What Does It Really Mean When God Says to Come Out of Her?
In my last article – which became a second article of what I had intended to be a one and only, so I guess this one is the third in an unintentional series – I talked about the fact that the worldly corporate system has infiltrated too many visible churches, parachurches, and other religious organizations. In essence, corporate marketing schemes have taken over many churches. Now, instead of prayer followed by God-given illumination regarding His will, and a fulfillment of that will, too many churches keep marketing agencies on retainer and do whatever those marketing agencies suggest…for a price of course.
Years ago, we attended a neighborhood church in California that was not far from us. There were some exciting things happening there and the church itself met in a local high school. As it grew, land was needed in order to build a “campus” for Christ. Eventually, land was purchased and several buildings were built. We left before that happened though because it became very clear to us that the church was spending thousands of dollars on a marketing agency, using worldly principles to establish God’s will.
Each Sunday, as the building campaign gained momentum, congregants were given trinkets/baubles, cards, calendars, etc., (all things that cost money), with reminders or verses on them that connected directly to the building campaign. In all ways, people were “encouraged” to give. Aside from this though, we also began to realize that this particular church was becoming heavily emergent. In fact, I did some research and noticed that they were listed on the website of “Forty Days of Purpose” author and promoter, Rick Warren. It became quite clear that aside from spending thousands on a marketing agency, the church was buying products – lessons, posters, sermons, etc. – from Warren’s website.
Before we left, we saw this church go from teaching the Bible to entertaining the people. The music became progressively more “upbeat” and loud. Eventually, a well-known (within Christian music circles), guitarist/singer was hired by the church to be the main worship “pastor.” I had seen this same guy perform for a very well-known rock singer who went off from his main rock group on a solo career. He had picked up the guitarist from all the guitar demo tapes sent to him. It put this young man on a path to fame and not a little fortune either.
At any rate, we left that church for another. It wasn’t long before we noticed some of the same things happening in that church that had occurred in the church we had left! It was starting to get annoying. I spoke to the pastor and he tried to calm my fears, but the fact remained that the church was using “Forty Days of Purpose” just as the previous one had done. Eventually, we began to hear a change in the sermons and the overall service. The music became much of the focus and more “upbeat” and loud, the sermons became less practical and more ethereal as though we were all sitting around discussing ethics, the world, and the Bible, and in general, the whole thing just became “off.”
We left that church and decided this time to find a more fundamental church. This one was about 45 minutes away from home but we felt it was worth the drive. Certainly, this church was grounded much more on solid biblical teaching, for which I was grateful. It was also during this time that I had started back to school for my master’s degree in biblical studies.
A few years into our attendance, we realized that there was a great deal of legalism evidenced by certain members. They were legalistic to a fault and the leadership didn’t really either know how to handle it or chose to ignore it for the most part. What I also began to notice is that there were people who were in leadership positions who did not know their Bibles. They couldn’t really rightly divide it or know how to apply it. A number of them went totally by the way they felt.
Eventually, I was asked to be an elder and while I appreciated being asked, something was wrong. I then began to notice that there were three individuals who came out against me being an elder and went on the attack. They did so because of their legalistic outlook and what they thought was a board in my eye. One of them even denigrated my Bible education saying he didn’t need to have a formal education in the Bible to know how to understand it. I agreed with him, but couldn’t help wonder why he seemed so incapable of rightly dividing it.
It actually came to a head after I was installed as elder. These three people came absolutely unglued and could not let it go. The pastor seemed helpless and a bit afraid. Instead of putting his biblical foot down, he acquiesced to these men and we held a meeting where I was viciously attacked. After about an hour – with no one coming to my defense – I resigned my position and walked out the door. It was absolutely ridiculous.
Looking back, I now realize that the concerns I had leading up to being installed an elder were prompted by the Holy Spirit. I simply didn’t listen though I did ask questions of my people, including and the pastor. Everything seemed to be a go, but they did not know what was going on inside me. How could they? I should have answered to the Holy Spirit, period.
We left this church and by this time, I was ready to call it quits. I’d had it. I had attended regularly, taught Sunday School classes and even extra nightly classes. I was writing books at the time and doing audio messages and I was tired. I was ready to hang it up at least for a while.
