Last week two significant things happened that has encouraged me to write this article.
Firstly, I had a strange dream in which I saw an apostate church having secret meetings in a crypt and singing with demonic frenzy. Secondly, I was approached by someone who wanted to know whether it was fine to have a private affair going on ‘full swing’ even after he was engaged to be married soon.
Is the Church rapidly losing her purity and fear of the Lord, and beginning to be compromising with the world through a watered down Gospel?
False forms of Christianity have recently become increasingly popular in there is a resurgence of interest in things ‘spiritual.’ We see this especially in the media. In the movie ‘Legion’ one sentence stands out like a beacon… “Let’s pretend the New Testament never happened”. In a more recent movie ‘Priest’…and by the way, I haven’t seen this one…a Christian write-up says the following. ‘Yet here it’s like the New Testament happened without Jesus—without the Incarnation, without good news, without grace. The significance of the cross in this world, like the church itself, is unexplained and unconnected to faith in a historical founder; the cross is only a talisman, a charm or a weapon.
The Harry Potter novels promoting witchcraft among children, written by J. K. Rowling, have sold more than 325 million copies and have been translated into more than 64 languages. And then millions of Indians…look to Oprah Winfrey and her new age advisors for counsel about their lives as they reject the saving grace of God.
In Rev 3, Jesus talks to the church in Sardis “I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.” Then again Jesus says, “Remember what you have received and heard…”
Time away from anything brings forgetfulness and unfamiliarity…someone said, and how true that is! “So what should I remember?” you might ask…you need to remember, first of all the work that Christ did on your life. Then you need to remember the real issues of life as you walk daily with the Master.
God has built remembrance right into the disciplines of the Christian life if we will just use them. When we come together to worship on a Sunday and take that little bit of bread and grape juice, we’re supposed to be remembering the agony of the Cross, and asking the question…Why? Then we need to come under self-examination and we have to answer the ‘Why’. There is still sin in our lives – sin that could condemn us for eternity if it were not for the agony on that cross – if we even lose sight of that cross or just don’t care about it anymore. When still an unbeliever, my father always asked me when I came home from attending church… “Did you take your communion?” Yes I did, like everyone else in the service, but nothing changed me because I did not ‘remember’. Jesus asks the believer to… “Remember what you have received and heard…”
We have heard so many things so many times in the past, and we have taken it all for granted, because they have now been forgotten! Otherwise we would not be living how we live daily, how we make decisions daily and how we talk to others daily.
In James we read, “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, his is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.” In this verse James associates forgetting with not doing!
If you are coming here on Sunday just to watch the stage and what goes on there… you’re not doing. You’re just hearing. Soon you will be forgetting and not keeping. Sometimes I come into my office just to check all the CDs we have recorded, it shocks me to see nearly 300 hours of teaching gone out into your hands! If you can only remember what you have heard…would you be a different person?
Let me close with this… Do you know why some of us get so bored of church at all? It is because we never engage the enemy.
Imagine a soldier who never takes on the enemy. He trains until he is bored stiff. He marches. He shines his shoes and cleans the barracks and oils his guns. He says “Yes Sir” a hundred times a day. Only one thing he doesn’t do. He doesn’t fight. He never feels the sheer dread and the noise of the battle that makes him realize what all his training is about.
That’s where some of us are and have been. We get easily bored and forget. And in forgetting we invite apathy into our being. The most obvious sign of the spiritual decline of the church is apathy – apathy towards the house of God, the Word of God and the presence of God. Apathy sometimes overtakes a believer – before they are even aware anything is wrong. The fruit of apathy is apostasy.
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. 2 Timothy 4:3-4