Have you noticed the newfangled Coca-Cola Freestyle dispensers in restaurants? They allow you to mix your own concoction of soft drinks with the click of a button. I have stood behind kids whisking through the screens combining a host of different drinks to create something weird and new.
I usually just stick with Dr. Pepper.
But thinking about these dispensers made me realize what is happening in modern American Christianity.
Many people are mixing their own theological concoction of the Christian faith to suit their own liking.
Jumping from YouTube video to YouTube video, website to website, cable show to cable show, preacher to preacher, commentator to commentator, talking head to talking head. Soon you have your own unique combination of dispensational, postmillennial, Pentecostal, political, prophetic, apocalyptic, gnostic Christianity and you don’t even realize it.
But you take a big ol’ gulp of your new Kool-Aid.
And it gives you a serious case of theological heartburn. In some cases, it can kill your faith.
Let me give you an example.
Recently someone sent me a YouTube video of a Christian preacher that they wanted me to watch. They loved his message. It was bold, in-your-face, and politically-charged. When I am sent a video like this, I often wonder if the goal is to say something like, “Hey, pastor, maybe you ought to preach more like this.”
But as I watched the video, I noticed that something was a little off. I did a little research about him and his church and realized that they held a postmillennial reconstructionist theology.
What does that mean?
Basically they believe that the church will change the government and society and eventually bring in the kingdom age. Christ will come back at the end of this millennium of peace ushered in by the church.
Postmillennialism expects the proclaiming of the Spirit-blessed gospel of Jesus Christ to win the vast majority of human beings to salvation in the present age. Increasing gospel success will gradually produce a time in history prior to Christ’s return in which faith, righteousness, peace, and prosperity will prevail in the affairs of people and of nations. (Kenneth Gentry)
The postmillennial conception of victory is of a progressive cultural victory and expansive influence of Christianity in history. (Gary North)
The reconstructionist part of the theology is that the church should be actively involved in politics so as ultimately to bring the nation under the law of Moses.
It’s a unique view that has been around for awhile. Many early believers in America were postmillennials who felt like America would play a role in bringing in the kingdom on earth. Many people like postmillennialism, and there are some theologians who argue for it, because it is a positive view of the victory of the church in this present age.
But what was ironic in this case is that the person who sent me the video would fit in the dispensational, premillennial category believing that the world will get worse and worse, Christ will rapture His church, the world will go through an intense time of tribulation, and then Christ will come back to set up His kingdom on earth.
So why did she like this postmillennial preacher who would be antithetically opposed to her view of eschatology? Presumably because she liked his bold attack on present-day politics which, in his mind (unbeknownst to her), is necessary for the church to take over the government and usher in the kingdom.
Here’s another recent example.
Someone in my family was telling me about a cable TV show that they were watching on the end times. I decided to watch an episode to see what it was all about.
It had cool graphics and a set designed to look like a newscast. The man sitting behind the news desk (while continually holding his new book towards the camera) proceeded to talk about Great Britain, America, Germany, the European Union, the Berlin Wall, the beast of Revelation, and all kind of other apocalyptic details. He was so sure of his interpretation of Revelation 13 that he didn’t even pause to defend it. He spoke with certainty as if he had discovered the secret that no one else had ever seen in this prophetic book. And he threw out a random assortment of news headlines to prove his point.
At the end of the TV show, he gave you a gracious opportunity to buy more of his books and DVD’s to find out exactly how all the events happening in America today are fulfilling biblical prophecy.
I decided to look up this guy and find out what he believes.
He is a Oneness Pentecostal who denies the Trinity and believes that to be saved a person has to believe in Jesus, be baptized by immersion in the name of Jesus only, and show evidence of the Spirit by speaking in tongues. (You can buy his four-part DVD set to learn how to get saved.)
He has also made a boatload of money by selling his unique view of prophecy at prophecy conferences and on his cable TV show. He doesn’t pastor a church, have any theological training, or have any accountability to a governing board. But he is a supposed expert on the book of Revelation. And he has an eager audience ready to drink in his unique, absolutely certain, American-centered prophetic pronouncements.
Again, what is ironic is that my family member is a Trinity-believing, gospel-centered Baptist who would not even be saved according to this guy on the cable prophecy channel.
Now let’s throw in bunch of other ingredients to our concoction.
The polarizing politicization of everything in our culture, separating people into firm categories labeled the “good guys” and the “bad guys.”
Modern-day “prophets” proclaiming political prophecies primarily centered around Donald Trump. These are not just prophecies about him winning an election but they often go much further, even into scary heresy.
As I was praying today I saw a vision of DJT seated on a throne holding a golden scepter. He also had a golden crown on his head. This, I was shown, is his PRESENT status from heaven’s perspective. Heaven does not recognize JB having any scepter nor wearing any crown. …DJT was called and anointed by God to lead our nation and the world into a new era. (Johnny Enlow)
QAnon conspiracy theories that claim to have the “secret knowledge” (like the Gnostics of old) of what is really going on in our government and in our world.
End times predictions that see almost every news headline as having some kind of prophetic meaning that can be found in some obscure verse in Scripture.
None of this is really “new.”
Scripture warns about conspiracy theories.
Do not call everything a conspiracy
that these people say is a conspiracy.
Do not fear what they fear;
do not be terrified.
You are to regard only the Lord of Armies as holy.
Only He should be feared;
only He should be held in awe. (Isaiah 8:12-13)
Scripture warns about false prophets.
The prophets prophesy lies, the priests rule by their own authority, and My people love it this way. (Jeremiah 5:31a)
Scripture even tells us that no one knows when Christ will come back.
But as for that day and hour no one knows it—not even the angels in heaven—except the Father alone. (Matthew 24:36)
When the disciples peppered Jesus about the timing of His coming kingdom, He replied:
“It is not for you to know times or periods that the Father has set by His own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:7-8)
Yet history is filled with false prophecies and false predictions of the end times. Here are just some of the dates predicted to be the end: AD 70, 375, 400, 482, 500, 793, 800, 847, 1000, 1033, 1260, 1335, 1504, 1524, 1528, 1555, 1648, 1658, 1688, 1697, 1736, 1794, 1836, 1843, 1847, 1914, 1918, 1936, 1941, 1967, etc.
Just in my own lifetime, I have seen 88 Reasons Why Christ Will Come Back in 1988; Mikhail Gorbachev identified as the Anti-Christ (and Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama too); Saddam Hussein, the rebuilding of the city of Babylon, and the start of the Iraqi War as the sign of the end; Y2K; the Mayan Prophecy; the Four Blood Moons; and a whole host of other “end times events.”
Yes, I believe that Christ is coming back…and probably soon…but Scripture has not given me permission to try to nail down the date or spend all my time trying to figure out how every news event fits into the prophetic calendar.
This can be big business and attract large audiences but it is not to be my focus.
But why does any of this matter? What’s the big deal?
The Bible makes it clear that behavior flows out of belief. How you think shapes your life. An incoherent belief system leads to an incoherent lifestyle.
As a man thinks in his heart, so is he. (Proverbs 23:7)
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. (Proverbs 4:23)
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:2)
In practically all of Paul’s epistles, he teaches us doctrine before he tells us what to do. We are sanctified by the truth (John 17:17). It is the truth that sets us free (John 8:32).
It is sound doctrine…healthy doctrine…that leads to a healthy life (Titus 2:1-15).
If you spend all your time drinking the world’s Coca-Cola concoctions, then it may give you a temporary sugar high but it will eventually rot out your teeth and seriously impact your health.
You need something better to drink.
Start with the pure milk of God’s Word.
In a world where evil men and imposters will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived, I am to anchor myself firmly in the truth of Scripture. (2 Timothy 3:13-17)
This means that I need to study Scripture, understand it in its context, stay humble, stay accountable to other believers in a local church, be discerning, be wise, be sober-minded, live faithfully, and fix my eyes on Jesus alone. His return may be today. His return may be 100 years from now after I am gone.
What makes our present-day so dangerous is that we have never been exposed to so many various viewpoints by various people on various websites and various TV stations without any direct contact with who they are or any accountability for what they teach.
Jesus said that we are to judge false prophets by their fruits. (Matthew 7:15-20)
But it is hard to evaluate their fruits when we only see them on a computer or TV screen and know nothing else about their theology or their lives.
That’s why more than at any other time in history, we need to stay grounded in the truth. And we have to know our theology. We cannot indiscriminately combine dispensational, postmillennial, Pentecostal, political, prophetic, apocalyptic, Gnostic beliefs just because they seem to tickle our ears with whatever personal opinion, prophetic pronouncement, or political perspective that we want to hear.
So skip the world’s freestyle make-your-own sugary soda dispenser.
Order the water instead.
