The Twenty-First Century Church: Light Without Salt

Contributed to Pulpit and Pen P. E. Harris

Through many years of pastoral ministry, I have encountered many so-called evangelical Christians who do not believe in speaking about their faith. Many of them have bought into the philosophy that Christians should only witness Jesus Christ to people by their lifestyle. The mantra of these people goes like this, “You should be a witness for Jesus Christ and maybe even have to speak about it.” Many in the church today would agree with this statement. They believe that somehow through osmosis people get saved when they see Christians just being themselves. I have even heard testimonies by Christians who claimed to have won people to Christ without a spoken word. And yet, in 30 years I have never run into anyone who said that was how they got saved. Lifestyle evangelism is just an excuse to be silent about Christ. This philosophy is contrary to the express teachings of Jesus Christ who said, “… go into all nations and preach the Gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15) And, “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before my Father in Heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in Heaven.” (Matthew 10:32-33)

The reason people like lifestyle evangelism is because it makes them feel safe. They never have to confront people about sin. They never have to stand up for righteousness. In certain crowds, they can always be spiritually ambiguous so as not to offend. They never have to face rejection and ridicule. They just live their “Christian” lives and keep their opinions to themselves. A close cousin of lifestyle evangelism is the Joel Osteen positive only Christianity. People know there is little risk of offense if you only speak positive and encouraging things. This safety issue is one of the reasons for the popularity of Mr. Osteen. In Osteen’s church, you can be a “Christian” without counting the cost of discipleship. And you never have to worry about having a contrary opinion with other people. You never have to worry that your message will offend anyone. You never have to bring up the subjects of sin and rebellion. Because all you do is encourage people to find health, wealth and prosperity in the promises of Jesus. No muss, no fuss, no confrontation, no persecution by the world. Just believe the myth that as long as you focus on improving yourself and finding your own purpose, the glow of your positive light will attract other people.

However, there is a major flaw with this philosophy. This is a Christianity who’s true light is hidden under a basket. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not just a positive message of God’s gifts and promises. The Gospel is first a negative message convicting people of sin. This conviction leads to repentance and contrition before people can ever receive the positive promises of God. The ministry of the Gospel is not just positive light, it is first and foremost confrontational salt. As Jesus Christ said in the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lamp-stand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:11-16) Notice how the reference to salt is connected to people who are persecuted for righteousness sake. Salt is a metaphor about people speaking up for the truth and righteousness of God. Notice also that salt comes before the light in the passage.

Before refrigeration, salt was indispensable to fight the bacteria that would cause food poisoning. If you went to the meat market the only choice you had was meat left outdoors, usually covered with flies. Eating meat is a very positive and healthy thing. But only a fool would try to eat unrefrigerated meat without first salting it before it was cooked. The use of salt rubbed into the meat kills off the corrupting influence of insect larvae, viruses, and bacteria. Even today it is recommended to give turkey a salt rub before cooking it to prevent salmonella. Salt also has the power to clean wounds and to prevent infection. The ancients commonly used salt as a medicinal cure. But needless to say, salt in a wound is a mighty powerful irritant. It stings, but it heals. Being salt in a spiritual sense means you are an irritant to people trapped in sin and worldliness. Just as salt stings when it confronts an infected wound, so does true preaching of repentance sting prior to salvation. The authentic Gospel stings the heart of sinful, worldly and lost people. And yet, without the medicine of Gospel-salt people cannot be healed, forgiven or set free by the blood of Christ. Being salt with flavor means you actually have to speak negative truth to lost souls in order to bring them to the positive aspects of deliverance and salvation. Being salt means you have to confront the corroding bacteria of false doctrine in the world and in the church. Being salt means you have become a true disciple of Jesus Christ. It means you must be willing to sacrifice yourself and suffer possible persecution for the sake of the genuine salvation of souls.

Before Lucifer fell and became Satan his name meant light-bearer. Presently the church is crammed full of useless positive light-bearers. This is Lucifer’s plan to turn Christians into half-truth positive only speakers so the true and complete Gospel never gets out. He wants us to bring light without salt, and he has been wildly successful. This work of Satan is all about deceiving souls because the half-truths of the positive Gospel are in reality the complete lies of the Evil One. Because of the popularity of the false positive Gospel throughout the world, the real church has a severe shortage of salt-bearers. Men and women who are willing to risk, confront and speak the truth necessary so people can be authentically saved. What the church and world need more than ever is full disciples of Jesus Christ who boldly proclaim both the salt and the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ’s substitutionary atonement and God’s grace to save.

