How Most Evangelical Churches and Ministries are Selling Indulgences, Just Like Rome

Galatians 1:6-8 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel– (7) not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. (8) But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.

My thesis in this article is just as stated in the title: Many if not most evangelical churches, teachers, and counselors are teaching a system that is a false gospel. A system of rules and methods which, it is promised, will “redeem” the soul – both your own soul and the souls of others, even the unrepentant! Let me explain. First, some background.

I am currently re-reading Roland Bainton’s wonderful biography of Martin Luther, Here I Stand. Early on, Bainton describes the world Luther grew up in and the “church” he was taught to believe in before Christ opened his eyes. Rome has not changed, by the way nor has she ever repudiated the doctrines taught in the 1500’s. How can she? After all, Rome is infallible, right?

Well, listen to some things Luther was taught:

Luther simply had not the capacity to fulfill the conditions [ie, of the holiness of God]. But if he could not, others might. The Church, while taking an individualistic view of sin, takes a corporate view of goodness. Sins must be accounted for one by one, but goodness can be pooled; and there is something to pool because the saints, the Blessed Virgin, and the Son of God were better than they needed to be for their own salvation. Christ in particular, being both sinless and God, is possessed of an unbounded store. These superfluous merits of the righteous constitute a treasury which is transferable to those whose accounts are in arrears.

The transfer is effected through the Church and, particularly, through the pope, to whom as the successor of St. Peter have been committed the keys to bind and loose. Such a transfer of credit was called an indulgence.

Precisely how much good it would do had not been definitely defined, but the common folk were disposed to believe the most extravagant claims. No one questioned that the pope could draw on the treasury in order to remit penalties for sin imposed by himself on earth. In fact, one would suppose that he could do this by mere fiat without any transfer. The important question was whether or not he could mitigate the pangs of purgatory.

During the decade in which Luther was born a pope had declared that the efficacy of indulgences extended to purgatory for the benefit of the living and the dead alike. In the case of the living there was no assurance of avoiding purgatory entirely because God alone knew the extent of the unexpiated guilt and the consequent length of the sentence, but the Church could tell to the year and the day by how much the term could be reduced, whatever it was. And in the case of those already dead and in purgatory, the sum of whose wickedness was complete and known, an immediate release could be offered.

There were places in which these signal mercies were more accessible than in others. For no theological reason but in the interest of advertising, the Church associated the dispensing of the merits of the saints with visitation upon the relics of the saints. Popes frequently specified precisely how much benefit could be derived from viewing each holy bone. Every relic of the saints in Halle, for example, was endowed by Pope Leo X with an indulgence for the reduction of purgatory by four thousand years. The greatest storehouse for such treasures was Rome. Here in the single crypt of St. Callistus forty popes were buried and 76,000 martyrs. Rome had a piece of Moses’ burning bush and three hundred particles of the Holy Innocents. Rome had the portrait of Christ on the napkin of St. Veronica. Rome had the chains of St. Paul and the scissors with which Emperor Domitian clipped the hair of St. John. The walls of Rome near the Appian gate showed the white spots left by the stones which turned to snowballs when hurled by the mob against St. Peter before his time was come….Another had a coin paid to Judas for betraying our Lord…able to confer an indulgence of 1400 years.

The false Roman gospel, you see. It still stands today. None of these things have ever been pronounced error by Rome.

But the spirit of this same false gospel is alive and well not only in the Vatican, it is thriving in the evangelical churches as well. Indulgences are being announced and sold. How so? Let me show you.

If you could be a fly on the wall in the pastor’s study or counseling room in most evangelical churches today, listening in on what victims of domestic violence are being told (or rather, “commanded”), you would hear over and over again this very scenario:

  • Even if your husband is abusing you, God does not permit you to divorce him
  • If you will become a more “Excellent Wife” [the title of one of the most notorious books promoting this nonsense] then you will be able to redeem your marriage.
  • Read this book that I wrote. It will teach you things that you can do in order to save your husband’s soul, and more importantly, save your marriage. God hates divorce, you know [that’s not in the Bible by the way]

In other words, even though the domestic violence victim is in a hellish purgatory of suffering and perhaps even death, she is a sinner just like her abuser and God has called her to pay for her own sins by humbly accepting this suffering. But there is hope. Through the books and counseling and teaching of this self-proclaimed priesthood, the abuse victim can go on a kind of pilgrimage, visit the fabled relics of saintly women who have suffered before and gone on to their reward. And if she will do all of this, these mini-popes will grant to her an indulgence, pronouncing her justified before God.

