by Mike Ratliff
And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”– these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:1-16)
One of the most subtle aspects of the Compromised Church is its friendship with the world. All through the Bible we are told that we are not to love the things of this world, nor are we to be conformed to this world, nor are we to see this world as our home, but we are to have our treasure in Heaven rather in the world. We are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. We are to live this life with eternity in mind.
In contrast, the Compromised Church seeks to expand its numbers by appealing to the unchurched by being conformed to the ways of the World in appearance, function, worship and preaching. If we look at this with eyes of flesh rather than from Spirit-led eyes this approach is logical and long overdue. However, God says something very different.
“Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:6-9)
In this passage we see that the call to repentance is from God. How are the called to come. They are to turn or return to the Lord to seek pardon. What happens when people repent like this? He pardons abundantly. Now, did God alter the method of calling them to repentance to “attract them?” Nope, they were called to come back to Him on His terms, not theirs. The wicked are called to forsake their fleshly or wicked ways and their unrighteous thoughts. This is repentance. This is a call to turn from fleshly living to godly living. It is a call to see this world as lost and dying and for men’s focus to be heavenward not on this world and the things in it.
On the other hand, the Compromised Church seeks to attract these people to come join them by conforming to them and the world’s ways. Ungodly, man-focused music combined with a non-threatening version of the Gospel creates a church which is designed to ease people from the world into church without any call to forsake the ways of the world, their wicked ways and unrighteous thoughts. The gospel they preach never mentions sin as a problem separating them from God nor His wrath against that sin because He is Holy, Righteous and Just.
The leaders of the Compromised Church look at traditional preaching and Church and complain that it is not relevant to today’s society and will never attract today’s people. In order for a church to grow it must conform to the changes in society. A sermon such as Jonathan Edwards’ “Sinners in the hands of an angry God” would not be tolerated. In fact, a few years ago, Max McLean did “preach” this sermon at R.C. Sproul’s church to supporters of Ligioner Ministries. When it was over it was said that the incredible silence in the audience was deafening. These were godly people in attendance and that sermon cut into their self-righteousness (we all have some) and convicted them of their utter spiritual bankruptcy before God outside of His grace.
Jesus gave us the criteria for being His disciple.
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life? (Matthew 16:24-26)
Does that sound like coming to Jesus on our own terms? If we insist on being part of the world, can we do what Jesus commands here? This is a call to give up our rights to ourselves and live for our Savior alone. I contend that the Compromised Church eliminates this call in its appeal to come join them by not changing at all. Isn’t that why they are conformed to this world? They are telling the world to join it and not feel any coercion at all to repent, die to self and take up their cross and follow Jesus to the hill of death.
The humanistic gospel of the Compromised Church is unbiblical. It is not of God. It is of the enemy of men’s Souls.
When I was in college in the late 1960’s at Oklahoma State University I majored in marketing for a short period of time. In one of my marketing classes we learned of a form of advertising called “The Band Wagon.” We see this a lot during election campaigning and car commercials. This form of advertising attempts to convince the viewer that “everyone” is buying the product or voting for this candidate and if you don’t want to be left out you must also. A close examination of the church growth movement and all of its children and grand children we see that this “pressure” put on pastors, elders and deacons to jump on the “Band Wagon” and comply with its pragmatic approaches to “doing church” has created a wasteland of fleshly churches that are man-glorifying not God-glorifying.
When a church becomes a friend of the world rather than an island of righteousness in this lost and dying world it also loses any spiritual effectiveness it did have. The godly, older members of these churches are ignored. They protest the changes of these fleshly approaches to doing church and are told that nothing is going to change. If they don’t like it then they can either conform to the changes or leave. It’s the pastor’s way or the highway. If they stay they find that very soon the church becomes more and more worldly. The pews become full of the ungodly. The music appeals to them. There is no call for repentance. Sin is never mentioned. The real believers in these churches are starved or scattered.
These churches may indeed grow quite large. They do appeal to the fleshly nature of men. However, they do not produce godly, saved Christians. No longer an island of Righteousness, the church is now a place to go to be entertained on Sunday morning. The people go and hear sermons that are nothing more than a pep-talk to be the best they can be.
The Christian is called to make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20) not build large churches that are more businesses than than the gathering of the saints on the Lord’s day. The gathering of the saints is supposed to be time of fellowship, worship and edification through teaching and preaching. The evangelical function of the church was intended to be a function of the individual believers in every aspect of their daily walk. Yes, they should invite unsaved friends to accompany them to church to hear the genuine Gospel preached on the Lord’s Day. That is why preaching the Compromised Church’s version of the gospel is such a tragedy. Lost people hear it and believe that all they have to do is some religious act to be part of the Kingdom of God. Repentance? What repentance? They never hear it. Dying to self? Where was that? Following Jesus on the way of the cross as a way of life? I never heard anything about that. Of course no one is saved by anyone’s preaching. God saves His people by grace through faith as a gift. However, He has ordained that that will happen as His people preach the Genuine Gospel. The pragmatic, humanistic gospel does not qualify.
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Oh Lord, You are sovereign. Man has created a facsimile of the Church that is a fleshly copy. It is compromised with the fleshly ways of the world. Oh Lord, please call your people out of it as you judge it. Convict them to flee. Bring strong conviction upon the leaders in that church to repent. Of course Lord, many of them are spiritually blind to the deception. Their hearts are hard and they are full of unbelief because they don’t believe that faithfulness in their roles as shepherds of the flock is your will. They have listened to the marketeers who tell them that to be successful they must make friends with the world and grow large churches instead of remaining faithful and godly. Come soon Lord Jesus!
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™ Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved.