugliness and stench of sin, rebellion and unbelief. Humans are masters of camouflage, adept at playing games, creative at justification, and crafty liars. In fact, we’re all so naturally good at it that it’s easy to deceive our own selves if we fail to guard our hearts. Even a person who is truly born again and who loves the Lord, if he or she gives in to the flesh instead of submitting to, and walking in the Spirit, can end up giving way to fleshly desires, and one of those desires is to ignore the subject of hell, and pursue a “spirituality” that makes one feel good. And that is exactly the premise the post-modern, seeker-friendly, emergent churches are built upon instead of the foundation of Christ.

      The bait is very cleverly based on the half-truth of a “concern for the lost” and the “unchurched.” Here’s how it works according to a blog by Steven Kozar: “The ‘attractional’ church model is so common that it’s practically the norm; most Christians have assumed that it is the only valid way to ‘do church’ nowadays, or they don’t even know that other legitimate options exist. What is it? Simply put, this model of church starts with the idea that “normal” church is unattractive and can’t bring in new people, so exciting new ideas must be implemented in order to get people in the door. Once people show up for the attractive and entertaining aspects, they’ll eventually hear a gospel message and they’ll ‘accept Jesus in their hearts’ (or something to that effect).

      “This philosophy makes a number of assertions and assumptions right from the start: The needs and sensibilities of the unbeliever should determine the strategy of the church. All of the churches in history (up till now) were doing it wrong: too old-fashioned, too boring, too stiff, too negative, too much doctrine, too ritualistic, etc. People would be glad to go to church, but it’s just too ‘churchy.’ All we need to do is tone down all the religious stuff, make it fun and ‘relevant’ and people will show up. A church should focus on meeting people’s needs through life skills,’ ‘success,’ ‘psychological therapy’ and ‘leadership training,’ and it should help its members become ‘purpose-driven’ people who can ‘accomplish their destiny.’ A church doesn’t need to preach repentance and the forgiveness of sins anymore; or if it does, it must radically alter the language to appease unbelievers. Numerical growth is proof of God’s blessing; lack of numerical growth is proof that God is not involved. In order to build the church, God needs ‘vision-casting’ pastors, and these pastors must then command their followers to do the work required by the ‘vision’ that God gave them.”

      “’Robert Schuller (1926-2015) is probably the man most responsible for establishing the Attractional, Seeker-Friendly, Purpose-Driven church model; although a case could be made that Henry Emerson Fosdick (1878-1969) really laid the foundation. Schuller removed many of the ‘negative’ aspects of Christianity like Christ dying on the cross to atone for our sin, hell, God’s anger and God’s wrath; and replaced it with the Positive Thinking philosophy he borrowed directly from his mentor, Norman Vincent Peale (1898-1993). 

      “At a very fundamental level, Schuller believed that because modern people didn’t care about their eternal salvation anymore, the church should reach them by appealing to the things that did matter to them; things like their self-esteem and their earthly success and happiness. ‘The church must develop a theology for mission. I don’t think it’s done that. I accept John 3:16 as a good one if people have a fear of hell. Maybe they have, but I find a lot of secular people haven’t. At what point can I find a button to push so that I can reach them? I think their desire for self-esteem is that button.’ — Robert Schuller interviewed in Christianity Today, Aug. 10,1984

      “’I don’t think anything has been done in the name of Christ and under the banner of Christianity that has proven more destructive to human personality and hence counterproductive to the evangelistic enterprise than the unchristian, uncouth strategy of attempting to make people aware of their lost and sinful condition.’ — Robert Schuller ‘Dr. Schuller Comments,’ (letter to the editor), Christianity Today, October 5, 1984, pp. 12-13.”

      It may be of interest to note, and keep in mind, that the foundation for this flourishing “tree” of evil modernism appears to have been laid by Harry Emerson Fosdick (May 24, 1878 – October 5, 1969). Fosdick was an American pastor who became a central figure in the Fundamentalist–Modernist controversy within American Protestantism in the 1920s and 1930s and was one of the most prominent liberal ministers of the early 20th century. Fosdick was an advocate of theistic evolution. He defended the teaching of evolution in schools and rejected creationism. He was involved in a dispute with the creationist William Jennings Bryan and In 1918 he was called to First Presbyterian Church, and on May 21, 1922, he delivered his famous sermon Shall the Fundamentalists Win?, in which he defended the modernist position. In that sermon he presented the Bible as a record of the unfolding of God’s will, not as the literal “Word of God”. He saw the history of Christianity as one of development, progress, and gradual change. Fundamentalists regarded this as rank apostasy, and the battle-lines were drawn.          He was also an active anti-Zionist.