As soon as the gold in the coffer rings; the rescued soul to heaven springs

You say that I am exaggerating? I differ with you. These false Christian leaders are setting the price, selling the indulgences, and pronouncing all who drop the coin in by doing their programs to be “redeemed.”  Oh, and for those who will not pay? Off to purgatory with them! Ex-communication! Hand them over to Satan!

These evangelical indulgences are just as worthless as those sold by Rome. Christ alone is our Redeemer. Reject all who tell you that you must “do” and “don’t” to mitigate God’s wrath against you. Jesus really has paid it all. We simply embrace Him by faith alone and His righteousness, full and complete comes to us while our sin, full and complete, goes to Him on the cross to be paid in full once and for all.

Martha Peace. Jim Newheiser. John Piper. Voddie Baucham. Are you people listening? Nope. You will just get angry at what I have said. But then, I didn’t really write this for you anyway.

 

 

Local Churches are Giving Standing Ovations to the Wicked (Part 3)

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. (1Co 5:1-2)

As we have seen in this series of posts, local churches are giving standing ovations to unrepentant (or falsely repentant) wicked people. As you can see from the verses quoted above (which I quote very, very frequently), this is the very same sin that was pervasive in the church at Corinth. Boasting about how “merciful” they were, pronouncing a grossly evil man among them to be one of the saints. Paul nailed them.

Here then is still another instance which took place recently. Once again, in the absence of any repentance, people walking in sin who claim to be Christians were give a hearty round of applause from the congregation. This is how it went down:

An unmarried couple who have been living together for quite sometime have several children. They profess to be Christians and have been attending the church regularly.  After meeting with another “mentor” couple, also members of this church, the couple appeared on the platform of the church sanctuary at the Sunday morning worship service. The man got down on his knee and asked the woman to marry him. She accepted and a ring was given….and the whole place burst out in applause. No mention of sin. No mention of repentance.

Now, not only is there the issue of fornication, but it turns out that this fellow has been in jail several times this past year. Professing Christian. Living in sexual immorality. Committing crimes. He did mention to the congregation that he had had “a difficult year for him.” To which the pastor replied in front of all, “This is what God’s grace is all about.” Applause.  Shouts of “that was so beautiful!” That pastor, in his sermon, went on to chastise “nit-picky” Christians who are ungracious and unforgiving.

Now, if you have experienced abuse at the hands of the typical conscienceless, deceiving, sociopathic abuser, red warning lights are going to be going off in your head already in regard to this man. It is quite probable that this church just handed this woman over to an abuser, serving as his ally in evil. And the pastor and church are culpable. They are guilty. They are arrogant and they are presenting a false gospel. They are pronouncing a wicked man, who has been walking in habitual sin, to be justified and righteous in God’s sight. In addition, other abuse victims who are sitting out there in the pews will be further enslaved, confused, guilted, and shamed by all of this.

Do you realize that a wicked, evil person – even the devil himself – can easily stand up in front of a church audience and weep and wail in fake repentance, pleading for forgiveness, “confessing” his sin, and all the while be lying in every single word he utters? But, you see, so many people today who sit in church pews and claim the name of Christ for themselves, love this message of cheap forgiveness. Why? Because they know that if this is true —

Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, (1Jn 2:4)

–then they stand condemned before God and their claim to Christ is false.

Local Churches are Giving Standing Ovations to the Wicked (Part 2)

Php 2:19-21 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be cheered by news of you. (20) For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. (21) For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.

We continue now in this series of articles to expose the evil in local churches that, as in the case of one “Pastor” Andy Savage, enjoys a comfortable place among those who claim to know Christ. That claim, of course, is very dubious and highly suspect. How can Light abide darkness, or righteousness dwell with unrighteousness?

You will notice the experience of the Apostle Paul as he describes it here in his letter to the church at Philippi. He is alone. Almost all alone. This is the APOSTLE Paul! The Apostle commissioned personally by Christ. The ex-Pharisee met by the glorious, risen Jesus on that road so long ago. The “certain man” who had been caught up into heaven, seen and heard things that he could not even put into words for us. Paul, apostle to the Gentiles, whose apostleship and gospel were affirmed by the Lord’s signs and wonders. And he is alone. Except for Timothy and a handful of others like Epaphroditus, he stands alone.

Consider the experience of the Lord Jesus Himself on this earth. Or the experience of Peter and the other apostles. Think about what we see all through Scripture to be the experience of God’s faithful ones.

Mat 23:37a “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it!

