Thursday, July 17, 2008

Hocus Pocus Religion

American Churchianity

In making an attempt to describe the american church to someone it is necessary to set the original groundwork down so the person can understand some major differences between the original ACTS church and the American Church.



ACTS Church

41 So those who accepted his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand people were added. 42 They were devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Reverential awe came over everyone, and many wonders and miraculous signs came about by the apostles. 44 All who believed were together and held everything in common, 45 and they began selling their property and possessions and distributing the proceeds to everyone, as anyone had need. 46 Every day they continued to gather together by common consent in the temple courts, breaking bread from house to house, sharing their food with glad and humble hearts, 47 praising God and having the good will of all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number every day those who were being saved.1



American Church

So an advertisement went up at the local Wal-Mart promoting the Elvis impersonator and the gospel according to him. There was no teaching that would take place, it was all about the fellowship and the breaking of the bondage that we are in. Exceeding gladness came over everyone as they listened to the songs (especially Love Me Tender). All who believed that Elvis was truly saved (because of his fruits of debauchery, drunkenness, adultery) came forward at the end of the service. Afterall, he MUST be saved if he sang gospel songs! Once a week the people would gather to look down their noses at the other people, often complaining about what clothes they were wearing and gossipping about what so and so did yesterday. Hot dogs were sold immediately after the service and everyone was praising the hot dog maker. And the Lord did not see fit to add to their numbers. But Satan did. Their numbers continued to grow each week as new programs were added to the service. Motorcycle jumps were added, free gas was given away, talks on sex were sold out immediately. Girls were seen wearing dresses that were a full 10 inches above their knees and the men were seen looking at the girls. This church "must" be blessed because the pastor is a best selling author and since millions of people buy his books, he must be right. As the people came to church, no mention of sin was found. No mention of repentance was found either. The sinners prayer was said and people were magically saved. Hocus Pocus -- You are saved!



in the Acts church, the people that were saved were knowledgeable of the Law. They knew the Law, they did not know about the grace of God. Once they learned that, they gave themselves to Him and were saved. For people who do not know the Law, it is important that we use the Law to convict people of their sins. The law acts as a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. We are not saved by the Law, it just acts as a mirror to show us how God sees us. Sinners in need of a Savior. Imagine what it must be like to try to live by the law. There is no human possible way that any person could keep the whole law of God. A person would feel as though he had no chance at all of going to heaven. Then the Savior came! Victory in Jesus! These people who knew they were destined for hell, found out about a Savior that loves them so much that He died on the cross and took their punishment upon Himself. It was the grace of God that saved them!



How many times do we see people get saved only to never set foot in a church again?
Do we see people who are really hungry for God's Word? No. The hunger is gone from the American church. People are more interested in being entertained than they are in hearing God's Word. In fact, you can see people start looking at their watches after about 20 minutes of preaching. Some people will actually leave a service because it is infringing on their lunch date at the local Sirloin Stockade. The American Church is so void of reverance for God, so void of true honor and glory to Him. The American church has been relegated to nothing more than a meeting place for the world to pretend they care about God. It has become filled with lazy, boring, entertainment oriented pastors, who have not got a clue as to how much danger they are in. They have perverted the Word of God. They have shaken hands with the Devil in order to be seen acceptable to the world. They have become money hungry estates where the pastor is the beneficiary.

The pastor, in all his glory, has decided to stop preaching the whole gospel and has taken the easy way out. Instead of training people to get out into the streets and actually start reaching the lost, he is making his church (not God's church, but "his" church) a place where it is filled with unbelievers. The church was never meant to be for unbelievers. It is for believers so they can worship God, praise Him and be edified by His Word. It is a time of like-minded believers to share in fellowship with one another. What we have today is a church filled with the world and there is absolutely no growth taking place. When we make church services to be geared towards the lowest common denominator (the unbeliever), then there will never be any growth. That is why Willow Creek will never have true spiritual growth within their walls. When Church becomes a marketing scheme, it will come across exactly as that, a scheme!

Everyone is being trained to get people to say the sinners prayer.
"If you will just repeat after me, you can know for sure you are going to heaven...
Dear God, I am sorry. Please forgive me of my sins. I want to ask you into my heart and I want to live for you. Thank you for sending Jesus to die for me. I accept you. in Jesus Name, Amen."

First off, it is not US that needs to accept Jesus. We need to pray that HE accepts us! We are the lowly sinners who are headed for hell. There is nothing we can do to earn our way into heaven. Jesus is not a beggar hoping someone will accept Him. He is the creator of all things. He is LORD! Just because someone says the sinners prayer does not mean they are saved.

Secondly, the sinners prayer is not biblical. It is not found anywhere in the Bible. There is not even anything close to it. It is a lazy man-made scheme to bring people to Christ. Why not take time to do the real work of a Christian. Learn God's Word, take it to the streets and tell people what they need to know. If you do it the right way, they will fall to their knees on their own and on their own they will cry out to God to save them! That person is much more likely to come to church because they will hunger for God's Word.

We can't keep using the sinners prayer as a Hocus Pocus, you are saved, method of bringing people to Christ. Let's keep it biblical. I have heard pastors say that their way is the best way. Never are we to do it OUR way. We are the sinners who have not got a clue. We should always do it the way Jesus did it! The way He taught His disciples to do it. Why in the world would we want to deviate away from biblical teachings? Why? Because it is offensive to the world and the American Church would never want to offend anyone!

16 comments:

WayneDawg said...

Amen brother, amen.

WayneDawg said...

By the way........I'm posting "Hocus Pocus Religion" on my blog. You have hit the nail onthe head here......

Four* Pointer said...