The living water that only Jesus can give.
“A glass of water please … hold the cult garnishes.”
Excellent Steve! Thank you for so wisely putting al the nonsense and confusion in its proper place…. “Koolaid” ! Get it!!!
Thank you, Pastor Steve.
Thank you for this message so relevant today.
Failing to understand that we are a Self-Governing Representative Republic has led most folks at this point to view the government as some external entity, when in fact “The People,” are indeed the government, by design.
The citizens of this nation are the secular Caesar to be rendered unto if you will, merely electing representatives to do just that,.. to step and fetch for the very liberties outlined in the highest secular law of the land. Chiefly, The United States Constitution.
The irony found in not watching the store is that an external oligarchy has indeed stepped into that vacuum, ..that conjure,.. with its chains,.. its blatant usurpation. History giving its one lone lessen yet again.
The lesson that it always repeats itself. Always.
Even more bizarre is that you will often see folks in the congregations challenging various watchmen with passionate Romans 13:1 misapplication,.. as if the Constitution and it’s Bill of Rights are not the Authority,.. The People, not those very Authorities.
Therefore, the polarizing politicization of everything in our culture is a predictable outfall and redress to a complete refusal to identify the “good guys” and the “bad guys” in light of the aforementioned founding structure of said Republic all along. Both secularly as well as spiritually.
There are indeed bad guys, and those who cast their lot with them, for to empower and support them… and in esssence, pledging fealty to them. Serving them.
One of the political party platforms is a loathsome and unapologetic platform of absolute covetousness, legislative theft of neighbor, abject lawlessness, criminal sanctuary, proud debauchery, sexual perversity, and the wanton slaughter of the unborn. The cloak has long since dropped.
You can read it, but don’t dare point it out. Don’t utter what is contained therein.
Shall we not reap?
The failure of most pastors to squarely take on that reality has left many congregations easily swayed by the folks mentioned in this blog. In the absence of truth the layman seeks clarity for the glaring reality of the rapid societal decline ever-present before him, with various media outlets all too eager to add to that confusion, having become the true latter-day shepherds of men, both to the sheep and the goat alike.
The Ekklesia has only itself to blame for a good amount of the slouching towards Gomorrah. The sword is two-edged however. For the prudent much can be gleaned in observing just how easily the meandering herd of various feckless masses can be corralled and maneuvered about towards equally predicable and dark ends,.. by the judas-goats in their midst, …whom they count to themselves their champions.
Exciting times… Keep looking up! <
Discernment is paramount these days. Test everything you hear against the word of God. I’ve found that the Julie Green Ministries to be uncommonly grounded in scripture. I am now curious about her background considering the findings in this article. Like you’ve said so many times before, context is so important in understanding and discerning scripture. It makes sense that context would play a similar role when it comes to the people and variety of information vying for our hearts and minds these days. I need to research her more. In the meantime, she might be worth a look-see.
Yes indeed. Discernment is definitely needed in these crazy days! I checked out JGM. Haven’t heard of her before. Looks like she claims to be a modern-day prophet. I would certainly be wise and beware of anything she says that she receives from God. The standard for a biblical prophet is 100% accuracy (Deut. 18:21-22). Jesus says that you will also know them by their fruit and not by their words or their “miraculous works” (Matthew 7:15-23). If someone is getting wealthy and living lavishly as a prophet, then they are not a prophet.
Appreciate your thoughts, Dennis! Interesting take. I have heard the argument that the true government in our nation is given to the people in the Constitution so the need to submit to authorities or have respect for its leaders is not applicable to our situation. There is some validity to this argument but I think it goes too far and fails to see the full picture of submission in Scripture. Yes, as believers in America, we are part of the government process and thus bear individual responsibility for how we act, how we vote, and how we use the liberties we have been graciously granted. We can’t shirk this responsibility and thus each bear some level of culpability for the condition of our nation (just as Daniel and Nehemiah acknowledged in their own prayers for their nation). But at the same time the biblical idea of submission isn’t just a command related to the secular government. It is to be our attitude in all spheres of life. We are under the authority of Romans 12 as well as Romans 13. And Romans 12 shows us the life of a believer in a hostile society, always seeking to overcome evil with good and doing what is honorable in the sight of everyone. Titus 3 is perhaps an even better illustration. Believers are to “submit to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to slander no one, to avoid fighting, and to be kind, always showing gentleness to all people.” This is not pie in the sky, milquetoast submission. This is an attitude of full submission to God that changes the way we relate to the people around us and gives us a strange confidence, joy, sound mind, and love in the face of opposition (Phil. 1:27-30). It is the evidence of the filling of the Spirit, impossible to do in our own flesh, submitting to one another in the fear of Christ (Ephesians 5:21) and being clothed with humility at all times (1 Peter 5:5). So submission (hupotasso in the Greek) is an attitude more than an action and it is to characterize all of our life, even when we have to stand against injustice or evil, just as Daniel and his three friends respectfully withstood the edicts of Nebuchadnezzar and Peter and the apostles sought to obey God rather than men. It is the calling to both boldness and gentleness, conviction and compassion, truth and love.
