The Sad Reality of Churches in America Today

Heresy is drastically on the rise across America. Mainstream media and some “Biblical Pastors” such as Joel Olsteen and Benny Hinn show us just how easy it is to create a “feel good” gospel centered around self rather than Christ. Man-centered theology is an oxymoron and should not be tolerated by any Christian. We must diligently watch out for heresy in your church and in ourselves, too. In Galatians 1:8-9, Paul was making his condemnation doubly clear, when he states basically the same sentence twice, “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.”

By stating the same thing back to back, two times, he is in effect giving them a harsher condemnation. He was making certain that the Galatians knew there was no fudging on this area. We see this in scripture only a few times. Like in Philippians 4:4 where he says “Rejoice in The Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.” His repetition also implies that having false pastors (preachers and teachers) in our church is something that could and would happen often and without notice. It seeps in so insidiously.
It is so hard to decipher if we are under sound preaching. We assume our pastor went to seminary and was taught only Biblical truths. We assume, and rightfully so, that they should know more than us and that they have our best interest in mind. However a look at the path the American mainstream church has taken, we ought to think twice and take another look at our own church. We must be good Barreans and do the work ourselves. But how would we know if we have placed ourselves under a pastor who is unknowingly teaching a false gospel?

Sadly many do not. They just go to church and bible study and let others tell them what they should believe. We assume that verses such as Acts 20:29 couldn’t apply to our pastor (a “fierce wolf”). This is why it is so insidious. It seeps in through self centered behavior that comes with power. Man craves it and it is one of the easiest ways Satan gets into the heart of man (even the elect!) Think about it. Does your pastor teach directly from the Bible or does he teach topically on every-day issues then throws a verse or two in? He may even throw 20 verses in, however you can always tell if what they are teaching is man-centered or God centered. How?

Are you ready for it? Be honest with yourself on this one. When you go to church are you interested in what the pastor has to say? Do you like what he is preaching? Do you feel good after the message? Did he give you sound advice on how to be a better person in society? The time has come my friends, where people want to hear from teachers about things that they need help with to feel good. “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions” 2 Timothy 4:3.

Men behind pulpits will rise up, preaching with passion using the Bible as their cloak. “And from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them.” Read my books and do my studies they tell their people. Has your church turned into a self-help program? Many have. The monster churches (mega) of today are frightening. Yes, there are a few that are mega and still uphold the true gospel, but again, they are few. You can tell by the conviction they teach. A God-centered message is full of conviction, not ear tickling.

Consider Jesus’ own ministry. He did not say, “Come, hang out, I’ve got a bounce house for the kids, and we will be doing a carnival for the family, and oh, by the way, follow me, it’s fun, I love you and have a wonderful plan for your life.” Nope, I still can’t find any of that in the Bible. He said things like, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” (John 6:53) Jesus also said, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” (Luke 14:26)

Jesus also said things like, be overjoyed when you are persecuted on His account, and when someone hits you on the face, turn and allow him to hit your other cheek, and how about loving your enemies, or that all other religions are false (no tolerance from Jesus on this one), or that your pursuit of money is a pursuit against God. People should be up and leaving right in the middle of a sermon! That is the mark of a good pastor: teaching the truths Jesus taught might just cause people to leave. It weeds out the flock. It is a good thing! Jesus’ ministry had MANY people leaving from teaching that were too hard to hear. Man gets too hung up on staying in the black, filling the pews, having more “amens” during the sermon and more pats on the back after.

John 6:60 states “When many (MANY, not some) of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” And again in verse 66, “After this many (again MANY, not some) of his disciples (not just random people listening but his DISCIPLES) turned back and no longer walked with him.” {!!!!} This should knock the breath out of you. They turned back! They NO LONGER FOLLOWED HIM! Wow! Do you understand now? Take a good hard look at who you are placing your soul under to teach you about God’s Truth. They are just men. Not only do you need to make sure you trust your pastor and make sure you find a good one who is above all else humble to the Holy Spirit’s guidance, but also become a student of God’s word. Not a student of commentaries, but a student of the Bible. Read it. More now than you ever have before. It is THAT important!

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Modern Parable ~ The Enlightened Teacher

The young first year High School teacher eagerly awaited her first “Back to School Night” where she would finally get to meet the parents of her very first students. She made sure her classroom was just right and her dress was perfect. She wanted to make a great first impression. One by one as the parents came into her classroom, one by one the pieces started to fall into place. Every question she had about each student in her class was answered after the brief encounters she had with their parents. Her students mirrored their parents. The apple truly did not fall far from the tree. Astonishing! How could that be? Sure enough as the year went on and more interactions were had, it showed her just how much influence a home, good or bad, can have on a child.

but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” – 1 Peter 1:15-16 ESV

God calls us to be like Him. We are his children and He expects us to bring honor and not shame to His name. We are to act in a manner that mirrors and honors our Father in Heaven.

Today we hope to instill that kind of respect and honor in our children when it comes to our family name. I often tell Jacob “An O’Sullivan does things this way.” Or, “We O’Sullivans don’t do things like that.” In today’s world people are more concerned with raising children who win the most competitions and get the highest grades than they are with true family honor. However, in keeping with that idea, when a child makes great grades or wins a competition, who is the first to exclaim, “That’s my child!” We want our children to imitate us on the good stuff and look the other way on the bad stuff. Sadly, they tend to pick up our bad habits more than our good ones. “Do as I say, not as I do.” Parent teacher conference day is the most enlightening day for most teachers. If you are a teacher you know what I am thing about. About 90% of the time when a teacher meets the parents it explains pretty much all the good and the bad in respect to the in-class behavior of the student. I want to be known by the way I imitate my Dad. And guess what, he’s perfect. He says “Do what I say, and do what I do.” It’s that simple. There are no mixed signals. What an honor to be part of the family I am in. I want to make Him proud. I want him to say “That’s My child!”