Feeding Sheep or Amusing Goats?

An evil is in the professed camp of the Lord, so gross in its impudence, that the most shortsighted can hardly fail to notice it during the past few years. It has developed at an abnormal rate, even for evil. It has worked like leaven until the whole lump ferments. The devil has seldom done a cleverer thing than hinting to the church that part of their mission is to provide entertainment for the people, with a view to winning them.

From speaking out as the Puritans did, the church has gradually toned down her testimony, then winked at and excused the frivolities of the day. Then she tolerated them in her borders. Now she has adopted them under the plea of reaching the masses.

My first contention is that providing amusement for the people is nowhere spoken of in the Scriptures as a function of the church. If it is a Christian work, why did not Christ speak of it? “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). That is clear enough. So it would have been if He had added, “and provide amusement for those who do not relish the gospel.” No such words, however, are to be found. It did not seem to occur to him.

Then again, “He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some evangelists; and some pastors and teachers .., for the work of the ministry” (Eph. 4:11-12). Where do entertainers come in? The Holy Spirit is silent concerning them. Were the prophets persecuted because they amused the people or because they refused? The concert has no martyr roll.

Again, providing amusement is in direct antagonism to the teaching and life of Christ and all his apostles. What was the attitude of the church to the world? Ye are the salt” (Matt. 5:13), not the sugar candy—something the world will spit out not swallow. Short and sharp was the utterance, “Let the dead bury their dead” (Matt. 8:22) He was in awful earnestness.

Had Christ introduced more of the bright and pleasant elements into his mission, he would have been more popular when they went back, because of the searching nature of His teaching. I do not hear him say, “Run after these people Peter and tell them we will have a different style of service tomorrow, something short and attractive with little preaching. We will have a pleasant evening for the people. Tell them they will be sure to enjoy it. Be quick Peter, we must get the people somehow.” Jesus pitied sinners, sighed and wept over them, but never sought to amuse them.

In vain will the Epistles be searched to find any trace of this gospel of amusement! Their message is, “Come out, keep out, keep clean out!” Anything approaching fooling is conspicuous by its absence. They had boundless confidence in the gospel and employed no other weapon.

After Peter and John were locked up for preaching, the church had a prayer meeting but they did not pray, “Lord grant unto thy servants that by a wise and discriminating use of innocent recreation we may show these people how happy we are.” If they ceased not from preaching Christ, they had not time for arranging entertainments. Scattered by persecution, they went everywhere preaching the gospel. They turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6). That is the only difference! Lord, clear the church of all the rot and rubbish the devil has imposed on her, and bring us back to apostolic methods.

Lastly, the mission of amusement fails to affect the end desired. It works havoc among young converts. Let the careless and scoffers, who thank God because the church met them halfway, speak and testify. Let the heavy laden who found peace through the concert not keep silent! Let the drunkard to whom the dramatic entertainment has been God’s link in the chain of the conversion, stand up! There are none to answer. The mission of amusement produces no converts. The need of the hour for today’s ministry is believing scholarship joined with earnest spirituality, the one springing from the other as fruit from the root. The need is biblical doctrine, so understood and felt, that it sets men on fire.

By Charles Haddon Spurgeon – The Wake-Up Herald –

Liberty Church Project

Last year, I launched the Liberty Church Project. For several years, patriot Christians around the country had corresponded with me about their frustration with not being able to find a patriot pastor or liberty church in their area. Like me, these folks have grown weary with establishment 501(c)(3) churches that refuse to take a stand–and they are desperate to find a patriot church and pastor.

The two biggest reasons why pastors and churches have become either silent and submissive serfs or, in some cases, shills for government propaganda are the egregious misinterpretation of Romans 13 and the 501(c)(3) non-profit organization status under which most churches operate. The result is an American church that, for all intents and purposes, is completely incapable of being the “salt” and “light” for our country. These squeamish and compliant churches have left our nation virtually void of moral and spiritual leadership.

