[AS] “It is a sad fact that today’s church is deceiving itself in some very crucial areas. (Actually in many other areas now too) Below are some plain facts that may shock a few people”:
[TW] Andrew’s [AS] opening statement is correct and accords with the premises contained in both our long and short declarations. More and more people appear to be recognising that there are some major problems in all of the evangelical church. (Not just in the Catholic, Pentecostal or Charismatic ones )
[AS] 1. “Ask Jesus into our heart” is not in the Bible. Neither is “Give your heart to the Lord”, or repeating a “sinner’s prayer”. These practices do not exist in Scripture at all. The subject of salvation is the most important subject in the Bible and we are being lied to about it. These doctrines are a total fabrication. They were invented to make salvation “quick and convenient” Many church members today who are relying on these things are clearly not ‘saved’ at all”. ( Accept now Jesus Christ as lord of your life is!)
[TW] AS is quite correct. This disturbing phenomenon has been apparent for a long time. A watered down gospel is ‘another gospel’ and is forbidden by Paul (Galatians 1:6-10). Because so many people are sold ‘cheap grace’ there are probably many in the church who are not really saved, many of whom leave. The church has suffered from this problem ever since Finney introduced such easy-believism ideas and techniques 150 years ago 9 (Even by the evangelists DL Moody) . Ray Comfort has also correctly identified that claims concerning ‘decisions’ at many evangelistic events are misinterpreted as genuine conversion. This results in inflated figures that are used to support such techniques. True Biblical evangelism includes an emphasis on the sinful nature, God’s holiness and repentance, not just love and grace.
[AS] 2. “Church buildings do not exist in the Bible. They were invented around 200-300 AD, when the church was in serious decline. Only a backslidden church could fall so far away from the simplicity of the early church. Church buildings are anti-New Testament, and bring with them a host of problems and traditions. It was basically when the church fell into the hands of Rome that this concept of the “cathedral” really took over. And we are still spending millions on these monuments today”.( and the tithe itself now was not used to support any church buildings, but solely the poor people and the church workers and their families, and the people who received the tithe were not allowed to own any property as well)
[TW] While we are opposed to unwarranted and lavish expenditure on buildings, especially if the cause of the gospel is likely to suffer, the fact is that Scripture doesn’t address the issue of owning property. AS’s point is therefore made rather more strongly than needed. ( But when most Church Properties theses day are owned, managed by a Cooptation that is not fully, daily accountable to the direct congregation this is really unacceptable too)
His argument also misses an important point: for the first 200 years the churches could not own property freely as a persecuted and illegal sect. Even in the NT it is clear that the early church was open to meeting in public buildings (eg: Acts 19:8-10). It is interesting that as soon as they were permitted to do so many churches did buy or build their own facilities – implying there was no inherent opposition to ownership per se. Churches should be free to follow their consciences in this area, but should be open to a challenge based on a claim of unwise stewardship. This claim could be levelled at many churches today who spend a great deal of money on buildings at the expense of their willingness or ability to learn correct doctrine and spread the right gospel.
[AS] 3. “The ‘one pastor runs everything’ model is totally unscriptural. Far from running everything, in the book of Acts we find the word “pastor” NOT EVEN USED ONCE. (The early church did have strong leaders and elders. But it was never a “one man band” like we see today. And never was it so “controlling” either)”.
[TW] We are not sure what he implies when he says the word pastor is never used in Acts. It is used in Ephesians and only once. But his basic premise is quite correct. Many church leaders assume they have some sort of divine right to rule. They become ‘nicolaitans’ (‘heavy shepherding’ – Revelation 2:6) – those who like to exert power over the people, often leading them into error in the process. A pastor’s proper role is that of the shepherd (closely associated with teaching) equipping the people to be mature and active in the faith (eg: Ephesians 4:11-16). The problem is not pastors per se, but rather pastors who abuse their authority and role and refuse to bow to the Scriptural standards for shepherding a church.
[AS] 4. “Tithing” is not a New Testament practice at all. And it is being shamefully abused by today’s preachers. In the New Testament we are told to give cheerfully – whatever we purpose in our hearts to give. Telling people that they MUST give 10% to the church or they are “robbing God” is totally sick – and a money-grubbing way of twisting Scripture. There is no evidence that the apostles EVER preached ‘tithing’ to New Testament believers. It was clearly regarded as an Old Testament practice”.
[TW] AS’s makes his point rather simplistically but he is correct. Tithing at most establishes a guideline for voluntary NT giving but it is not mandatory. Sadly, many churches make tithing an article of faith. Nicolaitan pastors are often associated with a heavy emphasis on tithing. Some use money gathered in this way to support a lavish lifestyle and/or they waste it on foolhardy ventures.
