The Church of Jesus Christ certainly seems to have lost its way in this increasingly pagan nation as it follows e.g. dreamers rooted in the semi-pelgian Church Growth Movement like Rick Warren and Rob Bell. Left here by our Lord to be the salt and light of the world, yet the evangelical community continues to grow ever more bland and is apparently looking for an even bigger bowl in which to hide under for safety. To listen to many teachers in the contemporary and worldly Ecumenical Church of Deceit today you could easily come away with the idea that the Christian message has now somehow been changed into a universal salvation that is inclusive of all “faith traditions.”

But could it reallybe that Jesus of Nazareth was the stupidest Man Who ever lived? For you see, if universalism is actually true, then our Lord would have to have been a fool to relentlessly preach the exclusive message that would eventually get Him crucified for absolutely no reason whatsover. I would have to say, that’s a HUGE “if”…

Contempory Confusion

The young Mormon Missionary sitting in my living room said to me, “I don’t believe in Mormonism, I’m still searching for the truth about God. It’s hard to know who, or what, to believe.” I really don’t find it difficult to have compassion toward someone like this young man who is being so sincere. Not being raised in the Church myself, I remember a time when I was also trying to hear God’s voice through all the static of confusing and conflicting opinions and religions that dominate the landscape.

Let me give you a couple of examples: A famous comedian, and philosopher wanna-be once said on national television: “Man feels this need to be reunited with nature; that’s why mankind believes there’s a ‘Big man’ [up there] keeping track of what he does. So that’s why man is always trying to do good things.” But as he further enlightened us — “You don’t have to be reunited with nature by doing good things, you just have to realize that you’re one with that tree over there.” In other words, God is not a Person—but a universal power, similar to the “force” in Star Wars series—and if we could only understand that we are all god, and therefore, one with nature, then we would solve all the world’s problems. This belief of the New Age Movement and the Mind Science cults is known as pantheism, and basically teaches that just as many drops of water together become the ocean, so we all together become God consciousness. It is a very popular belief today.

When asked “What is the meaning of life?” in Omni magazine, Oxfordlecturer in Zoology, Dr. Richard Dawkins said: “The meaning of life is to allow our selfish genes to reproduce while merely using our bodies as disposable vessels.” Ah, kind of makes you feel all warm and tingly doesn’t it? But as one studies Comparative Religion, you will see all kinds of confusion about whether there is a God, Who God is, and how one can come to know Him.

In fact, many people today don’t even think the search for truth about God is even worth their time. They say things like: “Oh, I’m just not interested in spiritual things. I mean, with all those religions out there, no one religion could possibly be right—why, that’s much too narrow for my way of thinking. And it really doesn’t matter anyway, because if there is a God, all religions are basically the same, so everyone’s going to be saved eventually…aren’t they?”

I can understand how people can feel this way, before Jesus saved me I felt this way myself. And I must admit that as you first hear “all religions eventually lead to God” it seems to make sense, just as the much vaunted theory of evolution appears sensible until you find out that it violates the most basic laws of science. You see, the issue isn’t “does something make sense to me,” but rather, the question one should be asking would be, “is this something true?” And if it isn’t true that all religions lead to God, and if it isn’t true that everyone is going to be saved, then we will need to know how one can be saved, and what it is we must be saved from.

These are the issues I wish to address in this message as we take a look at what the Lord has to say about mankind’s nature, and his destiny—in God’s Word—the Bible. Let me state at the outset, that while I appreciate the right we all have to hold whatever opinions we like, the position of the classic historic orthodox Christian Church is that the Bible is the infallible, inerrant Word of the one true and living God. The great Church reformer Martin Luther said it well — “I am ready to [believe people] only when they prove their opinions from Scripture, which has never erred.”

The Church Is Under Attack

We turn now to the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 25 and verse 40, as we look to see what Christ Jesus has to say about a very crucial issue at the end of this Age of God’s Grace. What did the Lord say about the future destiny of all those who end up on His left?

The King will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for Me.” Then He will say to those on His left, “Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave Me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite Me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe Me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after Me.”

They will also answer, “Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help You?” He will reply, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for Me.” Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life. (Matthew 25:40-46)

The fact that this subject of salvation is even at issue at all is a telling sign of the liberal times in which we live—an age characterized by more and more pressure to be “tolerant” of differing opinions—both inside the Church as well as outside. We’re regularly told: Don’t judge; to each his own; you have the right to do whatever you want, as long as you don’t hurt anyone else—and other such trite pabulum. Indeed we are very careful to protect the rights of others, but who among us is as concerned with God’s rights here in His creation?

