Harmony on the Ship

Paul Billheimer in his book, Love Covers, expressed a basic truth:

The continuous and widespread fragmentation of the Church has been the scandal of the ages. It has been Satan’s master strategy. The sin of disunity probably has caused more souls to be lost than all other sins combined.”

We were all lost in darkness and sin when God in His mercy found and rescued us. The Captain called us to join the navy ship that will carry us safely to the other shore.

The Master accepted us with our sins, failures and foibles, yet we came on board and soon started to pick on others who were different.

“Why are you not wearing our uniform?” one group asks another.

“You don’t use the 1611 translation of our manual, stay in your deep, dark sea!” says one group to another.

Some sailors even said, “Anyone who doesn’t have a Tulip pass code belongs to a pirate ship.”

We are all on the ship of Faith to serve. Different tasks for different folks.

Some rescue others from the water; some train the crew on how to work diligently.

Some help others detect warning signs and avoid dangers; some nurse the sick back into health; some ward off the enemies with mighty weapons and some work on the engines – the power house. Yet there’s schism in the ship.

Some members speak to the Captain in a personal language; critics said that language is fake, jibber jabber and extinct.

There were debates over payments of one tenth. There were quarrels over music – some wanted hymns, some preferred contemporary music.

Some wanted fixed patterns of meeting, others desired spontaneity.

There were arguments over timing of the tribulation storm – some said it would hit after we landed safely on shore, others said before it, and a third category said we are already in it.

Each group blasted the other as heretics.

Fights broke out. Some sailors were no longer on speaking terms. Members began to spite members from other groups.

Like children squabbling at the dinner table, they were pointing cutlery at each other, cutting one another off from supplies of cooked rice and stew right in the Father’s presence.

Some broke away to form their own “elite” groups – little empires built around their sailors – while attacking ex-colleagues from afar.

But the Captain had prayed: “That all of them may be one…” (John 17:21). That was His purpose. We have one Captain – Jesus Christ; one deck – the Kingdom; It’s one ship but many rooms. So why are there schisms?

Many Christians have made an idol out of their denominations. They carry it on their heads like a bag of cement.

I have reached a point where I don’t let anyone pigeon-hole me with denomination. I leave people to speculate on that. I simply want to be known as a Christian. It’s the content of a bottle that matters, not the label on it. Regrettably, many still refuse to see beyond the labels.

I was raised in an Anglican church. My childhood memories were of bright Sunday mornings; of ringing church bells, classic hymns and big church pews.

When I was 7, my mother began attending a Pentecostal church. Being that the Anglican communion was a ‘family church,’ that change earned my parents some flak from family and friends.

We were scorned for attending a “penterascal” church “where young pastors sleep with other men’s wives.” Our family patriarch became so hostile that he withheld his pecuniary promises to us.

Years later, in my undergraduate days, I began to attend a fervently praying church close by. Soon, I began to get snide remarks and mockeries – from fellow Christians – each time I mentioned the fellowship I attended. I had to put up some reticence as a barricade.

Even my home church began to attack this other praying church as heretical and fanatical, urging members to dispose of their books.

I soon observed that my recent church, though it claims to be “non-denominational,” also had a dim view of other churches. If you didn’t keep up with their litany of regulations, you were treated like an outcast.

In spite of the rigid rules, the same vices they decried in other groups were also in theirs. I decided to join another fellowship.

When the news broke that I now attended a Charismatic church, feathers were ruffled; some old friends instantly distanced themselves.

Apparently, they expected negative things to befall me as “proof” that I left the right way, but my life actually improved to the glory of God.

During my service year, I began to attend a Fundamentalist church close to where I lived, but during a sermon one Sunday, the leader of the church rather facetious said: “All these other denominations are no longer following the truth. They used to, but not anymore.”

That was it: the same mentality I had encountered time and again – “we alone” have the whole truth and others don’t.

Even online, I saw unnecessary battles among Christians. They seem to deploy more efforts in running down fellow Christians than reaching out to the lost and the hurting. It was tragic.

A friend once sent me a link to David Cloud’s Way of Life February 2016 article. I read it over and again and what I saw there was a ministry of condemnation.

There’s no way we will ever achieve anything good together if we keep engaging in denominational cat fights.

Romans 14:1 “Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgement on disputable matters.”

Some matters are essential e.g the Divine Trinity, the Deity of Christ, exclusive salvific role of Christ, salvation by grace through faith and the final authority of the Bible etc.

