As the Church of our Lord entered the 21st century in reverse, terms like user-friendly and seeker sensitive, pragmatic concepts quite common in the secular business world but completely foreign to the historic orthodox Christian Church, have dominated religious discussions. Christian pastors and leaders, faced with dwindling attendance in their churches, began to wonder how to make the message of Jesus Christ relevant to postmodern America. In the flesh as they are, their answer was to “adjust” the more difficult aspects of the exclusive Gospel message in order to try and make it more attractive to the unbeliever. The resulting powerlessness of the Christian faith should make it evident to the discerning that these fools have asked the wrong question.

What Would Christ Have us Preach To A Culture Steeped In Relativism?

As I have sought the Lord about this crucial issue, it would seem that someone needs to finally come right out and say it: This country today is in the throws of a terrible downgrade, and not only in the area of religion. It is obvious to anyone who has eyes to see, that the standards in every area of life in this once great country have continued to erode and slide down the slippery slope until people in the United States have simply come to accept the inferior as normal. Thank God that there still are some people left who can see it, particularly those who have been on this planet for many years. I encourage the young to seek out the insight of those who are old enough to remember when people took a little pride in their jobs, and in their service to others. Oh how sad it is to see how badly this country, once known as one of the greatest in the world, has deteriorated in work ethic and discernment until we have just become conditioned to settle for a fifth-rate “best effort.”

A person with any kind of wisdom at all should be able to see this is true from the secular side of life–which is by far the dominant lifestyle of this self-absorbed culture–but where are those within the Church of our Lord with the spiritual acumen to see the terrible “Downgrade” of Evangelical Christianity in this nation? And, if there are those who do see it, then why don’t they speak up? Do we not care anymore? Apparently not, for it would seem that in the Christian Church of America, we have also become systematically conditioned through pitiful theology to settle for a “fifth-rate” best effort as well. That this is true is simply beyond question, or the “Christians” who sat idly by as more and more denominational structures were just handed over to those who hold to the non-Christian Cult of Liberal Theology would have mounted at least a mild protest. As this travesty was happening men and women–in violation of Holy Scripture–who denied the historic doctrines of the true Christian faith were given pastorates from which to inject Satan’s paralyzing poison philosophies into the very veins of the Church of Jesus Christ.

Those of you who are becoming familiar with Apprising Ministries know that I stand for teaching what the Bible says. Not what we’d like it to say, but rather, teaching you exactly what it says. My reason is really quite simple. If the Christian really believes this: All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16), then simple logic will tell you that the true minister of the Lord Jesus Christ–Who is Himself God in human form–will be preaching what His Creator thinks on a given subject. Incidentally, I quoted the above verse of the Bible from the King James Version to give it the best chance to be read by the most people. In the original Greek this verse literally says: “The whole of,” all (pas) Scripture (graphe) “is inspired by God,” God-breathed (theopneustos). There is simply no doubt that we are being told here that it is God Who actually wrote these Scriptures. And, if you are truly a Christian, you will believe this–and that without further question.

The Rotten Fruit Of A Rotten Root

The way we arrived at the sorry state of the Christian Church in postmodern America can very easily be traced back to Rudolph Bultmann and his ludicrous “demythologizing of the Bible.” How foolish do you have to be to think that as a mere human being you are ever going to come even remotely close to comprehending an ultra-dimensional Self-existent Being of infinite intelligence and power Who merely spoke into being a universe of such vast proportions, that even after having thousands of years to examine it, mankind hasn’t begun to explore but an infinitesimally small portion of it. And yet, for no other reason than it is what selfish sinful human nature wanted to be so, church leaders in the mainline denominations-blindly following Bultmannian mythology-simply gave away their institutions, bought and paid for with money from true Christian people, to men who denied every doctrine the historic orthodox Christian Church ever held. And we are supposed to think that this is superior reason? Plain stupidity is more like it!