I agree that pastors have often failed in equipping their congregations. We are commissioned to preach the Word, to teach the whole counsel of God. We are under a stricter judgment for how we do this. But even when pastors are faithful, it is hard for their words to rise above the constant chatter and ever-present media noise of the world. Many congregants have already decided what they think and they are simply looking for pastors who will preach what they want to hear, both morally and politically. If they are not happy, they move on to someone who agrees with them. The standard is often not “is the pastor preaching God’s Word faithfully?” but rather “does the pastor agree with me politically?” In the end, we are all under the authority of God and His Word. This is the measure of any person, any church, and any nation. And we will all stand before God to give an account of our lives and how we used the gifts and opportunities that we were given. Thus, we leave the final determinationa and evaluation in His hands (Romans 14:1-12).
Correct, they are representatives, not our leaders. Romans 12, indeed, no argument there. Titus 3, The U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, are our ruler and authority.
It is no different than serving in the military. The person who outranks you, is appointed over you, represents you to those above you in pay and scale, must be obeyed and submitted to, but the caveat is that those folks are only to be obeyed insomuch as they have the authority to issue said orders.
The base commander for example cannot simply order me to wash and wax his personal automobile because he is an authority.
He would operating beyond the scope of his authority to do so, and as such, that order can legally and lawfully be ignored, flagrantly defied, and assiduously opposed.
The same goes with any usurpation of powers or laws written beyond its scope. Those who were sent to ratify the U. S. Constitution were quite clear, to wit;
“But, sir, the people themselves have it in their power effectually to resist usurpation, without being driven to an appeal of arms. An act of usurpation is not obligatory; it is not law; and any man may be justified in his resistance. Let him be considered as a criminal by the general government, yet only his fellow-citizens can convict him; they are his jury, and if they pronounce him innocent, not all the powers of Congress can hurt him; and innocent they certainly will pronounce him, if the supposed law he resisted was an act of usurpation.” ~ Theophilus Parsons (1750-1813) in the Massachusetts Convention on the ratification of the Constitution, January 23, 1788, in Debates in the Several State Conventions on the Adoption of the Federal Constitution, Jonathan Elliot, ed., v.2 p.94 (Philadelphia, 1836)
And likewise; “If the United States go beyond their powers, if they make a law which the Constitution does not authorize, it is void; and the judicial power, the national judges, who to secure their impartiality, are to be made independent, will declare it to be void.” ~ Oliver Ellsworth, Connecticut Ratifying Convention, 7 Jan. 1788
That is how the field is chalked. Those are the lawful rules. That is actual law… Caesar’s decree if you will. Equally as lawful as the edicts of Nebuchadnezzar.
In the same way we do not get to pick and chose what we obey biblically, we must both be bold and gentle, with conviction and compassion, in truth and love, stand for what is true and lawful given the lawful delineation set in no uncertain terms in our Republic, and obey God rather than men when the edicts of man violate the law of God, and obey God, as Romans 13 makes clear, when they do not, by rendering to The People, the just adherence to that which they have plainly stated in laying the foundation of our nation in both action and dead, prose and statute.
“Does the pastor agree with me politically?” should not be controversial, because standing against what is blatantly injurious to neighbor and unbiblical is simply duty.
That such is a disconnect is the root of the issue for “is the pastor preaching God’s Word faithfully?” and “Does the pastor agree with me politically?” find no disagreement when a political party seeks empowerment to enter the sanctity of the mother’s womb, where God himself declares that he knits us, for to slaughter, maim, and discard.
“That call for empowerment is evil!” “Those in agreement with it are working iniquity!” “Cast not your lot with them!” “Ye are wicked rulers when ye do so!”
That is what should have been ringing out from the pulpits politically ad nauseum… but no, we descend towards the new days of Noah at warp speed. Love ya brother.
