Section Two The Church

A Titanic-like Theology Has Set the Church on a Perilous Journey without a Map

“…fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith. . . If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing. … men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain… People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction… Some people, eager for money have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” – Paul (1 Timothy 1:19 and 6:3-10), 62 BC

To begin to understand the modern church in the West, we can think about a few of the ways it can be described.


In an attempt to be culturally relevant the Church has essentially neutered itself and lost all historical and eternal relevance. Here is a relevant message to the Church that worships at the altar of cultural relevance: “You are irrelevant. You are dull. And, you are lost.” Prepare to be trampled by the very men you tried to relate to by forsaking your integrity. You were meant to be the salt of the earth. “But if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.” - Jesus, 27 AD (Matthew 5:13)


By refusing to challenge the seeker with transformation because it feared losing them, the Church has itself become lost. This is the verdict for the seeker church that refuses to become the teaching church: “You will inevitably become the wandering church.” As Jesus said, “Leave them; they are blind guides. If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit. (Matthew 15:14)


Since the Church has misunderstood the power of the Word of God it has replaced the teaching pastor with the motivational speaker. The result of this folly will be the same as if cheerleaders were asked to replace the coaches, and rhythmic, rhyming chants took the place of offensive and defensive strategy! The team would simply become louder and more emotional as their defeat and lack of direction became more and more obvious. Hear the Word of the Lord spoken by Isaiah in 720 BC: “For you this whole vision is nothing but words sealed in a scroll. And if you give the scroll to someone who can read and say to him, ‘Read this, please,’ he will answer, ‘I can’t; it is sealed.’ ” (Isaiah 29:11)


Perceiving itself to be lifeless and spiritless, based on a merely emotional accusation, the Church has turned to mysticism. The Church has sought a personal revelation from the spiritual world instead of seeking the written revelation of Scripture. To this I say: “Your mystic experience will open doors of demonic encounters with wicked counsel.” It is as Isaiah asked the people of his day: When someone tells you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? (Isaiah 8:19)


As a result of research based solely on community polls and studies of public opinion - instead of on studies of Scripture - the Church has discovered what people want the Church to be instead of understanding what Christ wants his church to be. Hear the Word of the Lord spoken by Jesus in 30 AD: “Look, your house is left to you desolate.” (Luke 13:35) And in 96 AD to the Church in Ephesus (now a city in modern Turkey) Jesus said: “Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.” (Revelation 2:5)


An idolatrous image of Christ has been formed in his church by piecing together carefully-chosen fragments of culturally-acceptable Scripture. The culturally-centered church rallies around this idolatrous image of Jesus built out of selected illustrations from his life and ironically calls itself “Christ-centered”. This idolatrous image accepted by the Church is an abandonment of the fullness of Christ. The Church worships only what culture approves and evangelizes the world with this idol, which is nothing more than a mirrored reflection of the world itself.

You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight. – Jesus, 29 AD (Luke 16:15)

They loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God. – Jesus, 30 AD (John 12:43)


Here are a couple questions that should be discussed by today’s “Laodicean” church’s board of directors:
  1. Is the mega-church representative of the great (mega) multitude that came out of the great (mega) tribulation (Rev. 7:14; also, Matt. 24:21), or is it more like the wide (plateia) gate and the broad (euruchor) way that leads many (polloi) to destruction (Matt. 7:13-14)?
  2. Is the mega-church a gathering of the many people facing persecution for Christ, or is it the multitudes on the broad, fast track to destruction?

In John 6:1-15 the multitude ate the bread Jesus multiplied, but the very next day that same crowd walked away from Jesus when he made it clear that his message was not about the people getting physical bread for food, but about Jesus being the bread of life.

Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill’ . . . On hearing it, many of his disciples said, ‘This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?’ Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, ‘Does this offend you?’ . . . From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.’ Jesus asked the Twelve, ‘You do not want to leave too, do you?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.’ (John 6:26, 60-61, 66-69)

The New Testament Apostles Faced False Teachers in the First Century
Early in the New Testament, Jesus and the apostles warned that there would be false teachers who would appear and mislead the Church. Throughout the New Testament letters, we read about the apostles countering and confronting these false teachers. Finally, at the end of the New Testament period, we are shocked to realize that the false teachers had actually secured victory and established themselves within the Churches founded by the Apostles.

We see three phases concerning false teachers:
  1. The warning that false teachers are coming (28-57 AD)
  2. The battle within the Church against the false teachers (49-64 AD)
  3. The “victory” of the false teachers over the apostles in the Churches (64-96 AD)
Stacks Image 22858

The Warning of the Rise of False Teachers:

Jesus in 28 AD:
Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. . . Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven…Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers.’(Matthew 7:15, 21-22)

Jesus in 29 AD:
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. (John 10)

Jesus in 30 AD:
Watch out that no one deceives you. Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many. (Mark 13:5)

Paul in 57 AD:
I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! (Acts 20:29-30)

The Battle with the False Teachers in the Apostles’ Churches

As the early church began to take root and grow in its first 30 years (30-60 AD) the Apostles found themselves constantly in conflict with new, rising church leaders who tried to adapt the Christian message to worldly philosophies or pagan religions. Church leaders found it easier to present Christianity if they first took the edge off and made the Christian faith more relevant.

49 AD:
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel – which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ…Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? (Galatians 1:6-7,10)

You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you…The one who is throwing you into confusion will pay the penalty, whoever he may be. (Galatians 5:7-8,10)

51 AD:
We ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way. (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2)

55 AD:
For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough. But I do not think I am in the least inferior to those ‘super apostles. (2 Corinthians 11:4-5)

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve. (2 Corinthians 11:13-15)

60 AD:
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. (Ephesians 4:14)

61 AD:
It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you.. Watch out for those dogs, those men who do evil, those mutilators of the flesh. For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh. (Philippians 3:1-3)

62 AD:
I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. (Colossians 2:4)

See to it that no one takes you captive, through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. (Colossians 2:8)

63 AD:
As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God’s work – which is by faith. (1 Timothy 1:3-4)

If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain…People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction…Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. (1 Timothy 6:3-5, 9-10)

64 AD:
There are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group. They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach – and that for the sake of dishonest gain. (Titus 1:10:11)

Rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the commands of those who reject the truth. (Titus 1:13-14)

The “Victory” of False Teachers in the Churches of the Apostles

The New Testament ends with Paul, Peter, John and Jude dealing with false teachers in the Christian community. This was very different from the problem of persecution they faced from their pagan culture early on, but it was bad in a new way. The cancer of false teaching within the local churches came from men the Apostles knew. The false teaching presented to the Church came through men who claimed to be believers in Jesus Christ. This false teaching threatened the life and health of the young body of Christ the Apostles had started.

By 62 AD the Apostles were being personally rejected by the Churches they had started and replaced by false teachers. This practice continued up through 85 AD and on into 96 AD when the Apostolic testimony came to a close. Hear the Apostles’ own word of testimony concerning false teachers gaining prominence over the apostolic authority even while the Apostles still wrote letters to these churches:

Peter quotes the teaching of Jesus (and Paul) that predicted the rise of the false teachers. These false teachers are described by Peter as active in 64 AD in the Churches in the area of modern Turkey:
“There were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. . . These men are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity.” (2 Peter 2:1, 17-19)

Peter comments on how church leaders were treating Paul’s letters and teaching in 64 AD:
“[Paul’s] letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.” (2 Peter 3:16)

Jude is compelled to write a letter refuting false teachers in 64 AD:
“Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.” (Jude 3-4)

Jude identifies the characteristics of the false pastors in church leadership in 64 AD:
“These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm - shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted – twice dead. They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.” (Jude 12-13)

Paul rebukes the Church leadership of Asia and identifies two deserters by name in 67 AD:
“You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes.” (2 Timothy 1:15)

Paul identifies by name two false teachers in Ephesus and describes their false doctrine in 67 AD:
“Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have wandered away from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some.” (2 Timothy 2:17-18)

Paul comments on a member of his ministry team in 67 AD:
“Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica.” (2 Timothy 4:10)

Paul writes concerning the lack of legal support in court from the Church leaders in Rome in 67 AD:
“At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them.” (2 Timothy 4:16)

John warns the Churches of Asia to not trust every traveling teacher in 85 AD:
“Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1)

John writes concerning teachers in the Church in 85 AD with the spirit of anti-christ that were laying the doctrinal foundation for the future anti-christ:
“This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the anti-christ, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.” (1 John 4:2-3)

John distinguishes the seeker-church message from the believer’s message in 85 AD:
“They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood.” (1 John 4:5-6)

John identifies the false teachers who traveled to churches and evangelized the world in 85 AD:
“Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver and the Antichrist.” (2 John 7)

John warns of traveling teachers who bring a false message that is beyond the Truth in 85 AD:
“Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him. Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work.” (2 John 9-11)

John identifies a church leader in Asia who will not let John teach in the Church and slanders John and his ministry in 85 AD:
“I wrote to the Church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will have nothing to do with us. So if I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, gossiping maliciously about us. Not satisfied with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers (traveling teachers trained and sent out by John). He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the Church.” (3 John 9-10)

In 96 AD John wrote seven letters of correction to the Churches in Asia. These letters were written sixty-six years after the Church began in Jerusalem and forty-two years after Paul began these same Gentile churches in Asia:

