Thoughts to Ponder

The Perfect Church

I have been accused in the past of looking for or expecting every church to be "the perfect church." Let me set the record straight right here and now, I don't expect to find the perfect church, until Christ comes back for us and transforms us into His perfect church. Having said that, however, I do expect to find a church which does not compromise on important issues. One that when confronted with problems does not hide it's head in the sand and hope that the messenger will go away.

You often hear non-believers talking about hypocrites in the church. Sometimes they have a valid point and other times their problem is a problem of ignorance more than a problem with believers. Yet I will admit I have a real problem with what I call the hypocritical church.

Let me explain what I mean. I am talking about a church which for example sings the hymn Amazing Grace on Sunday morning, but by it's actions on Monday morning proves that it does not agree with the hymn. Look at the start of the hymn: "Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me...."

That saved a wretch like me... Yet on Monday morning the counselors in the church recommend classes like "Search for Significance" to the people who come to them with problems. You will find quotes like this in Search for Significance: God tells us that we are so significant to Him that He always keeps an eye on us. He manages to be so sensitive to our situation that He even keeps track of the hairs on our head. There is obviously nothing more important to God than our welfare. (Search for Significance page 8)

See according to them, we are not wretches, we are significant. What it is saying is that we are so important that God sent His Son to die for us. WRONG! The reason God sent His Son to die for us is that He is LOVE, and He wanted to show us that love, even though we were unworthy. Yes God even knows how many hairs are on your head, but didn't Jesus also say that not even a sparrow falls to the ground without the Father noticing? Yet Jesus did not die for the sparrows, He died for us, not because of anything worthwhile in us, but because of God's great love and mercy.

Or how about the words to Nothing but the Blood?

What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

What can make me whole again? Well most churches today will tell you it is self-esteem.

How about Because He lives?

Because he lives I can face tomorrow
Because he lives all fear is gone
Because I know he holds the future
And life is worth the living
Just because he lives.

All fear is gone... Life is worth the living, Just because He lives. Many churches sing it but few seem to believe it anymore.

Or Victory in Jesus:

Oh victory in Jesus my savior forever!
He sought me and bought me with his redeeming blood,
he loved me ere I knew him, and all my love is due him

All my love is due Him. Yet churches today preach that we can't love God until we first love ourselves. Our Lord and Master said that we were to deny ourselves. He gave us two commandments, to love God and to love our neighbors.

Those are just the hymns we sing. What about the Bible we read? Churches claim to believe that it is the Word of God, yet by their actions they deny it. We will read passages like: (Colossians 1:19-20 NIV) [19] For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, [20] and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

(Colossians 2:8-10 NIV) [8] See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ. [9] For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, [10] and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.

Both of these passages say much the same thing, that Christ was and is the fullness of God. If you want to know what God is like look at Jesus. We can read those passages with a straight face and yet promote and teach from "Experiencing God" which makes statements like this: He pursues a love relationship and invites Jesus to be involved with Him by revealing what He is doing. Jesus then makes the adjustment to do what His Father is doing. (Experiencing God page 68)

If the Bible is true and Christ had the fullness of the Deity, then that statement alone is enough to make the book unusable in Christian circles. Yet it is promoted and used as a study guide in hundreds of churches.

Jesus said: (Matthew 6:7-8 NIV) [7] And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. [8] Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Yet churches all over the world have grabbed onto the book "The Prayer of Jabez" and have taught 'Bible' studies using is and classes on how to pray using it. If you are one of the people who has not read the book here are just a couple quotes from it: Through a simple, believing prayer, you can change your future. You can change what happens one minute from now. (Prayer of Jabez page 29)

Pray the Jabez prayer every morning, and keep a record of your daily prayer by marking off a calendar or a chart you make especially for the purpose. (Prayer of Jabez page 86)

The author claims to have prayed this prayer every day for 30 years. You would think that Bible believing churches would condemn this, but they don't. They hold special week night services dedicated to studying the book and learning to pray the prayer of Jabez as a church!

Jesus warned us about false prophets: (Matthew 7:13-15 NIV) [13] "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. [14] But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. [15] "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves."

Do you really understand what He is telling you? Most people seem to think that what He is saying is that false prophets will be in our churches and will mislead people. That they will be one of the congregation, or in other words dressed as sheep. I don't think that is what He is saying at all. Who would have been dressed in sheep's clothing during the time Jesus walked this earth? How would the people He was talking to have interpreted what He said?

Let me ask the question a different way. What do you suppose the Shepherd's clothes were made out of? How about wool? So a Shepherd could be said to be wearing sheep's clothing. These false prophets are leaders in our churches, shepherds of the flock. They are clothed by the flock so to speak, because their pay checks come from the people.

We are to be careful and guard our doctrine, yet most churches today are so lacking in Biblical foundation and discernment that they can sing songs which proclaim the truth and then sit through a whole sermon which is full of myths and false teaching and never notice. They go to the Christian book stores and pick any book off the shelf not knowing that close to 75% of them contain false teaching and many teach heresy.

Our churches are headed for apostasy because of a lack of biblical knowledge and discernment or even the will to address problems when confronted with them.

A Barna research study from 2001 shows that only 62% of "born again Christians" believe that Jesus lived a sinless life on earth. If He sinned just once we are all lost for eternity, with no hope of salvation! Without an unblemished lamb we are hopelessly lost. These are not just side issues.

There is a bill in congress right now to allow churches to speak out about social and political issues. It is being praised by many Christian leaders. See right now if a church is accused of taking a political stand they can lose their tax free status, so many of them are very careful not to say anything. Do you think that Peter and John were worried about their tax free status when they were told not to speak of Jesus anymore? No they were not even concerned about their physical well being. They spoke out and even praised God that they were found worthy of sharing in the suffering of Christ when they were beaten. Yet our churches are afraid to lose their tax exempt status!!

Where is the trust in God? Where is the love for truth? Where, in fact, is the love for Christ? Yes I am being tough, but Jesus told us that the world would hate us because they first hated Him. So why are we surprised? Jesus also said: (Matthew 24:12-13 NIV) [12] Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, [13] but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.

Now He was speaking of the end times, but I believe we are in those times right now. Compromise is a cold wind that is blowing through the church. The more cold wind you are exposed to the more likely that you will grow cold.

No I am not looking for the perfect church, but I am looking for one which knows the truth and teaches it no matter whether it is popular today or not. I am looking for one which will address problems when confronted with them, and not blame the person who dares to bring the problem to light. I am looking for the church whose Head is truly Christ. I am looking for the church where people are more loyal to Christ than to the status quo. Where people have more love for Christ than fear for the IRS or fear that they might upset someone and therefore lose a warm body who occupies a seat each week.

E-Mail Ralph

These devotionals are written by Ralph Dettwiler, and reflect his views.

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May 2002