Influences in our churches. We have many influences in our churches, but unfortunately they're not all God's influences. Not every church is operating by the right spirit nor offering the right example, or criteria necessary for a Christian to learn the fullest of who they can be in Christ.
I am not talking about denominational differences now, but what Jesus had warned us to be on guard for; unqualified/ false teachers teaching us and double minded/ disobedient/ false Christians bringing their double mindedness, disobedience and false ideas in amongst and distorting God's truths to us.
2 Peter 2:1 NIV 2:1 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you.
2 Corinthians 11:26-27 NIV 26 I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers.
We have problems in our church. We have Christians who have been going to church for twenty, thirty and forty years who still don't realize their potential in Christ. My question is why? They have heard the bible preached many times and in many ways, but apparently something was missing in all that preaching and teaching for it did not stress, emphasize, or encourage that believer enough to walk in a more profound understanding of what that Word was teaching.
After twenty years of being taught and being in a intimate relationship with God a Christian's life should now be spilling over with a variety of good fruit. After this much time of God working in their life and working out whatever had been suppressing them, this person should now be taking on many of Christ's attributes and even doing some of the things Christ did.
John 14:12 NIV 12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these,
2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV 18 And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
equally important, after this much time of being taught and their life being
transformed by the teaching of what they were taught, this person should now
be teaching others. No longer just a student, but a teacher as well.
Hebrews 5:11-14 NIV it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
In addition to this, another problem I hear about quite often is Christians being hurt in our churches, either by the members or by the pastor.
Some of our churches because of their falseness, (false teachers/ doctrines), or because they are wrong spirited, or flesh run are operating more by condemnation than love, more by man's will than God's and are more centered in the flesh than moving by God's Spirit. A church where the minister, headship, or members operate more by satan's thorns, (wrong teaching, intimidation/ control, hypocrisy,), than by God's fruit, (truth, compassionate love, wise counsel/ teaching, Holy Spirit power etc.).
We have Christian's being hurt and turned off to Christianity because of legalistic type flesh run churches. People who are leaving the church because of what they have endured in bad church experiences and who are putting their seeking of the Lord in question, (until they come to realize, if they ever do, that all churches are not like that) because of it. Can you imagine? In Jesus pursuit to reconcile man/woman with God, some of our churches are driving them futher away.
It is not just this type of church, (ones that can be overbearing in legalism, or being run by a wrong spirit) that are hurting Christians, for passive and untruthful teachings hurt a Christian as well. Passive and untruthful teachings do not drive home the message that the horizon of our possibilities, in our decision for Christ, has now been multiplied into our life and it does not teach a Christian how to walk in the power that God's truths generate.
Note: When I say that we have a problem in our church, I am not saying every church does and when I say that we have false unqualified teachers, or double minded disobedient members in our churches I am not saying every teacher is, or every member of our church is like that.
I want to affirm that there are good churches out there within the body of Christ where a Christian can get a good education, where good doctrines are being taught, by good example, by effective methods and in a productive good spirited environment. But for the reasons being discussed here, not every church is and which is why we are addressing these problems.
Untruthful, passive, watered-down teachings deter a Christian from reaching for the stars, (God) metaphorically speaking. They don't spark enough of a fire in a Christian to pursue the things of God more diligently, or emphasize enough the need for them to build a personal relationship with God in that their lives can be transformed into something far more glorious and they don't emphasize enough of what we need to do to help facilitate that transformation.
Philippians 3:20-21 NIV And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
As one can see God needs for us to become spiritually wise early on in our walk so that we will know what is God's truths, what is man's, what is effective teaching, what is lame, what is good, what is evil etc, in that we won't find ourselves caught in any traps of ignorance. In addition God needs for us to become fruit inspectors and to be able to test a man and woman's motives and spiritual wisdom in that we won't be led astray from those, who from outside appearance, appear to be righteous, but who aren't.
Matthew 23:27-28 NIV 27 "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men's bones and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
For the reasons I gave we need to know how to test what is of God for every situation we will find ourselves in and for every person who says they are teaching us God's truths. When a person is teaching us about God (whether by word, or example) we need to discern and determine very quickly what they are teaching us. Does it hold a greater measure of God's truths, or does it resonate of a false, water-downed, compromised truth that was more fabricated by man and woman, than by God?
Romans 12:1-2 NIV 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.
1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 NIV 21 Test everything. Hold on to the good. 22 Avoid every kind of evil.
1 John 4:1 NIV 4:1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
We need to realize, and the sooner the better, that we have some good Godly men and women teaching and attending our churches who are hooked into God's truths and who are living as a good witness to that, but that we also have men and women teaching and attending our churches who call themselves Christians, but in who the truth is far from them. This isn't my thought, or observation alone for scriptures testifies to this.
Matthew 15:8-9 NIV 8 "'These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. 9 They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.'"