Deception is fueled by the doctrines we teach. One of them is the doctrine that our faith is enough to secure salvation once and for all, supported by the teaching on hyper-grace, cultivating a culture of ‘no work’. Yes, we are saved not by our works, but this does not mean we must become completely spiritually passive. Reading the Word, studying it, praying, ministering, and fellow-shipping is actually DOING something. Jesus went around teaching and DOING (Acts 1). But most of the work we must do has to do with our fellowship with God, and being faithful, obedient, and listening to God. But again, it does take effort to read the Word, to study it, and to learn from it. So it becomes easier to sit in a church to be spoon-fed. If one does not know the Word or the author of the Word – God – how can you test the messages preached? How can you discern what is right from wrong, from the truth and the lies? The deceptions of the Dark and Middle Ages were a result of people not having access to the Bible, but this is no longer an excuse. We also have immediate access to God.
It is becoming more obvious that believers want the blessings, but do want to be acquired to do any kind of work. And ‘work’ is not defined according to the laws of Moses, for in this sense it is not legalistic or ceremonial, but it is simply a need for repentance, renewing the mind daily, guarding the heart, guarding the tongue, and seeking a path of holiness. This is action. It is part of the spiritual disciplines. We have thus created a culture of blessings without a need to do much to qualify for such blessings, thus not entertaining in engaging in spiritual principles of praying or even fasting. We have thus formed social clubs of entertainment. It is what we call seeker-friendly churches, where the Gospel is presented to please man but not to please God. It is designed not to rattle any cages, to offend or to make you uncomfortable, but offers you a place of ‘safety’, where you feel loved, and you belong and everything is just alright. Yet, where is the Truth, for only the truth sets us free (John 8:32)? Where is a genuine cry to follow God, to submit and obey? Sadly, we have created churches where immorality is allowed because we do not wish to offend.
Churches have fallen into the trap of preaching humanism (philosophical stance of promoting solely the welfare of man) and of moral relativism (everyone determines their own brand of truth). For this reason, it has become about the Self and not God. Ever noticed how many worship songs do not even contain the word “Jesus” anymore? It is replaced by “you”. So many ministries now carry the name of their founder in its title (isn’t it supposed to be about God?). Yes, the Gospel has become watered down, and we have taken God out of the equation slowly but surely to make it all about man’s needs and wants and desires. Granted, churches are still about worshiping God, because they need God to make sure that they don’t look like a social club. We need God for the blessings and to give the desires of our hearts, all the while as we hold onto carnal desires. We need God to add some purpose to all the gatherings and the worship sessions, which are simply nothing more than entertainment posing as divine worship. Yet looks can be deceiving, and what we see these days is deceiving.
Churches have become places of showstoppers, entertainers, motivational speakers, and spiritual gurus. It is a place where the Self is exalted under the guise of Christianity. Remember, Israel never abandoned God, but they just added Baal for example to their worship. Churches have thus not completely abandoned God, but have added so many other New Age beliefs, for example, to appease the masses. This is a pseudo-Christianity. Churches are supposed to be a place of equipping, training and empowerment, thus where true discipleship can flourish, where accountability is evident and where sons and daughters are edified and encouraged to fulfill the Great Commission.
The Book of Jude is very clear about what will happen in his time and still happening today. He speaks of the dreamers that defile the flesh, rejects authority, and speak evil of dignitaries (verse 8). He speaks of how such people have gone in the way of Cain (thus murder and violence), have run greedily in the error of Balaam (also the promoter of sexual immorality and idolatry) for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah. Still today the rebellion in the Church against God’s ways and the truth continues! Jude continues to write about the apostates when he says: 12 These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; 13 raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. 14 Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, 15 to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”
Everything that Jude said is still relevant today. Nothing has changed. Paul wrote in “1 Timothy 4: 4 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, 3 forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.” Yes, we live in perilous times of apostasy and spiritual corruption. Thus Jude also wrote: “20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. 22 And on some have compassion, making a distinction; 23 but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.”
This is so important in our time and age – to stay in God and to abide in His love. To show compassion, but to also warn. To always make a distinction between what is false and real, and to act as the Spirit leads. Indeed, we must remain mindful that Jude also said there would be “mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts and these are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit) (verse 18-19). Everything that Jude said has happened and continues to happen! Yet, can we discern? Can we see what is going on?
People are flocking to preachers and pastors and prophets who are saying what they want to hear, thus the warning of 2 Timothy 4. And what people want to hear is blessings, good times, and favor. They flock to Church for they are promised a new job, a better life, a better car, a better house, and that they can do all things in Christ that strengthen them. Throughout the week people face a crisis and then on Sunday expect God to solve their crisis! Yes, they hardly did much in the week to seek God, to be obedient, and to follow Him. God has become the go-to-God for all quick fixes and solutions! And here is the trick being weaved and promoted: to get such blessings and favor, you do not really need to do much in terms of changing your life, or repenting and seeking holiness. No, all you need to do is to sow into your church, thus pay the pastor. This is part of the prosperity doctrine, incorporating distorted teachings on tithing. Yes, they are told to give to God, and then you will receive your breakthrough, your job, your car, your better life, and your healing, but all that is happening is that you are feeding the coffers of the church.
God is not into party tricks. He doesn’t jump when we pay Him something. Simony was rampant in the Catholic Churches because people thought they could pay for God’s favor and ordination. To follow God is about denying the self and carrying the cross, which is something hardly preached on anymore. To follow God is about working out your salvation with fear and trembling. It is about faithfulness, repentance, seeking God’s way, and God’s truth, and God’s path. It is about real spiritual warfare. It is engaging in a tough fight for your faith. Just look at the life of Paul. But such a road he walked we do not want to walk anymore. We do not even want to preach about hardship or suffering. Yes, let us steer clear of any teachings on judgment, on God’s wrath, on sin, on holiness, or obedience for this offends and makes people uncomfortable. Let us rather focus on the good times, on the power and the glory, and that we can get anything we call into existence (Word and Faith movement).
Of course, we are admonished to give and to be a cheerful giver. Yes, that is Biblical, but for what intent and motivation? Is it to gain for selfish reasons? Is it to be promoted at work, to find your life partner, to become wealthy and famous? It says in Romans 14:17 that the “kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Yet these days we have turned the kingdom rather into a social club of eating and drinking, and not of righteousness or of the Spirit! Let us be honest. How many believers are truly walking in the Spirit, thus yielded and submitted? The Spirit was poured out to lead us in all truth (John 16), so where is the unified truth of the church these days? Is it not because we are not led by the Spirit, this is the only Truth of God?
By the way, the easiest way to negate speaking on sin is to no longer make sin a sin! Why do you have to talk about homosexuality in the church (because then some will leave) if you can simply condone it? Why talk about all the issues on gender fluidity, abortions, and all other kinds of immorality and idolatry if you can simply approve it? If you approve it, then everyone feels comfortable and no one feels condemned. Let us rather create social clubs of belonging and loving and where everybody feels welcomed, and a place of good music. And yes, in the process we have also systematically taken away hell from our doctrines and the existence of the devil. The problem is if you take away sin, why then do you need a Saviour, and thus the Cross and the Blood? Some believers probably think they do not even need a Saviour anymore.
They want to feel good and joyous, so we have created a pseudo-Christianity of fellowship, of blessings and good times with the flavor of divinity but void of any real relationship or connectivity. Give what people want to hear, and you shall flourish in the ministry. Speak the truth of the Word, and people cringe. We are after all not supposed to rebuke or correct or reproof anymore, which is contrary to the Word of God.