Elijah wasn’t the only one left, as he wrongly concluded. Nevertheless there were very few who remained faithful to the Lord and they had to be in hiding:

1Ki 19:9-10 There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (10) He said, “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.”

The Lord Jesus told us very, very clearly what we must expect if we take up our cross and follow Him:

Joh 15:18-19 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. (19) If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

If you are chosen by Christ then you dwell now in a foreign land that hates Christ and all who follow Him. Therefore, as the Lord told us, we can expect to find ourselves standing alone, or at best with a small remnant of those who truly belong to Him. That has been the experience of ALL the genuine people of God, people who are circumcised of heart, not just players at external religion. No exceptions.

Now, what has all this to do with evil in the visible church? Simply this:

Whenever we see a “ministry” that is popular and highly spoken of by people whose lives are conformed to this present world, we can be certain that such a place protects the wicked and that it proclaims a “gospel” that is anathema in God’s sight.

Let me give you a contemporary, real life account of this false gospel played out in a local church. It is not just an example, it is the norm in the large majority of so-called evangelical christianity today. This one belongs to the Southern Baptist denomination [the SBC is notorious for embracing the wicked as “brethren in Christ”].

Mike and Ashley profess to be Christians. They are members of a “fine” SBC “church” that is a happening place, offering all the bells and whistles people expect when they choose a church “home.” Ashley was raised up in a Southern Baptist “christian” home in fact and both she and Mike “walked the aisle to receive Jesus” many years ago.

So Mike and Ashley are getting married. Big wedding plans. In the church of course. Invitations sent out. Met with the pastor already and received his blessing. Everyone is so excited, you know.

Well, almost everyone.

Ruth has known Ashley for several years, having met her in a Bible study group. Ruth was invited to the wedding and since she lived some distance away, she came a few days early. Upon her arrival, she was immediately troubled. Mike and Ashley, you see, were living together. Shacked up. Sleeping in the same bed. Fornicating to put it in God’s language.

And that is not all.

It was evident for anyone with eyes to see that Mike and Ashley were living very, very worldly lives. Take Ashley’s appearance for instance – in public – with Mike’s full approval. Ashley dressed like…well…like so many men and women of the world today dress. Sexually. Very revealing (emphasis on “very”). We aren’t pushing some pioneer/Puritan era head-covering, dress to the floor modesty code here. Nope. Ashley’s – and really Mike’s as well – appearance in all things was “look at me.”

When Ruth confronted Ashley about these things, both she and Mike dis-invited her to the wedding and told her to leave.

Now, let’s think this through. Why are people like Mike and Ashley so perfectly comfortable in their “church”? Why has no one ever confronted them with their blatant, shameless sin? Why has the pastor agreed to perform their wedding ceremony in the church building in the name of Christ, when repentance for their sin is completely absent?

I can tell you why.

Because that “church” is no church. That “pastor” is no shepherd called by Christ to oversee His flock. The whole thing is counterfeit. Antichrist. Evil is comfortable in that place. It remains unexposed and even boasted about because such a “gospel” attracts crowds and money and notoriety. If Mike and Ashley, and others like them in that church, were to be confronted for their sin, all hell would break loose! The fangs would come out. Either the pastor who confronted them would be fired, or the wicked themselves would “take their money” and march out the door. And yet this is exactly what needs to happen.

Let me say it again:

Whenever we see a “ministry” that is popular and highly spoken of by people whose lives are conformed to this present world, we can be certain that such a place protects the wicked and that it proclaims a “gospel” that is anathema in God’s sight.

And we see it everywhere today. Everywhere.

Isa 1:11-17 “What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices? says the LORD; I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats. (12) “When you come to appear before me, who has required of you this trampling of my courts? (13) Bring no more vain offerings; incense is an abomination to me. New moon and Sabbath and the calling of convocations– I cannot endure iniquity and solemn assembly.

(14) Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hates; they have become a burden to me; I am weary of bearing them. (15) When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you; even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood. (16) Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, (17) learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.

At the root of all of it lies the unconverted, wicked heart of people who have been assured that they are “saved” no matter how they live. And the experience of every real Christian who dares to confront this false gospel is going to be the same as that of Christ, of Paul, and all the other faithful ones. Alone. Surrounded by people who mouth a confession of Christ but whose hearts are far from Him. People who seek their own interest.

Every once in a while you will find a Timothy. Or a Mary. Or an Epaphroditus. And when you do, be encouraged. You have found the real Body of Christ.