Source

[Contributed by P. E. Harris]

P.E. Harris has been a Christan pastor, teacher, and lecturer for 30 years. He and his wife Aloma live in Southern California. The Harris’ have 5 children and 8 grandchildren. Mr. Harris’ two books will be available in 2018. Christian Fiction: Royal Rodger and the Great King: And Christian Non-Fiction: Anchors of Salvation

The New Apostolic Reformation An Examination of the Five-Fold Ministries

By Pastor Gary Gilley, Southern View  Gospel & Think on These Things Ministries (TOTT)

TOTT Ministries publishes really well written articles concerning contemporary issues facing today’s church. The two most recent articles address the topic of this blog post. They represent a careful and honest  examination of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR)  covering NAR’s

  • Historical Roots and Foundation,
  • Theological Distinctives,
  • Infiltration into Mainstream Evangelicalism,
  • A Biblical Examination,
  • and Conclusion

All of the information in these articles is carefully presented and referenced in great detail. Due to the length of the material it is not practical to post them in their entirety in this blog. Instead, I offer you the linked to the online articles:

The New Apostolic Reformation An Examination of the Five-Fold Ministries Part 1

The New Apostolic Reformation An Examination of the Five-Fold Ministries Part 2

Whether you recognize the term NAR or not,  You will recognize many of NAR’s theological distinctives, as well as the names of well know NAR proponents.

I pray that God will bless your reading!

Indictments Against the Church

by Pastor Josh Buice

The success of The Shack is a true indictment on the shallowness of mainstream evangelicalism. The church is not only called to evangelize the world with the gospel, she is also called to have biblical discernment. That lack of concern when it comes to understanding the Bible and the core essential teachings of Scripture among many evangelical Christians should bring about great concern. When bookstores, even Christian bookstores, are willing to peddle books like The Shack and other sub-Christian titles, we should be greatly concerned. Albert Mohler writes:

The Shack is a wake-up call for evangelical Christianity…The popularity of this book among evangelicals can only be explained by a lack of basic theological knowledge among us — a failure even to understand the Gospel of Christ. The tragedy that evangelicals have lost the art of biblical discernment must be traced to a disastrous loss of biblical knowledge. Discernment cannot survive without doctrine. [4]

A further indictment must be centered on the pulpit in the evangelical church today. Christians, if taught properly each Lord’s Day from the pulpit, would detest such books as The Shack.  If robust teaching was the common diet, books like The Shack would be so unsuccessful that a movie producer wouldn’t give it a second thought—because in his mind he needs the evangelical church to buy tickets to watch it. Therefore, when the pulpit is shallow, dysfunctional, and sub-Christian—you can expect the people to crave that same type of entertainment.

Pastors guard your people by telling them the truth. Brothers and sisters in Christ, please make the movie version of this heretical book far less successful by staying home.

____________

TGhe above remarks are part of a longer and well written article by Pastor Buice concerning The Shack. You can read the entire article here.

“Dream Destinies”

We can hear a lot of teaching these days from a lot of churches about the dream destiny God has for each of us. It’s a popular topic these days. What about it? Does God have a ‘Dream Destiny’ for you?

Christ Roseborough give us his opinion based on the account of Moses found in the book of Exodus. You can listen here, or at:

http://www.piratechristian.com/fightingforthefaith/2016/12/god-does-not-have-a-dream-destiny-to-reveal-to-you

“Of course  it’s true, it’s on the Internet!”

We laugh at that notion, as if no one with of a functioning brain would swallow such a ridiculous idea! Only a complete idiot would believe that!

At the same time, some of us who profess Christ would subscribe to a slightly different notion:

“The music is fantastic, it MUST be a great church!”

Well, don’t we? (Rhetorical question) Whether it’s tender lyrics that make us feel all loved and warm inside, electric guitar riffs accompanied by loud pounding drums reminscent of our non-believing days, or somewhere in between, we automatically assume we’re in a great church!

But is it true, or are we getting ‘Hooked on a Feeling’, like B. J. Thomas used to sing. (aging myself?)

At ths point I have to admit that I have two specific ‘churches’ in mind, Hillsong and Bethel. I recently visited family in Texas and the music of both was glowingly spoken of. A friend at work, when I asked him if he had a good weekend, said yes and going to the recently released Hillsong movie was part of it. If you don’t know, it was billed primarily as ‘experiencing’ worship. You can hardly find a church thesemdaysmthat doesn’t play Hillsong and Bethel music on a regular basis.

In case you think / this a Hillsong/Bethel bash fest, don’t worry, it’s not. I’ll leave it to you to investigate their respective ‘doctrines’, vision statements, etc.
Some of you won’t have an issue with Word of Faith, the prosperity gospel, glory clouds, gold dust, dead raising teams, etc.. If you are one of those, I encourage you to read the Bible, in context, and ask yourself if they are biblical.

In fact, I would ask us all to be a bit more discerning when it comes to both contemporary Christian music and the doctrine(s) held by the churches who have laid classical theology rich hymns aside in order to attract more of the ‘unchurched’. Hillsong and Bethel aren’t the only ones dispensaing spiritual junk food.

While you’re examining the church behind the music, also ask yourself if the preaching there is more about you and your felt needs, or God and his glory.

Happy discerning!

A Saturday Morning Rant?

Early in the AM, at least 6 days a week, I cycle 10 miles in an indoor exercise machine. I’m able to average 15 MPH with hills and at the same time catch up on news, email, Facebook and WordPress stuff.

