Saturday, July 28, 2007

# 211:The Religious Who Do Nothing For Christ

This is a rather lengthy post, but worth reading a time or two. Just by chance, I tuned in to a sermon being given by D. James Kennedy, Ph.D., pastor of Carol Ridge Ministries in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on July 21, 2007. His sermon was on the last part of chapter four in the book of Ruth. That book is one of my favorites.

The part of his sermon that really got my attention was when he brought up 1st Corinthians 3:14-15. “If what he built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.” I will continue shortly on the erroneous understanding of these verses, which has had a devastating effect on how inactive, secular “christians” are fulfilling the great commission in Matthew 28:19, etc.

By the way, Kennedy had been a pastor for over 40 years. This was his interpretation: If a person claims to be a Christian, goes to church every Sunday and does nothing spiritually constructive week after week, that person will remain in good standing with God, although because of doing nothing, he will suffer loss (his reward). This type of belief has been going on in many popular churches since who knows when. Keep this in mind: 1st Corinthians 3:14-15 is the only portion of Scripture mentioned in the New Testament that seems to imply what Kennedy is teaching. What a wise person has to do to learn the correct meaning of verses 14 and 15 is to keep it in context with the preceding part of chapter three, to see what Paul is really talking about.

I don’t know how wise I am; nevertheless, I will give it a shot. 1st Corinthians 3:6. “I [Paul] plant the seed [started the church in Corinth], Apollos waters it [teaches], but God makes it grow.” [God adds more members to the church]. The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose [to teach the correct way Corinthians must live to please Christ, so they will continue in the faith], and each will be rewarded according to his own labor.” If the church members in Corinth live in a way that is in accordance with the Will of God, they are the reward for Paul and Apollos. Let me continue. Verse 10-12. “By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each should be careful how he builds.” Verse 13 is speaking in an allegoric way by saying if one builds by correct Godly teaching or by way of being a ear tickler, etc., the quality of each man’s work will be tested on the Day (the judgment). If the converts to Christianity are judged worthy, those Corinthian disciples of Christ are Paul and Apollos’ reward.

Repeating verses 14 and 15: “If what he has built survives [judged worthy of life], he [Paul or Apollos] will be rewarded. If it is burned up [most likely the disobedient], he [Paul or Apollos] will suffer loss [those “do-nothing” Christians who didn’t make the grade]; he himself [Paul and Apollos] will be saved, but only as one escaping through the fire.”

The above paragraph is a far cry from what the modern Christian church has been teaching concerning rewards. The rewards our present-day church leaders teach are great spiritual blessings in heaven (being great in heaven). That is, if they engage in works, deeds, and produce good fruit, which are one in the same. If that is the way many church-going people believe, and it is, the logic the comfy-cozy laity has concerning rewards is this: “Heck, I don’t really care for great spiritual blessings in heaven or being great; all I want to do is to get to heaven.” For that reason, all the good they are commanded to do (the difficult-obedience part of Christianity) goes out the window, and they naively think they still can get to heaven because they mentally believe in Christ, of course, by the prompting of the clergy.

That has been, and still is, the most devastating heresy of all heresies. That is the main reason why the vast majority of religious church-going people are “christians” who “do nothing” to promote the cause of Christ.

These next two verses are called “The Great Commission.” These words according to Matthew 28:19-20 are the last words Jesus spoke to His disciples: “Therefore go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Let me give a commentary on these two verses. “Go and make disciples.” The disciples were not yet called Christians until possibly twenty-five or thirty years later in the city of Antioch. That in itself says that every Christian is a disciple of Christ. What is a disciple of Christ? A pupil or follower of Christ; a member of the disciples of Christ; follower. The word “disciple” is taken from the root word “discipline.” Discipline means training that develops self-control, character or efficiency; strict control to enforce obedience.

“Baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Baptism is an outward and public display of an inward condition. Baptism never saves anyone. “And teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Whatever Jesus Christ taught His disciples is what we are to be taught. The heart of that verse is the word “obey.” If that is true, and it is, what happens to those who do little or nothing for Christ? This blog is jam-packed with many of Christ’s teachings which we are commanded to obey. What happens to those who do nothing, simply by neglecting the New Testament teaching of obedience? Read on for the answer.

There are dozens and dozens of verses in the New Testament, along with this blog, that emphasize obedience to all New Testament (Christ’s) teachings, which are given to us through the written words of His apostles, etc. What I am doing is saying that, without obedience, there is no Salvation (zilch). Obedience doesn’t save; yet, as all-important as obedience is, it is no more than evidence of faith, love, and the fact that they belong to Christ.

Even an unsaved fool can see that the interpretation the vast majority of what organized religion teaches is false. Therefore, 1st Corinthians 3:14-15 can’t be saying what pastor Kennedy believes, along with many other misguided preachers. The grievous sin in obedience to Christ’s teachings is the neglected clauses silently hidden from view by the majority of the mainstream Christian churches. This is where silence is not golden, as the song says, but deadly.