On the other hand, some matters are disputable and non-essentials e.g. type of music, dress codes for women and jewellery use, use of anointing oil, church administration, observance of Christmas or Easter etc.

We must learn to accept Christians who differ in disputable matters just as God has accepted them.

Romans 15:7 “Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.”

Christ didn’t accept us because we were perfect; He didn’t accept us because we met up with a standard of traditions, a labyrinth of denominational regulations or a 5-point theological system. Therefore, our acceptance of others shouldn’t be conditioned on them.

John 13:35 “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

This “one another” must transcend denominational, ethnic, national or racial barriers. Otherwise, we are not living up to our Christian discipleship.

It’s a shame how the church in Nigeria has been so ethnically divided to the point that a politician would mandate his kinsmen never to attend any church led by another ethnic group. Anyone defending such hateful rhetoric needs to examine whose disciple he/she really is.

Ephesians 4:3 “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”

That means we must emphasize what unites us instead of what divides us.

If we really adhered to this, a number of combative Christian Facebook groups would be taken down. While some of these discussion forums do foster mutual understanding, most of the time, they engender strife and needless debates on trivial matters.

In Mark 9:33-34 Jesus asked His disciples “What were you arguing about on the road?” They “had argued about who was the greatest.”

Notice that this was also in the apostles – the primal tendency of assuming superiority over others.

No matter the ministry God has called us to; no matter what gifts, talents or anointing we have; no matter our level of knowledge and achievements, we are all equal before God who called us.

Those working in the power house must not denigrate those warning others of dangers.

Those providing meals should not discredit the work of those rescuing the drowning.

Those removing the barnacles from the ship must not repudiate those warding off the sharks.

Our callings and ministries cannot all be the same. The foot should not say “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body” and the eye shouldn’t say to the hand “I don’t need you” (1 Cor. 12:15, 21).

In Mark 9:38-39 John said to Jesus “We saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me.”

Doesn’t the charge of the disciples sound familiar yet?

“Shut up! You’re not part of our little group!” or “Unless you are in our mould, your works in His name are fake.”

But Jesus pointed to the inner content of their faith. If their faith is truly in Christ and the fruits of their life testify to it, even if they are not in our group or agree with us in every detail, they are our brothers and sisters in Christ.

I’m neither approving of blind tolerance nor blanket rejection, but love and acceptance of all who truly believe in Jesus and adhere to His Word.

Recently, I’ve had to challenge a Christian guy:

“If you are truly serving Christ; if you were redeemed by His blood and if your citizenship is in heaven, where is your ethnicity? Where is your heritage? Where is your identity? We all gave up our earthly class, earthly heritage and tribes to become citizens of a different Kingdom.”

We cannot see eye to eye on every issue but we must be willing to build bridges and learn something from fellow Christians instead of cutting them off in arrogance or attacking them from afar in ignorance.

Anglicans taught me orderliness. Pentecostals led me to salvation and taught me how to walk in the Spirit. Charismatics taught me how to love and worship.

Fundamentalists helped me to be grounded doctrinally. Calvinists taught me apologetics and the non-denominationals taught me spiritual warfare.

I’m still learning from others.

 

Was The Reformation a Runaway Train?

Disinformation is an intentional spread of false or inaccurate information designed to discredit a conflicting information or support false conclusions. Catholicism has perfected this tactic to a tee. As a result, the Protestant Reformation has been caricatured and the Reformers demonized. Rome portrays the Reformation as a runaway train, inspired by wanton lust, arrogance and self-independence in order to justify her apostasy and falsehoods.

Today, a number of well-researched books and Christian websites have cleared up much of the disinformation Catholics are being fed with by Rome’s legatees. But let’s take a look at some examples:

“The Roman Catholic Church was the only Christian Church in existence prior to the Reformation, therefore, if it went into apostasy, then Christ’s promise that the gates of hell would not prevail against the church failed”

There are several false assumptions wrapped up in this one sentence. First, what is today called the “the Roman Catholic Church” was not a monolithic system that sprang up from Christ’s apostles (like Athena from Zeus’ skull) retaining a doctrinal continuity for 2,000 years. It was a gradual invasion and taking root of false doctrines all through the centuries that gave rise to it. It took much time and circumstances – often the influence of pagan ideas – for Roman Catholicism to emerge into what it is:

“The magnificent conception of a Catholic church bound together in one organization, one faith, one ritual could hardly have been realized by imagination alone, without the aid of time and circumstances” (James Thompson, Edgar Nathaniel Johnson. An Introduction to Medieval Europe, W. W. Norton & co., 1937, 46).