 

 

 

Local Churches are Giving Standing Ovations to the Wicked (Part 1)

Every single week, if not every single day, Christians who are either victims of evil in their local churches or witnesses to that evil, contact me and tell their stories. Over and over again. If you have been watching the news this past week, you may have read the report of one “Pastor” Andy Savage, a pastor in Memphis, being given a standing ovation by his large congregation after he “confessed” (under pressure of course) to a certain “sexual incident” 20 years ago while he was a youth pastor. It was neatly covered up by the other pastors of that church, the 17 year old girl sodomized by him being told to shut up about it. Standing ovation. Yep. You can get one too. Just commit a heinous evil and then be sorry about it. Or say you are sorry at least. If you are caught that is.

You can read the details here: “Pastor” Andy Savage’s Sodomy of a Teen

NOTE: Sodomy is the correct term according to Oregon Law. Oral/Anal sex forced are defined as “deviant sexual intercourse” and that is sodomy in our legal code.

We can no longer simply encourage people to “go to church on Sunday” and assume they will be better off than if they did not attend the services of a local supposedly Christian church. In fact, we may be sending them to a den of robbers and perverts worse than we find outside the local church.

1Co 5:1-5 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. (2) And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. 

Do you think that I am overly pessimistically critical? I am not. Let me give you some real life examples of what is going on in most (I used to say “many”) local churches. They have ceased to be true churches if they ever were at all. Here you go. Case #1-

Prohibited by the Court, Permitted by the Church

In this first case, “Randy” we will call him, is divorced from his wife. She divorced him because he is a wicked, abusive drug user showing absolutely no repentance. He continually degraded and verbally demeaned her throughout their relationship. Randy (as so many of these kind do) claims to be a Christian. The court agreed with the charges of his abuse, and ordered that he only be allowed to visit his children ONLY in the presence of his ex-wife.

But that is not all. Oh no.

Randy likes his drugs. In fact, recently he was caught red-handed in his work van high as a kite on cocaine. He had been involved in the church’s drug and alcohol recovery ministry for years and claimed to have been sober from drugs. After he was found out, he told his ex-wife, “Well, I have to live my life!” No sign of repentance or remorse,. He was just as he had been throughout their marriage.

And there’s even more.

Randy has been “ministering” in his local church children’s ministry, in violation of the orders of the court. Randy is not supposed to be around ANY children unsupervised. The church did not take the wife’s word that he was not supposed to be around their daughter unless supervised by her, claiming she was being a vindictive ex-wife. So, what did Randy’s “church” do when they finally read the court papers? What was their response when they found out that they had failed to do an adequate background on this guy before handing children over to him? Well, here is what they did. This is an email sent to Randy by one of the pastors:

After informing Randy, in a tone of “I am so sorry we have to do this,” the children’s pastor told him: “Thanks for meeting with me. Your openness is so refreshing to me. Unfortunately the court documents leave no room for you to continue as a children’s ministry volunteer. I know you did not mislead us intentionally or maliciously, but this is what we must do to protect the church from liability. I am sorry, especially since you have been a faithful volunteer. Of course, Randy, this church is still your home. We love you and welcome you to be involved in one of the many other ministry opportunities here.”

Through several other emails, this pastor referred to Randy as “bro,” using apologetic and friendly language. This pastor even had breakfast with Randy! Apparently God’s Word  means nothing to this pastor:

But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler–not even to eat with such a one. (1Co 5:11)

The pastor never met with the ex-wife, asking her side of the story, or apologized to her for their failure to keep her child and the children of the church safe. In fact, this same pastor called her and berated her, using a condescending tone, saying she was at fault for not producing the divorce papers earlier.

And Randy IS continuing in ministry there. In what capacity you say? Well, Randy is helping lead the drug and alcohol recovery group, in “Jesus’ name” of course.

Oh, and what of Randy’s ex-wife and children, the victims of his evil? Well, you know, because they just aren’t as gracious and merciful and forgiving as Randy and his wonderful, loving church home, they have left that place. She was the only one who was a member of the church for a long time, very involved in a women’s Bible study group, and her daughter attends the school at the church. She feels hurt and betrayed, since she lost her close group of Christian women friends, and her daughter misses the only church she has ever known.

In reality this mother and child were driven out of their church. Why? Because that counterfeit, wicked “church” parading as Christ’s church, embraced the evil one and arrogantly boasted about how gracious they are. If victims of rape and abuse and child molestation cannot forgive their oppressors and sit side by side with them in church, I suppose that is their problem. So sad you know, that after Randy said he was sorry, they just wouldn’t let bygones be bygones.