If church-going people want to really get upset, let them check out just a few posts that clearly display a few of the hard-to-obey New Testament verses which are in plain sight but avoided like the plague. Click on posts # 58, 92, 142 and 170 for starters.

We as humans like to have conditions in our lives as easy as possible. And I truly understand. This is what the organized religion has done; it gave/gives us a gospel that is palatable and in agreement with our lazy, sinful human nature, while sacrilegiously using holy words to make their message sound acceptable and authentic. Scripture says over and over again, in many different ways, that this type of gospel will send all those who adhere to it straight to hell while holding their Bibles in-hand and joyfully praising Jesus Christ as Lord (boss).

Let us examine the word “reward” in the singular since it is only mentioned once as a plural in the book of Hebrews 11:6. When the author writes, “. . . he rewards those [plural] who earnestly seek him.” What was Jesus’ reward? Revelation 22:12. “My reward is with me [his chosen and faithful followers], and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.” Matthew 16:27. “. . . then he will reward each person according to what he has done.” What will happen to those who do nothing?

Having faith in Jesus Christ gives us Salvation: love for God and man/woman, which is the result of that faith; and obedience, which shows itself by our fruit and is undeniable evidence of our faith and love. The final result of being disciples/Christians is to multiply (make us fishers of men/women). Regardless of what gift we have been blessed with, we all have the duty to actively propagate the life of Jesus Christ. The word “mediocrity” is not in the Christian vocabulary.

Repeating, we all have different gifts of the Spirit, and at the same time we all have the obligation to produce fruit. No one is exempt. Preach this message to established congregations and they will vanish as quickly as a flash. That involves too much effort. They may silently ask, "Can’t we be do-nothing Christians like we were taught years ago?”

The word “reward” can mean benefits other than new disciples, e.g., as Paul writes in 1st Corinthians 9:18. “What then is my reward? Just this: that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge, and not make use of my right in preaching it.” In short, his reward is not to get paid for preaching. Therefore, the word “reward” can mean earthly benefits, like working one’s buns off in making every effort to make the gospel prosper. Yes, that is a great reward. Christ was the very best person in the world; He is our only example of how to live. Our desire to be the very best Christian possible is the greatest reward of all. Without a doubt, that desire is our earthly reward, which will have eternal consequences.

Even though Salvation is given to us by grace, meaning we could never work for it, there are verses that seem to imply that our life with God in eternity is the reward for remaining firm to the end. Matthew 10:24. “And if anyone gives a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is a disciple of mine, I tell you the truth, he will not lose his reward.” Jesus is implying that everyone has a reward in waiting. What reward is Jesus referring to? It sounds to me like that reward is eternal life. There are several other verses that imply the same principle.

In ending, when we are discussing rewards, it could get complex. But at the same time, never—I say, never—when anyone, including ourselves, is interrupting any portion of Scripture, should we attempt to compromise fulfilling our Christian duty of remaining true to Christ in obedience to all his teachings. When obedience, which is imperative, is lacking in the lives of do-nothing “christians,” Christ has no choice but to say, “Sorry, you failed the test.” Jesus may also say, “When anyone is preaching for profit, regardless of how loving and understanding he/she may seem, all that she/he said must be cross-referenced and double- checked to see if the truth is not only being bent, but twisted completely out of context by what is not being said.” And if Christ doesn’t say that on Judgment Day, I most certainly am saying it ahead of time as a legitimate and timely warning.

To make sure we are being told the truth, it is absolutely essential to know exactly what the New Testament teaches, and that won’t happen overnight. It will be like a tedious jigsaw-type challenge; in what was written 2,000 years ago, some verses may mean something different in today’s language. Examples : Luke 16: 9. “I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourself, so that when it is gone you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings.” Also, Luke 14:26-27. “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sister—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple.” Just a few more: Luke 6:25. “But woe to you who are well fed now, for you will go hungry.” The most logical meaning to this verse is aimed to those who eat more than necessary, which is a waste, and become fat or obese. Luke 23:31. “For if men do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?” Along with many, many more mystery verses. A Bible concordance will be a great benefit in finding all the words of whatever subject one is cross-referencing.

Something to remember: The perfect place for a con-artist to make a killing is in the ministry of Jesus Christ since most people who go to churches are not familiar with Christ’s teachings, especially the hard-to-live-by commands, and then, unknowingly, out of necessity, are forced to believe whatever is preached from the pulpit. Don’t get in that position.

Just remember this: Ted Haggard was the president of the National Association of Evangelical Christians and founder of the New Life Church. He was forced to resign as leader of both organizations after being caught in a sexual affair with a male prostitute. He was the greatest disgrace possible for organized Christianity.

Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker were two of the most popular TV evangelists for many years. Jim Bakker was jailed for swindling millions of dollars for his own private use. Tammy Faye died on July 21, 2007. (just a few days ago).