      I hate to bore you with more details, but I believe it’s important for those of us in the Body of Christ today to know our enemy— know who, when, where, and how that Satan has been (and is) using to bring about his centuries-long desire to rule the world through the antichrist. Research into these plans, plots and ploys gives us a great perspective and understanding of how the enemy works, thus sharpening our discernment so that we can stand for the truth. (It should likewise stir us up to be vigilant to guard against voting for the political agents of Satan who never cease in their attempts to overthrow our Republic and enslave us all to the dictates of an antichrist leadership.)

      Having said that, here is more information for you to consider in light of the “falling away” of the church that we see all around us today. (2 Thessalonians 2:2, 3.) “The national convention of the General Assembly of the old Presbyterian Church in the USA in 1923 charged Fosdick’s local presbytery in New York to conduct an investigation into Fosdick’s views. A commission began an investigation, as required. His defense was conducted by a lay elder, John Foster Dulles (1888–1959, future Secretary of State under President Dwight D. Eisenhower in the 1950s), whose father was a well-known liberal Presbyterian seminary professor. Fosdick escaped probable censure at a formal trial by the 1924 General Assembly by resigning from the First Presbyterian Church (historic “Old First”) pulpit in 1924. He was immediately called as pastor of a new type of Baptist church ministry at Park Avenue Baptist Church, whose most famous member was the industrialist, financier and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr.. Rockefeller then funded the famed ecumenical Riverside Church (later a member of the American Baptist Churches and United Church of Christ denominations) in Manhattan’s northwestern Morningside Heights area overlooking the Hudson River and nearby Columbia University, where Fosdick became pastor as soon as the doors opened in October 1930. [Emphasis mine.]

      This prompted a Time magazine cover story on October 6, 1930 in which Time said that Fosdick: “…proposes to give this educated community a place of greatest beauty for worship. He also proposes to serve the social needs of the somewhat lonely metropolite. Hence on a vast scale he has built all the accessories of a community church—gymnasium, assembly room for theatricals, dining rooms, etc. … In ten stories of the 22-story belltower are classrooms for the religious and social training of the young…” [Underlining mine.] Wow. And here I thought all this stuff going on in the churches today of taking the Lord’s money for gymnasiums, theater settings, entertainment props, and so forth, was something new. This unbiblical, ungodly, and worldly, man-centered garbage began before I was even born! And, that includes the associations to humanism, psychology, and socialism, which inevitably paves the way to atheistic communism.

      Now here is a little more information for you on the definition of Liberal Christianity, according to Wikipedia, “Liberal Christianity, also known as liberal theology, covers diverse philosophically and biblically informed religious movements and ideas within Christianity from the late 18th century onward. Liberal does not refer to progressive Christianity or to political liberalism but to the philosophical and religious thought that developed and grew as a consequence of the Enlightenment.” Again, according to Wikipedia, “The Age of Enlightenment (also known as the Age of Reason or simply the Enlightenment) was an intellectual and philosophical movement that dominated the world of ideas in Europe during the 18th century, the ‘Century of Philosophy.’”

      There is so much more that can be discovered of the historical root system of this evil “tree” that has spread over the earth with its poisonous fruit of unbelief, mockery, distortion, elimination, reinterpretation and rejection of the Word of God and the faith “once delivered unto the saints” Jude 3. The Apostle John warned, “For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son” 2 John 7-9.

      If we could “dig” down through time along the root system of this “evil tree” that seeks to undermine, reinterpret, dilute, diminish, desecrate, and  destroy the clear teachings of God’s Word, (and the true Church) our tunnel would bring us clear back to the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2 and the battle against Gnosticism, which, by the way, is alive and well today, but that is another subject. For those interested in an in-depth study of the real story of the church itself that is not recorded in either secular or church history books may I recommend the invaluable book The Pilgrim Church by missionary E. H. Broadbent (1861-1945). His missionary work from 1900 into the 1920s took him to Austria, Belgium, Egypt, Germany, Poland, Russia, Turkey, the Baltic states, North and South America, and Uzbekistan. He spoke fluent French and German and could speak some Russian. Be forewarned, this book is not for “armchair” easy reading, and it does require the reader to put on his or her “thinking cap.” (Which is good for all of us from time to time!)

