wpe21.jpg (16613 bytes)

Sept. 10, 2012

Counterfeit Spirituality: Rise of Apostasy in the Church

A couple of years ago, I received a phone call from a woman who called herself a "Reverend." In that brief conversation she said, "I’m spiritual and not religious." I get very nervous each time I hear such statement. From my personal experience such people are implying another spirituality, other than the Bible spirituality of the Holy Spirit. There may be some exceptions. Is quite possible some people who claim as such may be Christians who do not go to church or believe in corporate worship because of so many abuses in the church today. This particular lady however was using the term to define the spirituality of the New Age, the universe, and other gods, besides the spirituality of Christianity. When Christians hear the words; Hinduism, Buddhism, or any word depicting Eastern religion, the red flag goes off in their minds that these are counterfeit spirituality. However, when such theology is packaged and dressed with Christian names like "the Christian" Yoga, "God wants" you to be rich, "Jesus wants" you to get in touch with your inner emotions, we ended up missing the warning signs.

Sadly, due to the economic downturn in the nation, many Christians have been accepting and binging on the "make me feel good gospels." I agree that Jesus preached joy of the Lord, but everything about Jesus is not about joy. In Christian doctrines, Jesus himself admitted and warned us that we would go through trials and tribulations for his namesake. We preach so much about "feeling good gospel" we find it very difficult to ride the waves at difficult times. The essence of the counterfeit spirituality is the search for the ultimate happiness as defined by materialism, human emotions based on SELF, and other pagan gods. So, this year 2012, we have been hearing more about the "goodness of God" and "God wants to bless you" gospels. What happens if you do not receive the blessing? Then the preacher will accuse you of not having enough faith. What happens to the gospel of going through crisis in life to help us become a better person? Why did Jesus preach about a woman in labor? The sad part of the "make me feel good" gospels is the disappointment people encounter when they do not get rich, or sometimes facing challenges in life. Some of these people will walk away from the church into other religions which they believe will grant them the happiness they are searching for in life. Did the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ preach a life without trials, or a life without pain? Absolutely not! Yet, in many churches today, fund raising is the center of church programs. We hear messages about "what Jesus wants to give you" from the pulpit of prosperity preachers. "All you have to do is sow your seed to my ministry and God will bless you." This is a false doctrine!

If you study the Bible very well, Jesus never associated money with seeds. I’m not against church donation for mission works. May God bless those missionaries using such donations to help those who are suffering either at home or in other countries. But I’m against scam artists in the pulpits deceiving people saying that the more money given to a preacher the richer the members will get. The prosperity gospel is a lie from the heart of the devil! Prosperity gospel in one of the deceptions introduced by the devil inside the church, and embraced by the uninformed. Many people walked away from the church because of this type of abuses. Jesus referred to the seed as the word of God. Jesus made this very clear in the parable of the sower. He never associated money with seed; it is always with the Word of God! (St. Matthew 13:1-23). The sower is planting the Words of God (St. Luke 8:11). Where preachers today received this prosperity gospel of seeds being money is beyond my understanding. I guess this kind of preaching is part of what is messing up the church today.

Suffering as Part of the Lifestyle of a Christian

Jesus said, "In this world you will have tribulation" (St. John 16:33). I have not met anybody who has accepted to serve the Lord and has never encountered any problem in his or her life. If you see such a preacher, he or she is either telling a big lie, or just started the ministry yesterday. Preaching about "redemptive suffering" is not a way to generate a lot of revenue for the church, however this gospel must be preached. We see celebrity dropping dead right and left. We see some preachers falling from the pulpit and cracking their heads. Others are falling from grace to grass. But, we are still unwilling to preach about the agony involved in working this journey especially when the storm is very intense. What should a preacher do when the devil come knocking on the door? What should the church members do when the loved one is facing a terminal illness? What should a person do despite being a Christian for years and a dedicated worker, yet the pink slip replaced a letter of promotion? Do we ever teach people how to handle painful challenges of life?

I believe in sharing testimonies where we learn to overcome challenges of life and giant blessings followed. My greatest joy is in listening to how God has delivered some people from very painful situations or an illness that could have claimed their lives. What happened to a Christian who had to deal with chronic pain for years? What happened despite prayers and fasting, the young child eventually died? What happened after many years you loved your spouse and gave all you have and that same spouse turned on you because you are just too nice? What happens after many years you have been serving the Lord that the devil went after your children? One of them ended up in jail and the other had to battle drug addiction? The answer is simple, if Jesus can show off his battle scar after resurrection; we should not be ashamed to share our battle scar as well. When Jesus first resurrected, the first evidence he showed to his disciples were his battle scars on his hands and on his sides. When John first had a revelation, the first evidence of Jesus revealed to him were the feet scars of the nail. The scars were not only the confirmation that he was actually the same Jesus who walked the face of this earth; they were also the true testimony of a victorious warrior who defeated the devil. How many of us are willing to share our battle scars with other Christians?