Jimmy Swaggart also was an extremely popular TV evangelist. He resigned his post after being found consorting with a prostitute.

All these popular preachers were expert con-artists. How many more are there getting a free ride while telling their audience exactly what they desire to hear, week after week?

Let me tell you about one preacher who beats them all: He is good- looking, has a fixed smile, and is always flattering his listeners by saying nice things about them. He presents himself in the most professional way. I actually got to like him, even though I am acutely aware that his message falls far short of telling his listeners what they need to hear and do to comply with God’s Will. I hate to say it, but I enjoy listening to him. He has more charisma than any preacher I have ever heard, and he can’t be more than 30 or 35 years old. He took over his father's ministry just 8 years ago. He always presents himself as a likeable person. He has a church in Houston, Texas (the Lakewood Church). His name is Joel Osteen.

His church, the largest in America, is packed every week and it holds—get this—30,000 people. For anyone to draw a full house every week, he has to be good with his words and demeanor. He has everything going for him except for preaching the vital part of the gospel message. In fact, if you listen to just one of his messages, except for a little variation, you have heard them all. He is on a roll; why should he change? The people love him. No one has a bad word to say about him. He was even presented in TIME Magazine as the best of the best. Luke has this to say as he quotes Jesus’ words: Luke 6:26. “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.”

If the Bible is correct, the attitude we all must be cautious of is being deceived. There are no less than 170 verses warning believers to watch out so that we don’t succumb to the beautiful words of deceit. One excellent way of deceiving is by using flattery. Listen to Romans 16:18. “By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.” And also Jude 16. “. . . they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.” And who doesn’t like being flattered? As long it is true. Webster definition of flattery: “To make or seem better or more attractive than is so; to praise too much, untruly, or insincerely, or in order to win favor.”

If you forget all else, remember this: A religious deceiver/con-artist who knows his stuff will never act, say, or do anything that will give him/herself away; he or she will always act loving and caring, along with many other positive actions. You may say, “If that is the case, how can we tell the real from the fake?” Only one way: to know God’s Will by becoming familiar with the New Testament, to the point where anything which is said or preached will automatically be computed as to its authenticity according to one’s rich knowledge of Scripture. How many church-going Christians can do that? That is where the problem originates and never ends. It is not an easy task to know God’s Word/Will to that degree. Lazy people (do-nothings) will automatically be disqualified from the ability to know and understand the truth concerning the way of faith, love and obedience. Of course, most of those who are lazy don’t believe they are lazy; they just have a different set of life’s priorities, and Bible study may shamefully be on the bottom of their list.

I just wonder if Osteen is aware of the harm he is doing to the cause of Christ by what he is not teaching. If he is, I would say he is the best con-man I have ever seen. Like George Bush; when Bush is lying, a certain look comes over his face, which I am sure many can detect. Joel Osteen, at times, has that same look of guilt, which cannot be hidden even by most expert con-artists. Check him out at You will be surprised. All I can say is not to get caught up in a pleasant-sounding ministry; that is, if you desire to live as the New Testament requires.

There are thousands like Osteen, although most likely, most are not as good a showman/woman. He is committing the gravest possible crime against God and Jesus Christ. That talented, brilliant, angelic man will go to the deepest hell there is for leading thousands of do-nothings to the grave, unsaved. How can a blog like this, which is dedicated to exposing that type of deceptive holy bull, survive by telling the truth as it was meant to be told by the few who have the guts to tell it like it is, regardless of criticism? Answer: No matter how evil the world becomes, God always has His few. Remember this verse: “Many are called but few are chosen.” And I know it is God’s Will that we will survive and thrive in our small numbers (approximately a couple thousand regular bloggers, if even that). We know the devil is interested in quantity, and therefore, he counts his followers while God weighs His few for quality. In the Christian world, big is most often, if not always, bad!

Osteen always starts his sermon with a joke (funny story) to get his listeners in a happy and receptive mood, and always ends with an invitation for the TV viewers to accept the Lord Jesus Christ into their hearts. Continuing, he says, “and we believe you have been born again.” Accepting Christ as Lord and Savior is only the first crucial step to Salvation, which, if genuine, will follow with love and obedience. And then Osteen continues by saying, “Join a good, Bible-based church.” I say, “So the clergy (greedy for numbers and booty), most likely, will make the new converts into do-nothing christians.”

The last word of warning: If it sounds pleasant, most likely it is a partial truth or an outright lie. As I have said dozens of times in this blog, the genuine Christian life will be the most challenging in existence. The reason being, our enemy the devil has infiltrated—via camouflage, as “a ‘christian’ do-nothing,”—into our sinful human nature (the flesh), and to conquer its compelling ways, we must first recognize its evil intent and then put that nature into its proper place: last, as to importance. Scripture commands the use of stronger words by saying, “put our human nature to death,” an extremely difficult task. Check Romans 8:12-13, and the gospel of John 6:63.

No comments: