Itching Ears

I haven’t done a blog in a while because I’ve been spending all my time studying. After what must have been a 10-year discernment process, I decided a couple of years ago to complete my education requirements for ordination. On February 17, I passed my ordination board interview and was ordained by the Evangelical Church Alliance International (www.ecainternational.com) on the 18th. So, today I am at the computer and I actually don’t have to go study! Good time to blog!

I have a lot on my mind, but I think I’ll stick to this today. Scripture tells us in 2 Timothy 4:3, “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.”

I honestly believe every generation of orthodox Christian leaders has thought this was happening during their time. I’m reading The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer who wrote during the 1940s and you would think he was writing about today! Heck, John Edwards wrote the sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” in 1741!  But I think we are actually in worse shape in America today than Edwards and Tozer saw during their lifetimes.

Certainly, it is one thing if the culture around us is morally corrupt. I could argue that it always has been in every age. But when Christians begin to reinterpret scripture to fit cultural norms and Christian teachers and leaders change basic foundational Christian doctrine to fit these norms and then ostracize those in the faith who stick to orthodox beliefs you’ve done more than take the slippery slope. You’ve fallen off the cliff.

And that is what Paul warns us about in the 2 Timothy passage. But Paul is not the first to tell us this. We read in Proverbs 14:2 that the ways of a man seem right in his own eyes but only lead to death. Which is why God tells us in Proverbs 3:5 not to lean on our own understanding because God’s ways are not our ways, His ways are higher (and better) than ours (Isaiah 55:9).

As I look around the church today here’s what I see:

  • Little to no concern for the lost who are going to hell because we’ve not told them about Jesus
  • Apostate churches that reject God’s word and instead arrogantly tell God He is wrong and then smugly instruct Him on what sin is and is not according to their standards
  • Christians and churches that embrace biblical sin as normal and something to be celebrated as diversity and taught to their children as tolerance
  • A complete lack of holiness because Christians want to fit in with the crowd instead of being set apart as God intends
  • And I think worst of all, a general apathy about holding onto biblical truth as it relates to our conduct and eternity

I’m not really a “fire and brimstone” guy, but I can read.

Jesus tells us that if we love Him we will do what He says (John 14:15). Jesus also tells us that on that day many will call Him “Lord, Lord:” and He will say He never knew you (Matthew 7:21). Why? Because you actually didn’t love Him; you didn’t follow His commands so you didn’t have a true relationship with Him. He doesn’t know you!

That should scare you if you’re someone who is embracing the culture in the name of the love of God.

Here is what many Christians miss about our God. He is not just love. He is love and justice and righteousness and holiness and mercy and grace and forgiveness and judgment and truth all at the same time. His love does not negate His justice. His grace does not negate His truth. His mercy does not negate His holiness. He is all things at once, which is why He warns us from Genesis to Revelation about straying from His commands.

I think the book of Revelation is instructive here. In chapter two, Jesus addresses the seven churches, which I believe could be representative of today’s church. First, He tells them what He sees them doing well, but then He points out what He holds against them. Let me list them for you:

Ephesus – They have forsaken their first love! Jesus says they have fallen from a great height! They no longer love Jesus and do what He commands.

Pergamum – This church was following a different teaching than that of Jesus, including having other gods before God and embracing sexual immorality.

Thyatira – Jesus warns this church about their embracing a false teacher and not sticking to the Gospel.

Sardis – People in this church had a reputation as being alive but Jesus says they are dead because they are not obeying His commands, warning them to obey the words they have heard and repent from their ways.

Laodicea – This church is neither hot nor cold just lukewarm and Jesus says he’s going to spit them out of His mouth because they are just plain apathetic.

Of the seven churches, only Smyrna and Philadelphia are doing what they are supposed to be doing. The other five are in danger of being blotted out of the book of life because while giving the appearance of godliness they are in fact rejecting God and his commands.

Does this sound familiar to our age? Are there Christians and churches that no longer love Jesus and are just playing church? Are there churches that embrace false teachings? Are there churches that glorify false teachers? And are there churches that are more like a social club than a place to worship the living God that are just going through the motions?

Absolutely! And I believe they are in as much danger as these Revelation churches. Of these seven churches, five are in trouble. What is that, 70 percent? Is Jesus telling us that 70 percent of our churches are in trouble? Seems hard to believe, but look around at the various denominations and how they are changing their beliefs and you will see Jesus is right.

As a Christian leader, I am concerned. As a newly minted minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, I am aghast! It seems like every day I’m reading about so-called Christians denying fundamental pieces of our faith and then being rewarded for their “bravery” by the world.

Now I’m not stupid. I know things are going to get worse – scripture tells us it will. But I am disgusted as America embraces a “post-Christian” culture with many who have followed the faith compromising themselves for the easier road of worldly approval rather than the more difficult Christian road of holding to God’s truth.

Perhaps this is why Jesus said the gate is narrow and that while many will try to get in by jumping the fence, only those who go through the gate that He is watching will actually get in. (Mathew 7:13)

As Christians, we call the Gospel the Good News. But as Christians we need to remember why it is called Good News. Jesus saved us from eternal damnation by taking the punishment we deserved for our sin and rebellion against God by dying on a cross in our place. If you call yourself a Christian, you owe not just your life but your eternity to Jesus. The least you can do in return is obey his commands which you can find here:

http://www.jesuswordsonly.com/books/commands-of-jesus.html

I know there is a strong temptation to make scripture and our faith more palatable for your friends, neighbors, and community. But remember this: God sent prophets to His people when they strayed and the people responded by rejecting the message and killing the messenger…including Jesus. God’s word has never been popular among the mob nor was it intended to be.

God is God and we are not and that is enough to follow Him even when it’s difficult. Don’t lose faith; don’t compromise the truth; and don’t fall to the world which is run by Satan. Stay strong no matter what and Jesus will, indeed, see you through because in truth there is no such thing as a “post-Christian” world.

 

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