And THAT is a peek into the typical goings on every single day in most local churches.

I was going to give you more examples, but that will have to wait for part 2, and part 3, and part 4, and…….

Evil is Darkness – It Always Pressures Us to be Quiet

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. (John 3:19)

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. (1 John 1:5-6)

This post is about a subject that most all of you have experienced if you are a true Christian and have worked to expose evil, particularly evil hiding within a church under a “christian” disguise. This is still another tactic that is so commonly evidenced by wicked hypocrites because it proceeds from the very Prince of darkness himself. It is no surprise that his servants reflect it as well. Here is our topic:

Servants of our enemy, so often parading as servants of Christ, always work to silence those who would expose evil. You’ve heard it all before I bet, and certainly if you have seen wickedness masquerading as a saint in your church:

  • You need to be quiet. It isn’t “christian” to say such things about a brother in Christ.
  • You need to stop saying such things. You are trashing Christ’s church.
  • That is gossip.
  • All church members are required to never talk to the media about what has happened in our church.
  • Stop being so arrogant. We are all sinners.
  • The church leadership did not tell the members about Fred molesting his children because there is no need for everyone to know. So you be quiet about it and if you don’t we will discipline you.
  • No, we didn’t report this to the police and you must not either. Jesus wants us to handle this within His church and not get the state involved.

And on and on the list goes. You could easily add many more such wicked statements all designed to silence the light of truth.

Now, what we all need to do is totally blow off such intimidating threats (and that is precisely what these bullying tactics are – threats) and shout out the truth with even more clarity. We must have confidence, knowing that we are doing what Christ would do. “Woe to you, scribes, Pharisees, hypocrites!!” Jesus commands us to call out evil that has crept into His church and put it out from among us. See 1 Corinthians 5 on that as a clear example.

And here is something to add to our confidence. We can know with certainty that anyone who is working to expand and maintain the darkness rather than exposing evil with the light of Christ’s truth, does not know Him nor belong to Him. Oh sure, we might initially (in the days of our naivete) be confused and uncertain and wonder if we are to speak out or not. But if you are a Christian then the Spirit of Truth indwells you and He is going to turn on the lights for us and guide us into all truth. The truth in these cases is, “here is an evil person hiding in the church, claiming to be a Christian, but in fact his deeds reveal that he is still in darkness and is actively working to remain in that darkness. He has crept in among us. He is to be exposed and put out.”

Just read the verses quoted above once more. Pull out your Bible and read 1 John for instance. You either ARE or you AREN’T in Christ. And if you love the darkness rather than the light then I know everything about you that I need to know.

Our little church here in Oregon knows these things are true. We have, by the Lord’s gracious leading, exposed darkness and evil numerous times. As a result we are a small band. We are hated by many who claim to belong to Christ, and the fellowship of churches we used to belong to detests us for speaking out. Lo and behold one of their own “pastors,” Tom Chantry, was subsequently arrested on multiple felony charges and yet they still insist we must all defend him. We parted company with them years ago. And we can see that their persistence in walking in darkness and protecting others who do evidences exactly who they are.

So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:18-20)

Nope, not going to shut up. Do your worst.

 

 

You Will be Cast Out – The Counterfeit Church Expels Christ’s True People

I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. (John 16:1-3)

If you are a Christian and if you have either been the victim of an evil one parading behind a false facade of “saintliness,” then you most likely have felt the very common sting of being viewed with contempt or even driven out of your “church” for daring to expose the domestic or sexual or spiritual (sometimes all 3 wrapped up on one) abuser. Well, let me encourage you by showing you evidence that the visible church is far more apostate and corrupt than most professing Christians even want to know. In other words, let me show you that it was not Christ’s true people who cast you out, but counterfeits – wolves in wool.

The Lord Jesus spoke very plainly. His words, as quoted above from John 16, tell us that the true remnant of God can expect, increasingly as the Day of the Lord approaches, to be “put out.” Speaking to Jews, He specified “put out of the synagogue.” In other words, the clergy, the visible church that claims to be the church of God, cannot and will not tolerate a genuine Christian in its midst. And, as Jesus goes on to say, when they ex-communicate Christ’s people, they will boast that they are doing it all in the name of the Lord!

Now, what is really going on? That is to say, so many of you who have been shunned or ex-communicated or accused or shamed by your local church for daring to speak out about the evil that is going on behind the scenes, were treated this way because those pastors, those elders, those church members, do not know Christ. Oh, I know that can be hard to believe. They put on such a show. Perhaps you were in such a “church” for many years and were quite active in serving there. Surely, you thought, these people are Christians. And yet, Jesus tells us that we can know that when the righteous are cast out of such places that place is in fact a den of robbers, not His Body. Read His words above again. That is exactly what He said.