This is why ancient catholicity and modern Roman Catholicism are as different as chalk and cheese. The fact is, not all Christian churches were part of the Latin church even in the 4th century. The Edict of the Emperors Gratian, Valentinan II and Theodosius of February 27, 380 shows this:

“We order those who follow this doctrine to receive the title of Catholic Christians, but others we judge to be mad and raving and worthy of incurring the disgrace of heretical teaching, nor are their assemblies to receive the name of churches. They are to be punished not only by Divine retribution but also by our own measures, which we have decided in accord with Divine inspiration” (Sidney Ehler and John Morrall, Church and State Through the Centuries, Burns & Cates, 1954, 7).

Even though what these early writings meant by “catholic” is far different from what Roman Catholicism espouses, yet it’s clear that it was because of the “heretics” outside it that the Inquisition was brought up. Bishop Alvaro Palayo, an official of the Curia, also made a reference to these Christians about 300 years before the Reformation:

“Considering the Papal court has filled the whole Church with simony, and the consequent corruption of religion, it is natural enough the heretics should call the Church the Whore” (De Planct Eccl. ii. 28 cited by Ignaz von Dollinger, The Pope and the Council, London, 1858, 185).

Martin Luther also said: “We are not the first to declare the papacy to be the kingdom of Antichrist, since for many years before us so many and such great men (whose number is large and whose memory is eternal) have undertaken to express the same thing so clearly and plainly” (Ewald Plass, What Luther Says, Vol. 1, 36)

When Jesus said the gates of hell would not prevail over His church, He was referring to the revelation of Himself which Peter expressed (Matt. 16:18). The gates of hades are powerless against the church as long as she believes and confesses this truth. This is based on Christ’s faithfulness, not an alleged “charism of infallibility.” Jesus was referring to the Church, His Body (all true Believers) in that passage, not an institution.

Roman Catholicism is a departure from Christ and the faith “once handed down” by its denial of the sufficiency of Scripture, the sufficiency of Christ and His sacrifice. So, the promise in Matthew no longer applies to it (Jude 3). The apostasy of the Roman church became full-blown at the council of Trent (16th century) where it codified its false doctrines.

Notably, the Council of Trent wasn’t a linear continuation of the Latin or Medieval church. In fact, the Western church before Trent was more pluralistic in doctrine than the Roman church between Trent and Vatican I. Therefore, one can say there were Christians in the Roman system and outside of it through the centuries. These were the ones who constituted the true Church, not the religious institution.

The only “Christian” groups outside the Catholic Church before the Reformation were heretical. The Albigenses were Manicheans (Dualists) who practiced mass suicide and sexual immorality

In Catholic lingo, a “heresy” is any deviation from a doctrine defined by the Church. Apparently, these Christian movements were judged as heretics, not on the basis of their writings in contrast with Scripture, but for their disagreement with the Roman church (Rome positions itself as the standard of orthodoxy).

For instance, Priscillian, the Bishop of Avila, was falsely accused of “heresy,” immorality and witchcraft and beheaded (along with 6 others) in 385 A. D. whereas 7 of the works he wrote to refute these charges have been discovered in the library of the University of Wurzburg, Germany.

In the same vein, most of the sources accusing the Albigenses of heinous crimes are Catholic works, which may not be reliable. Even when one examines some of them, certain truths still emerge. James Capelli, a 13th century Franciscan lector in Milan wrote:

“The rumors of the fornication which is said to prevail among them is most false. For it is true that once a month either by day or by night, in order to avoid gossip by the people, men and women meet together, not, as some lyingly say, for purposes of fornication, but that they may hear preaching … They are wrongfully wounded in popular rumor by malicious charges of blasphemy from those who say that they commit many shameful and horrid acts of which they are innocent” (Walter Wakefield and Austin Evans, Heresies of the High Middle Ages, University of Michigan Library, 1991, 305).

Surprisingly, Catholic inquisitors wrote that Albigenses “were condemned for speculations.” Their trial showed they believed “a Christian church ought to consist of only good people … [that] the church ought not to persecute any, even the wicked; the law of Moses was no rule for Christians; there was no need for priests, especially of wicked ones; the sacraments and orders, and ceremonies of the church of Rome were futile, expensive, oppressive, and wicked…” (William Jones, The History of the Christian Church, New York, 1824, 455)

Apart from the Albigenses, there were also the Waldenses, Bogomils and Poor men of Lyons whose few surviving writings showed they were “heretics” to Rome only. Two notable works: History of the Evangelical Churches of Piedmont (1648) by Samuel Morland and An Inquiry into the History and Theology of the Ancient Valdenses and Albigenses (1838) by George Fabler, drew on works dating back to the 13th century indicating that the beliefs of these pre-Reformation groups were similar to those of Evangelicals today.

