What Do “Believers” and Demons Have In Common?
Demons Believe Because They Know!
Recently, a friend commented on another’s Facebook posting which contained the question – “Which comes first, repentance or belief?”. Her thoughts were that one must believe first before one can repent. I tactfully answered that according to 2 Timothy 2:25, repentance is a gift from God. It is the work of the Holy Spirit, convicting a person of their sins leading them to believe. The publican along with the thief on the cross who began the day mocking Jesus were both convicted of their sins and pleaded for mercy. Neither of them knew or believed in the Savior but were weighed down by the enormity of their personal crimes against God and man: this was a gift when belief was nowhere in sight.
Once a person has been spiritually convicted of the hopelessness of their sin, it is the burden of this new-found knowledge that weighs so heavy on our souls, for we have NO remedy. It is in this moment, that the Spirit supplies the remedy: look unto Jesus. It is NOT a stroll up the aisle nor a few carefully chosen magic words but a heartfelt desire for mercy: it is an ache only one who is born-again truly understands. Therein lies today’s problem: meaningless or generic testimonies, lives that drag the past into the future, the world remains their center-stage, NO hunger for the Word and the precepts of men supersede the precepts of God. What in the world has changed?
Once Upon A Time - Seminaries Produced Godly Men.
The Answer - Part I - From The Top Down
Once upon a time, many prestigious schools in this country, produced scholarly, doctrine loving men who helped shape the great revival of the late 1800s; but where there is success, the enemy is sure to be close at hand. Evolution, the German school of thought, psychology and the age old disease of super inflated egos began to reshape the landscape. Public education was fast becoming a government driven institution, colleges began to be promoted as the key to one's future and of course, there was money to be made. Old tired thinking collided with modern ideas and as the old died out, the "ends justify the means" crowd took over.
The educational framework of the seminaries began to parallel those of the secular: teach their students what to think, not how to think. The tools of learning became secondary to the “guiding” principles of the institutions; competition was on for the minds of their young students. Today, it is not uncommon for a graduate of one seminary to belittle the graduate of another because their "guiding" principles miss the mark of their sacred institution. A pastor friend of mine once made this comment: “Seminary almost ruined my Christianity.” He is one the finest Bible teachers I have ever met, in spite of his education.
What have they unleashed upon the churches? Their graduates are too often just the minions of the overly esteemed professors, whom they will parrot and cite often from pulpits all across this land.
Cartoon Minions Are Cool.
The Answer - Part II - The Minions
There is actually very little difference between the ever popular Minions of filmdom and those who proliferate today's pulpits. How are they so similar you may ask? The cute ones on the screen look to serve the biggest and “baddest” villain they could find. The ones that grace our churches look to serve in a way that mirrors their most esteemed or favorite professors; citing them often and on special occasions, inviting them to speak in “their” church. I also notice when this does occur, the dress code among the staff is definitely elevated during their visit. God must not be worthy enough to warrant an improved dress code on non-special occasions.
Another tragic aspect that these self-proclaimed holy men bring with them, is the learned distrust of the lay person to correctly handle the Word. Having a non-pro teach directly from the Word is a scary proposition; pre-approved literature or current sermon topics are generally acceptable. I have heard from the pulpit, distain for those who study the “original” languages, belittling their own education in these matters by stressing the lack of necessity for anyone other than themselves; being they rarely reference Greek or Hebrew. But it is the modern doctrines that do the damage.
- Bigger is better, entertainment a must and a relaxing atmosphere with coffee and refreshments.
- Shelve the elder, segregate the parents and focus on youth.
- Invite the world, for only the professional can effectively reach them.
- Discard doctrinal music for that which is palatable for the unsaved crowd and pleases the youth.
- User friendly sermons that stress the lies that will help make people more comfortable in their pews: God loves everybody, just accept Jesus and all will be well, all tithing to the church is a form of worship, avoid sticky doctrinal issues, keep the topics interesting and ensure a proper warmup to grab the crowd’s attention prior to the sermonette.
Sadly, it is still the victims of this crime, that fully cooperate to perpetuate the system.
Welcome To The Church Of The Few.
The Answer - Part III - The Victims
Sadly, the Word being taught faithfully will NOT attract a crowd. Actually, this brings out a point that may disturb many readers and at 3:00 am this morning it awakened me. Again, the principle of “the many vs the few” comes into play, and taking Hebrews 12 into account, the answer is not pretty. Whom God loves, He chastises and when those who claim to be Christians yet promulgate weak or outright false doctrines are not chastised, they are considered by God to be illegitimate (I am being polite in today’s vernacular). The seminaries are pumping out a great many well trained, unregenerate young men which now fill many pulpits or are on staff in today’s larger congregations. They have learned a “system” of belief but do not have a personal relationship with the Savior. This is where pragmatism comes joins the battle: if it works, it must be right. Bigger is better, the crowds love me, and I am deservingly well paid. God is great.
Another part of this equation are the pew sitters. If true godly preaching would never attract the unsaved in mass, what is keeping the born-again believer in the pews of the modern churches? To answer this question, let me first make reference to a Forbes article, dated March 30, 2017, titled – Organized Religion is Being Replaced by Disorganized Religion. It basically was noting that many of the mega-churches were actually beginning to experience a drop in attendance; the attendance was still in the thousands, but scores were searching for something more meaningful. God will not leave His own to languish but for a season to make them hunger and thirst for more. This I personally witnessed at the previous church I attended (largest in the area) as those who attended my Sunday Bible class, first stopped attending the so-called “worship” service and finally wanting something more for their whole family went elsewhere. The only reason I hung on for as long as I did was because I recognized the hunger for the Word from a few individuals and couples. When the church “fathers” decided that I was bad for business, I left to attend a very small church. I now lead a smaller home based (disorganized) church, called by people from my previous church who left when I was no longer teaching. It is so wonderful to be with people hungry for the Truth and who hold each other accountable; they are Bereans and test everything which keeps me in check. This brings me to the conclusion of the matter.
Verdict: I NEVER KNEW YOU.
The Conclusion of the Matter - Short and Not So Sweet
Many (vs few) of today's churches are being lead by unregenerate preachers and teachers; the crowds which so comfortably attend these social clubs are as unsaved as the leadership. The one saving grace may be that one day in the not so distant future, they may be part of the uncountable saved coming out of the 70th week of Daniel.
So to answer the question posed by the title of this article, I submit the following. For the present I believe that there are "many" professing believers in churches worldwide, not just in America, that are as lost any other God hating unbeliever. What their futures holds does not depend upon me or what I think; it lies solely in the hand of God Almighty. This I do know: at the Great White Throne Judgment - many will say Lord, Lord.