LEAVE!


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I believe that:

1) There is something out there that can be properly called the Institutionalized Church. This is a church that is set and unchanging. The problem is that is set on manmade traditions and not God’s. I believe this church suffers no persecution from the world because, at its heart, is a man centered church. The focus here is pleasing man rather than God and receiving the validation of the world. The modus operandi of this church is secularism.

2) Because of the abandonment of the apostolic teachings, the Lord will release many out of local churches. Many of these local churches are like boats that are leading God’s people away from the shore of truth. Many of you are going to have to jump out of those boats. 2 John 1:9-11 brings this point home nicely, Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; 11 for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.” (NKJV) For those who have the tendency to minimize the importance of teaching God’s Word over emotionalism, I have news for you; you are not even worth saying hi to. If you are in a local church that is not teaching the doctrine of Christ… LEAVE!

3) The Bible gives us a clear roadmap of how the church should look like (Stop with the NEW THING). We find our purpose in the fulfillment of the Great Commission. The Modus operandi is clearly found on Acts 2:42 and Ephesians 4:12-16

4) In every Christian denomination you will find authentic Christians. As we read the 7 churches in Revelation, even those churches that were under severe judgment had true believers in it. For those true believers in those churches: You are there to insist in truth, to speak up and not to be a cheese ball and a coward. Don’t be afraid of getting in trouble (You will) and don’t be afraid of getting kick out (You will if they don’t listen). Remember that loves delights in truth! (1 Corinthians 13). Speak the truth in the mix of all those lies you are listening to Sunday after Sunday.

5) Moving away from God’s Word as the maximum authority in the search and recognition of truth, is a clear sign of not belonging to Christ. Christ demands that we remain in his Word (Teaching). John 8:31-32 tells us, Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word (Logos: written word), you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (NKJV) Our freedom is not found in laughing uncontrollably or barking like a dog or screaming like a siren or running up and down the sanctuary… Our freedom is found in truth. Any group that minimizes the authority of Scripture as a confirmation and compass of truth is either not of God or highly deceived. Wherever you find folks watering down the Gospel… LEAVE!

6) It is not about the building, I agree, we are the church. Meeting under a tree, in a parking lot, in a dinning or living room, etc. does not make you any holier or any more or less part of the church.

7) God did not call us to place our focus on criticizing the church, but to expose false prophets and teachers amongst us. For a list of Bible verses addressing this issue click here: http://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/Bible-Verses-About-Exposing-False-Teachers/

8) Our focus is to make disciples, to teach them to abide in all that Jesus commands. How is it that the Great Commission has become the great omission? Because we continue to increasingly preach a gospel without responsibility, accountability, process and/or efforts. We have become enemies of good works. We are creating an environment where spiritual laziness is celebrated as truth. Never mind that we are call to grow in grace and in the knowledge of Christ (2 Peter 3:18), never mind that we are called to STUDY God’s Word (2 Peter 2:15)… never mind that we are called to EQUIP the saints for the WORK of the ministry. (Ephesians 4:12-16) If these things are not happening in your local church… LEAVE!

9) We, as the church, are not called to change the world, we are called to evangelize. Why do we continue to insist in mixing with the world? Are we not call to be holy? Are we not call to get out of this Babylonian system? (1 Peter 1:16 / Revelation 18:4) Do you realize that God will destroy this secular demonic system in one hour? (Revelation 18:10). So our job is to bring them out of darkness into light by the preaching of the Good News. (Luke 4:18-19) And, lastly,

10) You MUST bring this church experience HOME. Notice that I am not saying HOUSE (Building), I am saying HOME! (Family). If you are not worshiping, if you are not studying God’s Word, if you are not praying, if you are not engaging in Godly conversations, if you are not loving Jesus and if you are not changing AT HOME, then YOU are FULL of MANMADE RELIGION! I implore you… Leave and rescue your faith! Leave and rescue your family… Leave and let set the captives free before it is too late!

 

Discipleship and a Healthy Church


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Introduction

             Some times, especially after you pass forty, you wake up in the morning feeling a certain pain with no idea of what generated such pain. You may wake up in the morning with a cold, feelings of nausea, etc. These are symptoms that are announcing that something in your body is not right at the moment. Many times we ignore those symptoms. There are also diseases that are lethal; however, they present no symptoms until, perhaps, it’s too late.

