For many years the mainstream media has attempted to contort, bend, distort – twist Christianity. They do this in an attempt to discredit the Word of God and Christians. As a Christian this is frustrating, but at the end of the day we know they will never be successful. They may deceive a few people but they can never disprove the Word of God.
While this is frustrating, there is something happening within the Church that is much more concerning to me. What I have noticed recently are churches and their pastors taking scripture and twisting it to fit into some societal norm.
Before I go any further I want you to understand the position from which I am coming. Some of what I am going to say and the examples I will use may feel a bit confrontational or condemning but I want you to understand that is not at all my intention. I am coming from a place of humility with love, care and concern for the Word of God and how it is presented.
Some more liberal churches argue there is an old cultural tie to scripture that doesn’t make some of it relevant today. This allows them to pick and choose which scriptures pertain today and which don’t. They often use the case that slavery is in the Bible and we have long since done away with slavery. (Rightfully so!) The issue with the slavery argument is that I do not believe the Bible condones slavery. I believe the Bible simply states for slaves to be obedient to their masters and masters to treat their slaves fairly. (Ephesians 6) The point being is to be obedient to the authority that is placed over your life. This is a common theme throughout the Bible. Jesus himself stated, “Give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s”, meaning be obedient to the governmental authority over you. So you really cannot say that we are in a different day and time and our society views things differently therefore scripture no longer applies. This is a very slippery slope. Would we then say that Biblical definition of marriage is no longer valid or that abortion is ok? Society believes this now so why wouldn’t the Church?
I was a little hesitant to use this next example because it may upset some people, but here it is anyway.
The Pope seemed to also have twisted things up a bit recently. He was at St. Paul the Cross Church and had the opportunity to take questions from children. One little boy had a question but could not bring himself to ask the question in front of everyone. He was quite emotional. The Pope invited the boy up and he whispered his question to the Pope. He told the Pope his father was an atheist and had past away. He asked the Pope if his father went to Heaven.
Now that’s pretty heavy, so please allow me to qualify that I do believe this is one of the toughest questions anyone could be asked by a child and the question should be answered with much love and compassion. I also believe that the last the thing the Pope needed to do was either tell an untruth or cause confusion by twisting the Gospel.
To summarize the Pope’s answer he basically said God decides who goes to heaven, the father had all of his children baptized, he was a good man, and through baptizing his children passed on his goodness, and that God does not abandon his children.
While the Pope did not say, “Your father is in heaven” he certainly implied it. Here’s the issue with this. First, the implication that the father is in heaven is completely not scriptural. Second, the Pope publically spoke this message to the crowd and called on the crowd to agree with him.
An atheist by definition is a person who denies or disbelieves the existence of God.
Here are a few scriptures speaking on who will go to heaven:
John 3:3 – Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth unless you are born again you cannot see the Kingdom of God”.
John 3:16 –“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
John 5:24 – “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.
John 14:6 – Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”.
Ephesians 2:8-9 – For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Romans 10:9-10 – If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.
The Pope was correct when he said that God decides who goes to Heaven. In the Bible God also outlines who those people will be and how they will get there.
Now you can say that possibly the father accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior on his deathbed and therefore is saved. That is very well possible. The Pope may be trying to draw the conclusion that because the father baptized his children that he actually had accepted Christ. I’m not sure that was his intent, maybe it was. It is very possible the father may have accepted Christ prior to dying and made it to Heaven. None of us actually know the fathers heart at the time of his death. But, based on the facts we do know, the father was an atheist, and by the definition of an atheist, and who God tells us in the Bible will go to Heaven, an atheist will not be allowed in Heaven.
That may seem like a harsh reality, especially in the context of this precious little boy asking the question, but it is the Word of God.
Now do I believe the Pope should have said, “Well kid, your dad was an atheist and because of that he is burning in Hell”? Ab-sol-utel-y not! In no way do I believe that he should have crushed that boy’s spirit by telling him something like that.
The Pope had the perfect opportunity to console the boy, comfort him, hug him just as he did and leave it at that. If anyone would have asked what the boy’s question was or what his response to the question was he could have simply said it was a private moment between him and the boy and let it go.
The problem is that the Pope proclaimed this to the crowd and also called on the crowd to agree with him. I don’t know the Pope, I’m not sure what was going on in his mind when he made the statements he did and I don’t know what his intent was. What I do know is that as the leader of the Catholic Church the Pope basically set doctrine for the Catholic Church by his statements. Worse he went against what the Bible teaches. Whether he intended it or not, he potentially created a lot of confusion Christians and non-Christians.
