Friday, February 17, 2012

There are NOT a million ways to heaven!

(Acts 4:10-13)
10. Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.
11. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.
12. NEITHER IS THERE SALVATION IN ANY OTHER: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

        Satan has always helped make sure our relationship with Jesus is less than perfect, but it seems he's gotten quite clever with his designs in these latter days. Look at these verses from the Bible and pay special attention to the last verse:

(2nd Timothy 3:1-5)
1. This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
2. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3. Without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
4. Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
5. Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

        Notice that it doesn't say we serve no God at all in the last days. It says we have a FORM of godliness, just without acknowledging the right God. Believe it or not, Atheism is no longer Satan's tool of choice. Don't take that wrong; Atheism has definitely taken its effect on the world. It's done a thorough job of making sure God only exists as someone to blame natural disasters on, making him politically incorrect, otherwise, and removing him from our schools, government, workplaces, and homes. And it's done a thorough job of drowning out any attempt to associate our departure from God with how callous, depraved and ignorant we have become.

But Satan has learned something: He's learned that a clock that doesn't work at all is right twice a day. This just won't do. Much more dangerous than a clock that doesn't work at all is a clock that DOES work, but is constantly an hour late. You see, when your clock doesn't work at all you sleep very lightly, and the slightest bump will wake you up. If your clock is an hour late and you don't realize it, however, you'll go soundly and peacefully to sleep, only realizing what has happened when it's too late.

        Thus, we have the new "anything goes" religion of today, where there IS a god, but one we get to change and adjust as our comfort requires. In this religion people are being instructed by the "teachers" of our pluralistic culture to pick and choose whatever beliefs and doctrines will tell them that they don't have to change a thing, that the way they're already living is the way to salvation, and that everything is acceptable, up to, and including, a disbelief in salvation to begin with. It hails from the schools of Relativism and Postmodernism, which teach us that truth should remain comfortably undefined, different for every person, and not an intolerant, fixed standard. The gist of this catering, religiously correct un-gospel is that there are a million ways to heaven, and that someone can get there by just being "generally good." It teaches us that we can adjust God to our lifestyles, instead of having to adjust our lifestyles to God. It embraces facets of those self-employed religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Wicca and Shamanism, which don't require a whole lot of accountability to anyone or anything. It's responsible for those people walking around with a cool-eyed belief in something that's "bigger than themselves" but just not ever big enough to be accountable to. It's responsible for this "feel good" trend, where faith is defined as more of a "feeling" than a belief.

The Bible warns us in several places of the deception that will arise in the last days as deceivers introduce all kinds of appealing, accommodating, false doctrines into the world:

(1st Timothy 4:1)
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils.

(2nd Timothy 4:3-4)
3. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears.
4. And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

(2nd Timothy 3:13)
But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.

It might surprise you, however, to learn that this flurry of un-religions that drive people away from Christ is actually crystallizing within Christianity:
(2nd Corinthians 11:13-14)
13. For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
14. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.

        Today, there's a movement called the "purpose-driven movement," also called the "mega-church movement," which is literally a step-by-step program for converting a Christian church into a small company. It advises (1) removing hymnals and changing the music from hymns to pop music, (2) encouraging people to leave their Bibles at home and read the scriptures from a huge, digital screen, (3) using samples of scripture from all versions of the Bible except the King James Version, (3) taking down all crosses, (4) removing all invitations to accept Jesus as a redeemer, (5) changing the word "church" to "campus," (6) removing all dress codes and even encouraging casual attire, (7) telling people that they're already united with God, whether they believe in Jesus or not and, lastly, (8) becoming a "501c3" church, where the church essentially hands over its right to preach about things that may be deemed offensive in exchange for tax exemption (which it should already have, anyway). This doctrine claims to innocently just be trying to show people how to have a more popular church. The ugly truth, however, is that it basically shows people how to turn a relationship with God into a product, and Christianity into an industry. The even uglier truth is that's driving people away from Jesus in droves.

        Why is it catching on and spreading like wildfire, then?

(2nd Peter 2:3)
And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you...

(2nd Peter 2:18)
For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.

        Because it tells people what they want to hear. If our "higher power" is undefined, then so are the rules we're required to follow. With this new un-gospel we can have a loose, spiritually freestyle world where God only exists when things are going bad, allowing us to get back to our sin once things are going good again. WE get to be God, in a sense, and salvation is something we can put on the front or back burner as needed for our convenience. People LOVE hearing that they can get to heaven on THEIR terms. Over 10,000 churches across America have closed their doors because their members have left in search of this new, comfortable, less-defined god all these impostors have sold them on.

Friend, living right for the real God is hard work. It's irritating, aggravating and filled with resistance from everyone from the devil to your own family. Therefore, it's easy to shut God out and rationalize him into something more comfortable. But there's a reason he told his people to make unleavened bread (Exodus 12: 15) and to use whole stones for their altars (Exodus 20: 25). There's a reason he said not to try and make either of them smoother or prettier. Think about it, if two people find the same natural stone in the woods it's the same for both of them. But if each of them were to try and smooth it out it would become two different stones. When we add our own personal touches to God suddenly there's a different God for every person, and that's not the case. There's one God who's the same for everyone, and we don't carve and chisel him into something different. He carves and chisels us into something different. God has rough edges for a reason. Rough edges make rough hands that can handle the world's rough edges. Soft, smooth hands get pinched and cut.

         This is why Paul the Apostle warns us to avoid these shady doctrines and the people that teach them like the plague:

(Romans 16:17-18)
17. Now I beseech you brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.
18. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.

        The Apostle John said to not let them into your house and to not even greet them: 

(2nd John 9-11)
9. Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.
10. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:
11. for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds. 

        I'd like to wrap this up by advising you to also beware of some of those far-fetched interpretations of the Bible that are floating around over the internet these days. There are some eschatologies out there ranging from heretical to absolutely bonkers. There are interpretations of the book of Revelation that claim the Anti-Christ has already come and gone. Some say it was a movement that lasted for 1260 years. Some will tell you that you've already accepted the mark of the Beast without knowing it by going to church on Sunday instead of on Saturday. Some say we're already in heaven. Some way we're already in hell. Lots of people, it seems, are simply trying to be known as the first person to make some wild prediction and get it right.

        Can you imagine how few people would be saved if Jesus actually required us to browse through all of these hundreds of doctrines and interpretations floating around and discern which one is right? Thank goodness God favors humble and contrite spirits over these lofty, self-important thinkers (Isaiah 57: 15). This is why Jesus made his gospel so simple:
(Romans 10:9)
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

        It's that simple. It doesn't require yoga, astral projection, a faith healer, mumbling in weird tongues, or a huge donation to a mega-church. Anyone telling you it requires any of that is trying to sell you their latest, best-selling book.