Brian,

What you did with Acts is similar to what I do with my "Fake Translation of the Week." I haven't htought about using Acts yet, so that may be my next choice :)

Funny how the church grew so quickly in its infancy. Now, it's crippled, hunched over, and senile. All I can say is "Maranatha, Lord Jesus!"

pastorbrianculver said...

thanks Wayne! feel free to use it!

pastorbrianculver said...

Four pointer..
isn't all scripture fake to those who pervert the Word of God for their own glory??

Four* Pointer said...

Yes indeedy-doody!

Jeff Greathouse said...

PBC:

Here is something for you that is similar to this, in a odd sense of way:

http://cgi.ebay.com/Pastor-And-Family-For-Sale_W0QQitemZ280243918573QQcmdZViewItem?hash=item280243918573&_trksid=p3286.m14.11318

pastorbrianculver said...

Jeff, I went to the ebay site and then to his myspace site. Not sure what to say about him. I would be more interested to see what his message is like in his sermon. He is making a name for himself by doing this but is he glorifying God with his life and his sermons?

pastorbrianculver said...

The more I think about it, the more concerned I am. He mentioned something about getting outside of the "box." That catch-phrase is somewhat troublesome. Today's church seems to think it is necessary to think outside the box in reaching the lost. Why? God has given us a commandment to go into all the world preaching the gospel to every creature. We are told to PREACH the gospel. That does not require new, inventive ideas on how to reach the lost. All we have to do is follow the example of Jesus and the Disciples. Law to the proud and self-righteous person and grace to the humble person. It works perfectly. We know it does because the Bible tells us so. The Law of the Lord is perfect converting the soul. The more we continue to dilute the message with our own thinking, we will inevitably, destroy the gospel message. I liken it to the ice breaker game we used to play. you whisper into someone's ear and long sentence. They in turn, whisper that message to the next person. By the time you have gone all the way around the table, the original sentence has been destroyed into little catch phrases! The meaning is no longer there. That is why I am so adament about preaching God's Word straight out of the Bible!

S.J. Walker said...

Amen to the post brother. Amen. This is is axactly what the What is the Gospel Conference? in September is all about.

I would make one point though in regards to the contrasted churches of Acts and America. Would it be more accurate to say the Church in Acts and the Church in America are the same? I submit that they are, for they are part of one body. The Church of Christ is not generational in that sense. It was Christ's body and Bride then and it still is today only greater and more prepared for Him than ever.

The difference is, in America we have something that looks very much like Church, (or not) but indeed is not. But she is here! And she is beautiful and contrite toward God and is looking forward to His coming back for her.

I'm sending this post on to some folks bro. Great stuff.

"First off, it is not US that needs to accept Jesus. We need to pray that HE accepts us!"

Preach it!

pastorbrianculver said...

The American Church vs the Laodicean Church

Can you tell the difference?

Jeff Greathouse said...

SJ:

"First off, it is not US that needs to accept Jesus. We need to pray that HE accepts us!"
--------

So, are you saying that HE rejects people ?

I am just trying to understand the statement. By, no means am I trying to start an argument. I just want to understand.

---------------------

Brian:

He is definitely getting his name out there. I would like to know if the "winner" actually wins him ?

Or if it is a stunt for him to get his "resume" out there to more people.

pastorbrianculver said...

Jeff, I will let Sam respond to your question.

I think if someone "won" him they also won his whole family. Didn't it say Pastor family for sale??

It is most likely a ploy to get his name out there and to be seen by many churches as a guy who will do whatever it takes. For me, it still all comes back to...
What does he preach and does he soften the gospel message.

S.J. Walker said...

Jeff,

No worries. I was agreeing with that statement that Brian made for a couple reasons.

1) The concept of the "accepting Jesus" is a bit of a misnomer. Especially in the context of the "sinner's prayer", it carries with it an assumption that Salvation is something that I, ME, MYSELF can accomplish by both mere words and self will. Jesus did not ask us weakly if we might come. No, like Lazarus in the book of John, He commanded us to "come forth!" Salvation is not something that depends completely on me.

Now, we are called to receive Him. Some might say there is little or no difference between that and "accepting" Jesus. The difference is simple and the more we study it the bigger it becomes in our eyes--kind of like walking closer to a mountain. It's been the same size all along but the closer we get the bigger it reveals itself to be. The difference is that "accepting" is something that I, ME, MYSELF do. He then awaits MY approval. While "receiving" Him is all about Him. It is clear Who is making the first move, and who is waiting. Salvation is a gift. It is not so much the receiver as it is the Giver upon which the transfer of the gift relies. Indeed, when a gift is offered, the receiver is compelled out of duty to receive it and not so much due the Giver a favor by accepting it.

Simply put, the context that "accepting Jesus" is often used in makes man look far more magnanimous than he deserves and Jesus look far more helpless than He never will be.

Now, will He reject someone? Yes.

Matthew 7:15-21 and 25:31-46 among other are pretty clear that ther are and will be some who "accepted" Jesus energetically, yet never received Him and were rejected by Him.

I wouldn't say there is anything INHERENTLY wrong with the sinner's prayer. But, it is tossed around so cavalier that I cannot recommend it and especially the assumptions that often come with it.

So Brian's comment regarding HIM accepting US rather than the other way around is good because it put the Lord of Heaven back i the driver's seat and says, "You drive".

Sorry for the verbosity here. But I wanted to be as thorough as possible.

Thanks

S.J. Walker said...

Brian,

The American Church vs the Laodicean Church.

No, not much. I hope no one misunderstands what I mean. I've just realized we need to be careful (and you have been) how we label the Church as in The Church proper, the Bride of Christ. Does she "need work"? Absolutely, and lots of it. I brought it up only to converse. (How very emergent of me! aaaaah! Pray for me!)

Jeff Greathouse said...

SJ:

But, using the scripture that you use, did HE reject them OR did they (people) REJECT receiving him ?