  • In Ephesus in 96 AD the false apostles attempting to bring updated doctrine with a more relevant message had been identified, tested and rejected. Also, a heretical group called the Nicolaitans who understood the advantage of a compromise between the salvation message and the cultural standards had also been rejected: “I know that you cannot tolerate wicked men, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false…You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.” (Revelation 2:2-3, 6)
  • In Smyrna in 96 AD the true church was being slandered by a group of imposters claiming to be the true people of God: “I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.” (Revelation 2:9)
  • In Pergamum in 96 AD the Church was tolerating two identified forms of false teaching. One was an early prosperity message called “the teaching of Balaam” that apparently justified paganism in the Church because it created church growth and increased offerings. The second false teaching accepted in the Church was from a group called the Nicolaitans. The supporters of this method of “doing church” were hated in Ephesus by both the Church and Jesus. The Nicolaitans had conformed their church to their pagan world by developing a compromised doctrine of salvation that allowed for a continuation of immorality and idol worship (false philosophy): “You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality. Likewise you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Repent therefore!” (Revelation 2:14-16)
  • In Thyatira in 96 AD, for the sake of convenience and in order to maintain unity, the Church was tolerating a teaching prophetess whose mysticism was uncovering deep secrets from the spiritual realm that led the Church to sin sexually and to sacrifice to idols: “You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols…Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan’s so-called deep secrets, ‘I will not impose any other burden on you, except to hold on to what you have…’ ” (Revelation 2:20, 24-25)
  • Sardis in 96 AD was a church with a reputation for good deeds, but the Church was dead. The “good deeds” were merely a form of social activism approved by men (public services, community centers, basketball leagues, bake sales for youth trips, etc.), but void of any spiritual value in God’s sight. “I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up!” (Revelation 3:1-2)
  • In 96 AD Philadelphia was a church with little material strength in the midst of prospering churches and growing religious groups that called themselves the people of God yet denied his name and compromised his Word. The faithful church was weak among the more powerful compromised churches (or, “Titanic churches”), but still spiritually faithful and approved by Jesus: “I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars – I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you.” (Revelation 3:8-9)
  • In Laodicea in 96 AD, false teachers had completely compromised the Truth and rewrote spiritual reality. They had shipwrecked their faith, but did not know their church had already shattered into pieces, and was adrift in the icy sea of false philosophy and deviant standards of spiritual success. Despite their extravagant success and popularity, Jesus himself had left this church: “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked…Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:17, 20)

The Worst of the False Leadership with Corrupt Teaching is Yet to Come

Both Jesus and Paul clearly indicated that the worst days of confusion and church corruption would be the final days. Paul said the false teachers would go from bad to worse: “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (2 Timothy 3:12-13)

Both Peter and Jude taught that false teachers would continue to prosper until ultimately they denied the Lord’s Second Coming in the very days directly preceding the return of Jesus: “First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, ‘Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.’ But they deliberately forget …” (2 Peter 3:3-5)

“But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you, ‘In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.’ These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.” (Jude 17-19)

Paul spoke in agreement with Jesus’ description of end time false teachers and the great separation of their understanding from reality, and of their teaching from the Truth. Paul spoke of this as a time of great delusion as judgment on those who had rejected the Truth. (Moses spoke in a similar way in Deuteronomy 13:1-3 when he said that the Lord would send false prophets to test the people’s hearts.) Paul warned that in the final days there would be much confusion caused by the great delusion that is yet to come: “The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be save. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.” (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12)

Before Paul wrote the above words in 51 AD concerning the final days on earth before Jesus returns, Jesus himself had spoken in a similar fashion in 30 AD about these same final days: “For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now – and never to be equaled again…At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect – if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time. So if anyone tells you, ‘There he is, out in the desert,’ do not go out; or, ‘Here he is, in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it.” (Matthew 24:21-26)

Characteristics of False Teaching and its Followers in the New Testament

2 Peter is an aggressive attack on false teachers which is similar to other books written later in the apostles’ lives, such as 2 Timothy, Jude, 2 John and 3 John. Peter compares the false teachers the early church were facing with the false prophets the people of the Old Testament had to combat. Peter and the early church were not facing “false prophets” because, in this case, these first-century false leaders were not claiming to have “revelation” directly from God, but were instead twisting, molding and misapplying Jesus’ teaching and the teaching of the apostles. Peter calls the corrupt church leaders “false teachers” because they were misrepresenting the message that came from God through Jesus and the New Testament apostles. Yet, the style of ministry, the type of message, and the ultimate doom of the false teacher was the same as that of the Old Testament false prophet.

Peter uses the future tense in 2:1-3 and 3:3 (as does Paul in 2 Tim 2:16-17; 3:2-5, 13; 4:3-4) because he is likely quoting earlier apostolic teaching that foretold the rise of these false teachers and simply preserves the future tense in his text. This concept is captured in Jude: “But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you, ‘In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.’ These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.” (Jude 17-18).

These false teachers were already present in Peter’s day when he wrote 2 Peter 2:10-22. The false teachers were already doing these things in 64 AD:
  • feasting, 2:13
  • making converts, 2:14, 19
  • perverting Paul’s teaching 3:15-16

Peter is not focused on false prophets (although there were false prophets active in the Churches as can be seen in Paul’s and John’s letters) because the threat that Peter’s churches were facing did not come from men receiving false revelation from God, but instead came from false teachers actively misrepresenting the message that had already been received. The New Testament revelation had been communicated by Jesus and the Apostles during the previous 35 years (27-64 AD). The Churches had been founded on solid teaching, but now false teachers were twisting the received revelation. The similarity between the false prophets of the Old Testament and the false teachers in the New Testament churches are seen in chapter two:
  1. Same motivation
  2. Same style of manipulation
  3. Same type of person
  4. Same immoral lifestyle
  5. Same ultimate doom
False prophets in the Old Testament:
  • Deut. 13:1-5 – a false prophet is a test from God
  • 1 Kings 22:5-28 – Micaiah (good) vs. Zedekiah (false)
  • 2 Chronicles 18:21-22 – a lying Spirit in the mouth of prophets can be compared to teachers with doctrines of demons in 1 Tim. 4:1-5
  • Isaiah 9:15 – prophets who teach lies
  • Isaiah 28:7-8 – prophets who stagger when seeing visions
  • Isaiah 29:9-12 – stagger…deep sleep…sealed eyes of misdirected prophets…covered heads of misled seers
  • Jeremiah 2:8, 26 – prophets prophesied by Baal
  • Jeremiah 5:31 – prophets prophesy lies…priests rule by their own authority
  • Jeremiah 6:13 – prophets and priests practice deceit for gain saying “peace”
  • Jeremiah 14:13-15 – prophets say “peace”… present lies…not sent by God…prophecy delusions from their own mind
  • Jeremiah 23:9-40 –prophets follow evil course and use their power and position unjustly
  • Jeremiah 27:9-18 – warning to not listen to prophets who say false words and give false message
  • Jeremiah 28:1-29:8 - August 593 BC Jeremiah (good) vs. Hananiah (false)
  • Ezekiel 13:1-23 – prophets speak out of their own imagination
  • Ezekiel 22:23-31 – the priests and princes are violent in their positions of authority, but the prophets merely whitewash the deeds or these authority figures to justify the violence in the land
  • Micah 3:5-12 – prophets used position for financial gain… sun will set on prophets
  • Zephaniah 3:4 – prophets are arrogant and treacherous
  • Zechariah 13:2 – remove the prophets and the impure spirit manipulating them
  • Luke 6:26 – woe when men speak well of you, this is how they spoke of the false prophets
  • Matt. 7:15 – watch out for false prophets, they come as sheep, but are wolves
  • Acts 13:6 – Bar-Jesus the sorcerer at Paphos on Cyprus
  • 1 John 4:1 – Do not believe every spirit, test spirits, many false prophets have gone out into the Churches
The false teachers that Peter refers to are already active, as chapter 2 indicates, and as Peter states clearly in 2 Peter 3:15-16. In 2 Peter 2:1, Peter says these false teachers will “secretly introduce destructive heresies”. The word “introduce” (pareisaxousin) has the idea of “smuggle” more than the idea of “secret” or “stealth”. The Greek word that “introduce” comes from, pareisago, means “to bring into, alongside of” and “to smuggle in”. The idea is to bring in something that is not expected along with something that is expected. It could be done “in secret” or carelessly. The Greek word used here literally means:
  • para (by the side of) + eis (into) + ayein (to bring),
  • or “to bring into by the side of”
Since the false teachers are described like this in 2 Peter 2:1 it would seem to indicate they were intentionally bringing in false teaching alongside of some accepted teaching in order to manipulate the listeners who were either not paying attention or not thinking critically about what was being taught.