As the Holy Spirit at first grieved, and then finally withdrew, proper theology was put out by the Devil’s deadly spiritual double play combination of Fosdick to Peale to Schuller–as things taught by demons were thus allowed to penetrate the slumbering Evangelical church and the majestic image of God has been gradually changed into the earthen image of man. How else do you possibly think that such a blasphemous idea as “the Big Man upstairs” (all said with “reverence” of course) made its way into a faith that originated in pious Judaism? Are we really so spiritually obtuse now as to think that this would actually be a moniker the glorious and majestic Yahweh Elohim–the LORD God of biblical revelation would ever be pleased with?

Have we really become so shallow that we have forgotten the Third Commandment? Permit me to remind us: Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain. However, for the benefit of these brazen blasphemers of today, there is another clause of this Commandment that is rarely quoted – for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain (Exodus 20:7, KJV). It is a fact that Orthodox Judaism has even become so superstitious in this matter that a faithful Jew will not even say the word God, let alone refer to Yahweh by Name. While I do not advocate this extreme, I do pose a question: Why doesn’t the Christian today know that Almighty God literally detests being referred to as little more than a slightly improved version of man?

Let me put this into perspective for you. God created mankind; who then turned from Him to follow another of the Lord’s fallen creatures in his own rebellion, which would end up bringing untold death and destruction into what was to be an idyllic paradise. Man’s blatant disregard for his loving and merciful Creator would even lead to God the Father having to put God the Son through the ordeal of becoming one of His Own creatures. Then after living a perfect life through the power of God the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ of Nazareth–the Son of God and the Son of Man–would be mocked and violently executed by these very creatures He had created in love, in the process undergoing the most excruciatingly cruel form of death that mankind could ever think of. I wonder; just what could the LORD God Almighty–Creator of Heaven and earth–possibly find offensive when He is referred to as the Big Man Upstairs? The time has come to wake up and realize that God is nothing like us at all, and the truth is, He never has been. And any Christian with even a modicum of discernment should have been able to see right through this repugnant “theology” when Satan first brought it into Christ’s Church.

The Peace Of Following Christ

For the Body of Christ to be able to make any impact upon our pagan culture we must come to understand that more and more of today’s professing Christians just do not have much of an idea about the true nature of Yahweh Elohim–the one true and living God of Israel as revealed through Holy Scripture–Who said to Moses: “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” (Exodus 3:5). And because way too often today Christ Jesus–our Creator God in human flesh–has only been presented as our “friend,” the sad result has been a systematic erasing of the absolute holiness of our Lord and Master Who dwells in unapproachable light.

And this is exactly how blatant deceptions like the Purpose Driven Life and the Emergent Church can slither into the Body of Christ undetected. The average person listening to much of the preaching in the Evangelical church in America today, simply does not understand many of the most important things that Jesus of Nazareth was actually saying when He stood upon His earth. Take the following passage of “God-breathed Scripture” for example:

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ” ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her motherinlaw—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:34-38)

This would all seem to be clear enough; but alas, today it is not. The inspired Gospel writer Luke even added some additional clarification–[Jesus] said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). And yet, the Rick Warrens and the Brian McLarens and the Pat Robertsons still try and tell us that we are going to usher in world peace as we “Christianize” the nations for God. However, as I have pointed out before, in the first century setting in which these Words were spoken by Christ, His hearers would have seen thousands condemned to be crucified–sometimes as many as five hundred a day–and oftentimes simply nailed to an olive tree. From verified history we know that with writhing bodies hanging on crosses all around them, the people to whom Christ was speaking would have known immediately when Jesus of Nazareth said – anyone who does not take his cross and follow me, that He was not going to take them to a “Christian” rock concert, or to find some quiet spot to meditate and “commune” with God where He may be found.