Good thoughts, my brother. Your words remind me of what Samuel Rutherford wrote in the 17th century. Either a society is built on Lex Rex (Law is King) or Rex Lex (the king is law). We are a nation built on Lex Rex which I wrote about in a post several years ago. So I see what you are saying. I also agree that the sanctity of life should be at the forefront of a believer’s mind when he/she votes. If we lived during the days of slavery, then I think you could make the argument that any politician that opposed slavery (no matter how unsavory) would be preferred over one who advocates for it. Abortion does the same thing as slavery. It reduces the value of a person made in the image of God so that you can do with them as you please…in the case of abortion, destroy them. I wrote about that as well. So no argument with you there. I would mention one caveat from your words. You said that the Democratic party is seeking empowerment to enter the mother’s womb almost like the Chinese party which mandates abortion in their one-child policy. Thankfully they have not gone that far. They have allowed for abortion and even promoted it in some cases but the battle for abortion still lies in the hearts and minds of young people facing that choice. Thus, even with the reversal of Roe v Wade, you still have a culture plagued with pornography and sexual immorality, selfish desire, and abortion. Not much different than the first century world in which Christians lived. Thus, I still harken people back to the Word of God and the New Testament ethic. If you print out all of Paul’s commands to the NT churches (which is a good exercise to do), then you end up with an attitude, mindset, and ethic that focuses on living soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, being zealous for good works, overcoming evil with good, showing honor to all people, being willing to suffer instead of casting insults or blame, being ministers of reconciliation for the gospel of Christ. I think of Peter’s words in 2 Peter 3:11-15. “Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation…” So, yes, speak the truth boldly but always with love for those who hear, especially those blinded by the evil one. Love you too, brother!
Great stuff,… I was speaking in the context of my previous comment, in that the DNC party platform is a call for empowerment to its members to forward its plainly stated goals, which amongst others are to steady the hand of the butchers who lust to slaughter ‘1n utero’ their helpless unborn neighbor, not a policy “in kind” with the ChiComs model. Though when we consider one of their professed heroes, Margaret Sanger, along with so many other leftists touting population control, such would be no stretch, I submit.
I think we must understand that the genius of the founding of this Republic is what seems lost on most folks, Christians or otherwise. Namely the separation of powers, the restrictions on government in deference to personal liberty, and the very structure of our legislatures and legislation is by design a stand in for bloodshed, but that it is no less passionate than the war it is meant to supplant and prevent.
When the stench of politics offends, the thankfulness that such is bloodless should permeate every citizen.
“Give me more distasteful discourse,.. an additional mean tweet or two, oh yes, another helping please!” “That our children need not come to their end over such matters unresolved by bickering and peaceful yet raw, iron to iron, debate of understandings.”
We fancy the phrase “as iron sharpens iron,” but discount the visual of it. Sparks are more than implied. Tolerate them,.. be thankful for them, see the value in them.
Likewise would do well to understand that Jesus did not stutter when he said plainly that, “Every kingdom (pas: all, every) divided against itself will be laid waste, and a house divided against a house will fall.
We have never been a house divided such as we are now. We have never been divided against self. One could say, “Wait, we had a civil war, we were divided against self!” But alas, no we were not. We were divided over issues, not each other. One need only look at Lincoln’s second inaugural address to see that truth, to wit;
“Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces but let us judge not that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered ~ that of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. ~ President Abraham Lincoln March 4, 1865, (only 41 days before his assassination)
We were one people at odds over interests, though there is one glaring reality we share in our day as we consider Lincoln’s words again.
There still remains an element within our country that does indeed dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing bread from the sweat of other men’s faces.
They wheel that mindset in and within the wooden horse painted, “fairness,” “redistribution,” “charity,” et al.
Yes, they fancy themselves “caring” as they covet thy neighbor’s bread, “loving” as they look to representatives to legislatively purloin their countrymen for to line their own burrows or to signal virtue to those they would no wise consider as they look into their very own pockets,… shall we not judge such? … judgement not beginning in the house of God?
Moreover, should we be surprised by the polarizing politicization of everything in our culture, separating people into firm categories of good and bad? Must we marvel at such in a day where good is called evil, and evil good? Where can we look to find out what is in fact good, and what is truly evil? Sola scriptura, I submit. Selah.
The drums of war beat the louder still Steve. Jesus said every… Maranatha! <