This morning on Facebook I was greeted with one of those posts I have really grown to dislike. We’ve all received them. You know the ones that try and ‘guilt’ you into ‘sharing’ the post? I don’t much care for any of them, but some are more grievous to me than others. Those are the ones posted by Christians like the one I was this morning. It was a picture of a Jesus (a worthy of Hollywood handsome type) wearing a brown cloak with a hood. The text was “I bet you won’t share this because you’re embarrassed to have Jesus on your wall”.

At first I became angry, but then I tried to analyze my harsh feelings. A few things came to mind.

1. The picture wasn’t Jesus! It was nothing more than a picture of what someone wanted to pass as off as the Christ of Scripture. Enough said.

2. I would never try and ‘guilt’ people over their faith. Faith in serious business, a matter of life and death, you might say. At the same time, professing believers keeping their faith private for whatever reason is, I think very problematic.

3. I think the practice of ‘guilting’ people into sharing a picture of Jesus, Bible verse, etc. really cheapens the message of of the Gospel.

4. I wonder how many of those who use this tactic and think they are sharing Jesus actually share the gospel face to face instead of on Facebook. That we are constantly surrounded by the lost and dying comes to mind.

5. At the same time what I am NOT ashamed of is the Gospel. You know, the genuine Gospel that Christ died for our SIN!

Food for thought. . .

Abraham Maslow or Jesus Christ – What’s it Gonna Be?

I suppose you are wondering what I’m on about this time! And who’s this Maslow fellow? Those are both understandable concerns. It wasn’t until earlier today that I discovered the connection between Maslow and most of today’s evangelicalism. And after all, I’m not William Tapley, the 3rd Eagle of the Apocalypse and co-prophet of the End-Times! I’m a it slow some times.

I made the connection while reading an article about something else entirely and coming across the term ‘self-actualization’. The term immediately brought Abraham Maslow to mind, since I first heard that term in a class discussion concerning human behavior. According to Maslow, self-actualization sits as the top of a pyramid that explains why people behave the way they do. Here’s that pyramid, with explanations of the main human ‘needs’ areas and what they each mean:

maslows-hierarchy-of-needs

 

It seems to me that today’s evangelicalism, as expressed by today’s seeker friendly/purpose driven models, is more about and speaks more to individual psychological and self-fulfillment needs in the exact terms expressed above, than it does about behaving in all things first and foremost to the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31).

Instead of being told we are sinners deserving of the wrath of God (Eph 2), we are taught that what’s missing from our lives is a personal ‘relationship’ with Jesus, whose principal and often sole character trait is love, love, love. None of that sin judgment stuff, “All We Need is Love”!

We are told all about ‘community’ and relationships with other believers, and put into ‘Life Groups’ to help us feel a great sense of ‘belonging’ to something bigger than ourselves. When we are pumped up to buy into the ‘vision’ of our church’s Pastor, pitched as given to the Pastor directly and often audibly from God himself, the sense of ‘belonging’ seems even more intense.

In many of our churches, our self-esteem and how good we feel about ourselves seems to be of paramount importance. This isn’t a new phenomenon. Dr. Robert Schuler once stated that our lack of self-esteem is THE great sin and patterned his ministry around that assertion. Thanks to a couple of good students of his, we’ve seen the birth and growth of the seeker-friendly and purpose driven models for ‘doing’ church. If we use the Apostle Paul’s model and simply preach Christ crucified and resurrected because of OUR sins, we are out of touch.

That brings us to the ultimate goal of all human beings (according to Abraham Maslow and others), to find self-fulfillment /actualization. In today’s evangelical jargon, it’s called one’s ‘dream destiny’. That’s not a new concept either. It’s been the staple of motivational speakers for years (just Google ‘dream destiny & tony Robbins)! Now it’s also all over the evangelical landscape. People in pews and stadium seats from coast to coast are constantly being told how to find and accomplish their ‘dream destiny’, which has been especially designed by God for each and every person!

Today’s gospel is that ‘Jesus died for your dreams’, not ‘Christ died for our sins’. I actually heard that from an Army Chaplain one Sunday morning and relocated to a different Chapel for Sunday worship. If you don’t believe me about how widespread this new gospel is, try listening to Rick Warren and Joel Osteen for a bit, not to mention a growing number of formerly sound Biblical churches and Pastors.

And how great this new gospel sounds to the itching ears of fallen men, and how easily it deceives genuine believers who are not yet well informed by the truth of scripture that speaks of dying to self, not living for self!

Yes, Abraham Maslow had it right concerning what we ‘naturally’ want most out of life. What a great tragedy that so many churches have adopted, and are preaching a ‘gospel’ of self-actualization. I wonder if he foresaw the evangelical church capitalizing on his needs hierarchy in the name of faux church growth.

The most significant question for many of today’s evangelical churches might be “What are you teaching in your church – Abraham Maslow and self-actualization, or Jesus Christ and self-denial?”

As an individual believer, I can ask myself “What is my Christian life and walk about – Abraham Maslow and self-actualization, or Jesus Christ and self-denial?”

What about you and your church, dear reader? Abraham Maslow or Jesus Christ – what’s it gonna be?