Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Wolves In The Church

This past Sunday our Bible study was on “wolves in sheep’s clothing”.  The question was asked if we could identify the “wolves” within the Church in general.  I was actually ready for this question.  Almost every week I receive mail, phone calls or emails from individuals who want me to support some “ministry.”   I am told that the big churches have used this "ministry" to better their outreach, train leaders or enrich marriages,  the material has been prepared by well known Christians. (Many of these “famous Christians” I have never heard of, nor have they shared their ministry with me personally.) But, after a few minutes on the phone or reading through the material I find the real reason they are asking for support they are selling merchandise and not ministering. This got me to thinking, what has happened to the “free gospel”? You know “freely you received, freely give”?   The merchandising of the gospel is being carried out by individuals who have very little regard for the message of Jesus Christ and no reverence toward God—they use the gospel to make money-- they are wolves.

We have reduced the gospel message to slogans, video games, fictional movies, wrist bands, tattoos and religious jewelry. The hymns of the church have been replaced by tattooed freaks that are no more than wannabe rock stars.  The sad part of this is there are those who have been deceived into believing this is the way to bring men, women, boys and girls to Christ. 

Now, that I have lost the contemporary music crowd let me add another group.  I have always enjoyed Southern Gospel music. Even though my musical taste is more Gospel Bluegrass, I enjoy Southern Gospel music. However, I am increasingly frustrated with the whole Christian music industry. Today’s Christian music scene is becoming nothing more than an entourage of Hollywood wannabes. Anyone with a little discernment can see there is very little true spirituality in the songs of today, most songs center on the individual and not on Jesus Christ.  Southern Gospel is no longer Southern Gospel.  The same problems found in the secular music industry are found in the Gospel music industry—sex, drugs and alcohol.  Could it be because the message of salvation is not the real reason for these entertainers but rather money?  These are the singing wolves.

Another area where the gospel has been merchandised by the religious hucksters is in the publishing industry.  I am often asked if I have read the latest Christian new best seller by___ and you fill in the blank.  My standard reply is if it was not written prior to 1830, no I have not read the book.  There is no place in Christianity that propagates false-teaching more than in a Christian book store.  If you put the title with any “religious” sounding idea they will sell it.  Most Christian book stores are filled with self-help books based on non-scripture concepts.  You will find a large section of charismatic writers, feminized Bible study guides and health and wealth books. There will be a large selection of “religious fiction” along with various new age theologies it is no wonder there is very little understanding among Christians of what the Bible actually teaches.  Daily devotional books have actually replaced studying the scriptures.  Personally I am not interested in your opinions on what the scriptures teach.  Opinions are not needed in the Church.  What we need, is to accept the Word of God as it written.  After all, the scriptures are not given to private interpretation.  

So should we put a price on the message of the Gospel?  Jesus was willing to give freely, Matthew 10:7-8 KJV) . . .and as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. {8} Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.
Paul could have been the first to profit from the Gospel but he didn’t.  He could have had a palace, chariots, ships and gold and silver if he only would have preached a prosperity gospel.  But, sadly Paul was not as financially astute as the evangelist of the 21st Century.  His message was, “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. (1 Corinthians 2:12 KJV)  He actually did the opposite of the modern day religious huckster, “Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely?” (2 Corinthians 11:7 KJV)  

Preachers are merchandising the gospel.  Preachers who charge a set amount to come and preach have not learn to trust the Lord to provide.  Several years ago our church invited a minster to hold a week-end special service.  The Board was going to pay him a set amount, he said, “No I will trust God to provide.”  The amount he received from the free-will offering was three times more than what he would have received from a set amount.  God does provide. 

Ever since the prosperity, health and wealth denominations have taken over the mass marketing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Church as a whole as suffered.  The prosperity, health and wealth movement has preached a false Christianity while holding their ministry up as the light of truth. The scandals generated from greed, immorality, and false-teachings of these prosperity preachers and so-called Christian entertainers have done more to damage the Church than the critics outside the Church.  It is time we get back to primitive Christianity and stop merchandising the Gospel of Jesus Christ and run the wolves out of the Church.

No comments:

Post a Comment