God’s Word repeatedly, and I mean VERY repeatedly, records this very thing – the casting out of the righteous from among those who claim THEY are the church of Christ, but are not –

Jesus heard that they had cast him out, and having found him he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” (John 9:35)

(His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.) (John 9:22)

Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; (John 12:42)

See it? Why should we be so surprised when it happens? Let’s not be confused by this fog the enemy likes to hide behind. These words of the Lord in Scripture blow that fog away and enable us to see what is truly going on. YOU were put out of your church when you reported a wicked, counterfeit “christian” abuser because you are light and they are darkness.

This is still another Scripture on this matter. I really love this one:

Hear the word of the LORD, you who tremble at his word: “Your brothers who hate you and cast you out for my name’s sake have said, ‘Let the LORD be glorified, that we may see your joy’; but it is they who shall be put to shame. (Isaiah 66:5)

Your brothers. Of course in the Old Covenant that meant fellow Israelites. But we can surely apply it to our situation in the New Covenant where we so often (and nowadays typically) are surrounded by “brothers and sisters” who aren’t. So, what do these fine “christian brethren” do? Same thing as Isaiah said – they hate every real Christian and cast Christ’s people out, claiming to do so for the Lord’s name’s sake!  That is exactly what Jesus said in John 16. They cast out Christ’s people and then boast that they have brought glory to the Lord. But…

it is they who shall be put to shame.

Why is it that most all of the hundreds and thousands of domestic and sexual abuse survivors, whose abuser targeted them in a local church, are no longer in such a place? Why do the majority not attend a church like they used to? Because, whether formally or informally, they have been cast out by the wicked counterfeits who do not know the Lord. And they are finding the real Body of Christ in some pretty unconventional places. It has always been that way you know. Catacombs. Caves.

Therefore, like the blind man healed by Jesus in John 9, when we are put outside the temple, we will find the true temple – Jesus. And we are seeing this very thing play itself out more and more in our day. We really can rejoice when this happens to us. It’s not fun, but it really clears things up.

 

Evil Reigns in “Churches” When the Spirit Departs

Revelation 2:7a He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

Christ’s letters to the seven churches in Asia are recorded for us in the second and third chapters of Revelation. In each one of them, the Lord signs off with this formula. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

It is increasingly evident today that the Holy Spirit is not present (perhaps never was?) in many, many local churches, pastors, and members. How do we know this is the case? Because they will not (can not) hear what the Spirit is saying to them.  That is to say, they are deaf to the Word of God. Show them Scripture, plain and simple truths right in front of their eyes, and they cannot see or hear. They can not because they will not. He who has ears…let him hear.

The real Christian has “ears.” The Spirit indwells the believer and illuminates his mind’s eyes to see and warms his heart to love Christ’s truth. But not all who claim to know Christ really do and therefore they are deaf and blind. It is a willful blindness of course. They choose to reject His Word and therefore they cannot be given sight.

That all these things are true become plain not only from the Scriptures but also to anyone who shows God’s Word to “Christian” people. In my case, not only as a pastor but as one who ministers in exposing domestic abusers hiding in the church, I have seen this over and over again. The Lord repeatedly, literally from Genesis to Revelation, instructs His people to protect the oppressed from the wicked. The widow, the orphan, the stranger in the land.

Exodus 22:21-24 “You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. (22) You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. (23) If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry, (24) and my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless.

James gives us the same thing in New Testament terms:

James 1:27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

Don’t miss how huge this is. Hundreds of verses in the Bible repeat this very command and warning. Hundreds. This is why I continue to tell people (most won’t listen) that the subject of domestic abuse, particularly in the church, is one of the acid tests of whether a church or pastor or member even belongs to Christ or not. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom, not oppression. There are ears to hear, not deafness. There are eyes to see, not blindness to the plight of victims of evil.

And yet the vast majority of professing Christian churches today do not have ears to hear these things. They do not have hearts softened by the Lord to love His Word and His people. Instead, they enable the wicked and ally with them just like the counterfeit church of Martin Luther’s day. God says that such religion is defiled. Filthy. Disgusting. He says that His curse, not His blessing, rests upon such places and people.