“Heresies” (haireseis) is used elsewhere to mean “sects”. The word haireseis originally referred to a choice that was made between two options, but this word developed as it was used to refer to a group, a sect or a school of thought. There was still a positive use of the word and it can be seen used this way in these verses:

  • Acts 5:17 – “But the high priest rose up, and all who were with him (that is, the party of the Sadducees), and filled with jealousy…”
  • Acts 15:5 – “But some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up and said, ‘It is necessary to circumcise them and to order them to keep the law of Moses.’ ”
  • Acts 24:5; 26:5; 28:22
When Paul uses the word haireseis in 1 Corinthians and Galatians 5:20 he uses it to refer to a faction or division among the believers who held to a particular doctrinal slant. Eventually, the New Testament use of the word we translate as “heresies” (haireseis) began to mean a doctrine or a teaching that was no longer in agreement with the Truth. This is how Peter uses it in 2 Peter in 64 AD. The nature of these “heresies” is said to be “destructive” and includes these false doctrinal characteristics:

  1. the denial of the coming of the Lord
  2. the denial of the Lord’s future judgment
  3. the acceptance of immoral lifestyle

The “destructive” aspect would include the natural destruction of the natural lives of those who accept and apply these heresies into their lifestyles. The false teachers would face a similar destruction in their lives, but also a destruction that would extend to an eternal judgment of the false teachers by God. We see similarities in Jude 4 to this verse in 2 Peter when Jude writes: “For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.” (Jude 4)

Jude’s identification of the false teachers he was confronting around 63-65 AD indicates they had become the grievous threat that had been predicted. Ever since the beginning of the presentation of Truth there was also included within the message a warning of the quick appearance of false teachers.

The strategy of the false teacher is to gain acceptance among the Church like a parasite. False teaching would move into the Church alongside of (and, along with) the Truth. Another insight revealed by Jude is this - the parasite of false teaching will always ultimately manifest its evil source and live out its wicked nature of self-serving, materialistic lust and sexual immorality in both the mental and physical dimensions. In order for the evil nature of false teaching to continue operating in the Church it will have to justify the wicked behavior of the false teachers. In order to justify the false teachers’ sinfulness, their doctrines will ultimately have to degenerate to the lowest possible level: the denial of God the Father and Jesus the Christ. To survive in the Church, false teaching will eventually have to discredit and devour the true teaching of the character and glory of the Creator and his Christ.

In verse 4 Jude lists the nature of these teachers’ false doctrines:

    1. “Secretly slipped in among you”
        1. The verb used for “secretly slipped” or “crept in” is from pareisduo, and is almost identical to the word used in 2 Peter 2:1 (pareisago). The literal meaning of the word used by Jude can be compared to Peter’s word like this:
            1. Jude: para (by the side of) + eis (into) + duo (two), or “two into by the side of”

            2. Peter: para (by the side of) + eis (into) + ayein (to bring), or “to bring into by the side of”
        2. By using the word pareisduo Jude is focusing on the fact that two things come into the Church when the Church thought they were only accepting one thing. This is detailed later by Jude in verse 16 – “These men are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.”
            1. The parasite of false teaching is motivated by “their own evil desires”
            2. In order to enter the Church “for their own advantage” the parasite of false teaching will initially present a single positive trait, but in reality the positive trait is an imitation cover for the parasite. Eventually the parasite will manifest the nature of a false teacher and introduce the false doctrine needed for the parasite’s nature to continue to survive. Jude gives a couple of examples of a positive trait imitated by the parasite:
                1. “they boast about themselves” – this “boasting” refers to the self-promotion of the false teachers’ positive qualities. The false teacher presents to the Church the personal qualities such as:
                    1. Qualifications for the position
                    2. Financially security
                    3. Social acceptability
                    4. Community influence
                    5. Leadership skills
                    6. Communication skills
                    7. And many, many more
                2. “they…flatter others”
                    1. Here the false teacher flatters and builds up others by demonstrating characteristics that impress the Church members:
                    2. An encourager
                    3. A team builder
                    4. A team player
                    5. Friendly
                    6. Easy to get to know
                    7. Easy to work with
                    8. Everyone’s best friend

                3. But, the parasite of false teaching is always serving its own evil desires and using people. (Many church leaders like to claim they are “loving people”, when in reality these church leaders are using people.) So, Jude says the real parasite behind the team-building encourager with positive personal qualifications is a man who, when met face to face with the Truth of God and his Word becomes:
                    1. “Grumbler” – (Greek: goggustes) is one who grumbles, murmurs and complains about situations and against God the sovereign Creator. The Exodus generation is an example of a generation of
                        1. “grumblers” (Exodus 16:7-9; Numbers 17:5-10) that eventually began to murmur against God’s plan and God’s process. They wanted to change God’s reality into their own fantasy.
                        2. This leads to the sin of testing God (Exodus 17:2-3) and refusing to believe God (Numbers 14:11).
                        3. Failure to believe God prevents any possibility of being obedient to God (Numbers 14:22). (Paul refers to this in 1 Corinthians 10:10 and Philippians 2:14)
                    2. “Faultfinder” – (Greek: mempsimoiros) According to the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament this Greek word “indicates one who complained against the God who has appointed each man his fate.” This person is a “malcontent” who is not satisfied with God’s reality and their place in God’s creation. In context a faultfinder is dissatisfied with God. This manifests as a constant urge to find something better than God’s Truth, God’s reality, God’s Word, God’s revelation, God’s plan, etc. This is not referring to the man who writes a book condemning the Western church for having rejected God and his Word, but is referring to the man who rejects the Word of God, and then, leads the Western church in the pursuit of a better philosophy! (Point taken?)
                    3. “godless men” – (Greek: asebes) is a strong word used in 2 Peter 2:5. It means “ungodly” and “impious”.
                    4. “change the grace of our God into a license for immorality”
                        1. The false teacher changes the meaning of “grace”
                        2. The false teacher changes the purpose of “grace”
                        3. The false teacher uses these changes (or, alterations) to the Truth to justify their immorality
                        4. Instead of preserving the Truth of the Word of God that sanctifies the believer, the false teacher’s new doctrinal perversions allow or provide a “license” for people in the Church to continue sinful behavior
                        5. False teachers introduce doctrine and practice that does not require men to be transformed into the image of the Son of God
                        6. Through false teaching and false methods men can come to God as they are and remain as they are. God will accept men and adjust his standards to theirs, instead of providing men with salvation, transformation and glorification
                    5. “Deny the Master who bought them” (ton agorasanta autous despoten arnoumenoi) includes these words:
                    6. “to deny” (arnoumenoi) meaning the opposite of “to confess” the Lord:
                        1. John 1:20 – “He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.”
                        2. 2 Timothy 2:12 – “if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us.”
                        3. Titus 1:16 – “They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works.”
                        4. 1 John 2:22-23 – “Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the Antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.”
                        5. To “deny” the Lord is to say “no” in word or in deed, instead of agreeing by saying “yes” and living in agreement.
                    7. “Master” (despoten) – refers to masters of slaves in 1 Tim. 6:1-2. It is also used to refer to God. The main idea of the word is to focus on the legal right the master has over the subject. The concept of the “master” is intensified and clarified when Peter goes on to explain by adding the phrase “who bought them” (ton agorasanta autous).
                    8. “who bought them” (ton agorasanta autous) - This is the language used of a free man buying the slave and setting him free. It is called manumission. In the United States manumission was a common practice when the legal will of a slave owner called for the release of his slaves upon his death. The ancient papyri uses this same phrase as Peter does to refer to slaves who had been bought and then released. In these documents stipulations were included that would not allow the freed slave to be enslaved again. Violations were met with penalties.
                    9. Believers are those who belong to Christ:
                        1. 1 Corinthians 15:23 – “But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.”
                        2. Galatians 5:24 - “And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”

            3. These false teachers have been freed by the Lord, but have not only enslaved themselves again to false philosophies and immoral lives, but are also going about the Church re-enslaving others with false teaching. Clearly their judgment should be swift and complete.

              A False Teacher Takes Control of One of John’s Churches in Asia

              In 3 John the false leader Diotrephes had taken over his church in Asia and taught them to reject the following:
              1. The Apostle John
              2. The Apostolic teaching
              3. All of John’s student/disciples that were sent to teach or check the Church
              4. Any believer who did not reject John and his teaching

              Gaius was the member of Diotrephes’ church who received the letter of 3 John. Gaius was in danger of being driven from this church because he had sided with John and held to John’s teaching. Diotrephes considered this a threat to his own position of leadership in this Asian church.

              Demetrius was the traveling teacher sent by John with the letter. Demetrius would stay in the home of Gaius, but this could result in Diotrephes expelling Gaius from the local church for giving support to a disciple of John that had been sent to teach in the Church where Diotrephes had taken control.

              The Three Denials Taught by False Teachers

              John explained the three denials, or the three teachings, of the false teachers who deny the Truth John taught:
              1. 1 John 2:22-23 - There is no Father and Son as God (Deny the Trinity)
              2. 1 John 4:3 – Jesus is not the Christ or savior sent from God (Deny Jesus is the Christ)
              3. 2 John 7-11 – Jesus did not come in the flesh (Deny God incarnate)

              Islam, Quran, and the Three Denials

              Inside the Dome of the Rock, is a quote from the Quran (chapter 4, verse 171) written in classical Arabic. It was inscribed in 692 AD:

              "O you People of the Book, overstep not bounds in your religion, and of God speak only the truth. The Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary, is only an apostle of God, and his Word which he conveyed unto Mary, and a Spirit proceeding from him. Believe therefore in God and his apostles, and say not Three. It will be better for you. God is only one God. Far be it from his glory that he should have a son."
Stacks Image 22862
Below are three translations of this same verse for comparison to show accuracy of translation:

Sahih International translation:
“O People of the Scripture, do not commit excess in your religion or say about Allah except the truth. The Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, was but a messenger of Allah and His word which He directed to Mary and a soul [created at a command] from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers. And do not say, "Three"; desist - it is better for you. Indeed, Allah is but one God. Exalted is He above having a son. To Him belongs whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth. And sufficient is Allah as Disposer of affairs.”

