Lack of Discernment is Astounding in Some Churches
Being out-of-town visiting relatives, we went to their church with them. I did some checking on the church after I found out the name of it. I looked at their statement of beliefs and a few of their “position papers” and it was unfortunate that I knew I didn’t agree. The reality seems to be that their position papers did not seem well thought out or well written. They raised more questions than they answered and a position paper is not supposed to do that.
Setting aside my concerns and without mentioning it to anyone, we went to church. Turns out the church is an independent community church. I could find absolutely nothing out about the pastor at all. There is no summary of his schooling or resume at the church’s website. I could not find out anything about him on the ‘Net either. He’s youngish, is married, and during the sermon mentioned he has four kids.
The music was a mix of modern rock and folk worship tunes where four lines of lyrics for each song are repeated over and over. I thought I was pretty up-to-date on most of the worship music out there, but I have to admit, I hadn’t heard any of these songs at all. They meandered from beginning to end. Electric and acoustic instruments tried to blend with voices to lead the congregation in worship. Most people seemed to enjoy it as evidenced by the smiles, the hand-clapping, and the swaying in their seats.
At one point, the worship leader referred generally to the Psalms where people are supposed to “sing, clap, and dance” to the Lord. If we don’t, we are being disobedient. Apparently, the worship leader is not familiar with Paul’s words regarding worship and how all things should be done in an orderly fashion (1 Corinthians 14:40). But this was a charismatic church that promoted the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
The sermon went on for an hour, which would have been fine had it been expositional and theologically sound. Instead, it was a hodge-podge of Scripture verses tagged together to promote being “empowered” by God. The idea here is that without the baptism of the Holy Spirit – which to the pastor occurs separately from receiving Christ for salvation – no real empowerment for the Christian can or does occur.
The pastor seemed to want to instruct us on everything from tongues to healings to other gifts that Christians are supposed to evidence in their lives so that people will know they are Christians. It got convoluted very fast, jumping from John 1, to John 8 to Acts 1, to Acts 8 and then to Romans 12. The emphasis was seeing real change in people as evidence that they are actually saved. I would argue that change only really comes to Christians who enter into and maintain fellowship with God in Christ. While salvation offers this path, not all Christians take it.
At one point, the pastor taught about when Jesus breathed on His disciples. “And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit’,” (John 20:22). The pastor indicated that it was at this point that these disciples actually received salvation. This is dead wrong and discounts Hebrews 11 and other areas of Scripture that talk about people being saved “by faith” in the Old and New Testaments when Jesus was not around to “breathe” on them.
At another point, we were taught that “tongues” (as a prayer language) is “pure” and goes well beyond our allegedly limited native language of English. The pastor stated that Satan has been attacking language since the beginning and allegedly, only the heavenly language of “tongues” can go beyond his reach. I’ve heard all of this before and there is no Scriptural support for it.
It is clear that God Himself created all language and did so in Genesis 11, at the Tower of Babel. The idea that the prayer language of tongues is supposedly a language that Satan cannot understand or comprehend is a completely man-made belief. Beyond this, the idea that an unknown prayer language is a powerful tool of encouragement in spite of the fact that the person using it has absolutely no clue what they are saying is completely absurd.
The pastor also tried to elevate tongues to the same level as “prophecy” even though Paul does not do this. Of course, to validate his claims, the pastor went to the original Greek essentially stating that all the English translations have it wrong. Yet, it another part of his sermon, he admitted he knew neither Hebrew or Greek, so he was simply taking someone’s word for it; a word that is clearly in the very tiny minority. He did not cite his reference and I’ve never personally read anything that supports his claim.
After the sermon ended, the associate pastor came up to close the service and said before he did he had several “words” from the Lord to share. This was like Peter Popoff without the ear prompter. One of the “words” was the “number 3.” The associate pastor also said that would mean something to someone. Another “word” had to do with someone trying to get pregnant and experiencing a great deal of anxiety over it. He said the Lord was saying “that needed to go.” Really? The Bible already tells us not to be anxious for anything (Philippians 4:6, etc.), but I guess the Lord needed to send a generalized personal reminder to someone who was trying to get pregnant…or something.
There were several other “words” the associate pastor shared with everyone, while the worship team continued playing in the background. We were then dismissed.
