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The World Molding the Church

In Romans 12:1-2, the Apostle Paul warned us not to let the world squeeze us into its own mold.

Therefore, brothers, because of God’s mercies, I urge you to offer your bodies as living sacrifices that are holy and pleasing to God, for this is a reasonable way for you to worship. Stop being conformed to this world, but continue to be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you may be able to determine what is God’s will-what is proper, pleasing, and perfect.

Down through the centuries, the surrounding pagan culture with its art, music, manner of dress, and social standards has always been a snare to the people of God. This was true of Israel in the Old Testament as well as of the Christian Church throughout its history.

While the typical Bible-believing church has not fallen into the error of liberal theology, it has, at times, fallen under the spell of the cultural norms which liberalism has spawned. At times we have failed to preach the Truth as it is in Jesus because we were afraid of being ridiculed by the world. We have been intimidated into silence.

 

Hell Fire Sermons
The doctrine of hell is a good example of how liberal theology can influence Christians to become silent on various doctrines. As we pointed out in the book Death and The Afterlife, while evangelicals still believe in the eternal conscious punishment of unbelievers, they rarely preach it today. After all, when was the last time you heard a sermon on hell? Why do we fail to preach it? How did we end up in this situation?

Liberal theologians frown upon the doctrine of hell as being “unkind” and “insensitive” as well as morally repulsive. The liberal controlled media has depicted anyone who preaches “hell and damnation” as a wild-eyed illiterate preacher with dirt between his toes, a bloody ax in one hand, and a KJV pulpit Bible in the other hand! Hollywood has produced thousands of radio/TV programs and movies, which ridicule anyone who, believes in hell.

Given the dominance of liberalism in our culture today, the doctrine of hell is no longer “acceptable” or “proper.” Thus while evangelicals still believe in hell as a doctrine, they do not preach it much today because the surrounding liberal culture is opposed to its mention except in cursing.

 

The Raw Truth
The raw truth is that we have avoided preaching those doctrines such as hell, the sovereignty of God, the lost condition of the heathen, etc., because we are afraid of the mockers and scoffers of this world. We have allowed the world to squeeze us into its own mold! Peter warned us that this was going to happen.

First of all you must understand this: In the last days mockers will come and, indulging in their own lusts, will ridicule us by saying, “What happened to his promise to return? Ever since our ancestors died, everything continues as it did from the beginning of creation.” (2 Peter 3:3-4)

Did Peter stop preaching the Second Coming of Christ because some people were mocking it? No! To the apostles, the truth was the truth, and they did not care what the mockers said. The apostle Paul had the same attitude when he said,

God is true, even if everyone else is a liar. (Romans 3:4)

He told young Timothy to preach the Word regardless of “whether or not the time is convenient” (2 Timothy 4:2). When the frown of the world is more influential than the frown of God, the fear of the Lord needs to be revived.

 

What Ever Happened To Sin?
The same process has made it “out of place” today to preach on sin. The “popular” thing is to talk about various psychological sicknesses, addictions, and problems.

Have you noticed that today people are no longer viewed as sinners? If you watch the TV talk shows, you will hear that adulterers, rapists, and child molesters are not sinners who need to repent. They are only sex addicts who need therapy! They are only “sick”-not sinful. They are the “victims” of society, racism, abuse, neglect, etc. What they need is a “twelve step” program. We should not condemn them as sinners but “feel their pain” and have compassion on them! Such wickedness and downright stupidity comes from a lack of fearing God.

 

Doctrinal Preaching Today
The same liberal cultural process has made strong doctrinal preaching “out of fashion” today. What has happened to the good old-fashioned concern for the Truth as it is in Jesus?
Instead of preaching the truth of God, too many pastors give “relational” sermons, which focus on the feelings of man. Any doctrine that might hurt someone’s feelings is either denied or ignored.

If you want to get people mad today, just preach the truth of Scripture that the man is the head of the home and his wife should submit to him; that children should obey their parents; that criminals should be punished; that the death penalty should be used more frequently; that we are not part of God; that we cannot be all that we want to be; that we do not have infinite potential; that all things are not possible with us; that being positive will not do much for you; that we are not all created equal because some people are smarter or stronger than others; that adultery and divorce disqualify you for the ministry; and that the heathen are lost.

 

The Price of Discernment
The moment you point out all the false teachings heard on popular “Christian” radio and TV programs, you are told to shut up for the sake of peace and unity. “Don’t rock the boat!” “Don’t make any waves!” These maxims seem to be the ultimate virtues today.

If you stand up for the truth of God’s Word, you are called a “trouble maker” who is not “sensitive” to the feelings of people. You are accused of pride and conceit if you defend the fundamental doctrines of the Bible.

