Evangelicalism and Biblical Truth
Up to about fifty years ago the Christian scene in this country was fairly clear cut. There existed:
1. The Roman Catholic Church. Sidelined since the Reformation, and considered to be in serious error.
2. Other Sacramental Churches. Mainly High Anglican - proclaiming salvation through the sacraments.
3. The Evangelical Church. Various denominations: Anglican, Baptist, Free churches etc. some exclusive, others willing to cooperate with one-another. These, for the most part were Word-centred and proclaimed a clear doctrine of salvation by personal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross. Some sound well-known names from the past are still remembered. Honour Oak, and Westminster Chapel under the excellent leadership of Dr Martin Lloyd Jones. (He would be horrified if he knew what had become of the place where he faithfully ministered truth, and indeed over the whole Christian scene that mainly seems to have departed from such sound teaching.) Additionally there were:
4. Some Liberal Churches, indulging in personal freedom, and promoting various political and social agendas.
5. Various False Sects, some very serious in their belief, but having departed from sound bible teaching to a lesser or greater degree. Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormons, Christadephians Seventh Day Adventists etc.
6. Other Religions: Hindu. Muslim etc. We did not have many of these at the time.
7. Pentecostals. Believing in the manifestation of the Spiritual gifts they tended to keep to themselves. This was partly because the evangelical churches either had not come into such experience or were hostile to it, believing that the gifts had ceased (the gifts petered out when Peter petered out!)
The 1960's saw a big change take place in the coming of the Charismatic Movement, where manifestation of the Spiritual gifts began to take place across denominational divides. Some evangelicals saw this as a move of God, breathing new life into dead churches. An explosion of Christian books began to appear telling exciting stories of miracles, healings and deliverances, akin to the early church, if all were to be believed.
Unfortunately, things were to get out of balance. Evangelicals began to lose their Word-centeredness and run after experience, failing to be "Bereans" (Acts 17:11) and test these manifestations, as should have been the case. Several decades on we have a Church that instead of being powerful, strong and sound is riddled with error.
Thankfully, some Christians have not been taken in by the excesses of Toronto, Pensacola, or more recently Lakeland, though sadly many have. Some have seen through the moneymaking deceiving prosperity preachers, and have shunned the likes of Morris Cerullo, Kenneth Copeland and Benny Hinn, though thousands have followed them and put money into their coffers.
But it is the subtle, gradual slide into error that is taking place, which I find most disturbing. Most Christians seem to have lost their love of the truth, got away from serious study of the Word of God and failed to be discerning.
A doctrine of Dominion Theology has arisen (I will return to this later) which believes that we have got to get the world right, then Jesus can return. This is highly dangerous and totally false. When Jesus was talking to His disciples about the "end times" he posed this question: "...when the Son of Man comes, will he find [the] faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8) The Bible does not predict an end times revival prior to the Lord's return (which can be any time) but serious apostasy! (See 2 Thessalonians 2:3) In view of what might be the imminent return of the Lord Jesus Christ we might ask what about those nations that are currently enjoying flourishing spirituality, such as some of the African countries? False doctrine is gaining ground rapidly. I have also recently been surprised to learn that Christian Voice is starting a branch in Kenya. Why the need, when Kenya has stood firm by the Christian values that were once ours? It seems that they are now under global pressure to accept homosexual partnerships and various other bits of legislation that our own humanistic, (Marxist style) government has imposed upon us, and that is increasingly being used to stifle Christian values and see Christians controlled and persecuted. The rise of the predicted One World Government, eventually to be headed up by the Anti-Christ, can be seen in the media in the constant references to "Gobalisation" and "New World Order".
The Anti-Christ is a false Messiah. He will be someone who will bring about peace in the Middle East, something no one else has been able to achieve. This will be the start of the predicted seven-year tribulation period. Satan will be influencing this world leader, who will be supported by the false prophet, heading up a one-world religion. This will be interfaith, and have no room for Bible based Evangelical believers who are looking for the coming of the true Messiah. The message that I want to get across is this: if we are not soundly following the one true Messiah, Jesus, now (and we cannot be seriously following Him if we have lost sight of truth) we shall be open to being deceived and find ourselves following the false messiah - the Anti-Christ. Now that is serious! But, you might argue, there is little danger of Christians who are active today falling for that. Oh, yes there is! Because they are already being deceived into participating in things that are not biblically sound. How long will it be before a little yeast has leavened the whole batch? (Galatians 5:9)
Before I go on let me make it clear that we do have a responsibility to society and cannot just withdraw from it. Therefore, I will co-operate, for example, with Muslims if we are trying to stop a Gay parade from corrupting people in our town, but I will not have inter-faith services with them. I will co-operate with Roman Catholics if it is to stop an abortion clinic from being opened in our town, but I will not have joint services with them. Co-operation with others over practical issues is one thing; unity with them is totally different. You cannot have unity without truth.
Churches Together does just that. It is an ecumenical organisation in the old sense of that word, something that would have been anathema to sound evangelicals several decades ago. Chuck Colson started this modern trend some years ago with "Evangelical and Catholics Together". Granted, there are some born-again believers in the Catholic Church, I have met some of them, but I question what they are doing remaining under such falsehood if they are genuinely born-again. The Roman Catholic Church hasn't changed. It still has the Pope as the "Vicar of Christ", and infallible. It still believes in Purgatory, praying for the dead, indulgences, elevation of Mary above Jesus, transubstantiation, sacrificing our Lord Jesus Christ again every time they celebrate Mass. Their doctrine is still that of salvation though the sacraments. Whatever are we doing being partakers of this? And even if the Catholic Church were to be taken out of the ecumenical scene, just look what some of the other denominations have taken on board in recent decades.