Pickthall translation:
“O People of the Scripture! Do not exaggerate in your religion nor utter aught concerning Allah save the truth. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a messenger of Allah, and His word which He conveyed unto Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe in Allah and His messengers, and say not "Three" - Cease! (it is) better you! - Allah is only One Allah. Far is it removed from His Transcendent Majesty that He should have a son. His is all that is in the heavens and all that is in the earth. And Allah is sufficient as Defender.”

Yusuf Ali translation:
“O People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion: Nor say of Allah aught but the truth. Christ Jesus the son of Mary was (no more than) a messenger of Allah, and His Word, which He bestowed on Mary, and a spirit proceeding from Him: so believe in Allah and His messengers. Say not "Trinity"! desist! it will be better for you! for Allah is one Allah! Glory be to Him! (far exalted is He) above having a son. To Him belong all things in the heavens and on earth. And enough is Allah as a Disposer of affairs.”

The Church is Valid Only When It is Fulfilling its Purpose

A Church is a valid institution of God as long as it is fulfilling the Great Commission (as given in Matthew 28:19) and empowering the believers for works of service (as identified in Ephesians 4:11-16).

“Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19)


“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” (Ephesians 4:11-16)

The focus of the Church’s commission is to go into all nations and bring people into union with Christ the Savior, who is the Son of God, the second member of the Trinity. The Great Commission commands the Church to go and proclaim Jesus’ message, and to make disciples who are to be taught and empowered to do the work that Christ has assigned to them. These mature, effective disciples are not to be moved by the waves of culture or the winds of worldly teaching, but instead are to be transformed into the image of the Son of God (Romans 8:29). They are to be transformed by renewing their minds, and are not to conform to the thinking and philosophies of the world around them (Romans 12:1-2). Then, they will be able to do the unique things God has willed for them to do while sincerely manifesting the very nature of the Son of God in their natural lives here and now (Romans 12:2-9).

If the Church understands who the triune God is, and what Jesus taught to and through his Apostles, then the Church will be prepared to become engaged in fulfilling the Great Commission. If the Church understands the process of making disciples and teaching them to know and obey the Truth, then the Church is prepared to empower people to be transformed into the image of the Son of God. The Church that truly embraces the Great Commission will refuse to neglect its responsibility to teach for the renewal of the believer’s understanding, and will refuse to assist the world in conforming disciples of Jesus into the image of the culture around them.

If the Church aspires to proclaim the message of Jesus, then that message must match the life of Jesus as recorded in the Gospels, and the teaching of Jesus’ apostles as recorded in the New Testament letters.

If the Church wants to present a message of love, peace and tolerance with a non-judgmental acceptance of all people no matter what, then let that become their presentation of the Good News to the lost world. Indeed, proclaim the Good News to the world! Let all men know and understand that God is love. God offers mankind peace. God is tolerant (in the sense that he is patient and wants no one to perish). God is waiting. God is patiently waiting. God is holding back his day of wrath.

However, understand this: God is accepting of all, but his “non-judgmental” attitude would more accurately be understood as “universally-judgmental”. Or, as an “all-inclusive-judgmental” attitude! For all of us have sinned. All of us have been condemned. No one is OK. No one is safe. No one can stand before God on their own merit.

Yet, through Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, who died on the cross for the sin of mankind, all are free to come. All men are free to come to Christ just as they are, but no one is free to come to Christ for acceptance of the way they are. All will be accepted, but none will be allowed to stay the way they came. None. No one. Zero. Absolutely everyone must change. All must be born again and be transformed into the image of the Son of God.

All are welcomed into the kingdom of God, but none can enter without being born again.
All are free to come just as they are, but none will receive acceptance of who they are.
All are sinners who have failed, but none should seek validation of their sin and rebellion.
All can come to Christ, but all who truly come to Christ are required to be transformed into the image of the Christ.
You can come as you are, but you cannot stay the way you are.

The Failure of the Modern Western Church

The majority of Western churches today are not proclaiming the message of Jesus, so the majority of the Western church is no longer valid. If the majority of today’s Western church is not the valid church, then many of the “Christian churches” are false and deceptive, and are thus misleading their “followers”.

The modern Western church is a major part of the problem with today’s Western culture. The modern church does not have answers for the world’s problems. In fact, most modern churches can’t even offer mankind the promise of eternal salvation.

As the Western Church and its followers contribute to society’s problems, they call their attitude “hope” and their actions “Christian.” But the truth is the Western church is not providing any real hope; instead it is bathing people in a false security. The members, followers and seekers involved with the Western church are not following the real Jesus, but a false, culturally-relevant Jesus. And, these followers and seekers do not know the difference.

The Western churches are dead and no longer a life source for Christianity. The main work of the Western church is deception – seeking happiness, pursuing relationships, worshipping emotions, following mysticism, encouraging worldly success, hosting weekly self-help seminars, and teaching prosperity. Suffering is a topic addressed in Scripture, promised by Jesus, and experienced by the prophets, the Apostles and believers throughout church history. But, the modern Western church considers suffering to be an indication of human failure and something a loving God would never permit his church to face. (Thus, the doctrinal need of the modern church for a pre-tribulation rapture scenario.)

Today’s False Teaching

Numerous examples of false teaching, deviant doctrine, and misapplied Truth can be found in the quotes of celebrity pastors, and are illustrated by the practices of media-driven ministries. These deviant leaders create problems for believers in our nation and misdirect churches around the world who attempt to follow their examples and relay their corrupted message.

Here are several descriptions of characteristics and doctrinal errors that capture essence of the Titanic theology that is being marketed to individual believers and imitated by local pastors. As you read them, consider any specific examples you have heard of these false doctrines and their corrupt application.

  1. Faultfinder – the false teacher is unsatisfied with God or God’s plan
  2. Grumbler – this is one who wants to change God’s reality to match their own fantasy
  3. A plea for “human logic” – they encourage others to look more toward what they call “reason” (often actually nothing more than following one’s “gut” or feelings) than revelation
  4. Emotionalism – “How does this make you feel?”
  5. God made into man’s image – “If I were God, then I would….”
  6. Justification of immorality based on any of the above false and foolish views
  7. The parasite of false teaching will eventually attack the portion of the Truth that exposes its sin.
    1. Sexuality
    2. Money
    3. Power
    4. Materialism
    5. Worldly philosophy – To accommodate worldly philosophies, the words and intentions of Scripture must be redefined

False Prophets and False Christs?

Consider also some examples of statements made by a few contemporary pastors that should be considered at best incomplete and inaccurate, if not bold, in-your-face false teaching:
  • “We shape our God, and then our God shapes us.” – Rob Bell in Love Wins
  • When we pray, believing that we have already received what we are praying, God has no choice but to make our prayers come to pass.” - Creflo Dollar source
  • “For our own sakes, we might take a break from trying to convince ourselves that Jesus was and is God and to spend this twenty-first century meditating on the truth that God is like Jesus. Exactly like Jesus. When the veil that obscured God was torn in two, what did it reveal? A Suffering Servant who hangs on the Cross! Thus, every human conception we previously associated with ‘God’ is uprooted, root and branch!” – Peter Enns in The Bible Tells Me So
  • “How can Christians possibly project a deity of such cruelty and vindictiveness whose ways include inflicting everlasting torture upon his creatures, however sinful they may have been? Surely a God who would do such a thing is more nearly like Satan than like God, at least by any ordinary moral standards, and by the gospel itself.” - Clark Pininock in “The Destruction of the Finally Impenitent" (Criswell Theological Review 4 Spring 1990,:246-47.)
  • “My premise is that the Bible is the words of people who were influenced by God, and yet who were also shaped by the times in which they lived. The violence attributed to God in the Bible is a serious issue that Christians must address. It is inconsistent with the character of God described in many places in the Old Testament, and certainly inconsistent with the Word of God revealed in Jesus Christ who calls his followers to love their enemies.” - Adam Hamilton source
  • “I think culture is already there and the church will continue to be even more irrelevant when it quotes letters from 2,000 years ago as their best defense, when you have in front of you flesh-and-blood people who are your brothers and sisters, and aunts and uncles, and co-workers and neighbors, and they love each other and just want to go through life with someone.” Rob Bell in The Zimzum of Love
  • Clint Schnekloth‎ is one of the most prominent and influential pastors in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Pastor Schnekloth wrote on the ELCA Clergy Facebook page:
    • “God is gay.”
    • “God is trans.”
    • “Here is what I want to know. It seems popular these days to go with the Gnostic notion that Jesus was married. But this seems to fall right into the hands of heteronormativity. If Jesus wasn't single, it's pretty clear to me he was in a committed relationship with the beloved disciple, another man. Why do we assume he was attracted to women?” source
  • Here are three quotes from Frank Schaeffer’s blog “Why Evangelical Bible Idolatry Sucks and Why I Go to a Greek Orthodox Church Even Though It’s A Mess Too”:
    • “If Jesus is God then Jesus has the right to contradict the very imperfect book in which he has the misfortune to have his biography trapped. Jesus transcends the book he’s trapped in.”
    • “Having elevated the Bible — or at least the nicer bits that they like — to the status of a magic book evangelicals have demoted God. Their ‘god’ is trapped in a book and kept somewhat like a tame rat inside the cage of ‘biblical inerrancy.’ Since the evangelical/fundamentalists worship a book rather than God they can’t admit that the Bible has flaws and is just plain crazy in places. So they spend lifetimes working to make ‘sense’ of something nonsensical, mean and stupid…Bible idolatry is a particularly evangelical/fundamentalist blind spot.”
    • “There are never good reasons for major choices. In fact there are no “good reasons” for anything, including what churches we join or don’t. Life is short and we humans are only minimally evolved. So between too few years and too few brain cells we don’t have enough information to make any choice. A best guess is all any choice really is” source
  • “Romans 4:17 says God gives life to the dead and speaks of the nonexistent things as if they already existed. He created the world with faith-filled words (see Genesis 1). We are created in His image, and we can also call things that are not as though they are. We can speak positive thoughts about ourselves into the atmosphere and thereby ‘prophesy our future.'” - Joyce Meyer in “Your Mouth is a Weapon,” (Life in the Word March 1997, 4)
  • “It wasn’t until the 300’s that what we know as the sixty-six books of the Bible were actually agreed upon as the ‘bible’. This is part of the problem with continually insisting that one of the absolutes of the Christian faith must be a belief that ‘Scripture alone’ is our guide. It sounds nice, but it is not true.” – Rob Bell in Velvet Elvis
  • “Of all the billions of people who have ever lived, will only a select number ‘make it to a better place’ and every single other person suffer in torment and punishment forever? Is this acceptable to God? . . . This doesn’t just raise disturbing questions about God; it raises questions about the beliefs themselves . . . What kind of faith is that? Or, more important: what kind of God is that?” – Rob Bell in Love Wins
  • This was Rob Bell’s response when asked by Oprah when the Church was going to embrace same-sex marriage: “We’re close…Lots of people are already there. We think it’s inevitable, and we’re moments (away)…I think culture is already there, and the Church will continue to be even more irrelevant when it quotes letters from 2,000 years ago as their best defense. When you have in front of you flesh and blood people who are your brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and coworkers and neighbors and they love each other, and they just want to go through life with someone.”
  • God “wants you to live in abundance. He wants to give you the desires of your heart . . . God is turning things around in your favor” – Joel Osteen in Your Best Life Now
  • “If you develop an image of victory, success, health, abundance, joy, peace, and happiness, nothing on earth will be able to hold those things from you.” – Joel Osteen in Your Best Life Now
  • “I am an encourager and I don’t believe it is my role to condemn anyone... I’m there to encourage them. I see myself more as a coach, as a motivator to help them experience the life God has for us....” – Joel Osteen during an interview with Larry King
  • “Everything I put my hands to prospers and succeeds! Friend, when you make those kinds of bold declarations, all heaven comes to attention to back up God's Word.” - Joel Osteen in Your Best Life Now

