Generally speaking, over the past 50 years, various false movements within the evangelical church have led to unscriptural thought and practice. Philosophical and theological worldviews, not based in the Word of God, have slowly but surely gained the upper hand in the basic operations of many churches.
In many instances, the church is using worldly ideas to garner people into it. From theatrical displays and concert-like worship styles to a watered-down message, evangelicalism has largely succumbed to the ways of the world. The result? An unconverted mass. Over time, the church is now full of worldly people who have never actually heard the stumbling block message of the cross nor received the real Jesus Christ of the Scriptures.
How is this even possible you ask? In this article, we discuss some of the logistics of how the worldly church has come to fruition and some key identifiers. We will see that it is a worldly church that plays into the final apostasy spoken about in Scripture (such as 2 Thessalonians 2 and other places in the New Testament). You may be surprised to know that what is happening in our day is what God said in His Word would happen!
The Stumbling Block of the Gospel
According to Scripture, fallen man has no interest in God and His gospel. When God says man is sinful, desperately wicked, deceitful, and in need of a Savior, man covers his ears and runs in the other direction. The world is offended when it is asked to consider its sinful ways and God’s only solution to the problem. Several texts of Scripture help us grasp this reality.
“The heart is more deceitful than all else
And is desperately sick; [or wicked in some translations]
Who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9 NASB
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23 NASB
“For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness,” 1 Corinthians 1:22-23 NASB
“For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:18
Without the effectual work of the Holy Spirit, the message of the cross of Jesus Christ is offensive and foolish. The gospel is a scandal and a stumbling block for the world. The world is most likely to resist the witness of the Holy Spirit who Jesus said “will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8). And if the world does acknowledge mankind as sinful, it is most apt to disagree with the penalty which is a place of everlasting human torment called hell and banishment from the presence of God.
For those who repent and believe, Scripture promises eternal reward (Matthew 5:12). This, however, does not come without a high cost.
“Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” Matthew 16:24 NASB
It was pretty obvious in Jesus earthly ministry that the cost of following Him was quite high. The road to His kingdom was:
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Matthew 7:13-14 NASB
A Different Agenda
Have you noticed that in many churches the stumbling block message of Jesus Christ crucified has taken a back seat to other things? Namely “connectedness.” The visible church’s overarching goal has become “to connect.”
What do we mean by this? People are number one. It is the socialization/incorporation of a person into the church that has become of first importance. This is no secret. There are multiple ways in which this is manifesting itself.
First, the attracting of people is apparent through all of the church’s “amenities” – the things the church offers. From cafes and coffee, to comfortable dress code, to comfortable seating, to images everywhere, to theatrical displays, to lights and entertainment, people can get whatever will please them.
Now, of course, those things in and of themselves are not sinful, but should they be the goal of the church? The main attraction?
Second, as mentioned above, the world does not love the message of the cross, but rather is offended by it. Let me ask you, would the world be offended to go to and sit through a church service that gives them what makes them feel good and offers whatever they will “connect” with? Of course not. In fact, they have actually been put at ease and their consciences have been appeased, and they enjoy coming week in and week out.
The offense of the gospel message has been ever so craftily removed. Words like sin, rebellion, hell, etc. are no longer heard. The truth is not being shared candidly and with great clarity, and no one knows what they are missing. The actual ministry focus has shifted from the object – God – to the new object – self. Terms like “my purpose,” “my story,” “my experience,” are heard. Faith is now centralized in self, based upon feeling and experience rather than God and His objective Word.
Thus, we must wonder whether the people sitting in the church pews have actually been confronted by the One who came to save them from sin? When has true repentance and actual conversion to Jesus Christ occurred? Unfortunately, if such a preoccupation with some immediate creature connectedness is successful, it is often an inoculation to real salvation.
Third, the “connectedness” is heightened by a call to become a “world-changing” influence. After all, why wouldn’t anyone want to help change the world? Look at the mess we are in! So, get on the bandwagon. Come join the church’s “mission” to be an influence into a particular community. There is no longer a specific call to evangelize the lost who Jesus came to seek and save. There is a new spirit of inclusiveness for people of all churches (or faiths) to get aboard in service to build, with human hands, the kingdom of God upon the earth.
Fourth, the deception is enhanced by leaders who function more like CEOs than actual Biblical preachers of Jesus Christ and shepherds of His flock. These new corporations operate just like any other worldly corporations, with the success of those leaders measured in terms of money, influence, and numbers. Shepherding (or pastoring) has now become directly related to the feel-good and consumer driven contentment and commitment they have elicited from their flocks. These leaders permeate the American church stages with their stylish spirituality and are committed to religious compromise rather than boldly proclaiming the offense of the cross of Jesus Christ.
All these things have crept in and the flame has been fanned as if they actually represent true growth in Christ and the church. They do not. They clearly reflect the opposite attitude of what Paul said in two texts of 2 Corinthians:
“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ;” 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NASB
“Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things? For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.” 2 Corinthians 2:14-17 KJV
Instead, we have the worldly church that caters to man’s fallen interests and panders the Word of God. It loves to use Biblical language and ideas, but they are used to manipulate the masses into the new paradigm rather than a true conversion. The pure preaching of Jesus Christ and Him crucified from the pulpit is removed. They quote Scripture – to lead astray – just like the devil did when he tempted Jesus in the wilderness. The Lord resisted the devil’s temptations with true truth and so should every Christian.
But the world now feels welcomed in the church because they are not called to repent. They are immersed into a new brand of “Christianity” that has little regard for actual truth. This is just a delusional technique of our adversary to lead towards a globalized false worship – as if it is real spiritual worship of the true God by a chosen people.