      Back to our “elephant” named Hell. For a professing “Christian” to deny that hell is real is an admission that he or she is not “abiding in the doctrine of Christ” for Jesus spoke and taught a great deal about hell, mentioning it about 16 times, It is significant to note that hell and the judgment of God are referred to over 180 times in the New Testament alone (hell, judgment, torment, fire, destruction, wrath, punishment, etc.). J. C. Ryle said, “I believe the time is come when it is a positive duty to speak plainly about the reality and eternity of hell…The watchman who keeps silence, when he sees a fire, is guilty of gross neglect…and the minister who keeps back hell from his people in his sermons is neither a faithful nor a charitable man…He is the kindest friend who tells me the whole extent of my danger.”

      Why is it imperative for the true church to teach on hell? Consider the following: 1) Failure to preach and teach on hell is a failure to preach the whole counsel of God. Paul said in Acts 20:27, “For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.” Picking and choosing which Scriptures to believe (or teach) and which ones to not believe (or teach) is another way of “taking away from the Word of God.” It is disobedience born out of a haughty spirit and a high opinion of self, which is sin. Jesus warned, And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28.

      2) To diminish the reality and relevance of hell is to diminish the holiness of God, for in His holiness he cannot even look upon sin. “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity” Habakkuk 1:13a. Those who disbelieve what the Word of God plainly states are calling Him a liar. In fact, we either have to believe all of the Bible, from Genesis through Revelation, or none of the Bible. Who is going to determine just which parts of the Bible we are to believe? (Although some people—with the help of Jesuits–are doing just that with their so-called modern “versions” and they will suffer grave consequences for doing so.) (For the shocking truth of the erosion of God’s Word by the Jesuits and dishonest linguists is recorded in the well-documented book, Why They Changed The Bible by David W. Daniels, available from www.Chick.com.) 

      3) Failure to teach on hell gives people a false sense of security and erases reasons to be motivated to obey Christ and share Him with others. It also opens the door for foolish jesting and silliness which God warns against, and such disbelief discourages people to be of a sober mind. “But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer” 1 Peter 4:7. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” 1 Peter 5:8.

      4) The true Gospel will not be preached without warning others of the reality of hell for every unrepentant sinner. It’s against the backdrop of hell that people come to the realization that they need to be cleansed and saved from their sins. The good news is that God sent His Son to be the Savior of the world. How can people truly rejoice in the good news if they don’t understand the bad news? Iain Murray says, “No one was converted without knowing that he needed to be.” If there is no hell, then sin is no “big deal” either, and since Universalism is on the rise with its belief that we’ll all end up in heaven anyway, why worry?. What a satanic lie that is! If there’s a heaven, then there’s a hell!

      5) Those who refuse to preach or teach on hell lack love for others, and are disobedient to Jesus who gave us the great commission to go into all the world and preach the Gospel and make disciples. In Ezekiel 3:17-21 God gives a sober warning that if we do not warn sinners, then their blood is on our hands.

      6) How can people, who have never truly repented because they do not believe in hell, truly obey the First Commandment to “Love the LORD thy God with all thine heart and with all thy soul, and with all thy might” if they have never been washed in the blood of the Lamb and known the great joy of being set free from the terrible burden of sin; set free from the despair of separation from God, and eternal life; and set free from the fear of eternity in hell? Jesus said, “Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little” Luke 7:47.

      7) Failure to teach on the reality of hell (and heaven) has greatly contributed to the “death culture” we are now living in. How so? Consider this, people no longer fear a place of total separation from God where their souls will suffer eternal torment. Flirting with dark forces, experimenting with demonic influences, an obsession with satanism, witchcraft, skulls and everything else morbid and macabre is the manifestation of gross unbelief in all that the Bible teaches. People commit suicide to end the different forms of mental, emotional and/or physical misery and suffering they are experiencing in this life; however, if they knew that hell is real, would they be so anxious to murder themselves and possibly end up there? 

      Oh! What has happened to the church triumphant? The answer is clear—she has left her first love and gone to sleep in the arms of the world. There she lounges on couches of fabricated lies, lulled to sleep by the fantasies she longs to hear. Her rich silver-tongued lovers are adored by the world and the worldly church, and who can wake her? The Sword, the Bible, that most priceless gift from heaven that has stood through the centuries as a beacon of truth, hope and light against the battlements of reprobate man, Satan, devils and hell itself could wake her, but in her bedazzled state the Word of God has lost its appeal. Soon the Bridegroom will come and only those who are prepared and have oil in their lamps will go in with Him to the marriage. Too late, too late sleepy church, for when the bridegroom comes to take His bride and the door closes, you will be left behind.

      The question is, is your lamp burning today?