  • If a church, pastor, or Bible teacher finds it necessary to separate their Christian belief system from the text of Scripture in the Old Testament, then they are following/seeking a false Jesus. They have compromised the revelation of Scripture for a man-centered, man-made message that is philosophically relevant to culture. The Jesus of the Gospels, Epistles and apostles matches perfectly with the LORD of the Old Testament. Jesus is the God of the Old Testament. If there is any doubt that the angry God of wrath in the Old Testament matches Jesus, the Son of God, a reader needs to stop and seriously consider the biblical description of the return of Jesus to the earth in the New Testament:

    “At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.” (Matthew 24:30-31)

    “Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?’” (Revelation 6:15-17)

    “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. . . his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses…Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, ‘He will rule them with an iron scepter.’ He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.” (Revelation 19:11-16)

    “God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction. And shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people.” (2 Thessalonians 1:6-10)

    “Look, he is coming with the clouds and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.’ ” (Revelation 1:7-8)

    Those following the false Jesus of Western culture will continue to insist on redefining and focusing on love, peace, acceptance, tolerance, and a non-judgmental attitude. Many will focus on the fact that we all sin. And, then, since we are all sinners, which of us can judge any other person’s sins? Their point seems to be, “I sin. You sin. We all sin. So, let’s just sin.” Indeed, we are all sinners, but the Jesus of Scripture has saved us and promised to transform us into his image.

    There is a vast difference between conforming Christianity into the image of the culture and transforming the Christian man into the image of the Son of God. The former is easy, market-driven and inoffensive. The latter is challenging, painful and will bring about tribulation in this world. The Christian is a sinner who has been saved from the penalty of sin and is currently in the active process of being transforming into the image of the Son of God. The false teacher wants the worldly man to be accepted by God just as the man is, without calling him a sinner and without confronting his sin. The false teacher then wants to transform God into the image of sinful man so the sinful man no longer has to deal with being transformed.

    The way of today’s false teacher is the way of paganism and human philosophy. In this model, the New Testament is exceptionally relevant for rebuking, correcting and training the cool, hip, contemporary Titanic church of the modern Western world. So relevant, in fact, that the text of Scripture must be avoided by the false church like an infection must avoid an antibiotic to survive.

Jesus Helps Identify the False Message of the False Jesus

“He said to them, ‘You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.’ ” - John 8:24-25

“For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believers in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” – John 6:40

“I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” – John 5:24

“Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.” – Luke 6:26

The historical doctrines of a false Christ

  1. A Jesus who never actually existed historically - In The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (Moscow, 1952) a two-line entry under “Jesus” includes these descriptive words: “the name of the mythological founder of Christianity”
  2. A Jesus who was merely a spiritual manifestation with no body – This idea developed from Christianity’s encounter with Greek philosophy in the Western world. The seeds of this compromise developed into Gnosticism and resurfaced in false Christian philosophies such as Docetism (Greek word dokein means “to seem”). The Corinthians had trouble transforming their pagan culture’s philosophy to this portion of the biblical revelation, and as a result rejected the physical resurrection of Christ (1 Cor. 15)
  3. A Jesus who is the First-created being
  4. A Jesus who was an angel
  5. A Jesus who is both the Son and, at the same time, God the Father
  6. A Jesus who was just a very good man – “Jesus gave us several good examples of putting others first and living selfless lives.”
  7. A Jesus who was one of many prophets that have appeared in history among many different people groups - all equally relevant
  8. A Jesus who is seen as a “correction” or “refinement” of the “primitive Old Testament God” (a deity who is said to be merely a barbaric, tribal God - while Jesus proves him to actually be completely tolerant, forgiving, and patient)
  9. A Jesus who should just be believed in, not necessarily known
  10. A Jesus made in the “believer’s” own imagination
  11. A Jesus that has been adapted to a culture’s level of acceptance. This could range from a peaceful hippie Jesus to a military warrior Jesus, from the Jesus of homeless poverty to a cultural superstar Jesus who would have definitely lived in a mansion and owned a personal jet
  12. Genie Jesus
  13. Laodicea – The Four Generation Cycle in the Modern Church

And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's creation.

‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ (Revelation 3:14 to 22)

One way of interpreting Church history is by matching up the characteristics of each age with one of the churches addressed in Revelation chapters 1 through 3.
Stacks Image 22866
Looking at things this way, it can be argued that we are currently like the Laodicean church in many ways. This method also provides good insight into where we are and why we are the way we are.

The chart below describes the four basic characteristics that correlate to the four generations.
Stacks Image 22870

1880-1920 – Systematic Growth, Emotionalism

Systematic, orchestrated, and methodical are words that can be used to describe church activity

  • Revivals (1830) - Revivalism moved from the US northeast (New England) to the south and west, reaching Tennessee and Kentucky on the western frontier. The revival became more and more emotional as it moved west, and thousands of people were converted in this region in the early 1800’s. In 1801 an estimated ten thousand people were in the camp meeting revival at Cane Ridge, Kentucky that was accompanied by people falling down, jerking, rolling, dancing and barking like dogs (Christianity Through the Centuries, by Earle E. Cairnes, 429). Soon the preaching, showmanship and emotional appeal of revival meetings would backwash from the western frontier eastward into the established churches in America’s New England states. The Presbyterian churches did not use the new camp meeting techniques, but the Methodists and Baptist churches did, and began to grow.
  • Emotionalism – The intense emotional experiences of the great revivals became the expected response to religion and spiritual reality in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. People commonly responded to an assumed “spiritual” experience with shouting, falling, dancing, and other forms of outwardly emotional expression. As textual criticism continued to undermine the authenticity of Scripture in the academic world in the late 1800’s and modern science and technology seemed to provide logical challenges to the existence of God, the Church took refuge in emotionalism. Instead of seeking the truth of God in the text of Scripture or in creation, the Church quickly turned to finding truth and proving the validity of its faith in the personal experiences of its members. This personal approach to finding truth and experiencing God is most easily described using expressions about the heart: “know in my heart it is true”, “finding God in my heart”, “asking Jesus into my heart”, “feeling the presence of the Holy Spirit”, etc. Emotionalism in the Church made personal faith a highly subjective “reality” that could easily be overturned with any subjective change in personal emotions, cultural beliefs, or temporal circumstances. With this phase of emotionalism the Church that was to be the house built on the Rock, was shifted to a foundation of sand. Things could only get worse for the Church, down on the beach with society.
  • Charles Finney (1792-1875) studied law in New York and was admitted to the state bar. Since his study of legal books had led him to many biblical references, Finney began to study the Bible itself. He joined a church, studied for the ministry, and was ordained in the Presbyterian Church in 1824. Finney began to travel on horseback to villages speaking to crowds in an articulate courtroom manner, as an educated attorney trying to persuade a jury of common folk to accept his legal position. Finney wrote the following in “On Revivals of Religion”:

“Men being so reluctant to obey God, will not act until they are excited.”