“It is now clearly known that the Paulicans were not Manicheans” says a historian, “the same thing may probably be said of the Albigenses.” He added, “The Roman Catholic Church sought diligently for excuses to persecute. Even Luther was declared by the Synod of Sens to be a Manichean. The Archbishop Usher says that the charges of Manicheanism on the Albigensian sect is evidently false” (John Christian, The Glorious Recovery of the Vaudois, London, 1857, 1 xvii).

The Reformation was just a revolt from the mystic from Wittenberg (Martin Luther), the logical orthodox from Geneva (John Calvin) and the heterodox rationalist from Zurich (Ulrich Zwingli)

This is a disinformation. The Reformation was not a “revolt” by any means, since the Reformers stood for the same truths that many within and without the Roman church all through the centuries stood for.

Archbishop Agobard of Lyons (779-840) spoke against image worship and the church’s unbiblical liturgies and practices. Bishop Claudius (8th century) rejected Catholic traditions, saints and relic veneration. Peter of Bruys (12th century) spoke against Catholic dogmas and left the priesthood; he was killed for it.

Henry of Lausanne, a monk, who exposed the errors of Rome was arrested in 1148; he died in prison. Berengar of Tours opposed transubstantiation based on Scripture, the church fathers and reason; he was excommunicated.

Men like Jan Hus, John Wycliffe, William Tyndale and Wessel Gansfort stood for the supremacy of Scripture long before the Reformation. Contrary to what Catholics are made to believe, Luther, Calvin and Zwingli were neither loons nor buffoons. They proved their cases by appealing to the church fathers, church councils and reason.

When Luther posted his 95 theses at the door of the church of Wittenberg, he still adhered to some Catholic doctrines (e.g purgatory, Mariolatry etc). His intention was to reform the church from within, not to leave it. But when the Roman church couldn’t prove its ideas from Scripture, but instead excommunicated Luther at the Diet of Worms, he had to leave.

Other lesser-known Reformers were Nicolaus von Amsdorf, Henry van Zutphen, Propst Jakob, Johann Esch, Heinrich Voes and Hess Kaspar. Most of them were killed for disagreeing with Rome. Catholics may have sank too deep to question the tyrannical system of Rome that crushes every voice of dissent, nevertheless, the Reformation was God’s plan to call His people out of an apostate religious system.

The Protestant church was started by King Henry VIII who wasn’t allowed to take an extra wife by the Pope

This remark is quite revealing, though not in the way Catholics intend. Henry VIII was a staunch Catholic who wrote a polemic Assertion of the Seven Sacraments Against Martin Luther (which earned him the title ‘Defender of the Faith’ from the Pope). In 16th century England, the Catholic church was not in the good books of the common people. The priests were immoral; the church owned about a fifth of all property in England and levied heavy taxes on the people.

Then the King wanted an annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon so he could marry the more beautiful and perhaps more fertile Anne Boleyn. But Pope Clement VII, pressured by Catherine’s nephew, Emperor Charles V, refused to grant Henry’s wish. This prompted Henry VIII to break with Rome and declare himself head of England’s Catholic Church. This decision was supported by the House of Commons (since popular sentiment against Rome was already high).

“Henry was now the sole judge of what, in religion and politics, the English people were to believe” wrote a historian. “Since his theology was still Catholic in every respect except the papal power, he made it a principle to persecute impartially Protestant critics of Catholic dogma, and Catholic critics of his ecclesiastical supremacy” (Will Durant, The Story of Civilization, Simon & Schuster, 1950, VI, 529).

It was during Henry VIII’s time that Tyndale was burned at stake for translating the Bible into English. Henry died in 1547 leaving “a large sum to pay for Masses for the repose of his soul” (Ibid, 577). Contrary to what Catholics are told, he wasn’t a Protestant!

Signs of a Sinking Church

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The church can be likened to a ship sailing on a sea. As it sails, many barnacles can attach to its hull and sometimes they become so many that their weight sinks the ship. To prevent this, the ship has to be brought to a dry dock where the barnacles are knocked off.

In the same vein, when a local church allows the barnacles of the world to attach to it, it’s in the danger of sinking spiritually.