Things like this aren’t just going on in the Catholic Church. It’s happening in other denominations and non-denominational Christian Churches as well. If you don’t believe it just open up YouTube and do a quick search. You’ll find many churches twisting scripture in an attempt to line up with societal norms. I watched one pastor state his premise and then twist things up so bad throughout his sermon he didn’t even realize that he debunked his premise when he reached the end. I was literally scratching my head saying “What the heck was that?!” I thought to myself, “This guy is so mixed up that he doesn’t even realize he made the case for the true meaning of the scripture.” Imagine sitting in his congregation. I’d have a migraine every Sunday trying to follow this guys logic.
A few years ago I met a pastor and he struck up a conversation with me. He seemed like a fairly normal and nice fellow. We got to talking about the Bible and Jesus. As we talked he told me that his church was a “free and independent thinking church”. For whatever reason that description made me uneasy but we kept talking. I love history so we got on a conversation on sort of the history of the Bible and the characters in it. As we talked he told me that Jesus and Lazarus had a very intimate relationship and insinuated that it was homosexual in nature.
“Shut the front door! What?!”
It got better. (Actually worse)
He went on to also tell me that Jesus had a marital type relationship with Mary Magdalene.
“No Lie! Crazy Right?!” I almost fell out.
He used these two teachings to justify some off the wall beliefs that I don’t have time to outline here. But I think you can figure it out.
I could not believe what I was hearing. I was in complete and utter shock, so much so that I didn’t know what to say. Needless to say I ended the conversation as quickly and as politely as possible and went on my way. Imagine if a new believer heard this and what that could have done to the path they went down. Imagine what the people in his church are hearing!
The reason I believe all this is happening is because as a society we have gotten our priorities completely out of order and our focus has gone from God to self. God has taken a back seat to our spouses, children, careers, money, lifestyles, and stuff. The problem with this is it is not Biblical. It is not God’s design for how we should live our lives. As long as we try to live outside of what God intended we will continually have self-inflicted pain in our lives.
Because we live out of proper Biblical order we feel bad about ourselves. We feel bad for our sins and we don’t like that. So instead of getting ourselves in proper alignment with God (God, Spouse, Children, Job, etc.) we have tried to get God in alignment with us.
We now have a sector of churches and pastors out there preaching a twisted version of the gospel in an attempt to justify societal norms that go against God’s Word. This is extremely dangerous.
Look at what Peter writes in 2 Peter 3:15-16 – And remember, our Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved. This is what our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom God gave him—speaking of these things in all of his letters. Some of his comments are hard to understand, and those who are ignorant and unstable have twisted his letters to mean something quite different, just as they do with other parts of Scripture. And this will result in their destruction.
This twisted preaching is very confusing to believers and non-believers alike. It’s extremely misleading. God is not misleading. He is the truth. Satan is the deceiver.
1 Corinthians 14:13 – For God is not a God of disorder but of peace, as in all the meetings of God’s holy people.
John 8:44 – (Speaking of Satan) …When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.
In his book Leadership As An Identity, Crawford Loritts speaks on the five key perspectives on leadership. The first perspective is“We must fight the encroaching secularization both of Christianity in general and Christian leadership in particular.” He goes on to say, “As leaders we ought to be students of our culture, but we need to be discerning. We must learn to recognize worldviews and approaches that are human-centered rather than God-centered”.
Crawford recognizes what is happening to our churches and their leaders. God is being removed from the center and being placed somewhere on the outer rim. We need to fight this movement of reverse evangelism and ensure God stays in His rightful place at the center of all things.
The temptation of Jesus in the desert paints a powerful picture of how Satan works to twist God’s word, shows the great model Christ is in rebuking Satan’s false teaching and staying focused on God.
Matthew 4:1-11 – Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry. During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.” But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’” Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’” Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.” “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must worship the Lord your God and serve only him.’” Then the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus.
Jesus is in the desert for 40 days fasting. All of a sudden in pops Satan, the father of lies. Remember now that though Jesus is fully God, He is also fully man. He feels all of the suffering that comes with being in the desert with no food for 40 days. Satan catches Jesus at his weakest moment and starts using scripture to tempt Jesus to sin. Jesus does not allow it. He keeps his priorities in order, His focus is on His Father in Heaven, and He speaks truth over Satan’s lies and rebukes Satan. This was by no means easy!
As Christians we believe that the Bible is the divine, inspired and literal Word of our Living God. We are not to add to it, take from it, or twist it. We need to stand firmly on that truth. When faced with the realization of our sin we must act as Jesus did in the desert. We are not to justify our sin by distorting the Bible, rather we must have the courage to speak the truth over our lives, keep our eyes on our Savior and rebuke Satan and all of his lies and deceptions. This won’t always be popular but to do anything else will lead to our destruction. (2 Peter 3:16)
Remember there is death and life in the power of the tongue.
Be blessed my friends!