Is anyone else concerned? No one at church seemed to be. The associate pastor was basically speaking on behalf of the Lord here. Does that concern you? He wasn’t simply teaching out of the Bible. He was actually stating that the Lord had given him several “words” to share with the congregation. He was speaking on behalf of God Almighty. I don’t know about you, but that is a bit scary to me because that’s how demagogues are made. Beyond this, people who believe they are given “words” from the Lord pay no attention to people who point to the Bible as proof that their words are illegitimate. To them, those who rely on the Bible have not been “enlightened” yet.
This all reminds me of when I was involved in the Charismatic Movement of the 1970s and fortunately, it was for a very short time before the Lord woke me up to truth. Everyone had a “word,” and lots of things were constantly happening here, there, and everywhere as “evidence” that the Holy Spirit was doing something “new” among God’s people.
During the service the pastor said “movements were good” and pointed to the “Reformation,” “Holy Laughter,” “Azusa Street,” “Jesus Movement,” the “Toronto Blessing,” etc. He said they were limited though because God is always doing something new.
Here’s the reality. God isn’t doing anything “new.” He’s doing the same thing He’s been doing since Old Testament times. He has been offering salvation (and fellowship) to individuals and teaches us (now through His written Word), that we gain more of Jesus as we submit ourselves to Him.
The pastor also told us that we cannot get “more” of Jesus. We already have as much of Him as we can possibly have. I think I know what he means here, but the problem is that most people don’t really understand, because it’s an inaccurate way of saying it. But in actuality, Revelation 3:20 is a rebuke to the pastor’s teachings. It is possible to completely ignore Jesus, even as a Christian. While Jesus in all His fullness is available to me all the time, something is required on my part.
I have as much of my wife as I will ever get, but in truth, it takes time to get to know her. In fact, after nearly 30 years of marriage, while I do know her more today than I did when we first married, there is more of her that I can get to know and that will take time and commitment on my part to get there. It is the same with her to me.
I can learn about Jesus by reading His Word. I can also come to know Jesus by understanding that I am in relationship with Him and just like my relationship with my wife, it takes time, commitment, and effort on my part to get to actually know Jesus. I can also spend the rest of my life ignoring Jesus.
I know there are people who will disagree with me over this, but I do not need to speak in tongues or have a gift of healing in order to get to know Jesus better. In fact, there is only one way that I can get to know Jesus more and that is through my growing desire to increase the quality of my fellowship with Him. Tongues will not do it. Healings will not do it. Only fellowship and that will only occur when I submit myself to Him in obedience.
I can read the Bible all I want but if I’m not willing to follow its teachings, I will not get to know the Lord more nor will I grow in His grace. Salvation enters me into the privilege of getting to know Jesus through fellowship with Him. I can choose to not have fellowship with the King of kings and, unfortunately, many Christians do just that. I can also simply read and study the Bible to gain knowledge without ever deepening my relationship with Jesus and many people unfortunately do that. Are you one of them?
One of the things that keeps Christians from entering into fellowship with Jesus is not knowing that fellowship is available. Too many Christians attend churches that simply make them feel good. The music’s uplifting, the teaching is peppered with comedy, and over all, things sound biblical. When push comes to shove though, how many Christians actually know what the Bible says and are they living it?
There is so much more that we are not receiving from God because we are failing to do the one thing that is required of us in order to become “empowered” by God. I’m not talking about gifts of the Spirit. I’m talking about the fact that we – through our desire to know Him and our obedience in following Him – are to enter into fellowship with Him. That will keep us wanting more of Him and less of ourselves.
Discernment is a big part of this as it is only given to those who apply themselves to finding God through His Word. Without discernment, we will be tossed to and fro like every breeze or wind that comes through. We will have no stability in Christ, no firm foundation. Without discernment, all we really have is a religious form of Cultural Marxism that is quickly taking over the churches across America and elevating “feelings” above truth. Everything becomes completely subjective as absolute truth is set aside and replaced with nebulous relative feelings.
We need to apply ourselves in our relationship with Jesus just as we apply ourselves in our other relationships and, like all our relationships, our relationship with Him needs to be guided solidly by the truth of God’s Word. Just do it because there is no substitute for it.
Entry filed under: christianity, Cultural Marxism, Emotional virtue, Political Correctness, Politically Correct, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation. Tags: discernment, fellowship, gifts of the spirit, healings, holy spirit, holy spirit baptism, salvationf, tongues.