We might believe in God, but do we believe God?

Anyone can believe in God, but it takes true faith to believe God.

Jesus said “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”

And so it becomes clear that to discount His Word is to not believe God.

There is a slight similarity between the Old Testament prophet Habakkuk and myself. In the way Habakkuk looked in anguish at Judah for all of their sin, and heresy, and breach of covenant between God and man, I look at the modern day churches in similar fashion. Habakkuk was wondering why God hadn’t punished them for this flagrant sin-life that they were living and wallowing in. I wonder the same thing about the modern churches. 

The Israelites had disdain for the Mosaic laws and tended to their own treacherous hearts. They were supposed to be God’s people, yet they would turn quickly and worshipped Baal, offered their children to Molech, slayed horses for the sun god, and completely let the Temple fall into ruin. The Temple had literally just been restored years before and the people even had a slight revival, but, that was short lived and they turned back to pagan ways and discarded God.

This activity is somewhat similar to the churches today. It doesn’t take keen understanding of the Bible to see that people who call themselves Christians are running hand in hand with the pagan culture and society. The church has introduced, accepted, and is teaching the ways of the world over the Word of God. Instead of looking to God’s Word, the Bible, they have cast it into a general population of heathen books that are filled with titles that offer self-help, or how to do your own thing, or here are other ways to god or become like god. Ecumenical teachings have allowed the bleeding in of other religions, and consequently other religions have brought in teachings that focus on self and push social and philosophical methods. And this is what is taking forefront in what used to be houses of worship. Instead of preaching the whole Word of God, they preach man.

What started as a movement to unify Christians, has now become a pagan culture that resides within the walls of modern Christian “churches”. But this shouldn’t surprise us. 

Like Satan in the Garden of Eden, it began with questioning God’s Word. The text “Did God say…” has become the marching order of new age theologians and seminary schools that pump out newly indoctrinated graduates into the mainstream church polity and begin filling the congregation’s heads with misleading, twisted, and flat-out heretical teachings. 

In Romans chapter 1, we read God explaining the very thing that fuels His wrath more than anything else. Starting at verse 18 Paul writes: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness,”. Who suppress HIS truth! Replacing or twisting the truth of God is suppressing His truth! 

The rest of the section says: “because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

— Romans 1:19-25 

I saw this first hand at a church I had attended for many years. It was a great place with wonderful worship and fellowship. The teaching pastor was highly accredited with degrees from reputable Christian Universities and even was a professor at one. He is a gifted speaker, passionate about his preaching. Charismatic in his style, he was well liked and personable to everyone. He wrote books upon books that drew large sales. But then, one day, something came across my church bulletin that created some confusion.

This pastor was in process of a new book and had let out a form of introduction to the congregants to review, ask questions, and pre-order the book. Since I was still learning and digesting the Word, I didn’t have a clue as to what it meant. I read the materials over and over and didn’t feel like this was right. It actually bothered me. The next Sunday, I asked the pastor to elaborate some of the sampler he had distributed. He briefly let me know that this was God’s plan for humanity, that we are part of that plan, and that we can even have a say into the future plans.  This theology is called Open Theism. I also learned another new term that weekend: Arminianism.

Now, without getting too deep, I will state right here that I do not adhere to either of these philosophies of thought. But, this new revelation caused me to dive into the Word of God, sort of like the Bereans…testing everything said. As I’ve mentioned before, I am certainly no theologian, but when you get a sense something isn’t right, you have to really check it out. The one positive of this revelation was this opened up a world that I never knew existed to my naive little mind. And I will say with certainty that knowing theology is very important to helping you grow in sanctification as a Christian.

There are two major “camps” in the Christian religion: Calvinism and Arminianism. From there extend millions of variations and such, none of which I am going to delve into as it doesn’t apply to what I am talking about. And I will NOT say that if you hold to Arminianism or Calvinism that you are not saved. But what all this does show is that there are many schools of thought and theologies out there and so much of it is very unbiblical! We can easily see some of it today with the likes of Joel Osteen and Paula White who preach, teach, and claim many things that are easily and clearly refuted just by opening the Bible. But there are many subtle things as well that could easily steer the flock away from the Shepard. 

To build on my personal example mentioned earlier, there is another pastor I came to know. One who taught at the same university as the pastor I previously spoke of. He also authored numerous books, is highly educated and esteemed, and is eloquent and passionate in his teaching and preaching. Yet, he holds to Calvinism and decries open theism. So, here you have two very smart men, both leading large congregations of followers, both well versed in the Bible, and both holding to vastly different views of God and the Bible’s teachings. So, the question is…is there a clear understanding as to who is right and who is wrong?

Well, to answer this we need to first understand the source of the contention. The Bible.

