By S.J. Black
One of my favorite things to do is spend time working on an old Mustang that I own. Cars that are forty plus years old were made back in an era when you could actually work on your own car unlike the cars they are making today. I have learned a lot about cars and fixed a lot of things myself.
However, even though I have learned a ton about cars I cannot claim to know even half what a friend of mine knows. He restores old cars for a living and can tell you how to take a car completely apart, replace sheet metal in parts of the car and put it back together again in his sleep.
One thing that he is the master at is spotting a sadly pretty typical scam. The scam involves when people want to unload a “rust bucket” they will attempt to give the car a cheap quickie kind of paint job to hide some serious problems. You would think that placing an ad in the paper that says “new paint” would be a selling point but I have learned to be very skeptical when I read this.
My buddy however works on auto restoration projects all day long and can often glance at a quarter panel and tell when it has been given a quickie cheap paint job in an attempt to hide issues with a car.
I wonder often if it has occurred to some people out there today that they would have about as much luck trying to trick the Lord by acting certain ways as they would getting a rust bucket past my friend.
There are numerous examples of what I am talking about if one looks around. Some get up at church or where ever and give these "glorious prayers" with big swelling words but I always in the back of my mind have to stop and think...was that prayer designed to bring glory to God or to impress us with your "prayer skills?" Others might post what an “anointed” this or that they have deluded themselves into believing they are on an internet board. Plenty of others are on TV ripping off the church with their television ministries while they play head games and proclaim themselves a prophet. Don’t even get me started on the leaders of the mega-church movement that are all about making a name for themselves.
Bottom line truth is that you can clean up the outside as much as you want. The Lord looks through the bondo and paint you might try to put on the outside and looks straight through to see the rust and corrosion on the inside. You are not fooling the Lord at all.
Today, I believe we are entering a period in history where if you want to “play church” you would be well advised to count the costs. Michael Spencer recently wrote an article in Christian Science Monitor titled, “The coming evangelical collapse”. In the article, Mr. Spencer notes:
“Intolerance of Christianity will rise to levels many of us have not believed possible in our lifetimes, and public policy will become hostile toward evangelical Christianity, seeing it as the opponent of the common good.”
I believe Mr. Spencer is absolutely correct. Only I am not as optimistic about our having as much time as Michael appears to believe we have.
Our country just elected a die hard socialist as President and I have already seen attacks against Christians on many secular internet sites. We are already being labeled as opponents of the common good. The U.N. has been trying to make binding for a long while now a resolution related to "Combating Defamation of Religion." The problem is that this particular resolution will likely not protect Christians. It will however be used to persecute Christians for speaking out against radical Islam or even sharing the Gospel. The whole “I am the way, the truth and the life” thing is certain to be ‘hate speech’ before too long. My guess is the President wants to limit the deductibility of charitable contributions for those earning over $250,000 mainly because he and his crooked cronies in Congress are trying to launch an attack on church budgets.
Michael Spencer went on to note in his article that, “"massive majorities of Evangelicals can't articulate the Gospel with any coherence. We fell for the trap of believing in a cause more than a faith." I can attest to this from first hand experience while doing street evangelism in my area. Some of the people from the local “seeker sensitive” mega-church are good at playing church but they are truly ignorant of the true Gospel. They are too busy trying to dig wells in Africa or other social causes to be bothered with “divisive doctrine”. But sadly if you are not standing firm on and for the truth then you are just cleaning the outside of the cup and you are not fooling the Lord. Some of these folks I have met are truly deceived by a feel good message and sense of belonging that frankly won’t save anyone.
I know others who are worse then simply deceived. They attend church to network or get a date or whatever and probably honestly believe they are fooling God to get their way into heaven. The Lord isn’t fooled when they put a mask on for Sunday morning and live like hell on earth the rest of the week. If pressed about where they are headed when they die they will tell you Heaven because they are a “good person who attends church” but I would suggest to them that even their righteous acts are like filthy rags from the Lord’s point of view.
There was a group of “religious types” in Jesus’ time here on earth. They were quite proud of how righteous and pious they believed themselves to be but despite all their religious works they totally missed the point and Jesus had a few things to say in relation to these groups.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. (Matthew 23:25-28)
“And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. (Matthew 6:5-8)
"And so He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14)
I believe there is a time coming that will separate the false church from the true Bible believing church. America is well into her post-Christian era and I believe this time of separating is coming fast. I believe you will see a separation of those who play spiritual head games chasing after signs and wonders from a "false Jesus" and others that misrepresent and abuse Scripture for personal gain from those who count the costs and decide anyway to stand for and on the truth of Scripture.
Those who seek to abuse Scripture for personal notoriety are hirelings and will not stand firm when persecution comes.
So what you have to ask yourself is this, are you playing church and cleaning the outside of the cup? Or are you really seeking the Lord with all your heart and soul and willing to obey Him despite the costs?
Are you seeking a feel good message and a sense of belonging or seeking the Only Son of God?
Are you chasing after signs and wonders while some use hype and head games to fleece you or are you like the tax collector in Luke 18:9?
Frankly, while I see specific problems coming soon for the church, I also believe there are hard times coming in general. America is overdue judgment in my personal opinion. I wonder how long we can continue to thumb our nose at God and expect His longsuffering to continue. Dave Wilkerson recently published an article in which he is warning all who will listen to stock up on a thirty day supply of food. It was ironic because the Lord had been speaking the same thing to me for several days and reading Dave’s article merely confirmed what I was feeling the Lord speaking to my heart. It had been pressing on my heart to stock up on supplies but to also acquire a way to guard those supplies. This country is currently a powder keg and social unrest or riots in the streets are hardly a stretch of the imagination. If nothing else our leaders seem to be unable or unwilling to stop Iran from becoming a full blown nuclear power.
Times they are a change’n and they are certainly getting interesting in a perilous sort of way.
Really none of this is a surprise to those who love the Word and study prophecy. In 2 Timothy 3:1 Paul tells us, “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come” and in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, Paul tells us plainly that prior to the beginning of the tribulation period there would first be a great falling away. We have been seeing this for some time now and when persecution starts you will see the great pretenders fall away very quickly. Personally....I would rather be the tax collector full of Godly sorrow with a repentant heart instead of the puffed up Pharisee, know what I mean?
It is sort of depressing in a way to read the news these days and to see what is happening to our once great nation as she quickly slides off into the abyss of socialism that will lead to totalitarianism probably quicker than any of us care to admit. But there is a silver lining in all of this. It all means God’s prophetic word is coming to pass exactly like it says. All of this also means that Jesus is coming again soon and if you know Him instead of about Him that is reason to be excited and looking up in expectation. Pass the word, Jesus is coming soon!