Apostasy in the Church Part 4
A Time to Refrain from Embracing
By Jim Allen
As Christians, we are to be gentle, forgiving, forbearing and accepting of one another. However, when it comes to the message of the Gospel, there can be no compromise and no easy pass for false teachers. The reasons why are first, the Gospel is the core of Christianity and when you change the foundational truths, cracks appear in the entire gospel structure and weakens its holy purpose. Secondly, if ministers teach another Gospel, people will be confused about the path to salvation and risk an uncertain eternity. Finally and most serious, minister who knowingly compromise the gospel are an affront to the perfect work of the Lord Jesus Christ. The word compromise means, typically, to reach an agreement about a dispute between two people who make concessions for the sake of progress and harmony. Compromise can also mean to place a lesser value on a principle firmly upheld about a particular matter. For instance, a person who abstains from drinking alcoholic beverages but then gives in, under pressure from a friend during social event, compromises a personal principle. Although compromise is not always a bad thing, some compromises are wrong, depending on what is being compromised. The Bible warns about those who compromise the redemptive message of Jesus Christ. In Colossians 2:8, the apostle Paul writes, "Beware lest anyone deceive you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ." Ministers like Rick Warren have found a way to redefine the Christian worship experience in a way that will make people feel good about themselves. These "feel good" churches are teaching a new gospel whose belief system favors simple narratives, places high value on good works, promotes self-esteem, and emphasizes the here and now. This new belief system provides an all positive church experience that eliminates conviction of sinfulness. In other words, confession of sin is no longer part of the equation. The new belief system softens the Gospel by repackaging its message into a seeker-friendly format, eliminating all the heavy baggage associated with sinfulness and eternal consequences. Compromising ministers have redefined sin to be nothing more than innocent mistakes anyone can make. Repentance is now a matter of developing integrity seasoned with multiple-step programs, right motives, and a positive attitude.
As a result, churches adopting narrative theology and literary theory will lead many to God but then deny salvation by sweeping essential doctrinal truths required for salvation under the rug. Ministers who buy into the gospel of compromise are allowing their enthusiasm for an all positive church experience to transcend their discernment for sound doctrine. Rick Warren and Joel Osteen are the poster boys for the gospel of compromise, exchanging the Gospel for a gospel that does not save. The act of glossing over fundamental salvation truths to make Christianity more acceptable is blasphemy on steroids. Long ago Jesus inspired the apostle Paul to write, "For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God" (Acts 20:27). In other words, ministers of the true Gospel are to preach the whole truth about God and his plan for redemption. To preach a partial gospel is to preach another gospel, one that condemns all who embrace it.
Rick Warren is the author of What on Earth Am I Here For? The original name of the book was entitled, The Purpose Driven Life. The book is an easy read, informative, and surprisingly persuasive. Warren explains the purpose of the book is to help people fulfill God's five purposes for their life. The five purposes are that believers should bring glory to God by: 1) getting to know and love him, 2) loving other people, 3) becoming like Christ, 4) serving others, and 5) telling others about him. Not surprisingly, these five purposes sound good and align perfectly with evangelical churches that focus on what believers should be like and do for God. Although Warren's book contains truth, interwoven within the paragraphs and laced between the words are doctrinal untruths. One highly noteworthy untruth is the "thin theology" of what it means to make a commitment to Christ. Warren writes, "Once we are spiritually born into God's family through a commitment to Christ, God wants us to grow to spiritual maturity." At first glace, this purpose seems to gel with Scripture and is certainly consistent with many evangelicals who parlay the idea that salvation is a matter of making a commitment to Christ, becoming like Jesus, and developing a Christ-likeness. Regrettably, the book stops far short of what it means to make a commitment to Christ and subjects the reader to the danger of becoming a false convert.
The phrase "commitment to Christ" has a ring of truth but regrettably flies over several fundamental truths that every person must confront head-on if ever hoping to find eternal life. Anyone can make a commitment to another person. Making a commitment to follow Christ, induced from an emotional tug during an altar call, is most often transitory; that is to say, the commitment to Christ does not last because the emotion that drove the commitment does not last. A genuine commitment to Christ will be enduring when a believer grounds his or her faith in the Bible. A believer possessing the "true grit of commitment" will taste, ingest, and then digest the seeds of truth until the Holy Spirit transforms the person from sinner to saint (Romans 12:2).
