As we discussed in Part 1, many modern American churches have become a weak representation of the Almighty God serving flesh and sin rather than God. Let us examine the modern American church according to the Bible. Characteristic number 3 is there is more focus on the community rather than God. A community is defined as a socially connected group of any size whose members share government, common cultural and historical heritage, public, or society. While Christians should share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with their community in evangelism, many modern churches only focus on being a part of the community with social activities and little to no Gospel being shared. Acts 2:41-47 displays that many people that were part of the early church gladly received Peter’s preaching of Jesus Christ, were baptized, and were continuing in the doctrine of the apostles that were originally taught by Jesus to His disciples. Many modern American churches focus on the doctrine of “good” as opposed to the Gospel. This gives the false sense of feeling good without the Good News of Jesus Christ. As faithfulness to doctrine, prayer, and fellowship (aka church attendance) was found among the people signs and wonders were evident through the biblical leaders as confirmation of God’s Word. These verses also describe as having all things in common, but this was a voluntary assisting to believers in a time of persecution as opposed to an attitude of making everyone equal much like the socialist agenda found not only in America but within many modern American churches. “As every man had need” found in verse 45 is not equality or reliance on the wealth of everyone else but the help for those that needed temporary assistance. Vocabulary used by many of these churches is a key element to discern which churches fall into this category. Colossians 2:4 warns that Christians should not allow others to use deceiving or empty words to persuade them into things. Using words of flattery or words that originate from a doctrine that opposes the Christian faith is a common practice within many modern American churches. Let us examine some of these vocabulary words used by modern churches and see what they really mean in the context of true Christian faith. Let’s be authentic in our fake Christianity. Let’s do good in the community while ignoring the opportunity to fulfill the Great Commission for God. Let’s have a conversation to convince others that sin is acceptable. Let’s be compassionate to those in the community to feel good about ourselves. Let’s be casual to create the right atmosphere to relax in during the entertainment created to be the church. Let’s engage in a lifestyle that pleases flesh and opposes God. Let’s go on a faith journey to travel the roads we desire and declare it is God’s plan. Let’s be relevant to modern culture to please our flesh and fulfill youthful lusts while labeling it as God. Let’s be intentional in the perversion of the Gospel by being a friend to the sinful world. Christians and the church should be more focused on the things of God as opposed to being a copy of things or people of the world (Colossians 3:1-2). Churches are to reflect the culture of God not the culture of the age. Being a friend to the world makes that person or church an enemy of God (James 4:4). May churches everywhere begin to get back to the Word of God as well as the culture of God to get people born again and make disciples of Jesus Christ.
In these last days, many modern American churches have become a weak representation of the Almighty God serving flesh and sin rather than God. Let us examine the modern American church according to the Bible. Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron (1 Timothy 4:1-2). The Holy Spirit says that in the last days, some Christians will depart the faith because of seducing spirits and doctrines of devils. This reflects the same sin that tempted Adam and Eve to be in charge of their own lives and not submit to God. Here are some of the characteristics of the modern American church that do not align with the Word of God: Number 1 is a vision of creating comfortable churches with no conviction. John 8:1-11 displays that being around Jesus Christ convicts sinners but there is a choice to be forgiven and to sin no more OR to stay in sin. This choice is up to the hearer. John 16:7-13 reflects the Holy Spirit is assigned to convict in areas a person is wrong. The Holy Spirit cannot reveal all things at one time due to being too much to process. This applies to revelations including sin/wrong. The word reprove is defined as to convince, convict, expose, and rebuke. To convict a person evidence must be presented. Many modern American churches do not present evidence to convict of sin creating a lack of spiritual growth. Without biblical evidence, the hearers will not see the errors of their lives and make the proper changes to live holier for God. 2 Timothy 4:1-4 reveals