We know that the Bible is a collection of 66 books, written within about fifteen hundred years by 40-some different authors who were all influenced and inspired but God’s Holy Spirit. The Bible confirms and proves itself and all of it ties together perfectly. This I believe. From the moment all the writings were collected and assembled, many of the greatest minds have studied the Word of God with a fervor that cannot be expressed properly. Many have even tried to disprove the Bible, that it is filled with errors. But they have all failed. 

Schools and institutions have been raised to teach it. Doctrines for living have been derived from it. And nations had been created or have fallen because of it. There have been differing schools of thought over certain passages, verses, characters, and ideologies. And many of those views are from some very intelligent and astute people. There are many contradictory views that have created different denominations or groups that believe in the same theology. Some groups wouldn’t let people even read the Bible for themselves because they think the Bible is too convoluted to understand clearly, so those with particular schooling and agendas would persuade a listener or reader’s thinking with their interpretations.

So as you can see, there have been problems that have risen from the Bible. Some people think that the Bible is too difficult to read and understand so they avoid it. Some feel that they are satisfied relying on the teachings and preachings of their local pastors or TV and radio personalities, so they don’t read it. Some people own several copies of the Bible, but don’t know where to start reading, so they just let them collect dust. Some avoid the Bible all together, whether they feel it is archaic and ancient and not applicable to today’s world, or they find that the laws and rules set within the covers are too constrictive and it doesn’t allow for the personal freedoms they want.

The bottom line though is this: The Bible IS the Word of God. It is God’s revelation of Himself to humanity. The stories and genealogies and examples and teachings in the Old Testament testify to who God is…from the creation of all things to all the words He has relayed to His people through the prophets about Himself and His Holiness and Sovereignty. The New Testament shows God’s redemption of man to Himself through His Son Jesus. Man is a mess, breaking God’s laws and unable to atone for our sins on our own. So through the second person of the triune God, we have a mediator who has given us a way to salvation, to get right with God, as it were, and be able to enter into His gates of Heaven after our time here on earth. All this is explained within the pages of Scripture, the Bible. 

So what happens when people take and twist the Scripture narratives out of its’ intended context?  Or when people reject and ignore the Scriptures because they want to do their own thing? What about people who have the Word but don’t read it for themselves to see if the teachings they are hearing are true? What you have are the problems that you see today. 

We’ve already touched on people who like to twist the Scriptures…they will take one verse out of context of the whole narrative and literally create a false religion off of it. Many of the prosperity preachers are a perfect example. They place their whole teaching that God is nothing but love and He wants you to have all the good things in life. They base this false teaching on Scriptures that talk of praying to receive all the Heaven blessings like Matthew 7:7-8 which says; “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” 

The problem is they forget the entire context of why this is being said. They skip the qualifiers to these things. Like Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the Kingdom of God and all these things will be added…”. That doesn’t mean acknowledging that God exists and you get all the money and material goodies you ask for. Or what about John 16:23 “…ask anything in my name and God will give it to you”.  Well, God isn’t a cosmic vending machine that dispenses the finer things in life just because you have asked or went to church or did a good deed! God forbid! If your ‘church’ is teaching this, I suggest you run…far away! Because this holds to teaching that we can control our destiny by controlling God. What this actually does is undermine the God of the Bible, His sovereignty, and His holiness. This is not the character of God. 

Another problem is people who water-down, or just flat out reject, the Bible altogether. Whether they think it too archaic or outdated to fit todays life or they view it as a made up fairy tale, this group sees no use for the Bible other than maybe some encouraging words and proverbs or stories that run along the same lines as Dickens or Dr. Seuss. They may believe in God (or some supreme being), but they don’t believe in the God of the Bible. Many of these folks embrace multiple cultural religions. Because of the sweeping ecumenical movements, many denominations were created and started to allow and accept other theologies that are contrary to the Bible. This external influence didn’t just end with other Christian beliefs. It also fell prey to other cultural religions and gods. They embraced philosophy and social topics as doctrinal beliefs so as to draw everyone. Believe it or not, mysticism and witchcraft have found its way into they new age Christian churches!  

Thus were the ways of the Israelites in the Old Testament. Intermingling and co-existing with the local pagan practices! It was this desecration of the Word and worship that drew the ire of God…many times! Again, see Romans 1 for how God’s wrath will kindle toward those who suppress the Word!

Many of the church leaders want to “fit in” with the world, so they can draw bigger congregations, which means more money. They compromise on the foundational beliefs that started the church in the first place. Since the new wave of pastors that graduate seminary come out asking “did God say…”, it is easy for them to change the truths of the Gospel to an easier listening, happier ending, more fulfilling positive church experience. Feelings are seen as more important than knowledge. It becomes easier to persuade the congregants, especially as the older generation that knew their Bible has dwindled and the younger, more easily swayed populace embrace the happier messages of hope and good for all, with no accountability to God regarding punishment for sins.