Down through the centuries, there has always been a tendency for the church to be negatively influenced by the philosophy, music, arts, and traditions of the surrounding pagan culture.

This is why in each generation, these barnacles must be removed to keep the church afloat.

As a Christian who desires to be grounded in the faith and grow to spiritual maturity, one of the challenges you will face today is finding a church that is spiritually alive and Bible-based, out of the many churches dotting our landscape.

Some church problems do not affect doctrine, and are normal, but there are certain issues that could be indicators of a spiritually sinking church. Some of these are:

1. Involvement of church leaders in the occult or partnership with cults.

This is a big sign that the ship has torn apart and is plunging down below.

It’s no longer news in some churches that many of its clergy men are actively involved cult groups like AMORC, Ogboni, Freemasonry or other forms of witchcraft. Sometimes, it’s at the funeral of such clergymen that their involvement become known.

All cultic initiations involve a clear rejection of God, Christ and the Holy Spirit, to make the initiate a vessel for demons.

Therefore, if a church leader (particularly if they teach from the pulpit) has not verbally and prayerfully renounced a past/present association with a cult group or has not destroyed his “instruments” (regalia, rings, tokens, emblems or charms), he shouldn’t be allowed to minister to the congregation.

This is why spiritual death has been released into some Christian denominations today.

An ungodly partnership usually comes into play when a Christian church invites false prophets, Islamic clerics or diviners to minister to the congregation from its pulpits. By so doing, they are giving them a level of spiritual authority over the congregation.

If a church sees nothing wrong with any of its leaders visiting pagan shrines or refuses to rebuke its key leaders openly utilizing or promoting occult techniques, such a gathering can drown you spiritually (Lev. 20:26, 1 Cor. 6:14-18).

2. Neglect of key Christian doctrines

The current apostasy in the church has made it seem “out of fashion” to emphasize some basic Christian doctrines, like the exclusivity of Christ in salvation or inerrancy of Scripture.

According to a U.S. poll, only 7% of Protestant denominations, 13% of non-denominational Protestants, 10% Pentecostal and 8% Baptists have a Biblical worldview. That’s not a good picture.

One Lutheran minister in Copenhagen even openly said: “There is no heavenly God, there is no eternal life, there is no resurrection.” (Associated Press, May 10, 2004). This is a heresy.

Heresy literally means “choosing.” It’s when a group of people choose how much of the Bible they want to believe or accept. I call it a cut-and-paste-Bible-Syndrome.

In many African churches today, “motivational” or material prosperity sermons and miracle rallies are lauded, but “meaty” doctrines like the sufficiency of Scripture, Christian discipline, ethical conduct and exposition of erroneous doctrines in the church, evoke responses ranging from cold apathy to outright opposition.

Be very careful of a “church” that peddles teachings distorting the nature, person or the work of Jesus Christ. They are teaching a “damnable heresy” (2 Peter 2:1) and you need to jump off that ship as fast as you can.

Another area of concern is when a church has its “pet doctrines” – a doctrine that is overemphasized at the expense of “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). Some teach only on faith and healing; some teach only about Old Testament judgements, while some teach only on spiritual warfare and nothing else.  This usually leads to doctrinal excesses.

When you keep feeding on the same spiritual diet, you won’t grow well. It’s just like taking potato chips and soda everyday. After a year, I can bet you won’t like what you’d see in the mirror

3. A redefinition of or total silence about sin

The more a church sinks into the world, the less it will speak against sin, because that is what the world loves.

The secular society celebrates lust, envy, greed, hate, pride, name it. All these vices have been adopted by secularism and rebaptized with nicer terms.

When Psychology, rather than Scripture, becomes a church’s frame of higher authority, sins and sinners are completely redefined.

For example, drunkards are rechristened as “alcoholics”; adulterers are “just having an affair,” child molesters or rapists are just “sex addicts,” while gays are practicing “an alternative lifestyle.”

By changing the labels, the seriousness of sin is ignored and its destructive power is denied.

A sinking church avoids using words like “sin” or “repentance.” A member of such a church once told me, “Jesus didn’t ask us to talk about sin.”

Sorry, you need to start studying your Bible. Both the Old and New Testament talk about sin. How can you preach salvation without mentioning “sin?” What are the people being saved from? From a low self-esteem?

Robert Schuller, author of Tough Times Never Last, once said: “I preach repentance so positively that most people don’t recognize it.”

How can you preach something and people wouldn’t know you are preaching it? Is he also suggesting that Jesus and the saints of old who preached repentance were “too negative?”