[AS] 5. “The words “prosper” or ‘prosperity’ was NEVER used by Jesus at all – and only exist a couple of times in the entire New Testament. Yet greedy preachers have built whole kingdoms upon them. The words – “sell what you have and give to the poor” and “deceitfulness of riches” and “you cannot serve God and mammom” and “woe to you that are rich” were DEFINITELY used by Jesus and the apostles. But we don’t hear these things preached too much, do we?”
[TW] We have made a feature of decrying the so called ‘faith-prosperity gospel’. It is a shameful deceit that will not go unpunished. It brings the Word of God and the witness of true Christians unjustifiably into disrepute (see 2 Peter 2:17-19). AS is quite right. Nicolaitanism, the false tithing message and faith-prosperity are often associated.
[AS] 6. “There were no Bible Colleges, Seminaries or degrees in the New Testament. The only people who seemed to have “Bible Schools” were the Scribes and Pharisees! The apostles were simple fishermen and tax collectors. It is likely that a number of them could not even read or write. What was their “qualification” for being in the ministry? Simply that they had SPENT A LOT OF TIME WITH JESUS. The fact that people expect a “professional clergy” today with degrees from Bible College has helped to make the church sicker and more unscriptural than ever. Simple humble people with a calling from God often cannot get to minister because they do not have a “piece of paper” to make them ‘qualified’.-Yet another disaster for the church.”
[TW] While biblical scholarship is not wrong per se it is true that an over-emphasis on theological studies, as the main criteria for pastorship, is wrong. It is wrong because it is dangerous. A person’s gifting and calling for leadership and teaching comes from God, not a theological college. However, it does not follow that formal theological, (cemetary training ) is inherently wrong.
It makes sense for a group of churches to pool pastoral training expertise and resources – but any such institutions or arrangements should be orientated to serving the churches and training pastors as a priority. Pastors and elders should emerge from within the church, not from seminaries. A danger here is to overreact and deny the need for proper training – leading to poorly taught leaders who are weak in the Word and vulnerable to deception and sin. ( Sadly getting a seminary degree does not mean one is holy sprit filled, nor even Christian for that matter)
[AS] 7. “There is almost no evidence whatsoever that the early church had their “main meeting” on a Sunday. They gathered together ‘from house to house’ virtually every day! There were no church buildings. They did not dress up and “go to church”. There were no denominations. There were no separate groups with different ‘labels’. They lived their lives together – all the Christians in the local area. Love and fellowship and ‘koinonia’ were as natural to them as breathing. And the apostles in Jerusalem preached every day at huge open-air gatherings. -Not “hidden away” inside four walls. This was truly a “street church” in every way.” ( actually there church meetings stared on the first day of the week, and they started Saturday at 6.00 pm and continued likely till the wee hours of Sunday morning, and similar meetings were often held during many other days of the week too)
[TW] AS is just plain wrong on this point. Christians may have met everyday in the very first days, but they also shared all in common (Acts 2:44-46). Most Christians don’t see this early post-Pentecost situation as normative for today (does Andrew believe we should share everything?). It is clear that the later regular practice of NT churches was to meet regularly once a week for public worship on the 1st day (Sunday)/”Lord’s Day” (eg: Acts 20:6-7; 1 Corinthians 16:1-3 cf Revelation 1:10).
Early historical examples of Sunday worship:
AS should also refer to the Diadache (written sometime between 70-120AD – believed by most scholars to be the earliest church document outside the NT)
14:1 But every Lord’s day gather yourselves together, and break bread, and give thanksgiving after having confessed your transgressions, that your sacrifice may be pure
(Chapter 11 shows they already had problems with many false prophets!)
Sunday worship in Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians (c115AD) Chapter IX
If, therefore, those who were brought up in the ancient order of things have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord’s Day, on which also our life has sprung up again by Him and by His death
Sunday worship in Epistle of Barnabas (c100AD) Chapter XV(15)
Ye perceive how He speaks: Your present Sabbaths are not acceptable to Me, but that is which I have made, [namely this, ] when, giving rest to all things, I shall make a beginning of the eighth day, that is, a beginning of another world. Wherefore, also, we keep the eighth day with joyfulness, the day also on which Jesus rose again from the dead and when He had manifested Himself, He ascended into the heavens.
We could give many other examples, and this all 300 years before Constantine made Sunday ‘official’ (but he was only recognising the actual practice of the churches).