As I recently noted in this column: True Christianity has never been associated with, supported by, or underneath Caesar’s (civil government’s) auspices or benevolence. For most of the 2,000+ years of Church history, true believers met in non-state-sanctioned or even underground churches and fellowships. In fact, the Early Church was birthed in a baptism of persecution from both the civil government (Rome) and established religion (Judaism) at the time. Not until the unholy union of the Church and State under Theodosius I (almost 400 years after Christ) did Christians accept official sanction from government. And for many centuries to follow, the official merger of Church and State led to the persecutions and deaths of untold thousands of believers deemed heretics and outlaws because their religious beliefs contradicted those of the official state-sanctioned church.

Even in early America, state-approved denominations and churches were guilty of horrific persecutions against independent-minded Christians who refused to submit to the doctrines and liturgies of state-sanctioned churches. These state-church persecutions ultimately led Roger Williams to found the colony of Rhode Island and John Leland to convince James Madison that religious liberty must be the first in our Constitution’s Bill of Rights.

After the acceptance of our Bill of Rights, America’s churches enjoyed complete independent status, being answerable only to their Creator and their own conscience. All of that changed in 1954 when then-Senator Lyndon Johnson (D-Texas) successfully introduced the Johnson Amendment to the code of the Internal Revenue Service: the now-infamous 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization status for churches. This designation made churches a creature of the state–answerable to the direct dictates of government–even regarding speech and activity.

By accepting 501(c)(3) status, America’s churches have effectively become state-licensed or state-sanctioned organizations. In much the same way that churches in Communist China risk vindictive state sanctions for not complying with state control, so, too, churches in the United States risk vindictive IRS sanctions for not complying with state control.

What is more than interesting is the comparison between the churches in China and the churches in America. In China, Christianity is growing exponentially. In fact, there are now more Christians in China than there are communists. Please carefully read this report:

“Though the Chinese Communist Party is the largest explicitly atheist organization in the world, with 85 million official members, it is now overshadowed by an estimated 100 million Christians in China. It is no wonder Beijing is nervous and authorities are cracking down on Christian groups.

“Christianity is growing so fast in China that some predict that it will be the most Christian nation in the world in only another 15 years. By far, the greatest growth is coming outside the official state-sanctioned churches, which are rightly considered subservient to the Communist Party. Numbers are increasing, rather, in unofficial Protestant ‘house churches’ and in the underground Catholic church.”

Did you get that? Let me repeat it: “By far, the greatest growth is coming OUTSIDE [emphasis added] the official state-sanctioned churches, which are rightly considered subservient to the Communist Party [state]. Numbers are increasing, rather, in UNOFFICIAL [emphasis added] Protestant ‘house churches’ and in the UNDERGROUND [emphasis added] Catholic church.”

But what do we see happening in the United States? Christianity is waning BIG TIME. On the whole, churches are in steep decline. For the most part, only the entertainment-oriented, circus variety churches are growing. The numbers of Americans professing Christianity in general and expressing loyalty to a specific church or denomination are at historic lows. And the trend for 2015 and beyond is more of the same.

So, what is the difference? Why is Christianity proliferating in China and declining in America? China has an openly atheistic government. For all intents and purposes, the government in Washington, D.C., is equally atheistic. The federal government in D.C. is responsible for virtually every single attack against the expression of the Christian faith at every level of society. It is the federal government that attacks Christian expression in our local public schools. It is the federal government that attacks Christian expression in local governing bodies. It is the federal government that has all but permanently dismantled the expression of Christianity throughout our country’s public institutions. But so does the government in Beijing. Yet, in China, the Church is mushrooming, while in America, the Church is dying. What’s the difference?