It simply cannot be too strongly stressed that our Lord’s Church is under ever-mounting attacks and not only from the outside, which would be expected, but Scripture warns us of attacks that would come from the inside as well. In the Book of Acts, chapter 20, during his farewell address to the elders at the church of Ephesus, the Apostle Paul warns them of impending attacks. Let’s look at verse 28. Paul says — Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. 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.

Notice that God the Holy Spirit warns us through His great Apostle that these “grievous, savage” wolves will attack our Lord’s Church from the outside. The Apostle is actually referring to a similar warning that Jesus Himself gave in Matthew 7:15-16 — Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing — [in other words, they’ll look and act like sheep — Christians] — but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. [The King James Version calls them ravening wolves.] By their fruit you will recognize them. So clearly the Body of Christ is warned to expect these “ferocious, grievous, ravening, and savage” wolves to attack us from without in an attempt to prey on the flock of our Great Shepherd—Christ Jesus the Lord.

But there is another kind of attack we should expect. Let’s go back to Acts chapter 20, and verse 30 — Even from your own number — [men from inside the Church] — will arise and distort the truth — [the historic, orthodox Christian Faith. Why?] — in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! As one preacher put it, “Satan does some of his best work closest to the Altar.” 1 Timothy 4:1 reads –The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the Faith and follow deceiving — [or seducing] — spirits and things taught by demons. We are told to expect this. It has been happening; and it’s also happening right now!

Attacking The Church In The Name Of Christ

However, it is easier to understand why unbelievers outside the Church would misunderstand the Lord Jesus Christ, but it’s much harder to believe—actually it seems incredible—that people who claim to be Christians would pervert His Gospel and misrepresent Him. And yet, it was Jesus Himself Who told us that this would be the case! See for yourself:

Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father Who is in 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 perform many miracles?” Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you. Away from Me, you evildoers!” (Matthew 7:21-23)

This wouldn’t exactly seem to be a message of inclusivism now would it? You see, it is one thing to claim to be a Christian, but the fruit of your life—or works—will eventually prove whether you are saved, and belong to Jesus, or whether your claims are but empty words. In chapter 2 of his book— James, the half-brother of Jesus, writes — Show me your faith without deeds — [or works] — and I will show you my faith by what I do (verse 18). Let me give you a modern translation: If you are gonna talk the talk, then you’d better walk the walk.

Now these deeds, or works, being spoken of here by James—as well as the fruit Jesus as talks about in Matthew chapter 7—do not, and cannot, save a person. One does not do works in order to be saved; rather, one produces works, or fruit in keeping with repentance (see—Luke 3:8) because he has already been saved. That’s why these works comprise two areas; the fruit of one’s life, as well as the fruit of one’s doctrine—or teachings. Just living a “Christian-like” life-style is not enough as virtually all world religions, non-Christian cults or peoples in general, can point to relatively high moral standards.

In a testimony to the absolute truth of Romans chapters 1 and 2, mankind intuitively lives by certain moral absolutes. Of mankind, Romans 2:15 says — they show that the requirements of [God’s] Law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness. In almost any culture—whether they’ve ever read the Bible or not—mankind tends to follow a pattern remarkably like that set by the Ten Commandments. Almost as if man didn’t just simply evolve out of a primordial pond of slimy algae; but rather, really was created in the image of God, just like the Bible says. O, but that can’t be true, could it? Some will say: “That’s just not scientific, I’m much too sophisticated to believe that.” Ah yes, what was I thinking? Believing that a universe suddenly came out of nothing, and that non-living matter somehow became alive certainly makes a lot more sense?!

Peace, Love, ToleranceAnd Other Such Seeker Sensitive Fantasies

This age of liberal universalism in which we live in, the attitude of too much of a phony tolerance, ironically has its root in the Church’s over-emphasis on the love of God, and our corresponding unwillingness to judge and confront sin. It’s been well-said elsewhere that every heresy begins with a misunderstanding of the character of God. Whenever one attribute of God’s divine nature is over-emphasized at the expense of others you are asking for trouble. It is the job of the Christian to test the spirits — 1 John 4:1. I fully expect you to take up your Bibles and test what I preach to you.

Not only that you should also put to the test anyone claiming to teach God’s Word. A true minister of the Lord Jesus Christ has no fear of you doing so. It is to be expected! Acts 17:11 — Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. As part of our witness for Christ we the Founder of the Christian faith, Jesus of Nazareth—perfect love in human flesh—didn’t just blindly tolerate people living just “any way they want to as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else,” not without at least trying to tell them the truth. They are hurting God, and themselves, not to live according to His perfect Law. And when they refused to listen, He spoke louder — You children of the devil; you brood of vipers; woe to you teachers of the Law and Pharisees; you hypocrites; you blind guides who are white-washed tombs full of dead men’s bones!