AS rightly points out that there were no denominations in the NT. However, there were hardly the numbers to allow this or time for many errors to arise in a coherent manner. Unfortunately today denominations are a necessary evil if Christians are to worship in conscience freely yet still recognise each other as Christians. To force us all into one church necessarily leads to ecumenical ‘control-from-the-top’ or doctrinal compromise – the very things Andrew opposes!
A better solution to these percieved issues is not to abolish Lord’s Day worship, but to promote a consistent church life through the week and to seek unity based on a common committment to the Truth. [For more on this issue see our article on church unity]
[AS] 8. “The idea that you can replace the moving of the Holy Spirit with programs, programs and more programs just shows how low we have sunk. Man-made programs are everywhere today. The early church had much more of God and much less of ‘man’.”( One of the most boring events in life is to sit through these predictable unspiritual, sad events still too)
[TW] AS fails to say that the Spirit speaks through the Word ( but even then not solely and the Holy Spirit still uses Prophecies now as well) , or that we need to return to the Word ( Firstly meaning Jesus Christ) . Hence he leaves the door open to people having “words” claimed to be of the Spirit. Such “words” are often used to justify unbiblical practices. This may be AS’s achilles heel. He has talked of going to set up a ministry in Kansas City, USA. If this means he plans to work with the so called Kansas City prophets it suggests AS’s doctrine in regard to the Spirit and the Gifts of the Spirit is flawed. [For further information read our letter to the pastor of the Upper Hutt City Fellowship concerning Rick Joyner]
[AS] 9. We preach a ‘humanistic’ Jesus today. – A Jesus who exists mainly for our own “happiness”. A Santa Claus who wants to rain down continual blessings upon us. A God of grace and mercy without judgement, righteousness or truth. Our gross misrepresentation of who Jesus really is, is one of the most serious offences of the modern church. Today’s church seems to worship a “plastic” Jesus – one that she has made in her own image. What an offence to God.
A lot of preachers are well aware that there is some thing very wrong with the church today. (It is mostly the preachers themselves that are not right with God) They know there is little ‘fear of the Lord’. They know there is no deep repentance or deep moving of the Holy Spirit. They know that it is just the same old “game” being played every week. A lot of them are very aware of this. But they will not do anything about it. They will not rock the boat. And they will “squash” anyone who comes along trying to do something. They do not want a real “shaking”. There is too much to lose. They have their careers and their little ‘kingdoms’ at stake. This is the real truth of the matter. This is where the rubber truly meets the road.
That is why God is about to bring “Great Reformation”. He will not put up with these ‘hirelings’ any longer. He will not have them as leaders over His people. A lot of them are about to “lose their heads”. They will never lead God’s people again. This is what true ‘Reformation’ is all about. It is the process of replacing the old leadership and the old lies. -It is David taking over from ‘Saul’.
There is a ‘New Wineskin’ coming. In fact it is upon us. There is a new leadership arising – many of them trained in the ‘wilderness’ for such a time as this. The hour is now here. LET THE NEW LEADERS ARISE! The sad fact is that today’s church has sunk so low that it is almost a matter of people needing to be RESCUED OUT OF HER. I never thought I would say something as radical as that, but it is the truth.
The entire church is living a lie. Many inside her are told continuously that they are “OK” – that they are saved and headed for heaven. Nothing could be further from the truth. Multitudes of them are headed directly for hell. The systemized LYING that is going on has deceived the leaders and the people alike. It is the blind leading the blind. We need to contend for these people – desperately. Much of the church is “lost”. They are mired in deception – an entire system of deception.”
[TW] Again, AS is generally right in his initial observations here, but his solutions badly miss the point. A true reformation only comes about through a faithful and repentant/prayerful return to the priority of the Word. Only as the church reforms in light of the Scriptures and becomes more faithful in proclaiming the gospel – can we regain hope of a genuine revival. Andrew’s over-emphasis on a supernaturally restored leadership is putting the cart before the horse. Godly leadership will only come from a return to the supremacy and priority of the Word and its associated truth. AS’s exaggerated view of the Spirit has distracted him. He needs to remember that the Holy Spirit comes to lead us into all truth, hence TW’s insistence on a return to a correct understanding of God’s Word. ” http://www.truthwatch.info/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=112
My concluding comment
Our actions must be founded on what we know to be true from God’s Word, and that what is being directed us personally to each one of us by the Holy Spirit, and to do that we all still do need to continually in reality live a Holy Sprit filled life. it starts by daily reading the Bible, having a Bible devotional, and sadly even most pastors do not do that too.