Massive Theological Deception
The characteristics of what is happening in the church are very troubling. How did it get to this point? There has been massive deception occurring, and as with all deception, Satan takes the Word of God and twists it for his own purposes.
There are two main theological areas that have been distorted: 1) Who Jesus Christ is and what He has done, and 2) How we know Jesus Christ. Let me explain.
Within the early church, there was certain Gnostic thought that separated the person of Christ from the “Christ-Spirit.” This teaching says having a spiritual connectedness to Christ is the mainspring of faith with little regard for the uniqueness and clarity of the Personhood of Jesus and the specifics of His actual salvation. This disregard is rearing its ugly head once again, maybe in a different form, but theologically similar.
It can be seen in the use of words like “faith,” “redeem,” “story,” “meditation,” and many other words. What happens is the words are redefined so that the person becomes the centerpiece of the concept/story rather than Jesus Christ who is the object of the actual Biblical concepts. It is a spiritual subjectivism. This can be quite seamless since we naturally worship the fallen image in us – as if it were divine. This is a false concept of “Christ in me” (ie. my story, my purpose) with no actual conversion to the Jesus of the Bible. It is the specifics of and fidelity to the real Jesus that makes one actually a Christian.
Shockingly, there can be a version of Christ preached and taught that really has nothing to do with the Lord Jesus Christ presented in the Holy Scriptures. It is what I call a “cultural Christ” that both the “worldly church” and the masses of fallen man will embrace. The “cultural Christ” calls no one to a narrow gate and a straight road. Discipleship to the “cultural Christ” would never think of having to suffer for a clear definition of the knowing and following the actual Lord and Savior.
This disregard is evident in clear testimony to the false teaching and belief about the Person of Christ. A survey published in 2020 by Ligonier Ministries shows that 30% of evangelicals now believe the statement “Jesus was a great teacher, but he was not God.” It can also be seen in the reversal of what people think about man’s fallen condition and need for a Savior. That same Ligonier Ministries survey showed that 46% of “evangelicals” agreed with the following statement: “Everyone sins a little, but most people are good by nature.”
The second part of what is taking place in the church relates to how man can know God. Scripture tells us that Jesus Christ came to us in His incarnation, was crucified for us, buried and raised and ascended into heaven as Savior and Lord. He who is seated at the right hand of the Father is made known now to us by His Spirit through the Word. Period.
Again, a wonderful biblical concept has been perverted. We now hear that Jesus comes to us in the creation (or events, life-stories, or even people) – to be seen by all – apart from Scripture. Technically, this is known as panentheism which means that God is both present in all things and has a separate existence as well. Panentheism, in our present generation, is the belief that we are on a spiritual journey through life to embrace God, in this case, the spirit of Christ, who is all and to be seen in all. It says our world isn’t in rebellion, but that it is on a good-hearted quest. That quest is for a “reconciled and gracious” Christ of modern culture who comes to us mystically. So, we now believe “Jesus” comes to us in stuff and if we are tuned in then we will be blessed (eucharisteo)!
So, the faith now is experientially based and emotionally embraced. Apparently, we have decided that this is how God is now approaching us – directly and personally. Christ fills it all and if we just get connected and feel blessed – “everything is spiritual” as Rob Bell would remind us. But “Jesus” doesn’t “come to us” in stuff. Nevertheless, with the popularity of books like Jesus Calling by Sarah Young (Book Review on Berean Research) and One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp (Book Review by Bob DeWaay), this panentheistic and deceptive view of Christ now coming to us will prevail in the worldly church.
These two theological pieces of massive deception we will call Christo-Panentheism. It will make way for that which God has ordained will occur before His Second Coming in visible power and glory.
The Bible describes two events that will take place at the end of this present evil age against God and His Son, Jesus Christ: the final Apostasy of the church and a worldwide rebellion of fallen mankind. The final Apostasy is the falling away from the faith within the visible church. It will be those things of “worldly church” discussed in this article. It will not confront rebellious men with the exclusive claims of Jesus Christ. The global rebellion by this fallen world is for the purposes of both salvation and judgment. It will be allowed to come to fruition based on the pre-ordained and sovereign reasons of God. (Found in the book of Revelation.)
So, rebellion against God will occur both inside and outside of the church. The rebellion inside of the church will be disguised as a spiritual awakening. After all, how can the massive amounts of people we find within the church be blinded to truth? And since the “awakening” won’t be an offense to the global kingdom of mankind, it won’t be a threat for it. It can be conveniently tolerated and embraced globally because the offense of the cross and the scandalous nature of following the real Jesus Christ of the Scriptures have been removed.
The powers of darkness are being allowed to invade even what were once sound churches for the purposes of God’s judgments. But there is hope for any who have the Word of Christ richly dwelling in them and have the Holy Spirit. They will wake up in the midst of this evangelical compromise and realize that His judgments have already started. His judgments have come to the visible worldly church by means of God abandoning it to its folly.
Let us close this article with Scripture reminders for all true saints of Jesus Christ who desire to bear a true and faithful witness to Him.
“Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come.” Hebrews 13:12-14 NASB
“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me.” John 15:18-21 NASB
Side Note: Some have said this end-time scenario of Revelation is like a three-legged stool of man’s final rebellion. The over-arching phrase used for this rebellion is called “Babylon” and although it is used figuratively, it is very clear and specific as to its nature in context. The three aspects of this three-legged stool are:
1. State/Economic Control by the Beast/Antichrist and his System: Babylon
2. Worship of the Beast/Image through the False Prophet and his Manipulating Powers and Passion
3. Religious Control through the Great Harlot
You can read more about them in our articles on the book of Revelation.