No, clearly the Gospel accounts concerning our Lord show that Christ was in reality offering a sacrificial life of persecution and a daily death sentence to self to those who would presume to follow Him was. For what man ever went peacefully on the way to their crucifiixon, and what man ever came back from that cross alive? And yet there are so many who would be leaders in the Evangelical church today who are even denying the sovereign Lord Who bought them (see–2 Peter 2:1), and are instead promising the polar opposite message to Christians. In stark contrast to Jesus, the modern man-centered church offers a narcissistic nation peace with the world and the fulfillment of self through some alleged Purpose Driven Life in a mythical Emergent Church. So, whom are you going to believe? I tell you in the Spirit; the real issue before the Church in this desultory generation is quite clear: Will you believe God through His true spokesmen who contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3) and preach the Bible to you? Or, will you believe Satan through his people-pleasing puppets as they depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and preach their evil father’s doctrines of devils? (1Timothy 4:1)

The New Downgrade No-Controversy

If the seeker sensitive words of peace and love, and the fulfillment of the “felt needs” of people who are not really sinners, but have only made a few mistakes before God, really was the message that the Christian Church is to bring the world, then, why in the world would the Prince of Peace, our Lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth–Himself pure love in human flesh–ever had said: “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” And why would the Master say this to an arrogant and evil mankind; because our Creator God deserves this kind of devotion, for only He alone is worthy of glory. Soli Deo Gloria! Does anyone still remember the Protestant Reformation anymore?

Ah yes; look, and there we watch as the counterfeit church kneels to pay its homage to the “great” preachers of the past. Let us take but one as an example. Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the exalted “Prince of Preachers.” Is there a “Christian” ministry website that doesn’t at least pay lip service to the “great” C.H. Spurgeon. Truthfully, I would have walked for miles to hear this powerful man of God speak, but I can also honestly say, that I wouldn’t walk across the street to hear far too many “preachers” within our Lord’s Evangelical church today. Rick Warren? Robert Schuller? How about America’s “Sweetheart” preacher, the ebullient Joel Osteen? Can we really be expected to believe these lily-livers of Laodicea are the spiritual descendents of godly men who fearlessly preached the true Gospel of Jesus Christ like Edwards and Moody and Spurgeon?

In the end, during the first Downgrade Controversy, the Baptist Union of his day would all but throw Spurgeon–a man who was so powerful in Christ–right out of its decaying and dying ranks. But at least Spurgeon knew his Lord and the Bible sufficiently to turn his back on the compromises of the Cult of Liberalism as these parasites began to eat away at foundational Christian truths having the guts to walk away. And yet today, if the truth be told, the vast majority of Evangelical preaching has far more in common with the New Age psycho-babble of Norman Vincent Peale than it does with the God-honoring Bible exposition of Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Doesn’t anyone see the incredible downhill slide we are experiencing in this growing apostasy? If Spurgeon were still here he would most certainly call it the “New Downgrade.” How much longer must the Church militant kowtow before self-righteous and self-centered sinners, literally begging them to avoid an unalterable eternity of conscious torment in a literal place Christ Jesus called Hell? As Leonard Ravenhill once asked in his awe-inspiring Spirit-breathed book Why Revival Tarries – “Where are the Elijah’s of God?” O yes, dear Lord, where are the watchmen? Please, send us the watchmen!

God has sent them before; years ago A.W. Tozer sounded an alarm, that the Church had best begin to heed, before it’s too late:

Many tender-minded Christians fear to sin against love by daring to inquire into anything that comes wearing the cloak of Christianity and breathing the name of Jesus. They dare not examine the credentials of the latest prophet to hit their town lest they be guilty of rejecting something which may be of God… This is supposed to indicate a high degree of spirituality. But in sober fact it indicates no such thing. It may indeed be evidence of the absence of the Holy Spirit.

Gullibility is not synonymous with spirituality. Faith is not a mental habit leading its possessor to open his mouth and swallow everything that has about it the color of the supernatural. Faith keeps its heart open to whatever is of God, and rejects everything that is not of God, however wonderful it may be.

“Try the spirits” is a command of the Holy Spirit to the Church (1 John 4:1). We may sin as certainly by approving the spurious as by rejecting the genuine… To appraise things with a heart of love and then to act on the results is an obligation resting upon every Christian in the world (Tozer On The Holy Spirit, August 3).

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the Church…and obey Him…to obey is better than sacrifice…