Do you doubt that things are as grim as I say? Well, here is a real-life example of what is pandemic in the churches today. Listen to this Christian abuse survivor tell it firsthand:

All that you say about the vast majority of churches not hearing truth is so true. I’m about to be basically excommunicated from my church while for more than a year they preach sermon after sermon about how “we can never know if someone is a Christian or not based on their lives” — a very encouraging message for my abusive husband of course.

See it? Everyone is a Christian, no matter how evil their deeds. We must never judge. We must assume. And yet anyone who knows anything at all about God’s Word in truth knows full well that the Bible reiterates over and over and over that it is by a person’s fruit that we can know what the are. James says, “look at their works.” The Old Testament prophets said “you claim to be My people, you come to My sanctuary with your sacrifices, and yet your hands are covered with blood and injustice, adulteries and robberies. Close the doors of My house!” Yet today we have these pastors in pulpits, claiming to speak from the Lord, who tell us that no matter how a person is living, if he says he believes in Jesus, he is a Christian and we are bound to treat him as a real Christian.

Well, alright then, Mr. false preacher. Let me point something out to you. You say that the wicked “Christian” is on his way to heaven and that we must love and embrace him. Let’s say he is a Christian (which he is not). The Bible says that it is the one who claims to be our brother who is to be put out of the church and avoided like the plague he is. Here it is right smack in front of your eyes:

1 Corinthians 5:11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.

2 Corinthians 6:16-18 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (17) Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, (18) and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”

But put these commands of Christ in front of so many “Christians” today and you will be told “I don’t agree with your interpretation of that verse. Besides, God does not want us to go on some ‘sin hunt.’ Everyone is welcome in our church.”

Everyone may be welcome in such “churches,” but they are not welcome in Christ’s church. Coming back again to those letters in Revelation 2-3, just take note of how many of them include instructions to expel the wicked from among the congregation and in fact the Lord “has it against” the churches who have not put such evil out.

Where the Spirit has departed, evil sweeps in and reigns. It is my conclusion that in our day many (and actually I believe, “most”) local churches are not the temple of the Lord at all, but mere facades with nothing behind them like those fake Hollywood western town movie sets.

Depart from such places. Find Christ’s real remnant.

Matthew 15:14 Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”

An Absolutely Accurate Description of the State of today’s Church

Our friend Dale Ingraham gave the following assessment of the state of the visible church today. He is saying exactly what I have been preaching increasingly this last year.

I believe the church today is much like Israel in Jesus’ day. The Pharisees, Sadducees, and Scribes were the religious leaders. They were the educated elites and yet they didn’t know God. They were selfish, greedy and corrupt. There were only two Pharisees at the time, that we know of, who followed Jesus. [Today] Sex offenders are allowed to freely operate within the confines of most churches and few are trying to hold them accountable. Until the people in the pews throw out the wolves in sheep’s clothing, nothing will change before Christ’s return.

And I would add to that “domestic abuse offenders” as well. Thanks Dale.

How to Watch for the Rise of Evil in Your Church

The following verses from Paul’s letter to the Galatians outline a flow of events that has continued to replay itself in every era of church history, and it continues to thrive today. This sequence inevitably introduces evil (through evil persons) into the visible church and most professing Christians are (inexcusably) oblivious to it. Read the following scriptures and then I will explain:

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—(Galatians 1:6)

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10)

Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery—to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me. (Galatians 2:4-6)

Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth? They make much of you, but for no good purpose. They want to shut you out, that you may make much of them. (Galatians 4:16-17)

I am finished with involvement in church denominational organizations. I have given it a go in three different, supposedly genuine, “Christian” fellowships of local churches and each time ended with disappointment, betrayal, and hopefully, increased wisdom. In essence, those groups were not what they appeared to be nor what they claimed to be. What was happening in the churches of Galatia had happened among them.

First, Paul confronts the Galatians with their desertion of the gospel. He had taught them well. They had received the Spirit and that not by any works on their part but by faith alone in Christ alone. Yet here they were, allured to another Jesus, another spirit, another gospel. Why? How?

False brothers had crept in among them with a false gospel and an evil motive. They were full of flattering words but their goal was to be “made much of.” All of their flattery was wicked, aimed at bringing them into power and control among those churches, creating an environment in which they would be praised and hold the reins.

Of course that all necessarily requires a false gospel because the real gospel, Jesus, is obnoxious to the masses. If you want a big following then you are going to have to create a message that fleshly, worldly “christians” want. Out goes grace alone and in comes man’s own self-doings to earn merit with God.

Now, here is my point, I have found that wicked people, like these false teachers at Galatia, thrive and multiply in “structure.” The bigger and more elaborate the structure, the faster they multiply. What do I mean? Let me explain by example.