            Biblically speaking, it will never be too late for the church. The church will make it and be all that God says the church will be (Matthew 16:18). Nevertheless, many local churches are suffering from a disease, and even as there are no symptoms, the consequences are lethal. This disease is called, lack of discipleship. It is impossible for any church of any denomination to be healthy without aggressively and intentionally embracing the Great Commission. A million things have substituted this lack of discipleship and it has become a silent killer in the deterioration process of the health of many local churches. Many local churches are indeed dying.

A Healthy Church is the Goal of Discipleship

            Lack of discipleship is the greatest evidence that a church is sick. Dr. Krejcir states,

“This comes from a big problem we have in most churches today, that is the                    tendency of leaders not effectually growing in the Lord and thus do not practice their faith and this dispenses down to the congregation. And the outcome is a church that has missed its point and reason for being; as its people, who Christ has   brought in, go without being taught or discipled because the pastors and leaders  are not being taught or discipled.”[1]

            Jesus’ will for us is to have abundant life (John 10:10). His will is unquestionably good. In Jeremiah 28:11, even under the law; the Scripture describes the good plan that God has for us. What is in question here is not God’s will for us; what is in question is our true condition. The image is unimportant; the size of the building is unimportant and how large our membership is, is unimportant. The question here is, are we healthy according to Scripture?

            Every Sunday, for the most part, somebody is preaching; on Wednesdays, for the most part, somebody is teaching. So what are we missing? Jesus came to make us free according to John 8:32. He did not come to do a half way job; Jesus came to make us whole (Matthew 9:20-22). I am afraid that we have lower the standards and are skipping discipleship for lukewarm approach to the Gospel.

Examining my Personal History with Local Churches and Denominations

“In brief, the lesson in understanding what Jesus meant by “all that I commanded   you” at the end of Matthew’s Gospel is a call to strive for a closer and more   precise interpretation of Jesus’ teaching and commands in light of the circumstances in which they were given. “Teaching them to observe” requires no less than the disciples’ best efforts in understanding Jesus’ intent when He gave  each of those   teachings.”[2]

            I don’t know what is it that is so much moving us away from what we are called to do in our local churches. Honestly is frustrating! Many things in Scripture are hard to understand, but not the Great Commission. May be is the fact that discipleship requires two foundational requirements: 1) For us to remain in God’s Word and not live this life base on our opinions (John 8:31), and 2) to deny ourselves and to carry our cross (Matthew 16:24).

            In my life as a Christian my journey has taken me through diverse denominations. I have been a part of three nondenominational churches; one of these churches, a strong multicultural church. I have been a part of four major Pentecostal denominations. The nondenominational and all the Pentecostal churches I have been a part of are considered proud charismatics. I have also been a part of one Full Gospel Baptist Church (Mostly Black), and one Southern Baptist Church (Mostly white). I have also pastored two local churches; one under the Assemblies of God and the other independently. My journey has even taken me through a very short season with the “Organic Church” (Home Church). I honestly thank God for this journey that have also taken me through three states: Florida, North Carolina and now Alaska.

            Through all these churches I have seen one common sickness, none of these churches are really embracing the Great Commission; that is also including the two churches I pastored. For some, the idea of making disciples is limited to a disciple class, a far cry from what the Great Commission truly demands. When it comes down to divisions, confusions and backbiting the Pentecostal/Charismatic churches, by far, lead the chart.

            In regards to the balance between passion and emotionalism and Sound Doctrine and orthodoxy, again the Pentecostal/Charismatic church, by far, places the emphasis on emotions, experience and feelings. Also, the Pentecostal/Charismatic wing of the church seems to be quickly departing from orthodoxy and strongly embracing opiniondoxy (I made this word up, but you get the point).

            I have to make a few points very clear here. I am aware that not everybody in the Pentecostal/Charismatic wing of the church are guilty or partakers of my previous assessments. I have never known a man who study, honors and live out the Word of God more than the man who led me to Christ, that is, my brother in Christ and friend, Doug Berrenguer who is a longtime Pentecostal. I also have to make an honorific mention to my Pentecostal brothers and sisters in North Carolina who continue to honor God’s Word as the ultimate authority.