Rise of Apostasy Inside the Church

Many Christians are beginning to accept this notion that life must be a pleasant journey like some of the Eastern religions are teaching their members. Preachers are now living like rock stars with flamboyant celebrity image with private jets. Who does not want to be famous and rich? This image of a flamboyant preacher is a deception, and not different from the Eastern religion. Jesus said whosoever wants to be the greatest should be the servant of all. Everybody is not going to become a Christian millionaire! Inside the church, we are inadvertently welcoming the gospel of the New Age religion about "Self" as the center of the universe. When is "Self" or "inner Self" becomes more important than Jesus? I’m not against the determination to be educated, achieve and take care of your family to embrace a life of contentment. However, this relentless pursuit of greatness in a world of materialism is a recipe for emotional crash.

In the New Age gospel, all you have to do is get in touch with your inner emotions and connect yourself to the spirit realm outside you. God forbid you may connect to the spirit of demons in the spirit realm and you become a servant of the devil. This is an exercise in worshipping idols. Sadly, there are some Christians who believe in the New Age religion as part of human spirituality. They do not realize they are setting themselves up for a dangerous life of spiritual mysticism of the Eastern religion. For example Yoga is a form of worship in the Eastern religion. Some Christians have adopted this as only a form of exercise not realizing Yoga is more than physical exercise. Yoga is about the worship of gods of the Eastern religion of Hinduism, a process of communicating the spirit of other gods. Some people are referring to this as Christianized Hinduism. Help me Jesus! Help me Lord!

Unfortunately, the rise of such apostasy in Christianity emerged because people are looking for a life free of pain. Sorry, you aren’t going to find it! The church has become a place like those going to the voodoo doctor. We are looking for a quick fix and the devil is busy deceiving the preachers and the church members alike. After all the shouting sermons, nothing happens in the hearts of men, because the preacher is shooting blanks! The members go home and are knocked into depression after church service because they are never led to the presence of God. Our church service has been reduced to a theatrical performance in the presence of cheering spectators sitting in the pews.

I believe we can find solace in the presence of God through the eternal Spirit of God. In your journey with the Lord, you are going to encounter some turbulence just like when flying on a plane. You can never escape the storms of life. Your life’s journey is not going to be problem free. The more challenges you face, the stronger you get because he promised never to leave you nor forsake you. When you come out of the storm, you get stronger and better while you prepare for the next storm coming your way. The way you handle the storm with your battle scars become a giant testimony for those who are yet to pass through the wilderness of life.

Selfishness and pure arrogance is when you believe life is all about you. I remember a story of two women who went through school together in one of those developing countries. They were friends like sisters. They both got married a few months apart and were in each other’s wedding. Both of them had three kids each. They were both married to professional men. After about ten years into their marriage, one of the husbands died in a car accident. The second wife watched her friend as she grieved herself into depression. The grieving wife lost all her friends, but the other wife refused to abandon her friend since they had been friends before they got married. When the one whose husband was still alive saw her bereaved friend grieving almost to death, she talked to her husband. She requested to bring her friend and her children into their home to nurture and protect them. This action will shock many people in the Western World. Something similar happened between Leah and Rachael, wives of Jacob in the Bible. The wife whose husband died was rescued from depression. The second wife asked her husband to nurture her friend after her friend lost her husband in an accident. She allowed her friend to become her husband’s second wife. How many women are willing to rescue their friend in such a way in the Western World?

If you live in the U.S. and you said God has never blessed you, then look at the way some people live in developing countries and they are still praising God. Imagine living in a one-room apartment with your family of three kids. You have to share a common bathroom with eight other tenants. Imagine only able to feed your family once in a day and praying that children will receive some free food in school. In some developing countries, some children are used to eating nothing throughout the school hours and they have to walk miles to get home to eat food barely enough to fill their stomachs. While that is going on in other countries, you are throwing some food away in the U.S. because they are leftovers from a night before. I remember one day I had a party at work. I gave a coworker some fried chicken legs. He refused the chicken legs and said, "I’m sorry, I don’t eat dark meat, I only eat white meat. I’m choosy!" Initially, I wanted to either choke or hit him with the chicken legs in my hand. What he said was so annoying just as the ugliness of his torturing smile for turning down my chicken! But, I let the Spirit of God take over the rest of my action and subdue my anticipated negative reactions. In other developing countries some children will look at those chicken legs and wings as the food of the very rich folks. When we refuse to appreciate what God has given to us, life challenges will then teach us about the goodness of God in a hard way.

For political gains, many Christians will vote for apostasy this election year 2012. Because of political disagreement, some Christians will walk away from Jesus. Such action exposes that they can sacrifice Jesus on the altar of their political ideology. They will rather support the doctrine of Baal instead of supporting the doctrine of Jesus. Are those people truly Christians?

There is no testimony without a test, no crown without a cross, and no resurrection without crucifixion. This life is not just about you. You are designed to be the radiance of the glory of God. Jesus did not promise us a life free of challenges, but he promised us a safe arrival at our destination to the paradise of eternal salvation. Walk away from Jesus at your own risk.

Yinka Vidal, author, Closer Walk With Jesus