As the line between right and wrong fades into obscurity the lines and distinctions between churches biblical ministries and ministers are also fading. The normal denominational or doctrinal distinctions are giving way to, those who preach the gospel and those who don’t.
From any college freshmen class in comparative religions up CNNs recently aired “God’s Warriors” the rhetoric is repeatedly referenced with the familiar phrase, “the world’s three great religions.” Each of these religions has a very specific problem attached to it that the secular world is unaware of for several reasons, the least of which is that it is not convenient for them to know it. If it were known, the three religions would not be trusted at all.
Judaism although God given has missed the time of its visitation (Luke 19:44) that is the Jews were prepared to receive Messiah but did not know him and instead crucified him. God is not finished with this religion yet and according to scripture Jewry will be redeemed at the end times and will recognize Christ as their Messiah. In the mean time it is still a religion in unbelief and is limited by that fact.
Islam is a religion founded by a militant warrior on spurious revelation that its chief leader supposed may have been satanically inspired. Its adherents which now number in the billions are caught up in its cultural influence. Very few of them would dare to examine its questionable beginnings and its ongoing fruit in the world. That fruit is terror, death, the oppression of women and laws that are a throw back to the dark ages. Is this what we want our children to think of as a “great religion?”
With two down and only one of the “three great religions” to go, it does well to add that no religion was, or ever will be great unless it provides salvation to the entire world. The “gospel” alone does that. With or without the Christian church the gospel or the “good news” that Jesus Christ has died for the sins of the world is the only matter God is concerned with until he sends Christ to earth again as promised. As long as Christianity had been proclaiming the gospel it was the greatest religion in this world.
The “apostasy” of the church (2th 2:3) in the latter days is now not just a subject for chatter but is fully underway throughout the world. Secularism, liberalism, syncretism, ecumenicism and apathy have been the catalyst for the promised “falling away” but Christianity has provided the world with plenty of reasons to discourage humanity prior to the ongoing apostasy of the day.
Churches that wavered away from the profound but simple gospel of salvation have been down many roads that caused humanity to doubt. Misguided Christianity has had excursions into Gnosticism, Judaizers, indulgence scams, inquisitions, witch trials, prosperity and wealth preaching, Anglo Israelism, polygamy, dominion teachings and false prophets from Jim Jones to South Florida resident Jose Luis de Jesus who along with thousands of his followers claims he is the “rebirth” of Jesus Christ.
Christianity may once have been the only great religion but is quickly taking its place along with the other culturally accepted world religions who have a form of Godliness but are gospel-less and powerless. (2ti 3:5) The prophesied apostasy is aided by secularisms penchant for leveling the playing fields of all religions into one culturally acceptable homogenous lump. All religion is then rendered tolerant but innocuous, attractive but completely powerless.
Of the so called “three great religions” which one is the greatest? The answer is obviously “none of them.” This doesn’t hinder the gospel; in fact it helps to amplify the gospel in its purest form. It stands out more clearly than ever before contrasted by a background of many shades of gray. The intimidating black and white absolutism that secularism fears becomes as clear as “the writing on the wall” in the days of the Daniel the prophet. (Daniel 5:1f)
What will stand out in these perilous times are the message and the messenger. The message will be far more prophetic in power and nature and so will the messenger. God will not leave the world without a witness.
Brannon Howse of the Worldview Weekend Digest said in article posted on August 8, 2007 “ I am so tired of feminized; milk-toast pastors that don’t know history, the Bible and that civil government does not always trump church government. America needs more pastors like Dietrich Bonhoeffer who opposed Hitler and less that are like Mr. Rogers.”
The messengers who continue to preach the gospel during the apostasy will not look anything like Mr. Rogers. They will begin to resemble Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, and even John the Baptist. They may not call themselves prophets but the message they preach will take on a prophetic nature. It will be filled with warning and admonishment that calls for revolutionary Christianity and warning to a world bent on its own destruction. Youth, women, and many virtually unknown and obscure ministers of the gospel will be included in the ranks.
The church in America seems to be gauging its successes by a worldly standard such as size, activity, prosperity, popularity or other equally silly notions. In the bible Jesus often sent the crowds away and secreted himself away to disciple his apostles in a quiet but deeply personal way. Head counts are not as important to God as heart counts.
Richard Nixon’s former “hatchet man” now turned prison evangelist and author Chuck Colson, recently told an interesting story on the daily broadcast of “Breakpoint.” When one ministry tried to fire up some youth to really take the gospel seriously, it all went better than planned. They reached an abrupt snag when they asserted that Christ and Christianity was the only way to reach God. (Jn 14:6) These kids had already swallowed the culturally acceptable “three great religions” hype and could hardly be convinced of anything else.