 

The Church Growth Movement
One movement today which clearly reveals how far we have drifted from the fear of the Lord is the “church growth movement.” They would have us believe that numbers, money, and buildings are the only goals that count; that the New Testament is irrelevant when it comes to the nature, structure and programs of the local church; that we should take surveys in the community and ask the heathen what kind of church service they want and what sermon topics they are willing to hear. Then we should build a church that reflects the counsel of the ungodly! Never mind what the Bible says about how a church is to be structured and run. The sociologists are better equipped to tell us what to do than the Apostles!

 

I Will Build My Church
In Matthew 16:18, Jesus said that He was going to build His Church His way. He did not ask the Pharisees what kind of church they wanted and then set up a church according to their desires. Did the Apostles in the Book of Acts run around taking surveys of the heathen to see what they wanted? No!

The New Testament tells us the nature and structure of a local church. We can create any organization we want and call it a “church” but that does not mean it is a true church of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible is the only rule of faith and practice-not pragmatism.

 

The Whole Counsel of God
The Bible tells us in such passages as Acts 20:27 that “the whole counsel of God” must be preached. If the “church growth movement” is of God, why is the doctrine of hell never preached? Why isn’t the reality of sin and depravity proclaimed? The answer is quite simple: The heathen do not want to hear that they are sinners under the wrath of God. They hate the very idea that they need to repent and turn to Jesus. They do not want to hear it. If you build a church to suit their tastes in sermons, you will not warn them to flee the wrath to come. Since the cross is a stumbling block to the heathen, some churches will not display a cross or even sing hymns as “The Old Rugged Cross!”

 

The Cult of Happiness
Because the fear the Lord is no longer preached, most Christians today do not understand that their purpose in life is to glorify God. Instead, their own personal happiness has become the all consuming theme of the Christian life. Happiness has become an idol before whom all must bow. Anything such as the fear of God which would tend to make people feel unhappy at times is frowned upon.

We have heard far too many sermons, which focused on “How Jesus can make you happy.” It is time to tell people the truth that God is more concerned with their holiness than their happiness. Sadness and sorrow are good things if they bring you to repentance.

Come close to God, and he will come close to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable, mourn, and cry. Let your laughter be turned into mourning, and your joy into gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. (James 4:8-10)

Instead of preaching that we exist for God’s glory and that we are His servants, we are told today that God exists for our happiness and He is our servant! He is supposed to “fetch and carry” wealth and health for us whenever we demand it!

 

Dedicated to Jesus?
This is why dedication to Christ has fallen on hard times. The “Me-First” generation is not interested in the personal sacrifice that is required to serve Christ. When was the last time you heard a sermon calling upon you to be totally surrendered to Christ?

The biblical demand of the total dedication of everything you are and have to the Lord Jesus Christ is rarely preached today. Instead, people are told that the Christian life is easy and fun. You can lie, cheat, steal and even commit adultery and still be a pastor! Morality and truth do not matter anymore.

 

Let Us Entertain You
Because people no longer fear God, too many churches are involved in entertainment instead of biblical preaching. The worship service has become an off-off-Broadway musical production instead of being centered on the preaching of the Word of God. Have you ever noticed that as more and more entertainment is included in a church service, the shorter and the shallower the sermons become?

Crowds of people are willing to attend church if it is long on entertainment and short on preaching. With church programs and services designed to make everyone feel good about themselves, is it any wonder that we no longer hear sermons that convict us of sin? When is the last time you heard a sermon that pricked your conscience; that caused you to weep before the Lord in repentance; or that made you rededicate your life to Christ?

 

The End Result
Is it any surprise then, given the liberal cultural context, that most evangelical Christians have never heard a single sermon on fearing God? The very word “fear” itself is viewed as a “bummer.” It does not fit into the “positive thinking” movement. It is not politically correct.
How can we tell people to fear God when we are trying to convince them that Jesus will make them happy all the time? If we told people the truth that they should fear the just judgment of Almighty Jesus, how can we con people into joining our “warm and fuzzy” churches where everything is “nice” and “sweet?” We have sold our birthright for a bowl of mush.

 

Conclusion
The Church at the beginning of the twenty-first century, despite all its wealth and power, is actually desperately sick and weak. The man in the pulpit is far too often more carnal and immoral than those who sit in the pew! Why? There is no fear of God before their eyes.
The wickedness that is carried on in the name of the Lord today is a blight upon the testimony of the Church. If the Church is to regain its spiritual strength and power, we must begin with the fear of God. Why? Those who fear the Lord will depart from evil.

This is an excerpt of Fearing God by Robert Morey