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I am amazed at some of the crazy things professing Christians will buy into. It seems like every few years a new fad comes along that gets everyone worked up.
People get caught up in this nonsense, which is an itch for novelty. And after a while, they will get tired of that and run off to some new thing. It is because they have never learned to love the Scriptures.
It is sort of like living on junk food. It is not good for you. You get the rush and the buzz after the Ding Dong, but then you come down. So you have another one. But you are not having a nutritious meal.
Maybe these fads will gather crowds for a time and make Christians look like idiots to the rest of the world, because for some unknown reason, people feel compelled to put these things on television. Sometimes I will flip through the channels and see some of these things, and I feel so embarrassed. I ask myself why it is that we have these people representing Christianity.
We want to be very careful when it comes to having an appetite for novelty, because the Bible tells us that in the last days, there will be false teachers. There will be a false gospel. There even will be false miracles. We have to wise up to that. That means when there are people waving Bibles and saying God told them this and that and they have a message for us from God, only the discerning believers will know the difference. Only those Christians who are conversant with Scripture and are biblically literate will be able to spot the weirdoes, because they are coming—and are indeed with us.
I believe that Hosea’s cry rings true for many in the church today: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6 NKJV).
So many people in the church today are biblically illiterate. They don’t have a biblical worldview. I have been in many different churches as a guest speaker, and when I say, “Turn in your Bibles to …,” and no one has a Bible, it is not a good sign. Then, when I will refer to certain biblical passages or stories, I notice that many people will have a blank expression on their faces.
In fact, usually within the first four to six minutes of speaking, I can assess a congregation’s biblical IQ. As I begin to speak, I notice the way they track, the way they listen, what interests them, and what doesn’t interest them. I can see how people will come alive when an illustration is rolled out, but as soon as I go back to the biblical text, they go into a daze, as if to say, “Wake us when the next illustration or joke is coming.”
This is because they have never learned to love the Bible. They have never developed a hunger for the Bible. That is what I want the people in my congregation to have. I want them to love the Bible. I love worship. I love having various musical artists come in and share their music with us. But I believe the main event is the teaching and the preaching of the Bible. That is what I want people to care for.
Unfortunately in the church today, there is a movement afoot in which the basic objective is to get huge crowds into churches. Pastors are spending a lot of money and time learning from the so-called experts who will tell them how to pack their pews.
But Jesus didn’t say to go into all the world and pack the pews; he said to go into all the world and make disciples. I would rather have fewer people in the pews who have a love for Scripture and an understanding of what discipleship is rather than have pews crowded with people who don’t possess these qualities. Making disciples is what we need to think about. Little sermonettes will produce Christianettes.
The church is a place where the Bible should be taught and where God’s people should know what the Scripture says. It should be a place where we worship, a place where we pray and a place where we use the gifts God has given us.
But we are getting away from that. That is why there is so much vulnerability to false teaching today.
This was happening in Jude’s time, which prompted him to refute false teachers who were professing to be Christians but were rejecting the revealed truth of God. They maintained a veneer, a masquerade of Christianity, to cover up what they really were. They were people who were filled with greed for money, sensual pleasure and a desire to satisfy their inner pride.
Jude warned, “But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you, ‘In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires’ ” (Jude 1:17–18 NIV).
These false teachers had infiltrated the ranks of the church. The worst thing imaginable is to spread wickedness under the veneer of true faith. And tragically, this does happen in the church today. I wish we could spot them more easily. But in his epistle, Jude points out that these people come in unnoticed (see Jude 1:4). And that is the whole idea.
They grow in numbers by pulling unsuspecting Christians out of churches and filling their heads with false teaching. Finally, when people are dependent on them for the so-called “truth” that cannot be discovered on their own, these false teachers essentially immobilize them.
I have seen this happen so many times. So beware of that sort of thing. Be careful of anyone who comes along and says they have a message, a “hidden truth” that you won’t hear anywhere else.