Based on this opinion, Finney pursued an emotional connection with his crowds by exciting his listeners. Finney believed that as he did his work of exciting the people, the Holy Spirit would do his work of convicting and converting them. By 1834 Finney had left the Presbyterian Church and their doctrinal stance of Calvinism. Finney took his emotionalism and revival meetings to the mainstream church, and the Broadway Tabernacle (a Congregational church) was built for Finney to lead. The crowds that followed were moved by excitement, and demonstrated their strong feelings through shouting and groaning. Although this method was criticized, the fact remained that the churches that followed Finney’s model grew.

Finney did not use just excitement to draw crowds, either. When he traveled, he was very well organized, preparing the communities and drawing the crowds even before he arrived. Local ministers and church members were recruited to organize prayer meetings, hand out handbills, post placards, and buy advertisements in newspapers. These methods, which contributed greatly to Finney’s success, were also referred to in his 1835 “Lectures on Revivals of Religion” in this section titled “A Revival of Religion is Not a Miracle”:


  1. A miracle has been generally defined to be, a Divine interference, setting aside or suspending the laws of nature. It is not a miracle, in this sense. All the laws of matter and mind remain in force. They are neither suspended nor set aside in a revival
  2. It is not a miracle according to another definition of the term miracle -something above the powers of nature. There is nothing in religion beyond the ordinary powers of nature. It consists entirely in the right exercise of the powers of nature. It is just that, and nothing else. When mankind become religious, they are not enabled to put forth exertions which they were unable before to put forth. They only exert the powers they had before in a different way, and use them for the glory of God.
  3. It is not a miracle, or dependent on a miracle, in any sense. It is a purely philosophical result of the right use of the constituted means -- as much so as any other effect produced by the application of means. There may be a miracle among its antecedent causes, or there may not. The apostles employed miracles, simply as a means by which they arrested attention to their message, and established its Divine authority. But the miracle was not the revival. The miracle was one thing; the revival that followed it was quite another thing. The revivals in the apostles' days were connected with miracles, but they were not miracles.

I said that a revival is the result of the right use of the appropriate means. The means which God has enjoyed for the production of a revival, doubtless have a natural tendency to produce a revival. Otherwise God would not have enjoined them. But means will not produce a revival, we all know, without the blessing of God. No more will grain, when it is sowed, produce a crop without the blessing of God. It is impossible for us to say that there is not as direct an influence or agency from God, to produce a crop of grain, as there is to produce a revival. – Charles Finney, 1835 in “Lectures on Revivals of Religion”

  • Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892) – Nineteen year old Spurgeon became the pastor at the prominent but struggling New Park Street Chapel in London in 1854. With seating for more than 1,000 worshippers a mere 80 people attended Spurgeon’s first Sunday in the pulpit. Spurgeon’s style was unique, but became popular in London. As the Church grew past filling the 1,000 seats a public building that seated 4,500 was rented until the 12,000 seat Music Hall was packed. The local press described Spurgeon’s preaching in these words, “All his discourses are redolent of bad taste, are vulgar and theatrical,” and his style as “that of a vulgar colloquial, varied by rant. . . . All the most solemn mysteries of our holy religion are by him rudely, roughly and impiously handled.” Indeed, Spurgeon was a theatrical performer, but also a theologically solid preacher who set the standard that many would try to emulate in order to gain the same growth and sustained popularity. In 1861 the Metropolitan Tabernacle was built to seat a weekly crowd of 6,000.

  • Dwight L. Moody – By the 1880’s the targeted revival areas switched from the frontier to the heavily populated, growing urban areas. Similar methods were set in place for mass evangelism to be conducted in massive public buildings. Dwight L. Moody was one of the first to move the public revival meetings out of the Churches and into public arenas. Now people were led in one way or another to make a public confession of Christ. Finney had encouraged people to standup to express their confession of faith in Christ. Moody took this one step further and encouraged those who had stood up to confess Christ during his meeting to continue by going to a room to meet with people who could answer questions and provide prayer.

1921-1960 – Showmanship, Materialism, Theology of Success

  • Billy Sunday – took Finney’s “stand up to confess Christ” and Moody’s “walk to the counseling room” to stand up publicly to confess Christ and then walk to the front of the arena to meet with the counselors. Billy Sunday left his mark on America’s culture and the Western Church between the years of 1900-1935. Sunday gained attention as a former professional baseball player with spectacular mannerisms while preaching on stage and informal ministry style.
  • Materialism – By 1914 Christendom had experience population increase, territorial expansion into every part of the populated world and unprecedented increase in material prosperity and wealth. In the modern Western world the industrial revolution made the production of material goods abundant and attainable. With the high standard of material living possible and within reach of the average Western man, the average man’s daily focus was on attaining and maintaining this material wealth and high standard of living instead of spiritual truth, spiritual development and the advancement of his soul. Churches had to follow, and this is most obvious when we consider that these material men were leading the Western church. A standard of success in life was materialism, and thus a successful church must also be materialistically comfortable and a reflection of the good life that would indicate God’s blessing.
  • Theology of Success found its way into the Western culture and the Western church when an old idea received new momentum with Civil War captain and Baptist pastor Russell H. Conwell’s 1869 essay, 1882 message and, ultimately, 1890’s book all entitled “Acres of Diamonds”. The essay originated from an Arab guide who was leading Conwell’s camel down the Tigris and Euphrates rivers while he was traveling from Baghdad. Conwell’s guide told him a story of a man named Ali Hafed who owned a large farm with orchards, fields and gardens, but sold it to go in pursuit of diamonds. After years of fruitless wandering Ali Hafed died off the coast of Spain in the Mediterranean Sea as a failure with no money and no diamonds. But, the man who bought Ali Hafed’s farm discovered diamonds on the very land Ali Hafed had abandoned to go search for diamonds. A portion of Conwell’s lecture and the point of his message can be found in the quote below:

“I say that you ought to get rich, and it is your duty to get rich. How many of my pious brethren say to me, ‘Do you, a Christian minister, spend your time going up and down the country advising young people to get rich, to get money?’ ‘Yes, of course I do.’ They say, ‘Isn't that awful! Why don't you preach the gospel instead of preaching about man's making money?’ ‘Because to make money honestly is to preach the gospel.’ That is the reason . . . ninety-eight out of one hundred of the rich men of America are honest. That is why they are rich. That is why they are trusted with money. That is why they carry on great enterprises and find plenty of people to work with them. It is because they are honest men. . . Some men say, ‘Don't you sympathize with the poor people?’ Of course I do, or else I would not have been lecturing these years. I won't give in but what I sympathize with the poor, but the number of poor who are to be sympathized with is very small. To sympathize with a man whom God has punished for his sins, thus to help him when God would still continue a just punishment, is to do wrong, no doubt about it, and we do that more than we help those who are deserving. While we should sympathize with God's poor-that is, those who cannot help themselves-- let us remember there is not a poor person in the United States who was not made poor by his own shortcomings, or by the shortcomings of someone else. It is all wrong to be poor, anyhow . . . as Mr. Carnegie said, the great iron squeezers that laid the foundation of all the steel millions of the United States, ‘we men’ can invent anything under the stars!” source

At the time of Conwell’s death in 1925 he had presented this story as a lecture 6,152 times and had earned $8,000,000. Pretty good for a Civil War captain. The original audio of Russell Conwell’s presentation can still be heard on YouTube. Today the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary still carries his name after his Theology school in Philadelphia merged with Gordon Divinity School.

  • World War I - In spite of the growth and advancement of Christianity which was accompanied by the increase in wealth and material production the Christian countries (stronghold of Christendom from 900-1800 AD) erupted into World War between the years of 1914-1918 which resulted in the death of 9 million soldiers and 7 million civilians. Christendom in the midst of the Industrial Age had brought history’s deadliest and most devastating conflicts.

  • Between 1926-1950 church membership in the United States increased 60% while the population growth of the United States for the same period of time was merely 29%. Church membership in 1950 was 57% of the whole population of the United States. (A History of Christianity, vol. 2, by Kenneth Scott Latourette, page 1410) Note that in 1800 that number was 7%; in 1850 it was 15.5% and in 1900 it was 36%. Church membership of the entire population of the United States had gone from 36% to 57% in fifty years. That is a 21% membership increase in the modern Western church of the United States between the years 1900-1950. It is easy to see how the ideals and attitudes in the Church in those years had an impact on the United States and, likewise, how the Western World had an impact on the ideals and attitudes in the church.

1950 the United States was the most powerful nation and its values and culture were being felt everywhere in the world.
  • Radio – Radio broadcasting became popular in the 1920’s and by 1925 it could be printed in an opinion article that “one out of every fourteen broadcasting stations in the United States is today owned by a church and operated by a church.” (Popular Radio, New York, March 1925) Charles E. Fuller began broadcasting “The Old-fashioned Revival hour” in 1925 and by 1942 claimed to have a world-wide audience (“A History of Christianity”, vol. 2, Kenneth Scott Latourette, page 1419) Soon, Christian broadcasting became a big American business.
  • Television – With the upsurge of television beginning around 1939 entrepreneurial preachers realized their broadcasts required a ministry focused on entertainment, music, visual appeal, celebrity appearances and ministers with appealing personalities. By 1955 half of American homes had a TV set and by 1980 almost 50% of Americans watched weekly religious TV programming. This added to the drive of individual religion and personalization of the Christian experience and opinion.
  • Individualism – The value of the individual sprang out of nationalism which had its roots in Christianity’s stance on the dignity and worth of each person’s selfconsciousness
  • Norman Vincent Peale (1898-1993) and preaching the Power of Positive Thinking instead of the Word of God – Peale was ordained as a Methodist minister in 1922, but in 1932 affiliated with the Reformed Church and took a 600 member church in Manhattan (New York City) to over 5,000 members. Peale began to use radio in 1935 and in 1952 wrote the book “The Power of Positive Thinking,” the same year he began his TV show. Peale’s teaching focused on the concept that our physical world could be controlled with our thoughts and a man could change his life, his health and his destiny by simply believing it. Below is one of my favorite, or actually least favorite, quotes of Peale’s. This quote seems to me to be a form of self-abandonment to fate that is combined with a denial of reality but sweetened with self-hypnosis:

“Tell yourself every morning as you go to work that you love your job. Think of it as interesting, even fascinating. By so doing you will ultimately get enthusiastic about your work — and you will undoubtedly do a better job.” (From “Power of the Plus Factor”, 1987, by Peale)

Concerning the personhood of God, Peale said this:

“Who is God? Some theological being? He is so much greater than theology. God is vitality. God is life. God is energy. As you breathe God in, as you visualize His energy, you will be reenergized!” (From "No More Stress or Tension" in the monthly periodical “Plus: The Magazine of Positive Thinking” in May 1986, p. 22)

In a 1984 interview with Phil Donahue Peale said: “It’s not necessary to be born again. You have your way to God; I have mine.”

Donahue countered Peale by saying, “But you’re a Christian minister; you’re supposed to tell me that Christ is the Way and the Truth and the Life, aren’t you?”
To this Peale gave the politically correct answer before political correctness was clique when he said, “Christ is ONE of the ways! God is everywhere.”

  • Evangelism with music – Gospel hymns had become popular and had a wide appeal at revival meetings and over the radio
  • Methods, practices and forms of worship spread from one denomination to another. If a church found success and growth by implementing a particular style or outreach it was sure to imitated and initiated by a hundred other churches. This included the use of songs, children’s and youth ministries, summer assemblies/vacation Bible school
  • Billy Graham – began in 1949

1960-2000 – Charismatic, Individual/Personal, Mysticism, Success

  • Charismatic Movement – The charismatic movement was recognized in 1960 with Episcopal priest Dennis Bennett’s public announcement to his congregation in California on April 3, 1960 that he had received the power and filling of the Holy Spirit with the manifestation of the gift of speaking in unknown tongues. This incident may have slipped by public notice, although similar events were occurring around the nation, unless the event had not been reported to and covered by Newsweek (July 4, 1960) and Time (August 15, 1960). By 1963 most Protestant publications and journals had published articles concerning the charismatic movement and the phenomena of glossolalia, or speaking in tongues. Every major protestant church had been influenced by these events and most accepted the movement with caution. This movement was seen as more than a prayer movement, but a renewal of the mission and development of the Church. Ultimately, the charismatic movement brought people closer to accepting a personal encounter, a personal word, personal direction and personal revelation from deity. More focus was moved towards a personal encounter with God, than with a personal understanding of the revelation given in the Scripture.
  • Individualism – Individual’s making decisions to place faith in Christ and individual’s receiving the filling of the Holy Spirit and speaking in other tongues paved the way for individual’s to form opinions about the nature of God, the interpretation of Scripture and the source of divine authority. Soon the common man was receiving personal directions, insights and revelation from his personal Lord by means of an inner voice in his heart or the “spirit” speaking to his heart.
  • Mysticism – Direct contact with and expression from the divine presence appeared to be much easier to attain to than the serious study of the Scriptures. Personal views, individual behavior and imaginary desires could easily be justified and pursued with the support of a mystical encounter with “god” or his “spirit.” And, who could negatively judge one person’s mystical encounter without themselves sounding unloving and not Christ-like? The need for church growth and church unity led the Church to abandoned accurate Bible teaching, and instead favor a more culturally relevant redefining of the character of God as tolerant and the nature of Jesus as loving and non-judgmental. This developmental direction allowed more tolerance of socially acceptable spiritual opinions.
  • Bill Bright (1921-2003) – 1952 wrote “Four Spiritual Laws”; 1979 produced the “Jesus Film”; 1951 founded Campus Crusade for Christ. Although great evangelistic tools with accurate biblical insight, this work flooded Christianity with multitudes of converted, but untransformed individuals. The Church was unprepared and unfocused on transforming these converts and preparing them for true spiritual service of work in the Church. Instead, like the converts of other successful evangelists, these new additions to the Church helped conform the Church into the image of culture instead of themselves being transformed into the image of Christ.
  • Robert Schuller (1926-2015) – Began his television program “Hour of Power” in 1970
  • Oral Roberts (1918-2009) – Emphasized seed-faith giving; laid foundation for prosperity gospel and abundant life teaching ministries; 1947 began his radio broadcasting; 1954 began broadcasting revival meetings by television

2001-2040 – Market Driven

  • Market driven church – The market driven church is designed to create numerical growth (not conversion or spiritual growth). The New Testament message, purpose, growth process, success target and future goal is thrown under the bus. The foundational philosophy of the Church of this age is based on market-driven principles. The methodology is focused on marketing strategies, demographic studies and business techniques.
  • The Market driven church seeks spiritual enlightenment for temporal benefits – According to the American Demographics article “Choosing My Religion” from April 1999, today’s religious person claims to be:

“…into spirituality, not religion…Behind this shift is the search for an experiential faith, a religion of the heart, not the head. It’s a religious expression that downplays doctrine and dogma, and revels in direct experience of the divine – whether it’s called the ‘Holy Spirit’ or ‘cosmic consciousness’ or the ‘true self.’ It is practical and personal, more about stress reduction that salvation, more therapeutic than theological. It’s about feeling good, not being good. It’s as much about the body as the soul…Some marketing gurus have begun calling it ‘the experience industry.’ ”

  • Spiritual Gift assessment tests are a perfect example of the market driven church tapping into it’s natural resources for organization purposes and effective management methods. This is the style of the in-house systematic approach the CEO (head pastor) and his support network (pastoral staff) use to turn a profit for their business (church)
  • Manipulation of Customer (church members) and advertisement strategies
  • Bible studies are led by a facilitator who does not teach, but seeks to include everyone’s opinion as the groups ignorance is pooled together.
  • Product development of the Market Driven Church is focused on “meeting people’s needs.” Originally Jesus sent his disciples out with the Great Commission,

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

Notice, Jesus’ commission was Jesus-centered – “All authority…given to ME”… “go and make disciples” to follow ME… “baptizing them in the name of” ME … “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded”

Notice: Jesus’ commission was not man-centered – “Go solve world problems”… “Go meet people’s needs” … “Go make people feel connected” … “Go build relationships between people”

The Church is about Jesus. And, Jesus’ people will follow when Jesus is glorified. When the Church is made to be all about man, then men will follow that church. So, if the Church is built on the Gospel of Jesus Christ men will be offended and think of it as foolishness, but if the Church is built on a marketable product such as solving social problems, meeting people’s needs, or being tolerant, loving and not judgmental, then the world of men will pick that product up and use it like a tool to advance their own social agendas and philosophies.

Yes, that’s right. When the system of any local church is up and running full speed, the leadership of that church will have made one of two choices:
  1. Be rejected by the world by preaching the Gospel, teaching the Word of God and glorifying Jesus Christ.
  2. Be used like a tool by the world to solve world problems, social issues and meet people’s needs without preaching the Truth, without teaching the Word and without glorifying the eternal Son of God, the soon coming king of God’s kingdom, the man, Jesus Christ!

The choice is between being the Church in Smyrna or the Church in Laodicea.

Smyrna was told:

“I know your afflictions and your poverty – yet you are rich! I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer … Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.” (Revelation 2:8-11)

Laodicea was told:

“I am about to vomit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.” (Revelation 3:14-22)

  • Rick Warren (1954-present) – Rick Warren developed and implemented successful church growth methods beginning in 1980. Warren uses the Church as an instrument to transform people and communities. His 1995 book “The Purpose Driven Church” provides guidance and instruction for church leaders to repair people’s personal lives which will result in church growth and production. According to a Barna poll in 2005 pastors and church leaders in the United States voted this book as the second most influential book in their ministries and lives. The most influential book they voted for was Warren’s earlier book in 2002, “The Purpose Driven Life.”
  • Bill Hybels (1951-present) – In 1971 Bill Hybels used relevant Bible studies, contemporary music, drama and the best multimedia of the day to grow a youth group of 25 to over 1,000 in less than 36 months. In 1974 Hybels surveyed the community to discover people’s attitudes towards church. He then used this information to design a new approach to church. Within two years the Church’s attendance was 2,000. The enormous success of Hybels methods took the Church to a weekly attendance of 24,000 in 2010. His system has been promoted through seminars and his ideas sought through speaking engagements scheduled across the nation.
  • Joel Osteen (1963-present) – Joel inherited his father’s church in Houston, Texas in 1999 when his father, John Osteen, suddenly died. John Osteen started the Church in 1959 and had grown the weekly attendance to 6,000. Under Joel’s leadership the Church attendance spiked to 43,500 per week by 2009. Joel is the author of the books:
o “Your Best Life Now”
o “You Can, You Will: 8 Undeniable Qualities of a Winner”
o “It’s Your Time: Activate Your Faith, Achieve Your Dreams and Increase in God’s Favor”
o “I Declare: 31 Promises to Speak Over Your Life”
o “Break Out: 5 Keys to God Beyond Your Barriers and Live an Extraordinary Life”