The difference is, in China, Christians understand that to be loyal to Christ, they MUST NOT SUBMIT to state-sanction or license. And they are willing to defy Beijing authorities in order to be faithful to that conviction. However, in America, pastors and churches insist that they MUST SUBMIT to state control–even using Romans 13 to justify this preposterous position. Bottom line: state-sanctioned churches in America are withering, while non-state-sanctioned churches in China are mushrooming. There is no doubt that the trend in both countries will continue into and beyond 2015.

Until America’s pastors and churches “see the light” and consciously withdraw themselves from Caesar’s grasp (at whatever cost), Christianity in this country will continue to evaporate.

The Liberty Church Project was born out of the pleas of thousands of believers nationwide who desire to break free from the establishment
501(c)(3)-controlled and misapplied Romans 13-brainwashed churches….

By Chuck Baldwin – Chuck Baldwin Live –

Church worship distractions to avoid

When Americans flock to services across the nation on Sundays and for mid-week Bible studies, the fellowship wouldn’t be complete without the element of worship. Because the worshipping of God is so vital to Christians’ faith, eliminating the distractions that can inhibit one’s praise has been found to be of great importance.

Dr. Chuck Lawless, professor of evangelism and missions at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, has consulted churches for 15 years, compiling a list of ten distractions commonly encountered inside church sanctuaries across America concerning the music element of worship. After the first listing, Lawless gets more general, giving another ten distractions that take away from the worship experience, listing various components and practices that can divert believers’ attention away from God.

10 distractions from the music side of worship:

Here are Dr. Lawless’ findings, which point out the greatest distractions experienced during worship music at church.

1. Incomprehensible choir or praise team words – Worship was intended to be about communicating a message of praise to God, and when the words are obscured, it inhibits one’s fellowship with God.

2. Unsmiling faces leading worship – It is a privilege to come before God and worship Him. When a worship team’s countenance communicates something different, it detracts from leading the congregation in making a joyful sound unto the Lord.

“Some solemn hymns may not necessitate smiles, but something is lacking in singing about the joy of the Lord when the singer’s facial expression suggests something different,” insists Lawless, who also serves as the dean of graduate studies at SBTS. “We have seen entire praise teams show little expression as they lead worship.”

By Michael F. Haverluck – One News Now –

10 Signs Your Church Has Been Secularized

The Bible teaches that the church is supposed to influence the world as salt and light (Matt. 5:13-16), but instead the church has often been influenced by the world. Ezekiel 22:26 sends a stern rebuke to believers who make no distinction between that which is common and that which is holy (by common we mean worldly things and values) in this article the word secular refers to worldly rather than holy and set apart for God’s purposes:

Truly any congregation that has no distinction from the world is close to extinction! The reason so many evangelical churches have grown so rapidly is not necessarily because of a true spiritual revival but because of cultural accommodation. The following are 10 signs your church has been secularized:

1) They preach only what is popular and avoid what is culturally controversial.

Often secularized pastors stay away from preaching on the standards of biblical morality so as to stay in the societal mainstream and avoid offending visitors. The result is a membership that only hears a partial gospel without the power to renew minds which leaves them as secular saints….

8) The congregation espouses a culture of entertainment more than biblical discipleship.

When the primary objective of a congregation is to attract crowds on Sunday by giving them an “experience” rather than making committed disciples, then they have espoused a culture of entertainment and have been secularized.

9) The congregation espouses a culture of opulent greed and narcissism instead of sacrifice and giving.

If the preaching appeals to the narcissistic desire of using faith for personal affluence more than the biblical call to surrender and sacrifice all for the Lord, then that congregation has been secularized.

10) If Jesus is only presented as a personal Savior rather than Lord of all.

When folks only want Jesus to save them without transforming them, they have been secularized. When Jesus is continually presented in a church only as a personal Savior without the injunction for all people to surrender to His Lordship, then that congregation is focused on individual salvation more than on the glory of God. Secular humanism is all about centering life upon the needs and desires of autonomous humanity without any concern or submission to the Creator God.

By Joseph Mattera – Charisma News –