a biblical pastor is to be used by the Holy Spirit to reprove, rebuke, and exhort with the Word of God. When the pastor of a church fails to fulfill this calling he is being a useless gift from Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:11-12) that is supposed to be helping perfect the saints by making mature Christians. Characteristic number 2 is a lack of biblical doctrine or biblical truths in their entirety. Psalm 119:105-106 says the Word of God is a lamp that should illuminate the path for Christians to walk. Churches should give the Word of God in doctrine and truth for people to see the evil and sinful things around them. Just as it is light, the Bible and doctrine also give the instructions of a life pleasing to God. Without seeing the whole picture, a person could be misled by those that cherry-pick scriptures to allow their favorite sins. 2 Timothy 3:1-17 says in the last days, people will fall into this list of sinful attitudes. Biblical pastors should be an example to the congregation of the Word of God lived out. Without biblical doctrine how can anyone live holy and upright before God? 2 Timothy 4:1-4 explains that pastors are commissioned to reprove, rebuke, and exhort with doctrine. This doctrine is the act of teaching and instruction. Doctrine is the Bible itself but also the teaching of it by the pastor to the people. James 1:13-22 states that the church should be a place that confronts sin and lust, not be conformed by sin and lust. A biblical church is a place to find the Word of God that can save souls. Even the Bible itself discusses that although the Word has the ability to save souls, not everyone will choose to allow it access within their lives to do so.
At first, reading this title a person may quickly say, “I’m a disciple”. Then the question is who or what are you a disciple of? Throughout the Bible, Jesus had many followers but not many disciples. Discipleship does not take place by sitting in a seat while the pastor preaches on Sunday morning or during the midweek service. Discipleship takes place in the one-on-one or private small group setting in teaching and training what a biblical life looks like, what God says about various topics within the Bible and other training that is vital to Christian living. Jesus spoke and taught the multitude but He expounded to His disciples in private (Matthew 13:10, Matthew 24:3, Mark 4:34, Mark 7:17, Mark 10:10). Being a disciple reflects submitting to a local pastor to be discipled in the Word of God and godly living. This does NOT mean that each disciple should be miniature versions of their pastor in clothing, hobbies, or other forms. Discipleship does imply that disciples are submitted to hearing what the disciple-maker says and to the training to look more like Jesus Christ and less like the culture of the world. When submitting to a local pastor, the heart and mind of the disciple must understand that the pastor is a gift from Jesus Christ to equip, mature, and train the disciple in the things of God (Ephesians 4:11-12). One can accurately judge themselves if they are a disciple or part of the multitude by the level of obedience within their life. This includes obedience to the local pastor (Hebrews 13:17, 1 Timothy 5:17, 1 Peter 5:5, Romans 13:1-2), the Word of God (Luke 11:28, James 1:22-25, 1 John 2:3-4, John 14:21), and the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:14, John 14:26, Galatians 5:16). When a person is part of the multitude there is more focus on oneself being the guide and little to no submission to a leader. This is reflected by those who go to church and do nothing the local pastor, the Word of God, or the Holy Spirit says. A person that is part of the multitude allows their sinful nature or laziness to rule them making the Word of God of no effect in their life especially when that is their tradition of being a nonparticipant (Mark 7:13). The battle within them is the desires of the flesh that war against the Spirit of God (Galatians 5:17). Sadly, the flesh wins even though their mind believes they are right with God because they have marked off attending church on their chore list. Christians should desire to be a disciple of Jesus Christ by being in the Word of God, praying, and being around their spiritual gift, the local pastor. Each of these elements helps to train believers in the things of God. With these Bible verses in mind, let’s reexamine the question. Are you a disciple or a part of the multitude? You’ll need to answer honestly because God already knows the correct answer, do you? If you need to make adjustments to your walk with God, it is not too late. Make the proper changes (Romans 12:1-2) and submit to the Word of God, the Holy Spirit, and your local pastor to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. Come join us in being discipled and worshipping God each week at Abundant Grace Church in Sparta, TN. For more information, visit abundantgracesparta.org.