"Be shepherds of the church of God, which He bought with His own blood. 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 2:28-31
"There were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them - bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute." - II Peter 2:1-2
"For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths." - II Timothy 4:3-4
So Rob Bell is back in Grand Rapids, the Cardinals are electing a new Pope to head the Church of Rome and the 1.2 billion Catholics around the world, pastors like Joel Osteen and others are teaching people that all is well and that God wants to give you everything you want because He is on your side, and the United Nations and the World Council of Religions, including many "Christian" leaders around the world, are seeking to unite all religions together under one head, who will be the "False Prophet" of Revelation, who works alongside the Antichrist to build the kingdom of man rather than the Kingdom of God.
And while all of that is happening, most of the rest of the visible church goes on about their business, ignoring God's warnings of false teachers and the consequences of following them! All of the references in the above passages that point to these things happening in the FUTURE point to TODAY. We are living in the time of the fulfillment of these prophecies. Teachers within the visible church ARE distorting the truth, and many are listening, rejecting sound doctrine and gathering teachers who will tell them what they want to hear - that everyone is basically good and that eventually everyone will get to "heaven."
Listen to the latest ramblings of Rob Bell, whose previous book, "Love Wins," declared that God's love for mankind (for ALL people - for EVERY person) demands that everyone be saved in the end. In talking about his latest book (which I am not recommending!), "What We Talk ABout When We Talk About God," Bell says, "The truth is there are millions and millions of people who simply can't connect with religion in its current forms and expressions. ... I was never interested in having a street fight with very, very dogmatic Christians. I find many of those discussions mind-numbingly boring."
Bell and others often speak of "religion" as the straw man that they are trying to knock down with their supposed wisdom about deep insights into "truth," which is really NOT truth because they declare that no one really knows what is true for someone else. (I know - THAT is mind-numbing!) Listen to this description of Bell's latest book: "This is a book for people who can't buy the traditional concept of a judgmental, thumbs-up-or-down God, or the new atheism that says the world you see is all there is. It's for people who want to believe in a God they can believe in."
What does that even mean? Bell goes on to say, "We have a growing number of people in our world who have a sense that there's something more going on here. But the God they generally encounter is behind, angry, not any sort of being they can connect with." The good news according to Bell: God is not angry. He's on YOUR side - and everyone else's. "I believe God is for every single one of us, regardless of our beliefs or perspectives or failures or mistakes." All of this is false teaching with no foundation in the Bible. This is Rob Bell's gospel, or Oprah Winfrey's gospel ... and it is a false gospel.
One more quote from Mr. Bell, "For a lot of people, any talk of God in our culture comes back to doctrine and dogmas and you have to believe the right thing. Jesus talked about seeing that which has been right in front of you the whole time." Perhaps he is more right than he imagines. Listen to one of the inspired writers of Scripture, the Apostle Paul, as he writes God's Word to the early Church in Rome: "The wrath of God (must be the "judgmental God" that Bell and others reject) is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - His eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse" (Romans 1:18-20).
Yes, there IS a true God - ONE true God, who has revealed Himself in His creation, in His Word and finally in His Son, Jesus Christ. "In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom He made the universe" (Hebrews 1:1-2). JESUS said that whoever does not believe in Him stands condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son (John 3:18).
Which brings me to choosing a world-wide leader for what is said to be "Christ's" Church. There is ONE true Church, made up of everyone who has placed their faith in Jesus Christ, believing that He paid the penalty for their sin on the cross and overcame death by rising again. "I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may KNOW that you have eternal life" (I John 5:13). In verses 11-12, John writes, "This is the testimony (which every true believer will have in their heart) ... God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life." That is the Gospel. Jesus is the one HEAD of the Church (Colossians 1:18); the Church needs no other head. Jesus is our Great High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16). The Church needs no other priest to act as a "go-between" between God and man. "For there is one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (I Timothy 2:5).
As I wrote in my previous blog, there is ONE Church and it is not the Catholic Church or the Methodist Church or the Reformed Church or any other church, by whatever name. The ONE Church has ONE Gospel: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved" (Acts 16:31). To the Galatians Paul wrote, "Even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!" (Galatians 1:8). There is one gospel that is good news and there are many false teachers within the visible church today and on radio and television preaching a false gospel that has no power to save. It tells people they can save themselves, or that they are already saved, whether they believe or not, or that only through the rituals of a religious organization can they hope to get to heaven. The true Church proclaims the truth revealed in God's Word. The main reason to "go to church" is to be taught the Word of God and equipped to share that Word with others as you live out the life God offers to those who believe, as His Spirit works within you. Apart from that, it's just all a foolish game that leads to misery and eternal death, facing the judgment of the God people apparently don't want to believe in because He is too "judgmental."
There is MUCH more I could write, but I will stop for now. If you have questions, comments, concerns ... email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I spoke with a dear brother from Pakistan today, where people are being persecuted and their homes burned because they believe in Jesus Christ. And here in America people are rejecting the true Gospel because it is too hard to believe and they want something easier, something "nicer," something to "tickle their ears." That message leads to destruction, to eternal death. The true Gospel brings life because it brings dead people to Jesus Christ, the Giver of Life.
BEWARE! There are false teachers masquerading as angels of light. The consequences of listening to them are serious - eternal! Do not be "blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. INSTEAD, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Him who is the Head, that is, Christ" (Ephesians 4:14-15). May you be found loving the truth and following Christ and proclaiming HIM to the world - until He comes!!