Although Warren's book speaks much truth, it does not speak the whole truth and by default dismisses the deep and necessary truths required for salvation. This is compromise. Perhaps one reason why these ministers of compromise avoid the whole truth is they do not understand the truth. They talk about the lofty goal of committing one's life to Christ by reciting the sinner's prayer, but then fail to talk about the deep and necessary work the Holy Spirit must do in the unregenerate soul. The bottom line is each true believer must give up his life for the life of Christ (John 12:25). When I ended my brief involvement in the Alpha Course and Promise Keepers Movement several years ago, I notice a similar trend in "redemption shallowness" shared between the two movements; to be precise, the bedrock doctrinal truths required for salvation were noticeably missing, replaced with a simple commitment to Christ.
The problem with these religious-lite movements is not the truth they contain but the truth they purposely twist and fail to include, and herein the deception and warning. Unregenerate souls who do not learn about their depraved nature and lost condition before God will not perceive their need for Christ. The Alpha Course views sin as nothing more than a bad cold that will go away with a positive confession of faith. The Promise Keepers views sin as nothing more than bad choices that will diminish by becoming men of integrity, keeping promises to God, church, and family, which is legalism.
While the call to salvation outlined in the Bible contains both positive and negative salvation truths, those outlined in the aforementioned movements and book by Warren leave no room for the fundamental truths leading to salvation. Romans 3:23 is a fundamental truth that says, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Another example is Acts 3:19 that says, "Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out..."
The negative salvation verses are a necessary part of Godly conviction that produces in the unregenerate a cry for deliverance, a mournful state resulting from recognition of one's sinfulness and need for salvation (Luke 18:13-14). Calling upon God for mercy is the beginning of repentance, a genuine change of mind about who we are apart from God (2 Corinthians 7:10). People who do not grasp the reality of their sinfulness, separation from God, and need for deliverance available through Christ are not ready and ill prepared to make a commitment to Christ. For these unprepared souls, the Lord needs time to cultivate the soil of the heart with Godly conviction until it becomes broken soil, made ready to receive the good seed of God's Word (Matthew 13:23).
The ministers of compromise no longer view "repentance" as a valuable doctrine because in their misguided opinion it is harmful to self-esteem and not seeker friendly. The ministers of compromise view sinfulness in terms of rehabilitation through positive coaching. May I assure you, this is not what the Bible teaches. This mistaken maneuver by ministers to remove salvation verses, deemed antiquated, from the church experience is the very thing that will keep people unredeemed. Pastor DePra wrote:
In this modern day, heretics like Joel Osteen, Robert Schuller (Sr), and others like Rick Warren have come up with a hybrid form of Christianity; a religion that offers people Jesus Christ, salvation, and all the perceived benefits of salvation without the need for repentance, confession of sin, and picking up one's personal cross (Mark 8:34). In closing, this post is a snapshot of the gospel of compromise. Much more needs to be written about the error of compromise and its growing influence in the church. Christian leaders who compromise the gospel by omitting key salvation verses are in gross error, lacking discernment, obviously deceived, and possibly themselves unredeemed. As a result, these ministers of compromise are giving the world another Jesus, one who is seeker friendly and does not save. But then, we believers should not be surprised because this is how Satan works through his ministers standing in the pulpit?
In my next post, I will write about the Gospel of Self Esteem, a gospel that promises to raise believers to their highest calling, all for the glory of God; and as a result, they will find blessings in health and wealth and be just like Jesus.
1. Shawn Abigail; "Another Gospel"; brethrenonline.org; Paraphrased.
2. GoodNews.org; Paraphrased.
Apostasy in the Church: The Series
Part 1: When Wolves Lead the Flock
Part 2: Under Cover Lies
Part 3: Their Greed, Your Seed
Part 4: A Time to Refrain from Embracing
Part 5: Angels of Light
Part 6: Miracles, Signs and Wonders
Part 7: The Partial Gospel
Part 8: The True Gospel
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