Thankfully, God didn’t let me off the hook and we quickly found a wonderful church without even looking for it that was about 45 minutes away in another direction. We quickly got involved there, I taught Bible classes and enjoyed being part of that congregation. We left that church only because we relocated from California to Georgia and the commute would have been a killer! Imagine the fuel bill, not to mention we’d have to get up three to four days early every week. 😀
Having relocated to Georgia, we visited one church and then another one. We decided to attend the second one and we were there up until about a month ago after nearly four years. During that time, the Lord used me to teach Bible classes and then put me in charge of an adult Sunday School class. We were regular attenders and enjoyed it overall.
However, several years ago, the senior pastor left. A year later, the music pastor left (to go to the same church the senior pastor had gone to). The Student Pastor became our senior pastor and the church just hired a new music pastor. During that process, a new Student Pastor was hired, but he and his family recently left to become missionaries so he was there about a year. Now, the church is looking for another Student Pastor. Meanwhile, the Youth Pastor left and the church is looking for a new Youth Pastor to replace him.
In all of this, what we’ve noticed is that this particular church – while it has leadership – seems to be without real direction. Our current pastor – a great guy – sees himself as an outreach minister. The problem though is that a senior pastor needs to be more than that. The sermons are topical rather than expositional. The music has become progressively more “upbeat” and loud. In fact, the new music director really wants everyone to clap, shout, and I think dancing in the aisles would be agreeable to him.
It’s becoming about entertainment. We sing and clap longer than we hear the Word. The Bible is taking a back seat, while the entertainment is moving up front. There is a lot of activity at the church but what does that really mean these days? It’s the same people who have been their forever who are in charge and making the decisions. One individual who was recently voted on as a Deacon is a major supporter of President Obama. He’s proud of our president and I have to wonder how any Christian can be proud of President Obama if we simply look at his record on abortion alone?
So we are visiting other churches to see what is out there and where God wants us. This is all to say that when Jesus is speaking in Revelation 18 and He says to “come out of her,” my people, He is first of all, talking to Israel during the coming Tribulation. He wants Jewish people to leave the world’s system far behind. Unfortunately, the Jewish leaders of Israel had – by this time – made a deal with Antichrist (who sits in for the devil) for peace that would never come. They sold their souls and they reap the disastrous rewards of that action. But Jesus calls to them and says, “come out of her,” meaning, to leave behind the system of Babylon. Have nothing to do with it especially in the context of worship! That’s the immediate context, but is there anything that applies to us Christians as well?
Yes, there is an application here. I believe it is this: When the world’s system (Babylon) starts invading your local church, you can try to stand against it through prayer and discussion with leadership. You will probably fail though because the world’s system cannot get into the local church without permission of the leadership. By the time you notice it, it’s already been approved by the leadership. If you can’t get leadership to see the problem, you are left with only two choices. First, you can stay and continue to pray while you quietly work to wake people up. If you do this, know that you will likely come under fire and you may eventually be seen as someone who is working against “God.” Second, you can simply leave.
There is a reason Jesus told His disciples when they preach the gospel and are rejected, they should leave that area but shake the dust off their feet before doing so as a sign of condemnation to people living there (cf. Matthew 10:14). I’m not saying that if you leave, you should become theatrical before doing so. That was for that time and easily understood then. Today, it would simply seem comical or sarcastic.
There is a point at which we should leave things behind. You may have attended the same church for years and then started noticing things. You tried to bring your concerns to the leadership but were rebuffed or even rebuked. It pains you to have to think about finding another church but that may be all that’s left for you. To stay won’t change matters. I believe when a local church has embraced the ways of the world, it’s time to leave that church because the leadership has already given its tacit approval and any dissenting voice will be seen as Satan trying to derail God’s work.
I’ve received emails (and even some letters!) from people who note the terrible times they went through with their local church. Some say they have no church they know of where they can go anymore. It stands to reason that Satan would want to infiltrate each local church, tossing out the Bible, replacing it with the world’s system of church “growth” (usually seen in quantity, not quality), entertainment, and “discussion” that passes for preaching. It’s all in an effort to create a more “relevant” church for today’s millenniums, while destroying the authority of God and His Word.
I’m not convinced that Jesus is telling us to move from one country to the next when He says “come out of her,” as some believe. It’s going to get worse all over the world. There will be no safe place. For the Jews during the time of the Tribulation, yes, they will be forced to flee to other geographical areas where God will protect them. For Christians, going to another country doesn’t mean escaping Satan’s grasp. I think in our day, to “come out of her” means to leave those churches where leadership is turning its back on God and embracing the world, even though it looks like they’re still doing what churches are supposed to do.
I want to talk next time about standing against the government too and whether Christians are called to do that. It may not seem connected, but it is, so join me then.