            However, there is a horrendous and ridiculous concept out there that teaches that embracing sound doctrine, theology, orthodoxy and dogma are a violation of the flow of the Holy Spirit. Even as I have seen that concept before, I never saw it as clearly as I did here in Alaska. What we are seen is the divorce of the Word of God and the Spirit of God; this is a demonic approach and a false teaching that is opening doors to a lot of foolishness in the Body of Christ.

            The reality is that Discipleship is inexistent. For the most part churches meet twice a week. Outside of church services or church related activities, we do not see our pastor or our brothers and sisters. Beloved, that is not discipleship!

            It is extremely difficult when you are a part of a charismatic church, to bring a degree of structure. Many churches passionately resist any formal study of theology or Christian seminary of any kind. So I asked myself, could the church in general be reformed? I have not seen much reformation taking place through church history. People are set in their ways. Many of these local churches are unhealthy; they are filled with divisions, jealousy, hypocrisy and horrendous theology. Nevertheless they view themselves as healthy. Some are feeling the pain, but are ignoring the symptoms that something is wrong. They continue to insist in whatever they learned and whatever their denomination stands for above what the Word of God establishes as truth.

            Just as we make excuses and refuse to go to the doctor until indeed is too late. Four thousand churches are closing every year here in the US. Out of the 250,000 protestant churches in the US, 200,000 are stagnant or experiencing no growth.[3] Are we healthy or are we suffering from a silent killer disease?

Two Areas We Must Focus on Immediately

            Earley presents a very practical tool for assessing the health of a church; I believe that two of these elements need immediate implementation. 1) We need to teach the whole council of God with a viewpoint towards application. It seems like churches and denominations get a hold of one theme and that is all they preach and teach. Some focus on the prophetic, some focus on material prosperity, some focus on the baptism of the Holy Ghost and so on. The focus should be the whole council of God without partiality. 2) We must encourage leaders to understand their role as equipping and empowering saints. According to Barna, 52% of church leaders believe that people can be disciple on their own.[4] In the case of some of the Pentecostal churches I have been a part of, there is absolutely no equipping of the saints because it is all delegated and placed on the experience of the Baptism of the Holy Ghost. Many feel that if you are baptized in the Holy Ghost you are ready; if you are not, you are not ready. I don’t take anything away from the vital importance of the Holy Ghost in effective ministry and in our lives in general, but we can’t ignore our biblical responsibility in the discipleship process. Leaders for the great commission are intentionally developed; this is not just going to happen people! It requires work![5]

            Many local churches feel that they are ok, that they are doing what they are supposed to and that they have somewhat of a different and exclusive call from everybody else. They are waiting on revival or in some new thing that God will do for them while ignoring the Great Commission and Acts 2:42.[6] Perhaps they have not received the memo that there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

Initial Steps to Fix the Problem

            If the Word of God is not taken serious, if the Word is not the ruler of our faith, there is not much that can be done. That is the initial step; Jesus states that in order for us to be his disciples, one of the nonnegotiable requirements is to remain in the WORD (LOGOS) (John 15:7)

            We must assess the people in our congregations in regards to their spiritual levels. We must assess the church in regards to our health as a body and implement an aggressive program of teaching what the meaning of the great commission really is, what Jesus commands and how to follow what He commands. We must aggressively promoted and implemented small home groups with trusted and mature leaders to implement a curriculum of the great commission and meaningful fellowship outside of the four walls of the church.

Conclusion

             We have a discipleship crisis in America. The statistics are alarming. Discipleship is not a complicated topic in the Bible; it is in fact a matter of obedience. Everything we need to know about discipleship is already written in Scripture. God’s will is for the church to be healthy, for the church to equip saints, for disciples to be developed and send out to continue to fulfill the Great Commission. The focus is on what we are teaching; we are supposed to be teaching all that Jesus command; but we seem to focus on everything else, but that.

           My personal situation in ministry and in my relationship with certain denominations is at the end of the road. The Word is resisted, emotionalism, materialism and this lukewarm approach to the Gospel that I am witnessing is not an isolated case. I am not giving up on Jesus, I am not giving up on the church, but I am giving up on this institutionalize and ineffective system that is not design to establish true discipleship, but to resist it.