In fact, most of the new modern teachings in these open churches have gone so far as to redefine what sin is. Sins that are clearly stated in the Bible, sins that are an abomination to God, have now become accepted within the walls of the new church. They teach that since God made all things and is a loving God, that He accepts you as you are no matter what. So what was once punished by God’s wrath has now become acceptable before the throne of God, in their definition. (Side note: I have still yet to find any of this in the Bible!)

The days of preaching about sin and repentance, hell and damnation, Godly wrath and anger, have now turned into messages that everyone is saved, that God loves no matter what you do, and that all will be in Heaven. People haven’t been taught the complete truth. Yes, God is love and forgiving and merciful and graceful to us, but, He will also bring wrath and judgement and eternal misery on those who don’t turn from their sins and accept Jesus as Savior and Lord. And, believing in Jesus does not equate to believing Jesus. Many believe in Jesus…a good man, a prophet, a wise teacher, a miracle worker of yesteryear. But to believe Jesus is to obey, follow, and make Him Lord in your life. To accept his blood shed on Calvary for the remission of sins means to repent, to turn from that sin lifestyle, and walk new in the ways God wants us to walk.

But, because of that extreme light message being taught these days in the vast majority of mainstream church denominations, it has became very easy to slide the Bible aside, talk about philosophy and social issues of the day so as to meet the growing needs of the people’s struggles. They avoid truly learning and understanding the character and nature of God. They replace Him with kinder, gentler God who bestows gifts on all. In fact, there are many denominations that have flat-out rejected the Bible as accurate and true. Much of that started with “did God say”. When the Bible speaks out against particular sins that some groups want to participate in, they either gloss over that portion of Scripture or completely re-defined its’ clear teachings. For example; homosexuality. The Bible is clear that it is sin, yet many will argue against that. (Another time, another place).

I have actually attended, just out of curiosity, some ‘churches’ (and some of them classified as mega-churches”) where not a single Bible was carried in by the attendees. The preacher stood on a stage with props and a rock band behind him, and gave a very charismatic and uplifting feel-good message. Yet, not once during the time did I hear a reading from Scripture, hear quotes from Scripture in the message, or even a mention of Jesus and the gospel! And this is supposed to be a church of God? No, this is not a church of God. This is a motivational seminar with philosophical and therapeutic ramblings. Devoid of the Word of God, this place is no different than your Dr Phil show. 

Folks, this is what has replaced the worship of God. This is nothing less than the worship of man. Again from Romans 1; “For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man…”.

It’s plain to see the answer to the problem. Without the Word of God, the claims to be a church are invalid. The true Church is the body of believers comprised of people who have put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. These people hold to the Word of God, the Bible, as inerrant and sufficient. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” Dismissing the Word is dismissing God. And whether you believe in God or not, He is still God and we all will give an answer to Him upon Judgement Day.

Hebrews 4 verse 12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Without the Word of God our understanding of God is defiled by the ways of the devil and this world. Without a true understanding of who God is, we blindly lean on our own understanding, which only leads to destruction. 

Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus said “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ 

Harsh words, words that point to the false churches, the false teachers and preachers, the false christians who would rather ignore the Word of God and follow after their own lusts and thinking. How do we know the will of the Father in Heaven? It says in the Bible. Without the Word, we walk in darkness. 

We must learn the Bible, prayerfully, so as to discern truth from fiction. The devil is crafty and smooth, able to lure the unsuspecting to their doom because they did not know God and His Word. C.S. Lewis put it perfectly; The safest road to hell is the gradual one – the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts. All of which many of the mainstream denominations are…safe roads to hell. Blind teachers will lead blind followers into dark places that have no return. 

We have milestones. We have signposts. We have a road map. We have light! We have the Word of God, the Bible. By the Holy Spirit’s leading, we “study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15. We can read, we can study, we can learn, and we can know the Word of God! 

I pray for eyes to be opened to the truth of God’s Word, because I also stand in sad awe at how much the world has infiltrated and deceived a once flourishing body of believers into following lies. 

Know this though, I do recognize that this is all part of God’s plan. He is not surprised at the falling away of many who once claimed to be the church of God. There is a falling away, a purging, if you will, of the chaff from the wheat. God only accepts unblemished into His Kingdom. The refiner’s fire must purify what is allowed and cast away the impurities. As we draw closer to the end times this will increase with intensity and cause many to choose this day whom they will serve: God or man. There are no second chances after the return of Jesus. The wrath of God, which many do not accept, is true and will come like a thief in the night, when not expected. Hell is real and what God will bring to the unbelievers and the unsaved is worse than any can imagine. Choose this day… 

Published by

Harbor Lights Ministries

I was once a happy-go-lucky, naive, and simple lad, content within the confines of the world. God saw fit to shake me out of my tree and gave me a new life! Thank God for the Bible! Learning every day and preaching to myself on a regular basis! Podcast can be found anywhere under "Things I Preach To Myself About".

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