These “positive”, utilitarian, narcissistic ‘all about me’ messages that distort the Gospel – and have sadly filled up the media – are signs of sinking ships.

4. Rejection of the doctrine of Hell

One of the signs of liberalism in a church is silence about eternal damnation.

Of course, it shouldn’t be unduly overemphasized, but it has been observed that an uncomfortable dismissal of the reality hell is a mark of apostasy.

Let me give you some examples:

The doctrinal commission of the Church of England states that:

Hell is not eternal torment, but it is the final and irrevocable choosing of that which is opposed to God so completely and so absolutely that the only end is total non-being.”

Billy Graham once said in an interview:

“Hell means separation from God. We are separated from his light, from his fellowship. That is going to be hell. When it comes to a literal fire, I don’t preach it because I am not sure about it” (Time Magazine, 15/11/93).

Schuller, mentioned earlier, defines hell as “the loss of pride that naturally follows separation from God – the ultimate and unfailing source of our soul’s sense of self-respect. ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ was Christ’s encounter with hell. In that ‘hellish’ death our Lord experienced the ultimate horror … A person is in hell when he has lost his self esteem” (Self-Esteem: The New Reformation, 1982, 14-15, 93).

Though these people used Christian terminologies, they have redefined hell to suit their false theology.

Jesus – the embodiment of God’s love – warned us the most about Hell (Matt. 5:22, 8:11-12, 13:40 etc). We can play with anybody’s words, but we dare not play with the words of the Lord Jesus Christ. He wasn’t some theologian or a philosopher in search of truth. He is the Word of God made flesh.

5. Seeker Friendly methodologies

The “seeker friendly” method of church growth involves a pastor taking a survey in his community and asking unbelievers what sort of church service they want, the sermons they want to hear etc.

Based on these surveys, the pastor then adjusts his church to suit the people’s needs. It’s a marketing strategy.

Pastors using this method believe they are competing in a buyer’s market, so they feel they cannot alienate their “customers.”

This method attempts to re-define God to appease unbelievers. The emphasis of such churches is not on God or what He requires of us, but on man and what will increase his self-esteem.

The seeker movement gives people the “religion” they want instead of the convicting truth they need. When Paul preached the True God to the Athenians, “some mocked and others said, we will hear thee again of this matter” (Acts 17:32-34). Hardly a “seeker-sensitive” message.

A big flaw of the “seeker friendly” movement is the assumption that membership size, buildings and other externalizations are the only goals that count. Thus they invest more on material things that will pull much crowd: entertainment, jamborees, sumptuous meals, basketball courts, spas etc.

As good as these things are, the real emphasis of Christianity is to be drawn by the Father to Christ and built up in Him.

The early Believers didn’t utilize man-made strategies to bring people to Christ, rather “the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47b).

Jesus didn’t ask the Jewish leaders what type of church they wanted neither did His apostles take a survey of the heathen to know what they wanted to hear.

This “seeker sensitive” method reduces Jesus to a needed “product,” and “sells” the gospel to the lost, who are the consumers. But any attempt to present Jesus as a “product” is to refashion Him or adjust His image to appeal to the felt needs of the consumer-happy culture.

With such a backdrop, every teaching of Christ that the heathen finds “offensive” is tossed into the trash can.

A famous pastor of such a “seekers sensitive” eeker  based in Houston, Texas, was once interviewed by Larry King and was asked if Muslims or Hindus would be in heaven without accepting Christ. He answered:

You know, I’m very careful about saying who would and wouldn’t go to heaven. I don’t know…Well, I don’t know if I believe they’re wrong…I spent a lot of time in India with my father, I don’t know all about their [Hindu] religion. But I know they love God. And I don’t know. I’ve seen their sincerity. So I don’t know.”

How typical. They avoid offending their consumers with the truth, but rather soothe them with motivational philosophies dressed up in a carefully selected set of Bible verses. Christ Himself is “the rock of offence” (Rom. 9:33) and there is the “offence of the cross” (Gal. 5:11).

The true gospel offends and convicts a sinner. Far from being “sensitive,” any gospel that is designed to tickle people is often a false gospel that will damn those who believe it.

If your church is sinking, there could still be hope. In some cases, you may need to pray and call attention to it.

In some cases, you may need to sit down with your leader(s) and reason with him from the Bible. If he’s not willing to go by Scripture, then it would be better to look for another fellowship where the Word of God is honoured and Christ is glorified.

Men can create an organization and call it a “church” but that doesn’t mean it’s a true church of the Lord Jesus Christ.