Is it Possible that Most Local Churches are the Creation of Man and not Christ?

John 3:6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

Gal 4:28-29 Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. (29) But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now.

Why is there so much evil in local churches? Bickering and grudge holding. Sexual immorality. Domestic abuse. And on and on the list goes. Now, you might respond to this question with something like, “well that is how the churches were in the New Testament. There is always going to be sin in churches. No church is perfect.” And at least in regard to the earthly, visible local church these things are true.

But I suggest to you that today we are seeing evil in churches more and more commonly. A departure from the truth of Scripture. A false gospel. A false Jesus. False sheep. And very few professing Christians who seem to be at all concerned about it. A pastor can be found out to be a serial adulterer/fornicator or an embezzler of church funds, and after he receives perhaps some initial consequences for his misdeeds ( or “poor choices” as the language seems to go nowadays), very soon people begin to talk about “restoring” him. And very often, there he will be, the pastor of a church once again. Everyone pats themselves on the back and prides themselves in the depths of their grace and forgiveness.

Continue reading “Is it Possible that Most Local Churches are the Creation of Man and not Christ?”

This Should be Happening if a Local Church is a True Church

1John 2:19-21 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. (20) But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. (21) I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth.

Church growth. What is it? Well, “church” growth necessarily requires a “church.” A real church. Otherwise any increase might be “growth,” but it won’t be “church growth.” Still with me?

A real church is a local group of people who truly and genuinely know the Lord Jesus Christ, gathered together to serve and worship Him. A body, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, growing together into the image of Christ. John is addressing just such a church here in his First Epistle. He tells the believers there that they are anointed and taught by the Holy One. They know and believe the truth of Christ.

But there had been some other kind of people present there as well. They were people who were not, as John puts it, “of us.” They claimed to be Christians, but when faced with the truth of Christ, they rejected it and left. They were false sheep whom Christ did not know.

John presents this in terms that are meant to encourage the real Christians in that church. It is always a bit disheartening when a group of people who claimed to be your brethren in Christ, say “adios.” More often it isn’t “adios” (which means “God bless”) but something more akin to a curse! I have seen such people literally take their shoes off as they went out the church door and shake the “dust” out of them so as to say, “you are filthy and I don’t want even the smallest dust particle of you clinging to me.” Oh yeah. That’s a lot of fun.

But John tells them not to be discouraged. In fact, he explains the thing as something that needed to happen and therefore is actually encouraging. It is a sign that the church is real. That Christ really does dwell there. That is the reason these counterfeits left, you see. They don’t want to be in the presence of Christ.

Now, think this through. This means that we must not think of “church growth” as something that always results in bigger numbers. Just as a healthy human body is healed when an infection leaves, so it is in the church. Christ and anti-christ are incompatible. And therefore, if such a departure, a going of separate ways, never occurs in a local church, we must ask some hard questions. Why is it that the church down the road is just growing and growing and growing? How is it that the building program can’t even keep pace with the numbers? Why does “everyone” seem to be so happy and content there?

One final application. I deal in my ministry with Christians who have been or are victims of domestic abusers who most often pose as fine “Christians” in the local church. Let me ask an obvious question. How is it that such an abuser can continue in “fellowship” in a local church and be quite comfortable – even enabled and comforted? He is clearly of the spirit of anti-christ, so why doesn’t the true church dynamic John writes about (they went out from us but were not of us) kick in when it comes to this abuser? Why is darkness comfortable among people who claim to be “sons of light”?

I think the answers to these questions are rather obvious.

Evil Recognizes Evil

Gal 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, (20) idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, , dissensions, divisions, (21) envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

I received a letter once from a person who I had past dealings with. They were not positive experiences. The person was divisive, accusatory and hyper-critical. But this time the letter I received claimed to be a help to me. In it, the person said that they had observed certain ongoing behaviors of another person I dealt with and warned me that those behaviors evidenced a plot to do me harm. Not physical harm, but harm to my ministry. The person warned me that I was being targeted by a narcissist.

Now, what complicated this situation and what caused me to disregard the warning is that the person giving the warning had a track record of being pretty evil themselves. So I didn’t believe the warning. But guess what? The warning was right on target as I had to learn later the hard way.

As I have thought about that dynamic and wondered what in the world was going on there, this thought occurred to me. Could it be that evil recognizes evil? If you look at the Scripture quoted above, notice how many of them (in bold) describe trouble caused by jealousy and envy. I think that the person who sent me this warning was motivated not by any concern for me, but by their own jealousy. They saw one of their own kind working for position and self-glory and recognized what was going on. How? Because I believe that evil is able to see itself. To recognize itself operating in another evil person.

Many of the dissensions and fights in local churches are just this. Not the righteous vs the unrighteous, but the wicked vs the wicked. Each party vying for power and jealous of the other because they see their own power lust in the other.

A kind of confirmation of this theory that evil recognizes evil comes from my experience as a pastor. More than once we have had a party of wicked people banded together in an effort to “take over” the church. They walk into a church meeting all in a group, sit in a group, waiting for a moment to announce their pre-decided slate of demands. But what happens to this party of evil once the battle is over? Let’s say they failed in their hostile takeover attempt. What happens to them?

Well, sometimes they go off and start another “church.” But even then those efforts most frequently end with the same outcome. They all go their separate ways. Why? Because they hate each other. They serve themselves. Their dark alliance was only temporary. They will never work together over the long haul because they are envious of one another. They see the power lust in those of their own ilk and the jealousy rages. Dissensions. Divisions. Devourings.

Herein is a sober warning to those who would be wise. Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin would never have worked together in harmony after the War even if the first two had survived it. They go their own way. And so it is with these counterfeits in churches. They spread out like a black plague. This one goes to that church, that one goes to still another, and the most industrious of them starts his own house “church.”

Do you begin to see why we all MUST proceed with caution when that nice, saintly, most holy appearing fellow and his family show up at our church one Sunday? Oh, your church is the best they have ever been in. And the sermon? Absolutely fantastic and biblical. Not at all like the church they have come from where they were treated so badly you know.

Yeah, right. We’ve heard that before. The truth is that evil saw evil, was intensely jealous of its practitioners, and struck out on its own to sow more seed of the enemy somewhere else.