  • Christian A. Schwarz, 1990’s research published in 2009 director of Institute for Natural Church Development conducted the most comprehensive research project in church history to discover the causes of church growth. Over a thousand churches in 32 countries were studied and 60,000 surveys were completed. The information is found in Schwarz’s book “The ABC’s of Natural Church Development” (online as .pdf here - ). Schwarz found eight consistent characteristics of growing churches that if set in place anywhere and at any time they will work every time. Below is the perfect formula for church growth. If you can market this you will have a successful church:
    1. Empowering leadership
    2. Gift-oriented ministry
    3. Passionate spirituality – this “spirituality” is not biblical because the Bible is not the source of their buzz-word definitions. These churches have gone to other sources to develop their meaning of “spirituality.”
    4. Functional structures
    5. Inspiring worship – this refers to an enthusiastic worship service.
        1. Here again is “emotionalism” which we have seen was the old-school key to revival identified by Finney in the 1830’s “excited” men.
        2. Schwarz explains that “people who attend inspiring worship services unanimously declare that the Church service is…‘fun’ ” (page 14 of “The ABC’s of Natural Church Development”).
        3. For the Church to maintain growth men will need an increasing level of “entertainment” to sustain their sense of “fun” in such an “inspiring worship”. This is so very contrary to the true growth and examples of the true church in the scriptures and in history.
    6. Holistic small groups
    7. Need-oriented evangelism
    8. Loving relationships

  • Current buzz words:
1. Church growth
2. Disciple making church
3. Plugged in
4. Small group
5. A new way of doing church
6. Mystery
7. Spiritual journey

The Future of the Western Church

After church growth, what’s next? The people that are collected during this market-driven church phase will have to be rallied around a purpose or goal to justify their continuation as a corporation. These people were attracted and brought into the Church by:
• Met personal needs (physical, social, etc.)
• Entertainment
• Emotionalism

But, now what?
Why will these people stay?

The Church that was organized by human methods through use of a worldly marketing strategy, instead of discipleship to Jesus Christ, will need to transition into a goal-oriented ministry, like a results-based service organization. Church leadership will be forced to fabricate a new purpose and a fresh sense of mission. Only then will church members be able to justify the continuation of their assembling as a community, while at the same time continuing to experience an emotional sense of personal purpose.

This phase was referred to as the “vanity cycle” in Hope for America’s Last Generation (page 84). As the Churches that modeled themselves on the mega-church’s market-driven social research move into a community centered service system, their focus will crystalize outward. This might involve the building of community centers to accommodate the people of their church with the intention of serving those outside the Church who are in the local community. Once again, the Church is focused on attracting, serving, and pleasing the unbeliever outside the Church instead of teaching and preparing those who are already in the Church. The Church leadership will strive to appeal to more unbelievers by using its members, instead of converting the unbeliever and transforming the believer. The former is easy and marketable, while the latter is challenging and detested. The first is the broad way; the second, the narrow way.
Stacks Image 22874
Pastors will defend their community service programs by pointing out that the members of their church are serving their community, by reaching out for Christ by “showing God’s love”. But just because you can train monkeys to slap at keyboards does not mean those monkeys are writing literature. In fact, just like the slapping monkeys are not communicating human thoughts or expression, neither are the unconverted church members able to fulfill Jesus’ command to “let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” The seekers who were brought into the Church through market research are merely monkeys slapping at an author’s keyboard. These monkeys are not authors and they cannot produce the works of an author.

Pagans who are manipulated and motivated by the clergy to assemble in an organization called “Community Church” and then sent to serve their pagan neighborhood are not the same as God’s people prepared for works of service to advance the kingdom of God. They are merely serving the kingdom of this world while making it darker by claiming their darkness is light.

The challenging, painful transformation process of true Christianity will continue in the Western world, but only as true Christians struggle in the face of society’s (even the Western church’s) rejection of this challenging, painful process.

In the coming days, cultural and political events are going to require Christians (believers, followers, seekers, church members, etc.) to choose between the Jesus of Scripture and the false Jesus of Western culture. Today’s easy, market-driven, non-offensive Christianity will grow rapidly in numbers of members, but will eventually be rolled over by Islam. Today’s shallow seekers are tomorrow’s Islamic converts. Churches will be converted into mosques. Church community centers will be tomorrow’s Islamic centers.
Stacks Image 22878
As true Christianity is purified, true disciples will also be rolled over by Islam - not by conversion in this case, but by Islamic persecution, resulting in multitudes of martyrs and masses of believers being eliminated as they proclaim their faith in the Scriptural Jesus, even in the face of Islamic denunciation. It is in this way the true believers will be sifted out of the Western Laodicean church and separated from those who will compromise with the world, and ultimately, with the antichrist.


Even though studies show that most people in the twenty-first century who leave church are leaving because of unanswered intellectual questions, today’s church leaders continue to present their members with an emotional experience and distract their “converts” with entertainment and social programs (basketball leagues, youth groups, men’s ministry activities, community service, etc.).

People are not leaving the Church because of relationship problems among the women in the women’s ministry or as a result of an argument during a church league softball game. People are dismissing Christianity because it has become too emotional, too subjective, too centered on individualistic personal beliefs. People are leaving because even after years of attendance, service and worship the Church still has not answered intellectual questions.

Yet, the answers to these questions are readily available in books, in on-line videos, at seminars and much more. The disconnect comes when pastors and local church leaders fear the Church will lose attendance - and offerings will decrease - if people are given real information, and if service time were spent addressing intellectual subjects. These intellectual questions may seem boring and unnecessary. But for who? Not for the believer who is seeking growth, fellowship with their Lord, and understanding of the God they have embraced. But, yes, very boring to those who are only attending church to hear the cool band, to hook up with friends, or to find a place to belong - as if the Church were a bar in a sitcom or a sports program in a middle school. Yes, finding answers to intellectual questions and learning about the eternal Lord would indeed be a huge road block if your attendance at church were based merely on your personal social needs.

In other words, today’s pastors are more attuned to entertaining the goats than they are to feeding the sheep. So, who is leaving the modern western church? Is the unbeliever leaving or is the believer leaving? Is the Church keeping the goats and driving away the sheep? If we were to base our answer on the types of activities on the Church’s calendar, it would appear the sheep are either starving to death or leaving in search of greener pastures (i.e., in search of teaching pastors). Meanwhile, the unconverted find themselves surprisingly comfortable at church and busily involved in helping to continue the conformation of the Church into the image of a tolerant cultural institution that can finally be respected by pagan society.

For this Titanic Church the time is too late. Our Western ship has been struck, and we are taking on water. Our situation is comparable to the days of ancient Israel in the north, that did not repent of the sin of Jeroboam because they could not repent. Israel’s history had been rewritten and their true religion had been re-formed into the image of the pagan world that absorbed them. Even when the “good” kings came along and led the people in great reform, the Bible always adds:

“Nevertheless he clung to the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit; he did not turn away from them.” (2 Kings 3:3)

Why did they not repent? They had lost the Truth. They had lost their way. They had re-created the image of God and could not find their way back without the real God. This is where we are today. We have misdirected Bible interpretation. We have re-created how God communicates with man. We have redefined the nature of God and, in so doing, have called the glory of God an abomination, unacceptable for a culture such as ours. In our arrogance we have become so ignorant that we are hopeless. No matter how hard we try, as a body, we will not be able to repent because we cannot turn away from our sin, which is like the sin of Jeroboam.
Stacks Image 22882
For us, our sin of Jeroboam is:
    1. Systematic revival
    2. Marketed church growth
    3. Worship of God focused on our entertainment and social activities
    4. Personal relationship with God that comes complete with the full package of:
        1. A personal word from God
        2. A personal Jesus molded to our own personal image
        3. A personal divine power sent to solve our personal problems
    5. A self-serving theology of worldly success
    6. A self-made religion that fully embraces materialism and a non-judgmental attitude
    7. The doctrine of our best life now
    8. A problem-solving God more interested in delivering us from our immediate worldly troubles than he is in developing us into Christlikeness
    9. A relevant message that helps us live our dream life now
    10. The promise of eschatological escapism with a Pretribulational rapture

Why is this true? Because, when a model (often an idol) or a system (often false doctrine) works, it will be copied, repeated and even “improved” or “intensified.”

Finey copied the revivals. Billy Sunday copied Finey. Theology of Success copied the materialism of the United States. Mass evangelism copied Christian radio and television programming. Church services copied the entertainment of mass evangelism. Pastors copied the motivational speakers. Charismatics copied the personal decisions for Christ. The market-driven church copied all the success methods of Western Christianity, but added modern marketing research by conducting public opinion polls in the communities in which they were considering investing their church business.

Today’s false Jesus is the personification of our culture and the reflection of contemporary celebrities. In light of this, we would be wise to keep John’s final words in mind:

“Keep yourselves from idols.” (1 John 5:21)

There are two gates, two roads, but only one Way and one Door. The wide, easy road is always the way of destruction, but is the most heavily traveled. The Scriptures make this clear. If you accept Scripture at any level you must take this into consideration.
Stacks Image 22886