The religious tolerance hype is touted from elementary school and up. Kids seem to be ashamed to say that Christ could be “better” or more authentic and believable than the leaders or founders of any other religions. We apparently have not taught our children that Christ is not the leader of a great religion. We have failed to make it clear to them that he is not the founder of a new religion but he is the Savior of the world.
Being ashamed to proclaim the universality of Christianity is a close cousin to being ashamed of Christ and his words. That shame will be reciprocated by Christ at his return. (Luke 9:26)
On the fear of proclaiming the universality of Christ and his message missionary and seminarian Stephen Neill said; “This Christian claim (of universal validity) is naturally offensive to the adherents of every other religious system. It is almost as offensive to modern man, brought up in the atmosphere of relativism, in which tolerance is regarded almost as the highest of the virtues. But we must not suppose that this claim to universal validity is something that can quietly be removed from the Gospel without changing it into something entirely different from what it is...Jesus' life, his method, and his message do not make sense, unless they are interpreted in the light of his own conviction that he was in fact the final and decisive word of God to men...For the human sickness there is one specific remedy, and this is it. There is no other. (Stephen Neill (1900-1984), Christian Faith and Other Faiths.)
The late Evangelist Rev. Vance Havner often said that the church acted as if it were going to send up a rocket but in reality ignited something akin to a firecracker.
Author Annie Dillard clearly shared Havner’s views; she said “On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of the conditions. Does any-one have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies' straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping God may wake some day and take offense, or the waking God may draw us out to where we can never return.” (Annie Dillard, Teaching a Stone to Talk)
Some American youth are not the slightest bit ashamed of the gospel; in fact their zeal could shame some of the veteran believers in the church. Teens and younger children are taking part in the renewed prophetic thrust of the gospel in America and even now are weighing in significantly through ministries like those of Ron Luce and “Teen Mania.” This also is part of the promised renewal of the message that will even be preached by children in the last days. (Joel 2:28.)
Those involved in today’s more overtly prophetic ministries may refer to themselves as lay people, evangelists, witnesses, apologists, theologians, preachers, ministers, pastors, or nothing at all. It won’t be titles and letters behind their names that stand out but their boldness and the purity of the gospel message they preach. The most powerful among them is more likely to be the leader of a house church or store front church than the pastor of a huge mega church in the suburbs of America.
Nazi death camp survivors Bill Basansky, who pastors the Life International Church in Ft. Myers Florida and the highly esteemed author and evangelist, the late Corrie Ten Boom both said the same thing about sectarianism and denominationalism. When people were subjected to imprisonment and horrible conditions they asked only one question to people about their faith, “Do you love Him.” (Jesus) A positive answer to that question caused instant fellowship among believers. Those conditions and a positive response to the question are fast becoming more prevalent in our world and more of a necessity than at any other time in history.
The line between various churches should always have been whether they preach the gospel or not. The day of doctrinal or denominational differences, minor polity differences and ceremonial or liturgical differences is about to become a thing of the past. Isn’t it is about time?
The command to preach the gospel came early in Christianity. It was in fact the very last thing Christ said as he ascended to be with the Father. (Mt 28:19f) The promise that it would be preached in a more prophetically driven manner is sprinkled throughout the bible but is promised to change exponentially as the last days approach.
That young men, old men, women and children would all start to speak up in the last days is a promise of Joel 2:28f. That it would become both dangerous and costly to make these proclamations is also noted in passages like Da 11:35, Mt 24:19, Jn 16:2, Rev 13:7.
When men, young and old, women and children can hardly proclaim the message any longer we find God still provides a witness. First he chooses angels Rev 8:3. Perhaps concurrent with those angelic proclamations or in close proximity to them will be the voices of the two final “prophets” that will preach on earth just before Christ returns. Their ministry is not concealed in an obscure bible passage but an entire chapter is given to explain how they turn the world upside down. (Rev 11:1f)
These two prophets do not show up to shock the world but are a natural outcome of the upwardly spiraling output of prophetic power and utterance in the last days. They are the icing on the cake. The only voice to be heard after their ministry is finished (violently) is Gods.
After all that warning you would think that everyone would avoid the worst by being well prepared. Not so, these messages will go unheeded by countless millions in the days to come. In the user comments listing of the well known IMDb internet movie review site, the phrase used to define the entire plot of the Oscar winning movie “Cool Hand Luke” starring Paul Newman is “Some men you just can’t reach.”
If we associate Luke with God’s prophets the most well known line in the movie applies even better…"What we've got here is a failure to communicate."
Rev Bresciani is a Christian author and a columnist for several online sites and magazines. His articles are now read in every country in the world. For articles and news from around the world visit “The Website for Insight” http://www.americanprophet.org
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