You see, the religious leaders of our Lord’s day just didn’t get together one day and say:

Hey Caiaphas; c’mere! You know that Jesus of Nazareth? Yeah that’s right, He’s that sweet tolerant Fellow with the glowing complexion and the halo over His head. You know, the One with the dove on His shoulder and is friends with all of us. Well, I’ve been thinkin’of an idea. Now, since Jesus never so much as criticized us publicly—or for that matter— has ever even given us the slightestimpression that He disagrees with us; heyt, why don’t we see to it that He gets crucified!

The absolute truth is that the message of Jesus Christ runs counter to what the world expects God to be like. A good analogy is that He calls you out of the world to walk the opposite way the rest of the people are going. Remember now, Romans 12:18 says — If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. As I have pointed out before, just by the way the sentence is written, you know it will not always be possible to avoid offending someone. It goes with the territory of the Christian life; and Jesus has already told us it would!

There is a choice that has appeared before us today with crystalline clarity in the Christian community—now matter what flavor you might think you are. We can listen to someone like the aforementioned “Bible Scholar” Rick Warren Reversing the Reformation — “I see absolutely zero reason in separating my fellowship from anybody”; or, we can listen to our Lord and Master Jesus Christ — If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated Me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why it hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: “No servant is greater than his Master” (John 15:18-20). But you cannot have it both ways.

Christ Jesus further explained it this way — For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and “sinners.” ‘ But wisdom is proved right by her actions” (Matthew 11:18-19). In fact, it’s been pointed out that the last, and greatest, of the Old Testament-style prophets–John the Baptist–couldn’t please the world, or the religious establishment by abstaining from all of life’s comforts. And Jesus of Nazareth–God Himself in human form–couldn’t do it by eating and drinking with them. So just what makes you think that you’re going to be able to pull it off?

Dr. Walter Martin (1928-1989), the author of the classic The Kingdom of the Cults, used to say — “controversy for the sake of controversy is sin; controversy for the sake of truth is a Divine command.” As Christians, we are doing pretty well to love the sinners, but we fail today in that we are not hating the sin. Through all these years of backward seeker sensitive teaching from leaders in the modern Church Growth Movement e.g. Robert Schuller we’ve become so willing to compromise so that we don’t offend anyone, that we have become all too willing to offend God’s holiness. The problem lies in the fact that increasingly fewer people judge sin from God’s perspective—if they bother to judge it at all—and tend to view it by how it seems to affect other people, instead of looking at how sin affects Almighty God.

But in Part Two we’ll continue our look at the critical issue of our timid time of tolerance by looking further at the holiness of God and we’ll see from Scripture how the Lord has told us about He views sin and sinners. For now though I leave you with these words from Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse, which speak loudly in our age of people working to reverse the Reformation e.g. Emerging Church Pastor Doug Pagitt and The Cult of Guru Richard Foster and Joel Osteen has gone even further than simply accepting apostate Roman Catholicism as a viable form of Christianity as you can see in Joel Osteen Blesses the Mormon Church. Barnhouse was right when he pointed out over half a century ago:

One of the fundamental differences between the [Roman] Catholic and the Reformed theologies is the question of the doctrine of the fall. Or, to put it in another way; of what is man capable of at the present time? Rome would teach that man is quite capable of storing up merit by a system of good works. Every religion which believes that salvation is through human character holds that man has not fallen very far. Some think, indeed, that he has fallen upwards! The great difference between Arminians and Calvinists lies in that question, How far did man fall?

It is a matter that is of great importance to all who carry on any kind of witness to unbelievers. I remember a preacher  who once said in a private conversation that if he thought there was a divine spark of the divine left in fallen men, he would counsel putting electric fans in the pulpits to fan the spark to flame, rather than preachers to proclaim the miracle-working Gospel. Facetious? Perhaps, but there is a great deal of truth in his remark.

There can be no doubt that the New Testament theology is based on the fact that man fell all the way. He fell so far that he could fall no farther. He fell so far that there was no life left in him. He is “dead” (Ephesians 2:1), and must be “quickened” by the Spirit before he can have even the remotest semblance of faith, but even that must be the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8). The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit, neither can he know them (1 Corinthians 2:14); in fact there is no one who understandeth, not even anyone that seeketh after God (Romans 3:11).

The carnal mind is enmity against God and is not subject to the law of God, nor can it be; they that are in the flesh cannot please God (Romans 8:7). When we realize this, we will learn to rely less on anything that appeals merely to the natural man and his understanding. Instead we will send forth the Word with the knowledge that we are preaching to dead men, whom the power of God can quicken. All praise will be to Him. (Illustrating Great Themes of Scripture, 95, 96)

And the incontrovertible fact remains it was to the above that the Reformers were referring when they used the phrase, Soli Deo Gloria.