Initially, when you examine some structured Christian organization such as, say, a denomination, everything looks good. Their doctrinal statement is sound. The leaders appear godly. Unity in Christ, it seems, is the spirit of the thing with everything supposedly being done for the glory of God.

It isn’t.

Naively (and we are without excuse for this), Christians permit “certain persons” to advance up the structure of the thing. He is pastor Jack, let’s say. What a godly guy! What a servant of the Lord! That guy is on several committees. He is willing to do most anything to help. Another leader in the group announces at an annual meeting, “If you all want to know how to ‘do’ worship, just visit Pastor Jack’s church. They ‘do’ worship with excellence there.” Yep, I am witness to that very thing being said. Commonly.

But Pastor Jack and his kind are evil. They do not really know the Lord. Their goal is to exalt themselves, to be praised, and to bring YOU into bondage -into bondage to them! And if you doubt my warning, I suggest that you just try to correct them or disagree with them and see what happens.

As it was in Galatia, so it is today. “Those who seemed to be influential.” Influential. There is an interesting word. People “of influence,” which is really to say, “people with power.” Pretty clear? Then why is it that in spite of these plain warnings in God’s Word given to us, most every church and certainly most every multi-church organization is characterized by “people of influence?” Power-brokers? The moment you see these kind rising into view, you can be certain that sin is operative and evil has already crept in.

I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brothers. What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” (1 Corinthians 1:10-12)

Stop it! Stop permitting this. Stop allowing yourself to be mesmerized. Quit sitting back and “letting them do it.” In my case, a personal application of these truths has meant that I will never again be a member of a church denomination, nor will I crave to pastor a “large” church. I will not help establish a “structure” which evil people can use as their own personal tower of Babel to ascend into the heavens. I find that keeping wickedness out of our single, local church is enough to keep us all busy.

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. (1 Corinthians 1:26-29)

Fail in these things and you will, be assured of it, end up rejecting the Apostle Paul and embracing the agents of the enemy. Fail in these things and you will find yourself retracing the same old steps to Rome.

 

A Typical Distortion of Scripture Used by False Shepherds to Protect the Wicked

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)

This is a wonderful passage of Scripture that shines Christ’s light brightly on the darkness that is so widespread in local churches today. But alas, there is no end to the attempts to distort even the clearest statements of God’s truth and here is one I heard of again recently (not for the first time).

As you can see from Paul’s words, people who walk in sin, who are characterized by the same wickedness that has always characterized them, can claim to belong to Christ all they want. The fact is they do not. They have no inheritance in His kingdom.

Now, it is plain that the people Paul is speaking of are not rank pagans who make no claim to Christ. No. These are people who come in among us in the church wearing a saintly disguise. Else why would Paul even have to state the obvious if he were only speaking of people who make no profession of faith at all? No, these are counterfeits and he wants us all to be very clear in our thinking about them. You cannot walk in sin, you cannot live the life of a worldling, and have your cake (heaven) too.

Now notice that one of these kinds of people is of a class that we should be getting quite familiar with – the reviler. Revilers will not inherit the kingdom of God. Revilers are dead in their sin. And what is a reviler? A reviler is a person who uses his tongue to assault others. He villifies, he makes them the villain, he accuses and blames and shames. And he does it all falsely. Here are some other references to this kind of evil person:

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. (Matthew 5:11)

For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ (Matthew 15:4)

“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! (Luke 6:22)

But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one. (1 Corinthians 5:11)

having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. (1 Peter 3:16)

Pretty plain, right? Revilers make false accusations against others, specifically against believers, and they do so specifically BECAUSE their target is a believer. Ultimately, revilers are reviling God Himself.

Anyway, here is the preposterous “end run” excuse a church leader recently used when he was called on to deal biblically with a reviler. He said,

But Paul is talking about people who reviled God. He doesn’t mean those who revile other people.

Can you believe that anyone would even make such a claim? Need I say anymore to disprove this claim? All we need do is read the Scriptures quoted above. Revilers are people who habitually revile other people, and on some occasions directly revile God Himself. And as I said above, a reviler who is reviling a Christian for being a Christian (even if the reviler does not say so in overt language) is also reviling Christ.

This church leader, you see, does not want to put the reviler out of the church. He wants to keep regarding the fellow as a Christian who just needs to be “fixed.” And so, under this leader’s watch, there is no watch. Wolves are permitted to put on their wool coats, come right on it, and devour the flock.