              The warning here should also be point out, even as the system is mess up, even as there is a need to get out of many of these institutionalize churches, we must be careful in not jumping into these “Alternative Groups” that claim authenticity while divorcing God’s Word as vital in our walk as Christians. We must avoid any group that disregard God’s Word for outrageous statements that could not even be found in the Jehovah witness Bible. Again, pursue orthodoxy and runaway from opiniondoxy.

 

[1]           Richard J. Krejcir, What Makes a Church Healthy and Unhealthy, http://www.churchleadership.org/apps/articles/default.asp?articleid=44960&columnid=4545

[2]           Robert L. Thomas, The Great Commission: What to Teach, http://www.tms.edu/m/msj21a.pdf

[3]           Jack Wellman, Why We Are Loosing So Many Churches in the United Staes, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/christiancrier/2013/10/26/why-we-are-losing-so-many-churches-in-the-united-states/

[4]           Barna Group, The State of Discipleship: Research conducted among Christian adults, church leaders, exemplar discipleship ministries and Christian educators, (Colorado Springs: The Navigators, 2015), 49

 

[5]           Dave Early and Rod Dempsey, Disciple Making Is… How to Live the Great Commission with Passion and Confidence, (Nashville: B&H Academy, 2013), 212-213

[6]           And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Acts 2:42 (NKJV)

My Frustration with the Charismatic Movement


It is not necessarily theological matters and discussions that have caused such division in the Body of Christ. If anything, we should have our little theologies challenge constantly.

It seems like we do not have a problem talking about sports, our jobs, our families, our neighbors, our cousin, etc. However, when it comes down to God, we want to remain as ignorant as possible.

The pride of men in forcing their unconfirmed interpretations of Scripture and traditions in the form of denominations, are indeed to be blame for our current mess and our idolization of ignorance. It is bad theology the cause of our divisions; not theology. Pastor John Piper stated, “Bad theology will eventually hurt people and dishonor God in proportion to its badness.”[1] Hosea 4:6 backs Mr. Piper with these words;

“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.

Because you have rejected knowledge,

I also will reject you from being priest for Me;

Because you have forgotten the law of your God,

I also will forget your children.” (NKJV)

Our ignorance causes personal destruction and, notice, that it will also hurt our children. Have we forgotten what the Scripture is saying regarding the study of God’s Word? “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV)

Honestly, how many pastors and teachers you know who are rightly dividing the Word of truth? No definitions of words in the original language are taken into consideration as if the Word was written in English; context is thrown out the door half of the time. They just grab something to make their little personal and selfish points or to take a shot at something going on in their congregations and run with it.

They become bullies in their pulpits where they can swing at everything and everybody without giving that other person a fair chance for a respectful debate.      Therefor is no longer about seeking and teaching truth, is about manipulating and teaching personal and untested opinions! This careless attitude is not helping, but hurting the Body of Christ.

I have to say that I am growing increasingly frustrated with this charismatic movement that is constantly manipulating people’s emotions with music and, either outrageous claims or super simplified statements with very little respect and honor for God’s Word.

I don’t know much, but I know that the church is in great need of a reformation that will get God’s people back to fellowshipping with the Holy Ghost, a people that truly have a relationship with God, not just praying only before a meal; a reformation that will take us back to confirming everything through God’s Word, the seeking of sound doctrine; a reformation that can clearly establish that there are not a million truths, but one truth, that you either have it, you are growing in it, you are in error or perhaps you and I don’t know what we are talking about as we are bound to knowing in part.[2]

I am believing God for a reformation that will truly brings us together in true Apostolic fellowship under the banner of God’s love and truth. I am believing God for a reformation that will take us back to the place where God’s people understand that we serve a God that also loves to talk to us personally; we can’t ignore the Logos, but we can’t disregard the Rhema. Beloved, lets “…grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…”[3] and lets say no to ignorance!

 

[1] John Piper, A Godward Life Volume Two, pg. 377

[2] First Corinthians 13:9

[3] 2 Peter 3:18 NKJV