There is the ordination of homosexual clergy in the Anglican Church. Women ordained as Vicars. Before long they will appoint female Bishops. The Methodist Church has endorsed the ministry of homosexuals. There are female Methodist ministers and lay preachers. All this in spite of Scripture making it abundantly clear: women are not to hold leadership positions or teach men (1 Timothy 2:12 and 1 Timothy 3:2). So, why are we doing it when Scripture says we are not to do so? And whilst the Pentecostal Churches began to show such promise, the sad decline of Elim and the slide of most Assemblies of God churches into error is truly disturbing.
Churches seem to be queuing up to follow the latest fad. One, which is gaining considerable ground is Rick Warren's Purpose Driven agenda. It incorporates much that is of New Age and it's global peace agenda is so clearly heading for the kingdom of the Anti-Christ that it is surprising any Bible believing churches would be taken in. Yet they are! It goes along with Brian McLaren and the Emerging Church set up, which is ecumenical and within which evangelicals are not only seen co-operating with Roman Catholics but taking on board a lot of their practices. Let some small error get in and if it is not dealt with immediately, more error will enter and the participants, being deceived, will not see anything wrong with it. The Alpha Course, admittedly very well produced, came from a dubious source. Holy Trinity Brompton was the first church to go to Toronto to bring "It" back! (I thought the Holy Spirit was "He" and dwells within the lives of all genuine believers). The course is renowned for its' "Holy Spirit days" where those of other religions such as Hindus can speak in tongues, without having been converted, and even take the line that they can be a good Christian and a good Hindu at one and the same time. Why does Alpha allow these things to happen? And if the Alpha Course is sound - how does it come to be acceptable to Roman Catholics? There are perfectly acceptable alternatives from sound sources, such as The Omega Course or Christianity Explored. So, why are professing evangelicals falling over themselves to use Alpha in co-operation with other denominations, that are no longer sound on doctrine?
The Apostle Paul did not compromise one inch. A study of Galatians shows that the first emerging of predicted falsehood in the Church incensed him. The circumcision party was teaching that circumcision and keeping of the Jewish law were essential for salvation. Paul sat on this in the strongest possible manner. Far from co-operating with error, Paul made it clear to the Church that they were to avoid those who were not walking right.
I recall going on a March for Jesus in London in the 1980s. At the time we saw it as believers across the denominational divide coming together as a witness. I would not join in one now. I cannot show unity with those who have departed from biblical truth, such would be a false unity. Furthermore, it is now clear that March for Jesus is part of the aforementioned Dominion Theology. As with Transformations, it sees itself as using spiritual warfare to make the powers of darkness fall down (in order to establish the Kingdom here so that Jesus can return). When did the Apostles do anything like that? Paul didn't call the leaders together to take authority over Satan and establish the Kingdom in Corinth: he preached the Gospel! In the past musicians such as Graham Kendrick have given us some lovely worshipful choruses that I am still glad to sing. However, the more recent contributions have reflected Graham Kendrick's Dominionism and I cannot sing them. We need to be discerning. There is a lot of error in the Chorus books. Should we be standing up in our meetings and proclaiming error?
Evangelicals need to take a long, hard look at themselves and ask where they really stand on the issue of Bible truth today. There is a need for urgent reappraisal and repentance. If this is not forthcoming then assuredly they are going to get sucked in to the Apostate Church and become part of the Anti-Christ's programme.
The Reformers saw the place of Israel to be important in end times. In recent times replacement theology has taken over, in some cases to the point of vilifying Israel and siding with the Palestinians against them. It is said that the promises made for Israel now belong to the Church (What about the curses, do they belong to the Church now as well?) But biblical prophecy makes it clear that in the last days God has a place for the nation of Israel. It is to the nation of Israel that Jesus is going to return. One day all Israel is going to recognise their Messiah (Romans 11:26) As I once heard someone say: "No Israel - no second coming! We are enjoined to pray for Israel. How many churches do this?
I endorse the ministries of such as Tony Pearce, Light for the Last Days (a publication well worth getting) Jacob Prasch of Moriel, Christian Voice etc. who are endeavoring to stand for truth in these times. Also such books as: Faith Undone by Roger Oakland. The Forgotten Roots by M Debono-de-Laurentis. The Final Words of Jesus by James Jacob Prasch. Deceived on Purpose by Warren Smith. Weighed and Found Wanting by Bill Randles, and Running Against the Tide by Brian Flynn, are just a few of many very informative publications. This is also the position of our local Fellowship (www.tavistockcf.co.uk) And we appreciate the ministry and support of the Fellowship of Christian Assemblies to whom we are currently affiliated. In view of the situation outlined above we had it laid on our hearts to hold occasional meetings for isolated believers in the area who are finding their church unsatisfactory, or are unable to find a acceptable church. If we set our hearts on standing firm for truth we are going to be vilified and more isolated as time goes by. Being able to meet with others of like mind is an encouragement.
Why is there this desire for evangelicals to be part of a spiritually unsound consortium that at one time would have been totally unacceptable? Some say it gives them opportunities, but opportunities for what - to produce disciples that are as compromised as they are? They say that involvement in such ideas as Street Pastors enables them to get to know people. But just why do we need to sign up to an initiative agreeing to refrain from preaching the Gospel and approved by a humanistic, anti-Christian Government, bound up by their diversity mandate in order to get to know people? The real answer seems to be that it suits them to compromise so that others can accept them. This is the very problem Paul addresses in Galatians. He states that he would have been accepted if he had been prepared to compromise on doctrine. Instead, he declared that he had the marks to show that he was standing true to the Lord (Galatians 6:17). Do we have the marks? Are we prepared to take up that challenge, or are we looking for a comfortable existence where our peer group accepts us? We really do need to take stock. Compromise is another of my soapbox exhortations; the subject of a separate but associated article.